Senior Living Blog

Daily Dining is a Highlight at Senior Living Communities

ISL communities serve up superior dining experiences that prioritize healthy, delicious foods and enjoyable occasions to socialize

At any age, we all look forward to a good meal, and our expectations for healthy, delicious, and engaging dining choices are higher than ever. Residents at today’s senior living communities expect more when it comes to dining. To meet residents’ desire for better quality and variety, communities such as those we manage making the entire culinary experience more progressive. Gone are the days of cafeteria-type offerings. Today’s residents are served freshly prepared, homemade meals in a restaurant-style setting complete with extensive healthy menu choices, flexible meal times, resident input on menu planning, tableside service, and special events.

The Culinary Directors at our ISL communities are fully engaged in providing a restaurant dining experience. This includes offering a wide variety of menu items and preparations, specials of the day, and alternative menus. Some residents want grilled fish, some baked, poached or even sushi—we offer all those choices. In addition, we look at seasonal varieties of foods. In the fall there is more squash and pumpkin on the menu; in the spring and summer, fresh fruits. Local produce is always highlighted.

Local and Regional Foods. Whenever possible local and regional foods are sourced from local and regional suppliers to provide the freshest products available. In addition, ISL participates whenever possible in the “farm to table” experience. Residents are  served regional favorites that appeal to the community, and meals incorporate in-season foods that are common to the area.

Specialty Menus and Thoughtful Preparation. To help seniors maintain healthy diets according to their needs, specialty provisions are offered, such as gluten free, allergy specific, low sodium, low sugar, low fat, low carb, low cholesterol, as well as pureed foods. Religious and cultural restrictions are also taken into account. To ensure great taste as well as freshness, authenticity, and health benefits, communities often use locally grown herbs, assorted spices, and other healthful substitutes to create delicious and nutritious offerings.

Social Dining Experiences. The dining experience does more than feed a hungry resident, it feeds the mind and soul when enjoyed in a communal setting. Many ISL communities stress the social aspect of dining and take it to another level. They offer special themed dining events that take dining to a new level, events that residents look forward to. “Our goal is to transport our residents to a destination dining place, to create an event complete with decorations, entertainment, activities, and, of course, delicious food. For example if we are doing a Hawaiian theme residents may enjoy a roasted pig, hula dancing and tropical drinks as just part of the experience,” adds Zeug.

Varied Menu Selections. Today’s residents want a variety of selections to choose from any time of day. No longer is it acceptable to only have a few menu choices. Now ISL communities provide full-service restaurant-style dining programs that rely on residents’ input on menu offerings, including food choices and preparation. Communities have culinary committees comprising groups of residents who offer advice on menus, and sometimes use residents’ recipes and food-preparation tips. Community dining staff members are innovative in menu selection and customizing offerings for their residents.

Flexible Dining Schedules. The dining experience no matter what time of day is a significant contributor to resident satisfaction in senior living communities. Many senior communities offer flexible mealtimes so that residents can choose a routine that fits their preferences and lifestyles. Those communities that don’t offer all-day dining often make fresh, well-prepared snacks throughout the day. Many communities have more than one location for dining, offering a fine dining area as well as casual dining locations within the community.

At ISL communities, we are creating new and exciting dining experiences for our residents. We strive to provide culinary experiences that residents not only look forward to but also enjoy. Our directors are present in the dining rooms, our chefs ask for residents input, and staff are always seeking new ways to improve our dining programs to best fit residents’ needs and preferences.

Bon Appetite!

Fun Things To Do with Grandkids This Summer

Summertime offers plenty of opportunities for families to connect—kids are out of school, vacation days are scheduled, and warm weather brings us out and about. When your grandkids (or great-grandkids!) come to visit, do you need some activities that are fun for all ages? We have a few suggestions for residents and their families—simple ways to have a good time together, anytime, anywhere.

