Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Front Porch and Intel-GE Care Innovation Partner Up to Put Telehealth to the Test


Telehealth holds promise as a way for seniors to receive medical evaluations and interventions from the comfort of their own home — including in senior living communities — through technologies such as video and wearable sensors.

Providers see telemedicine as a way to potentially avoid hospital admissions and improve residents’ well-being. But with the technology still in its early stages, some operators wonder: Is it all it’s cracked up to be?

Senior living operator Front Porch is embarking on a pilot with Intel-GE Care Innovations to find out.

Read article in full at SeniorHousingNews.com

Monday, June 22, 2015

Maintaining Your Independence

By Peggy Buchanan and Maddie Kong, Vista del Monte Retirement Community Fitness, Aquatics and Physical Therapy

Summertime is here and with that comes many celebrations: graduations, summer vacations, backyard barbeques, and of course, Independence Day. While the parades and fireworks are traditionally reserved for the Fourth of July, the staff at the Fitness and Aquatic Center believe that you can achieve and celebrate your independence all year long by adding more walking to your daily routine.

Walking is a comprehensive way to help maintain your independence, and the benefits can be seen with even the smallest additions to your daily routine. Walking will keep your heart, bones, and muscles strong, and your brain healthy. Walking increases oxygen to your brain, helping to prevent dementia. In addition, walking can improve your mood by increasing BDNF, “brain fertilizer”, and endorphins, “feel good hormones”.

Regular walking can also help decrease joint pain by as much as 30% from arthritis. Finally, regular walking can lower your risk for cancer and diabetes. The NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study, which tracked 150,000 people, showed that those who walked more were more likely to live longer and maintain a higher quality of life.

Vista del Monte is a wonderful place to walk and can be done on your own schedule! Most all the walking areas are level, surrounded by beautiful scenery and lots of fresh air!

 A few tips to incorporate more walking into your routine:

1) Start with “baby steps” and set a distance or timed goal that you are willing to increase on a regular basis. 

2) Walk before or after a meal. That’s easy to do if you set a goal to walk to and from the dining room.

3) Walk with a friend. Company is more fun and creates accountability.

4) Walk tall, not small: check your posture and keep your center of gravity over your base of support. If using a walker, walk between the handle bars and as close as safely possible to the seat.

5) If you use an electric cart, use it as little as possible and set a walking goal to counter balance the sit-time.

Make every day in July and all year long for that matter, a celebration of your independence. Go on a walk and know that you are benefitting your overall health and well-being!

Peggy Buchanan is the Coordinator of Vitality and Wellness Programming for Front Porch and serves as the director of fitness, aquatics and physical therapy at Front Porch’s Vista del Monte Retirement Community. Madeline Kong is the fitness specialist at Vista del Monte Retirement Community, where she teaches balance and strength. Front Porch is a not-for-profit organization, based in Glendale, California, that serves individuals and families through full-service retirement, active adult communities, affordable housing communities, and related management and development services.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Wesley Palms Retirement Community Inaugurates Phased Redevelopment

Senior Living Revitalization Celebrates Mid-Century Modern Origins and Embraces Dedication to San Diego Community 

Wesley Palms, a Front Porch full-service retirement community on San Diego's beautiful Mt. Soledad overlooking the Pacific Ocean, announces a redevelopment plan comprising a revitalization of the iconic mid-century main building apartments and amenities, and the unveiling of 29 new patio homes in place of existing cottages in the first two phases. The phased revitalization commenced in April with the ethos to preserve the mid-century modern aesthetic of the original construction which opened in 1962. The revitalization will improve the 35-acre parkland and retain Wesley Palms' character, serving as an ode to an iconic era in California architecture and a complement to the style of the adjacent neighborhood. 
Architect’s rendering of one of the six new patio home models that will be offered as part of  the Wesley Palms Retirement Community revitalization project. This two-bedroom, two-bath twin home model  named “Verbena” measures 1,317square feet and features mid-century styling and an open plan design

The patio homes in Phases One and Two will be completed within the first fourteen months and are slated to open for residents in summer 2016. Wesley Palms welcomes new and returning residents to reserve their new home. Current residents will be given first priority and interested individuals are invited to join the 'interest list' for current and future phases. Currently there are 15 two-bedroom patio homes available for reservation.

