Monday, November 26, 2012

Embrace Your Passion!

Living life your way, embracing new passions and being adventurous of mind, is not only the Front Porch “way” but new research suggests it may also lead to a longer life.
It’s no secret that here at Front Porch we encourage each and every person to express themselves creatively, to do that which they enjoy and to seek out things that are new and exciting. But more than that, we strongly support those activities which keep our minds alert. Case in point, our partnership with Dakim and our concentration on mind/body health.
You see it at our communities, you read about it in our blogs – we don’t simply talk about the essentials of retirement, but we encourage active minds and active engagement in all the things essential in life: education & lifelong learning, hobbies, leisure activities, the joys and passions of the individuals who make Front Porch an exciting place. Well, as it turns out in a recent study, these are exactly the same things that may help an individual live a longer life.
— Rob Klose, director, Front Porch Foundation Systems and Services
Creativity Predicts a Longer Life
Research continues to support the theory that creative thinking keeps the brain healthy, according to studies conducted by the University of Rochester Medical Center. The study associated creativity with openness, which is one of the five major personality traits. Openness refers to the measure of cognitive flexibility and the willingness to entertain novel ideas. Researchers have found several benefits of greater openness, such as longevity, lower metabolic risk, higher self-rated health, and stress management. A study published in the Journal of Aging and Health found that creativity was the greatest aspect of openness to cause health benefits, as creative participants in the study lived longer than others.  Analysis of stress management also produced interesting results. The study found that creative individuals approached stress as a controllable challenge rather than a troublesome obstacle.
— Scientific American, September 9, 2012

Monday, October 8, 2012

Just Around the Corner From Villa Gardens

While everyone is well aware of Pasadena’s “winter ties” to the botanical world with the Rose Parade (I used to have people all around the world park in front of my house on Rose Villa street in Pasadena every January 1st), not as many people are acquainted with the Huntington Library and Gardens in San Marino and fewer still know that there is a second botanical garden in the Pasadena area, Descanso Gardens.

Located just a few miles northwest of Front Porch’s Villa Gardens Retirement Community, Descanso Gardens is a wonderful way for anyone, old or young, to spend a leisurely afternoon. As a former resident of Pasadena for 10 years, Descanso Gardens (along with its’ great museums, tree lined streets and all of the wonderful cultural and culinary choices in Pasadena) made me proud and happy to live where I did.

While the Huntington Library and Gardens reflects Pasadena’s more stately upbringing, a trip to Descanso Gardens shows the Pasadena environs more accessible, down to earth, friendly side. From an idyllic pond filled with ducks, turtles and fish (that seem to evoke those comfortable easy going “front porch” days we all long for) to the winding “trail-like” paths, Descanso Gardens has a little bit for everybody. My son is particularly fond of the miniature train that toddlers (and adults) can ride on.

If you live at one of our communities or just nearby and have never been, you owe it to yourself to check out Descanso Gardens. You’ll be very happy you did.

Have a place near your home that you love to visit? Tell me about it.

— Rob Klose
Director of Foundation Service, Front Porch

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

So how do we make ethical choices and decisions – especially when we are in a business where often times, there is no clear right and wrong?

We need to be intentional. We know that a decision is more ethical if we go through an ethical decision making process. Perhaps the first step in that process is what Michael Josephson suggests in his article below, a thoughtful pause.

Michael Josephson is founder and president of the Josephson Institute of Ethics.

— Lauren Moulton-Beaudry, director of Ethics and Education for Front Porch

Good Decisions Start With Stop

Thursday, July 26, 2012

10 Things to Discuss With Your Doctor to Promote Aging with Dignity and Independence

Providing the amenities, services, staff and community to live life your way is at the heart of who we are at Front Porch. Part of our job in making sure you live life your way is providing you with the information you need to live healthy and well. The following is an article from the Scan Foundation about the things you should be discussing with your doctor to ensure you live a happy, healthy retirement. 10 Things to Discuss With Your Doctor to Promote Aging with Dignity and Independence”

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Relax By Turning Up the Heat With Glass Blowing

I’m not big on talking about myself. As the senior vice president of sales and marketing, I’m enthusiastic about the work being done and the relationships being forged every day at each of our Front Porch Retirement Communities, but I’d rather let those accomplishments speak for themselves. After all, if I’ve done my job right, you’ll never know I was there.