Teach your grandkids a favorite hobby. Can you play the guitar? Do you know how to knit or crochet? Are you a good cook? Perhaps you’ve got a knack for crafts. A sport you love? Most of us have at least one thing we’re pretty good at. Give your grandkids a few lessons. Or else just let them gather round while you show ‘em how it’s done!

Take a slow walk around the neighborhood. Point out interesting things you’ve noticed: old trees, pretty plants, unusual houses, and cute pets. Ask your grandkids to tell you what catches their eye.

Ride the bus. Take the train. Does your city have a trolley car? Light rail? Head downtown, uptown, crosstown—or just choose a route and go. Even a short trip can be an adventure.

Make iced tea. Brew your own tea and add ice cubes. Bring the pitcher outside or serve it inside, depending on the weather and everyone’s mood. Have an iced tea party.

Go to a yard sale. Check the classifieds on Craigslist or in your local newspaper for neighborhood sales: garage, yard, estate, and tag, moving. One person’s junk is another person’s treasure! If your grandkids or great-grandkids are small, give them a few dollars to spend on special trinkets.

The Groves of Tustin Embraces a “Vibrant Life”

Integral Senior Living knows well that living a vibrant life at any age is a life worth living. Now the senior living management company is taking the idea of vibrant living a step further by making it easier for residents at all its communities to be vibrant through its new Vibrant Life® program.

Recently ISL rolled out its innovative program Vibrant Life® to all its communities, and the response has been amazing. Residents, staff, family, and friends are taking part in making life more vibrant for residents through a variety of initiatives. At The Groves of Tustin, one component of there Vibrant Life program is called“This is Your Life” which helps create a sense of social connectivity between residents and families. Individual residents are showcased throughout the year to share their life stories and personal accomplishments. The first resident showcased was Rose Mary Landre. Her recognition took place on her 100th birthday. The Mayor of Tustin, John Nielsen presented her with a proclamation at an event recognizing Rose held at the community in her honor.

Rose was born in Philadelphia and moved to California as a young girl. She is a very talented singer, and would sing for weddings in her church as well as the church choir. She married in 1940 Rose worked for the Social Security Administration typing out the very first social security cards. She also worked as an electronic assembler and an apartment manger. She retired in 1988 and moved to Tustin gardens where she lived for 26 years. She has been residing at the Groves of Tustin for over two years. Rose is a mother, grandmother and great grandmother and she describes herself as “small but mighty.”

The Groves like all ISL communities is assisting residents to find their purpose, to search out how each can better incorporate the seven components to living: Be Inspired, Be Well, Be Challenged, Be Adventurous, Be Family, Be Social and Be Connected.

ISL’s mission is to optimize health and well-being by passionately promoting a Vibrant Life® filled with joyful experiences, meaningful endeavors, and abundant opportunities so that our residents connect with family, friends and the local community.

Cheers to Rose and the wonderful life she has lived.

Ways to Help Seniors at Visits to the Doctor

Going alone to a doctor’s appointment can be stressful at any age, but older adults often feel especially intimidated. Having a loved one come along as a healthcare advocate during a doctor’s visit can help seniors get better care. As an advocate, you can provide moral support as well as help seniors talk about sensitive health issues, ask questions, take notes, and, if needed, coordinate care if multiple doctors or specialists are involved.

Here are some sensible ways to help make a senior’s visit to the doctor more productive and less intimidating.

Prepare for the visit. Make a list of all current medications, including prescriptions and any over-the-counter drugs, and vitamins and herbal supplements. In the days before the visit, start talking to your older adult about how they’re feeling and whether they have bothersome symptoms. Make a list of questions for the doctor, and any issues your senior wants to mention.

Take notes during the visit. It’s a challenge for anyone to understand and retain all the doctor’s information given during a visit—especially for seniors with memory loss, hearing impairment, and feelings of being confused and overwhelmed. Write down what the doctor says so you and your older adult can understand (and later remember) diagnoses, treatment recommendations, and medical decisions.