Wesley Palms will continue its current operations as a vibrant, supportive community throughout the phased revitalization. Summer House at Wesley Palms memory care neighborhood and Courtyard catered living cottages will continue to accept new residents as openings become available.

Mid-century modern aesthetic fused with contemporary amenities

Details of the first phases include a transformation of 26 cottages into 29 exquisite patio homes, improvements of amenities within and around the main building, and enhancements of the extraordinary landscape. Wesley Palms' modern revitalization will enrich the retirement lifestyle offerings for current and future residents. Upgrades to the main building include:
Interiors will be converted to enhance connectedness among residents with added amenities such as a café, remodeled library and reading patio, business center, fitness/wellbeing center, chapel, and the addition of a heated therapy pool.

The structural integrity and iconic façade of the main building, with its signature chevron porte cochere and classic mid-century architecture, will be retained, given the mid-century southern California appeal of the original 1962 design.

Main building residences will be remodeled and refreshed with new windows, plumbing, electrical and HVAC.

The revitalization will introduce new single-story patio homes with the sleek style and function of mid-century modern design. Built with the temperate San Diego weather in mind, the twenty-nine patio homes in Phases One and Two will celebrate nature and open plan living, highlighting: an indoor-outdoor lifestyle with airy, barrier free designs to take advantage of parkland or ocean views; generous windows and high ceilings to welcome natural light and beauty of the natural landscape; sleek touches like mosaic glass backsplashes, cathedral ceilings, clerestory windows, designer kitchens and baths and large patios for soaking up the Southern California sunshine; walking paths connecting to outdoor courtyards, fostering a sense of community and encouraging neighborly gatherings.

"The new patio homes and added amenities are just a couple of reasons why we're so excited about what the revitalization brings to Wesley Palms residents and the greater community," said Wesley Palms Executive Director Ben Geske. "We have an extraordinary location, a unique history and a strong sense of community that we will celebrate and honor with this revitalization plan."

The Wesley Palms revitalization will be the latest endeavor in Front Porch's mission to create thoughtful and unique places that are respectful of the environment, celebrate the individual, and attend to the natural aesthetic of form and function. Attention to sustainability and reverence for the environment are key features of the new Wesley Palms community. For example, the revitalization will retain and enhance the following elements: the indigenous and mature landscape, reuse of foundational building materials, energy efficiency and low water usage, and selection of green building materials.

Wesley Palms calls its revitalization effort '360 degree living.' Overlooking downtown San Diego, Mission Bay and the Pacific Ocean, Wesley Palms offers all of the nearby benefits of San Diego living including beautiful beaches, world famous attractions, and the art and culture of La Jolla and San Diego just minutes away. Wesley Palms boasts convenient access to highways, San Diego International Airport, a cruise terminal, exceptional health care systems and excellent universities.

About Wesley Palms
A Front Porch full-service retirement community, Wesley Palms is located in San Diego's Pacific Beach neighborhood near the top of Mt. Soledad overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Wesley Palms boasts a 35-acre park with lush landscape inspired by Kate Sessions, famed San Diego horticulturist. The community is known for its energy and vibrancy, which is reflected in the community's design. In 2012, the community was awarded the National Association of Home Builders Gold Award for its innovative interior design in its remodeled lobby and common spaces. In 2014, the community received the National Association of Home Builders Silver Award for its design and development of Summer House memory care neighborhood at Wesley Palms. For more information about Wesley Palms, visit www.wesleypalms.org.

About Front Porch
Front Porch is Southern California's largest not for profit provider of senior living. Each Front Porch community has a unique style with a broad range of options and service, including independent living, skilled care, assisted living and memory support. Headquartered in Glendale, California, Front Porch is dedicated to doing everything Humanly Possible(SM) to meet the needs of older adults now and in the future. Using innovative design and socially responsible principles, Front Porch seeks to enhance the lives and lifestyles of active adults and seniors through development of unique communities in extraordinary locations. Front Porch has managed many award-winning redevelopment projects and remains dedicated to developing communities that are economically sound, environmentally responsible and supportive of community spirit.

For more information contact:
Michelle van Kriedt/Jamie Mesenburg
Email Contact
(415) 986-7212

Five Insights on Caring for Those with Dementia and Alzheimer's

Tips for Family Caregivers

By AnnaMarie Barba, LVN, Director of Summer House at Walnut Village

Summer House at Walnut Village is a unique memory care neighborhood offering a resident-centered, family-style approach that embraces the role of family members in the care of their loved one. This innovative approach shapes our care around what’s important to each resident and focuses on their uniqueness through knowing them, their story, their family and their preferences. In this way, we creatively contribute to their happiness, serenity and comfort.