During my career at Front Porch I have met many residents who have both continued their passions or found new ones after moving into one of our communities. But for me, in my personal life, no matter how passionate I am about a particular interest or pursuit, I’d rather tell you about where to find it or how you can get involved than go on about my latest accomplishment or how much I’ve improved. After all, "actions speak louder than words," as they say.

In keeping with that mantra, there’s a passion of mine that I’d like to share with you; glassblowing. It’s an ancient art form, first developed around the middle of the last century BC. Put simply, the craft is based around the idea of super-heating small "blobs" of glass, then pushing (or "blowing") small amounts of air into the soft, white-hot material while mixing in various other pieces of colored glass in order to create specific patterns or shapes. Imaginative glass blowing artists can create a wide range of products, including vases, drinking cups, bowls, plates, and (my personal favorite) paperweights.

Paperweights are a great way for the novice glassblower to get started in the field, given their small size and flexible design (after all, not everyone wants the same old round hunk of glass). The smaller size makes them easier to handle during the course of one four-hour studio session, and the open-ended aspect of playing with various colors and glass-working techniques means that I get a different end result every time. In fact, that’s one of the reasons I like blowing glass. Like as with many art forms, no two objects are exactly the same. Each piece has its own unique facets, colors and shapes with the only limitation being the artists’ imagination. Perhaps that’s why I like working at Front Porch so much … each of our communities is unique. Each has its own personality and flavor, where all can appreciate and celebrate the “art of the individual.”

For those interested in getting started in the field, or just want to learn more about the art, I’d encourage you to explore some of the many glass working studios around Southern California or contact your local community college or adult education classes.

Practice, of course, makes perfect, but it’s this flexibility inherent to the art form that gives me the opportunity to unwind during each visit to the studio. After all, glass blowing for me is about relaxing, not a way of life.

— Joan Woodworth

Friday, April 6, 2012

Time Well Spent

Some of my fondest memories with my parents when I was a child include volunteering. Together we did things like fill grocery bags at the local food bank for needy families, spend a weekend sprucing up the church we attended, or paint a house for a family that soon would move in. Whatever the activity was, we did it together and it taught me a valuable lesson in how good it feels to give.

As time went by and into my adult years, I found myself running out of time to volunteer. I was just too busy with this and that and before I knew it I became a working mom with hardly a second to spend on myself. Recently I’ve rediscovered the joys of volunteering again through my work as communications manager with Front Porch and through the eyes of my own daughter.

It started a couple of years ago when my husband asked me what I wanted for Valentine’s Day. With a tight budget and not a lot of time to plan something elaborate, I felt I didn’t really ‘need’ anything. I asked him if there was an opportunity to volunteer at Walnut Village Rehabilitation and Care Center where he works and spend some time with the residents, some of whom I knew probably didn’t have family nearby to share the day with. That year with gifts graciously supplied by the California Lutheran Homes Auxiliary, we headed out to share the love with the care center residents.

Front Porch partner CLH has had a long and loving history of social ministry with the care center and we helped continue that mission by distributing gifts the CLH Auxiliary regularly gives to the care center residents. With each gift, a free hug or a mere touch of the hand, a greeting and a smile came with it. My daughter was five then. She was shy, reserved, and very soft spoken. But she soon realized that with every gift she handed out, a very grateful and sometimes emotional person was at the receiving end. Her confidence grew as we passed each room.

Weeks passed since that first visit and through the years, sometimes out of the blue, she would ask, “When are we visiting the grandmas and the grandpas again?” We did every chance we could. And now it has become my own family’s tradition to visit the care center during a holiday. Sometimes we bring friends, including other Front Porch colleagues and their children, to share the fun and satisfaction of bringing cheer, smiles, and free hugs to anyone that wished for one, or two, or more.

As a mom, I’m glad to have rediscovered volunteering through Front Porch and enjoy spending that time with my own family as I did with my parents. Now our daughter has her own ideas about how to cheer residents and how to get others involved and we encourage it. I look forward to her sharing the joy of volunteering with her own family someday.

— Jen Dixon

Monday, March 5, 2012

A Sense of Community

Having recently moved from Southern California to Northern California, I know that there are a number of questions and concerns people have about moving to a new place. For me, my biggest concern was finding a sense of community or a feeling of “belonging” for my family in our new location (we have a little one and live in a single-family home). Most of our friends still live in Southern California, and I can tell you, finding that sense of community has meant everything to us, especially since we live in a single-family residence. For us, that has meant working hard at meeting new people, trying to attend city/community activities, exploring the area. Forming new friendships.