Ask for a medication review. At least once a year, ask the doctor to make sure whether all the senior’s medications are being taken properly, working well together, and are still needed. Here’s where your list of all your older adult’s current medications (prescription, over the counter, and vitamins and supplements) will prove invaluable.

Help manage your senior’s entire medical team. Many older adults see multiple doctors or specialists to manage all their health issues. Often, though, these doctors, nurses, and technicians may not communicate with each other. Help your senior keep track of what each health professional says, recommends, and prescribes. Share the information with all members of the medical team. Doing so will help ensure treatments don’t conflict and cause undesirable drug interactions.

July is the Month to Celebrate Independence

Take a Look at All the Freedom Offered In Senior Living Communities

This July consider looking into the benefits of declaring independence from the burden of day-to-day duties that come with running a household unassisted. Seniors and their families can be anxious about moving into a senior community— fearing a loss of independence. In fact, the opposite is often true. Residents of senior living communities can attest to the new freedom they experience because of all the services and amenities available in these communities.

Residents in ISL communities are often delighted to discover the joy of living in a community where they no longer have to do the day-to-day chores but instead have access to dining rooms, laundry services, transportation, onsite staffing, recreational facilities—and many other services that make life easier and better everyday.  Our communities offer a mix of lifestyle options that are tailored to residents’ needs and preferences. Active residents are free to choose from all the activities, services, and amenities available to them, giving them independence to choose what how to spend their days.

Senior living communities offer residents different levels of assistance and amenities, depending on individual abilities, requirements and lifestyles. While communities differ in the types of services they offer, here’s an overview of some common types of senior living choices and what they offer residents.

Independent Living

Independent living communities offer active seniors the comforts of home with the convenience of resort-like amenities. Residents can enjoy freshly prepared meals in a dining room, laundry services, housekeeping services, convenient transportation, 24-hour staffing, and group activities in a common area. A full social calendar includes outings, cultural events, educational programs and clubs. Neighbors are also active and independent, and may share common interests.

Residents are free to cook for themselves and guests, or to eat in the dining room. They can choose to entertain in their own living spaces, or to join community activities. Active senior living means just that—as active as each resident chooses.

Assisted Living

Assisted living comprises housing, services, and personalized assistance and care based on the needs of residents who need help with daily activities. Support services meet scheduled and unscheduled needs in a way that offers utmost dignity and independence to each resident, and always involves the resident’s family and friends. Assisted living communities provide support with daily activities like bathing, grooming, dressing and escorting. Residents and their families can choose from an array of services and amenities designed to meet individual needs.

Memory Care

Some senior living communities provide specialized memory care for residents with memory loss and other forms of dementia. At communities that offer Alzheimer’s/dementia care, residents are provided secured spaces that create a warm and calming atmosphere with familiar sights, sounds, and aromas. Trained staff provide person-centered care through socialization and activity-sensitive programming, as well as education and counseling support for family members.

Choosing the best senior living situation is a process that hinges on each individual’s capabilities and preferences, and emphasis is always placed on balancing independence with needed care and services. Instead of restricting residents’ activities, senior living communities provide the types of amenities that free residents to enjoy life to the fullest. Contact ISL today to find a community near you.

Should You Join a Caregiver Support Group?

How support groups can help caregivers, and what happens during group meetings 

Are you a caregiver or do you know a caregiver who’s feeling stressed, overwhelmed, burned out, or depressed? Attending local caregiver support group meetings can be an effective way to reduce stress and boost spirits because participants can interact with others in similar situations, get useful advice, and find out about helpful local resources.

Studies have shown that support groups have a significant positive effect on caregivers’ well-being, depression, and feelings of being overwhelmingly burdened.

But it might seem intimidating to walk into a room full of strangers and feel obligated to share personal details about your caregiving situation and your less-than-positive feelings about your day-to-day challenges.

Here’s a summary of reasons that joining a caregiver support group can be well worth your time, and how typical meetings work. 