For those caring for loved ones with dementia or Alzheimer’s follow these helpful tips...

Read article in full at About.com

Why Letting Go Is the Path to Happiness


Bestselling author and assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA Dr. Judith Orloff is a model for balancing fierce left-brain intellect and right-brain compassion. She calls herself an “empathic psychiatrist,” and it’s her ability to connect with her patients on an emotional level while supporting them and offering wise life strategies that puts her in a rarefied league.

As a follow-up to her 2009 book, the wildly popular Emotional Freedom, Orloff has penned The Ecstasy of Surrender: 12 Surprising Ways Letting Go Can Empower Your Life. She gave readers a taste of it in a TED talk, which garnered more than half a million views on YouTube.

In the new book, Orloff shows why surrender is a more effective approach to life than trying to control or force things. She offers examples and exercises to help us make that simple, yet super-challenging, leap when it comes to power, money, communication, relationships and mortality.

I had the pleasure of chatting with her about these subjects and others and was especially eager to hear whether she felt surrender was more important to boomers than other age groups. Highlights from our conversation:

Next Avenue: You’ve said you write about what you want to learn about. How did you pick the subject of surrender?

Orloff: Well, because I’m a control freak and I tend to fight with life sometimes, and worry, and get attached to patterns and relationships that aren’t good for me and I can’t rid of them … my deepest desire was to learn surrender on a deep, deep level so I could shed what wasn’t working for me and learn how to trust and flow instead of fight, and really go forward in my life.

So since undertaking the writing of this book, have you been able to shed much?

In the Forward, I talk about all the things I’ve had to give up. For starters, because of unrelenting noise and construction, I had to move out of the condo where I lived for many years while I was writing this book. I ended up moving 10 times in one year and giving away all my possessions. I shed things, I shed a relationship, I shed a therapist, and I shed old ideas about relationships, sexuality and caring about what other people think of me. It’s become a lifelong meditation for me; it’s how I want to live.

You call surrender “a sublime state, that can help us improve the overall quality of our lives and reduce stress, help us conquer our fears and get unstuck.” That’s quite a claim! Can you explain what you mean when you say “surrender” and how one learns to do it?

In Sanskrit, “surrender” means giving one’s self wholly to something without holding back. What surrender doesn’t mean is weakness, failure or defeat. What it entails is taking a conscious look at what’s working in your life and what’s not, and then deciding which parts you want to let go of because they’re holding you back, and what you want to surrender into. It’s about making choices.

The way I use the term implies there’s a grace surrounding all of us that goes beyond our to-do list. It’s something we have the power to tap into and “co-partner” with.

In the book you write, “Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in the universe by mistake. Aligning yourself with the flow of nature ensures you’ll be headed in the right direction.” That’s a tough thing for some proud, self-reliant people to swallow. What do you say when you get pushback on that belief?

I don’t say anything. If people want to live a life where they’re trying to control everything and tighten up and force and push and that’s working for them, that’s fine by me! I just want people to be happy.

But how people typically get to surrender is that they realize that something isn’t working in their lives and that they need to find a new approach. Sometimes it takes big things, like illness, drug addiction or alcoholism to get the light to go on.

When I frame surrender not as giving up power but gaining it, people can usually relate to that. It’s a balance between doing everything you can to make something happen and then letting it go.

I loved the chapter about relationships. Do you think learning to surrender to the flow of love and sensuality becomes even more important at midlife?

It’s important for everyone to be aware of their body and emotions at any age, whether they’re in a relationship or not. While I don’t believe you “search” for love because it’s always there, you can surrender the barriers to love.

So surrender isn’t magical thinking. Sometimes it involves cognitive-behavioral therapeutic techniques.

Yes. And just staying conscious. Sometimes surrender is letting go of things that aren’t working, but sometimes it means opening to something new that might work.

If your old patterns prevented you from finding an appropriate romantic partner, the work is looking at your fears of control and becoming open and less guarded and surrendering to love.

Is surrendering something you’re ever “done” with? What kinds of things trip people up?