If you’re a prospective retirement community resident, I’m sure you have some of those same issues and concerns. You want to feel like you belong. That’s why at our Front Porch communities we have resident life and activities directors, as well as other staff and your fellow residents, to help you feel immediately “at home” in your new home. We know that you want a true sense of community, and that’s what we strive to provide. When you’re at one of our communities, you truly feel like you are amongst friends. But my job here is not really to just tell you how great our communities are, I want to bring to your attention some of the things you may want to think about before making a decision to move into any retirement community.

Here is a short list of questions you and perhaps your loved ones may wish to consider before deciding how and where you want to enjoy your retirement:

• Are you really living your best life?
• How can I have more control of my life?
• What do you look forward to each day?
• Do you have concern for your spouse?
• Are you having fun or are you burdened with challenges of home upkeep?
• Do you spend quality time with your friends?
• Do you have opportunities to meet new people who share your interests?
• How easy is it for you to get around?
• How do you get your errands done? Is that working? What happens if there are changes?
• Do you drive at night worry free?
• What happens if your health needs change?
• Do you have access to emergency care should something happen?
• How dependent are you on other people?
• Do you feel safe?
• Are you confident your neighborhood will always be safe?
• What would happen if you fell or had an accident at home?
• Do you have an emergency response service?
• Is your home well designed to meet your future care needs?
• Who provides care or help when you need it?

I hope this list helps you in your decision making process.

Cheers and Prost!

-Rob Klose

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Culinary Trip to New Orleans

Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you that what I love most is food, travel and good bottle of wine: I imagine I’m not unique in that sentiment. And there is no greater place to enjoy such activities than the city of New Orleans. In my opinion it may very well be the greatest restaurant city we have in the United States. I’m certain I’m not unique in that opinion.

For those retired and living at or near England Oaks (Front Porch's adult living retirement community in Alexandria, Louisiana) a trip to New Orleans would make a great day/overnight trip. For those living further away, a culinary trip to New Orleans is something everyone should undertake.

It’s often said in New Orleans that while eating one meal, people will be talking about where they are going to be eating their next two. In other words, food and restaurants are on everyone’s mind when in The Big Easy.

Giving a list of one’s favorite restaurants in New Orleans is an interesting task. Everyone (and I mean everyone) who has ever visited New Orleans has their list and their opinions. In other words, it’s a restaurant city filled with favorites on top of favorites. There is no consensus, only culinary debate when it comes to New Orleans. After numerous trips to New Orleans, my list has been an exercise in evolution. Each time I go a revision to the list is made. Among those making my list would have to be:

• Cochon - for its rabbit and dumplings
• Domilise - for its po’boys
• Brigtsens - for just about everything, but mostly its sauces
• Mr. B’s - for its bbq shrimp and their quintessential gumbo
• Restaurant August - for its refined take on Creole cuisine
• Bayona - for its veal sweetbreads, its rabbit entrée, and a perfect courtyard
• Butcher - for its pork belly sandwich
• Arnaud - for its foie gras stuffed quail
• Galatoire’s - for its history
• Commander’s Palace - for its brunch

Most of these places are well known to seasoned travellers of New Orleans and many are familiar names to even the first time traveller (as they each have a strong reputation and great reviews precede them). But tops on my list would have to be a little known neighborhood restaurant called Clancy’s.

Far from the madding crowd of the French quarter and tucked in a fairly quiet Uptown area (near Audubon Park), Clancy’s offers a warm and inviting environment and a taste of what quintessential Creole cooking is all about. Items such as their soft-shelled crab entrée (which is first smoked, then fried, then topped with lump crab meat and served with a German potato salad) truly exemplify what is great and unique about New Orleans cooking. Couple that with a couple bottles of Abita beer and you have the recipe for a great time.

The saying in New Orleans is laissez les bon temps rouler. Let the good times roll. In a certain way, it’s not that different than Front Porch’s philosophy, “Live life your way.” Enjoy and embrace life. Maybe take time for a trip to New Orleans, and when you return, email and tell me about it. Or maybe just email me and tell me what your favorite restaurant city is, or simply what your favorite dish at your community is. By the time you read this, I will have just returned from my yearly NOLA trip, so maybe I’ll have something new to add to the list. In any case, I’d love to hear more about what you like.

Live life your way, et Laissez les bon temps rouler!

— Rob Klose