The benefits of caregiver support groups

  • Get valuable caregiving tips and resources from social workers, health-care professionals, and experienced caregivers
  • Share and receive advice on managing challenging behaviors
  • Get and give support and advice on making difficult decisions or dealing with family conflicts
  • Learn how other caregivers cope with their situations and make time for themselves
  • Laugh and cry with other caregivers who truly understand your situation 

How caregiver support group meetings work 

  • A facilitator, often a social worker, leads the meetings
  • Each group has a regular schedule, usually weekly or monthly on the same day, and at the same time and location
  • Meetings usually last about two hours, but don’t let that stop you from attending. Tell the facilitator if you need to arrive late or leave early.
  • If you miss a meeting, no problem. You are not required to go regularly. Attend when you can or when you need extra support.
  • It’s completely optional to share. If you’d rather not speak, that’s OK—just let the facilitator know. Once you become more comfortable with the group, you’ll likely feel more inclined to share your experiences and knowledge.
  • During meetings, the facilitator usually asks participants to briefly introduce themselves and summarize their caregiving situation. Participants are then encouraged to ask questions, solicit advice about specific situations, or suggest topics for discussion.

How to find a caregiver support group near you

Check out the ISL community in your area. Many of our communities host caregiver support group meetings monthly and would love to see you join.

Father’s Day

June is a month filled with activities that indeed warm the heart and soul. A pinnacle point of the month for our communities is the celebration of Father’s Day, a day that gives us a great opportunity to honor all the Dads we love to care for each and every day.

The many fathers who live with us in our communities have experienced a lifetime of living and through it, all have sustained the strength and wisdom fathers so willingly impart. Fathers take great pride in their families and in the America they helped build.

Dad’s always offer up sayings and quotes they become famous for revealing. They often contain a hidden message or push you to succeed at a difficult task, or simply to signal that questions were now over.

We recall some of those “Dadism’s” that may sound quite familiar to you.

  • Because I said so, that’s why!
  • Go ask your mother…..
  • The sooner you learn to stand on your own two feet, the better off you’ll be.
  • That’s just the way life is, son.
  • Do you think money grows on trees?
  • I haven’t developed gray hairs for nothing!
  • My dad would always try to get me to eat my dinner by saying “It’ll put hair on your chest.” I never understood this because I was a little girl.
  • When where I could find a helping hand, father replied, ” At the end of your own arm”.
  • “Be sure you leave things better than you found them.” 

Happy Father’s Day!

Great News! New Study Shows Retirement Is Good for Your Health

People become more active, sleep better, and reduce their sitting time when they retire, says a new study published in March 2016 by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The study, “Retirement—A Transition to a Healthier Lifestyle?,” followed the lifestyle behaviors of more than 25,000 adults age 45-plus for about three years, tracking such factors as physical activity, diet, sedentary behavior, alcohol use, and sleep patterns.

“Our research revealed that retirement was associated with positive lifestyle changes,” said lead researcher Dr. Melody Ding, senior research fellow at the University of Sydney’s School of Public Health. “Compared with people who were still working, retirees had increased physically activity levels, reduced sitting time, were less likely to smoke, and had healthier sleep patterns.

Dr. Ding said that a major life change like retirement creates an opportunity to make positive lifestyle modifications—to set aside negative routines and develop new, healthier behaviors.

Study data showed that retirees:

  • Increased physical activity by 93 minutes a week
  • Decreased sedentary time by 67 minutes per day
  • Increased sleep by 11 minutes per day
  • Decreased smoking (50 percent of female retirees quit smoking)

The differences were significant even after adjusting for factors such as age, sex, urban/rural residence, marital status, and education.

Dr. Ding said retirement gave people more time to pursue healthier lifestyles. “The lifestyle changes were most pronounced in people who retire after working full-time,” she said. “When people are working and commuting, it eats a lot of time out of their day. When they retire, they have time to be physically active and sleep more.”

In terms of sedentary time, researchers found that the largest reduction in sitting time occurred in people who lived in urban areas and had higher levels of education.