I don’t think one is ever “done” with this work. It’s a lifelong process. On my book tour and with my patients, I’ve found one of the most common things that people struggle with is letting go of the need to be right. That can really sabotage relationships and work and people just hold on to it and hold on to it. Most of the time they are right, but that’s not the point. Being right isn’t the goal; the goal is the relationship.

The ego never wants to surrender; it wants to be right. But the heart wants to love, and if you want to love, surrender is necessary. You need to find some kernel of truth in what the other person is saying and acknowledge it. That will soften them and allow a dialogue to begin. That’s the beauty of surrender work. Once people get the explanation and actually try a different way, even if they have doubts, they’ll see that the results are stupendous.

Talk a little about the “anti-aging” aspect of surrendering.

Having to be right or fighting everything pumps stress hormones like cortisol throughout the body, which decreases immunity and speeds up aging. But people who are relaxed and open don’t have the slow burn of the stress hormones. They have the endorphins that come from letting go, meditation and the exercises of surrender. Endorphins, our natural painkillers, soften them and make them radiant, decrease stress and aging and produce bliss.

I’m convinced as people age, if they have tons of resentments — which weigh something like a quarter of a pound each — those resentments weigh you down so your shoulders get stooped, your brow gets furrowed, and you look older. Yet people who are more surrendered don’t have as much baggage on their soul or their body.

I think that at midlife and beyond, people can go through a constant rebirth, and that’s what the surrender is. It’s not buying into the negative, ridiculous, fear-based ideas that society has about aging. I’ve decided to reinvent it on my own and bring in intuition, subtle energy and the mind-body connection.

I encourage people to look at what is emotional aging, what is spiritual aging, what is physical aging, what is energetic aging and optimize all those components. If you have a spiritual practice, for example, the older you get, the better it gets.

The irony is that pain is a lot easier to surrender to for most people than pleasure. But it’s important in midlife to let pleasure in to savor it.

Don’t just say, 'Oh, isn’t that a nice sunset?' Let it in, really feel it in your body and enjoy it with every cell. Get used to receiving as a form of surrender. The more we can get out of our heads and thoughts and into our bodies, the more pleasure and joy we’ll experience, and the more radiant we’ll become — at any age.

Copyright© 2014 Next Avenue, a division of Twin Cities Public Television, Inc.

Front Porch is a not-for-profit support system for a family of companies that serve individuals and families through full-service retirement, active adult communities, and affordable housing communities.
More information is available at www.frontporch.net.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

How Sharing a Life Story Helps Dementia Caregivers

Conveying personal info lets others connect with your loved one

One day while I was volunteering at a local adult care center, we had a new visitor who was confused and very unhappy that her daughter had left her there with us. She was agitated and was trying to leave.

Luckily, when they first arrived, her daughter had handed us a one-page life story about her mother who had dementia. After reading it, I was able to more easily connect with the lady.

Sharing Your Knowledge

As we discussed her career as a teacher, her agitation slipped away and we ended up having a very nice conversation. Without that knowledge, things would have been more difficult for both of us.
If you’re the primary caregiver of a person with dementia, you know your loved one’s likes and dislikes. You can read their moods. You know their routines and the people in their world. Nobody can care for them the same way you do.

But the act of sharing your loved one’s life story empowers others to better understand his or her traits, to connect and to provide better dementia care. In turn, you receive peace of mind when you take time for yourself.

A Different Reality

The reality of a person with dementia often slips into a past era of their life. For instance, it may be typical for the person to prepare for work each morning as they did for many years. Or they might start preparing to send their children off to school although their kids are fully grown and have left the nest.

When the people around them don’t understand this different reality, they often struggle to accept what seems like strange behavior. They may even try to correct the person and get in the way of their routine. This type of intervention generally causes the person with dementia to become further confused and agitated.

Losing the Ability to Hold Conversations

In addition to living in the past, at some point, the person with dementia will likely lose their ability to start and hold a conversation. This loss of communication, coupled with living in a different reality, puts them at further risk for becoming isolated in their own world.
However, when those around them know their life story, values and quirks, they can more easily join them in their reality. This flexible companionship generally results in a more peaceful experience with fewer negative behavioral issues.

Knowing a Dementia Patient’s Story
One of the points from the Best Friends Dementia Bill of Rights is that patients deserve “to be with individuals who know one’s life story, including cultural and spiritual traditions. “
When caregivers look at the whole person and his or her experiences, they can plan activities that take into account interests, values and traditions while avoiding ones that may lead to confusion and agitation.