These findings include everyone in the study who retired. When researchers looked closer, they found that those whose health was not the prime reason for quitting work made the most dramatically positive lifestyle change—but those who retired for health reasons still improved their health habits quite a bit.

Dr. Ding said she hopes the research will encourage people to think positively about retirement.

The new research suggests that retiring as soon as you’re financially, physically, and emotionally able will likely lead to a healthier and happier time of your life.

Chief Executive Officer is Named to Argentum Board

We are excited to share with you news about our Chief Executive Officer/Chief Operating Officer Collette Valentine. She was recently named to the Board of Argentum. Argentum is the largest national trade association exclusively dedicated to professionally-managed, resident-centered senior living communities. Members of Argentum exemplify the principles of choice, dignity, independence, and quality of life for seniors, all values that are incorporated into ISL communities. To support these principles, Argentum influences public policy, promotes business excellence, and ensures an informed public.  Her three-year term began in May 2016.

“Argentum is pleased to have board members of such a high caliber as Integral Senior Living CEO/COO Collette Valentine,” said Argentum President & CEO James Balda. “We welcome her expertise and insight as a leader in Argentum’s efforts to increase innovation throughout the senior living industry.”

Collette has been the CEO/COO of ISL since 2014. She joined the company in 2010 as the Vice President of Operations and Marketing and in 2012 was promoted to COO. Prior to joining ISL, Collette worked for several years in senior living industry, gaining experience and expertise through a variety of management positions.

More information about Argentum can be found at www.argentum.org

May Is Older American Month

This Year’s Theme Is “Blaze a Trail” 

May, a month of fresh beginnings, is when we celebrate Older Americans Month (OAM) to acknowledge the past and ongoing contributions—economic, political, cultural, and artistic, to name a few—of older adults to our communities and our country as a whole.

Beginning in 1963 and led by the Administration for Community Living, the annual observance offers opportunities to learn about, support and celebrate our nation’s older citizens. This year’s theme, “Blaze a Trail,” emphasizes the ways older adults are reinventing themselves through new work and new passions, engaging their communities, and blazing a trail of positive impact on the lives of people of all ages.

From 69-year-old NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, Jr. to 84-year-old actress Rita Moreno to 83-year-old Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who took her seat as a Supreme Court Justice at age 60, older adults are blazing trails in all aspects of American life.

The Administration for Community Living’s Administration on Aging recommends these ways for participating in Older American Month’s celebration of trailblazing efforts and contributions by seniors.

Trailblazer stories. Encourage older adults in your area (relatives, neighbors, friends) to share how they are blazing trails or how they’ve done so in the past. This includes ways they give back to the community, start new careers or hobbies, redefine aging, or any other activity or mindset that says “trailblazing.”

Trail walk (indoors or outdoors). Seek community volunteers who might want to share their expertise to host a walk with trail markers (or stations) staffed by people who can talk about topics pertinent to older Americans (financial security, connection with others, health and wellness). Participants can stop at each station to get information or participate in an activity. For instance, a fitness marker could be operated by a fitness leader demonstrating gentle stretches or by a nutritionist offering tips on choosing and preparing healthy foods.

Give back. Find older adults (and others!) who want to volunteer. Plan an activity that gives something back to your community. Projects might involve picking up trash or gardening in public areas—possibly along a local trail/path to tie into the theme. Alternatives include collecting donations for charity, painting walls in an underserved school, and volunteering to support local service members. Collaborate with a nonprofit in your area—they may already have ideas or projects to get you started.

Intergenerational connection. Younger and older adults can form lasting and mutually beneficial relationships with one another. Encourage these connections by organizing an activity with a local school or special groups, like Boys and Girls Clubs. Invite older adults to tutor and mentor the students, or have students interview and write about older community members. Start by contacting a school or club administrator. Or get teenagers and young adults to reach out. They can volunteer in senior centers, help neighbors with yard work, or just visit.