For instance, many people celebrate Easter and enjoy watching children hunt for eggs. But to a person who has never celebrated Easter, associating a rabbit with eggs — and adding in a silly person dressed as a giant bunny — could very well seem odd and confusing.
The United Kingdom’s Alzheimer’s Society recommends families create life history books with their loved ones. Not only does this create an enriching activity for the family, but the book can later be used to inform anyone who may be caring for the individual.
While short-term memories are often lost early in Alzheimer’s disease, a person’s long-term memories and sense for who they are as a person can exist throughout the entire disease. Accessing their memories and embracing their reality and character is an important part of enriching the life of a person with dementia.

So while it may not be possible to ensure the person with dementia is always around people who understand them, it is possible to empower the caregivers by documenting the person’s story and sharing it.

Have you written your loved one’s story? Please share with us how you use it to improve their care.
Copyright© 2014 Next Avenue, a division of Twin Cities Public Television, Inc.
Front Porch is a not-for-profit support system for a family of companies that serve individuals and families through full-service retirement, active adult communities, and affordable housing communities.
More information is available at www.frontporch.net.

The Unexpected Benefits of Volunteering in Nature

When 'citizen scientists' help gather data, they don't get paid, but the rewards are priceless

There’s something innately restorative to the human spirit about watching the flow of water in a stream, and this is especially true in spring. The frozen landscapes and frigid temperatures of the winter months can cast a stillness across one’s interior terrain as well, so to watch the current of a river in May is surely to come alive again.

That sense of renewal is even greater, though, when it extends from one’s own spirit to the larger environment. Which is just what happens when I go to watch for the herring in the annual spring monitoring program.

Herring spend most of their life at sea, returning to the freshwater rivers and streams they were born in once a year to spawn. In recent times, however, their numbers have declined dramatically, possibly because of overfishing, diminished water quality and/or habitat loss. Or maybe something else entirely.

Fishermen, researchers and environmentalists would all like to understand what’s causing this. To this end, volunteers help scientists monitor the herring’s arrival into the tributaries of the Hudson River and collect baseline data about these changing migration patterns. And while we citizen scientists know we’re helping out, what we get in return is worth far more than the time we give.

The Call of the Wild

This is not difficult work. It requires only that one stand at a bridge or the edge of a waterway for 15 minutes twice a week in April and May, look for signs of the herring, then write down what is seen — whether herring are there or not. This is about absence or presence. And if those minutes spent watching the drift and surge of a stream are a regenerative way of witnessing spring, the experience grows in meaning when what you find contributes to some broader knowledge base about the stream and the species that live in it.

The herring project is only one of many hundreds of such endeavors nationwide, on land and in water, that are part of the emerging practice of citizen science. Typically defined as projects in which ordinary people — kids, college students, retirees and anyone with an interest in observing natural phenomena — partner with scientists to answer real-world questions, such efforts can involve reporting dates on ice melt in early spring, identifying the habitats of amphibians in vernal pools or tracking the migration of monarch butterflies.

Some participants get involved simply as an excuse to get outdoors. Others may be motivated by an interest in conservation. Or they could be driven by a greater sense of urgency. A sense of impending crisis in the natural world — whether habitat loss, a warming climate or a burgeoning human population of 7 billion plus — is what prompts many of us to sign up for citizen research projects.

For their part, scientists have recognized the value of volunteer labor at a time when their own financial resources are stretched more than ever. And new technologies, like GPS, interactive websites, digital photography and mobile phone apps, have made the collection of data even by amateurs reliable and efficient.

This kind of participatory research is flourishing. And at a time when our sense of place is often frayed, documenting the arrival of spring birds, gathering information about fireflies on a July night or simply measuring rainfall are all good ways in which to collect important data about the natural world and to gain a deep connection to our habitats.

It occurs to me that such projects can have particular meaning for midlife volunteers. It is common knowledge that a desire to volunteer is part of the American character today and that a good portion of this nascent labor force are people over 62. Statistics tell us that 7 in 10 people over 62 freely donate their time, and many say this work is among the most sustaining endeavors of their adult life.

We are, I like to think, at a stage in life when we know how to pay attention. And attending closely to the world outside of ourselves is what is demanded here. Like data sheets for other such research efforts, those for the herring projects require precise details. They ask that I break down the components of the day, and when I do, I find that there is a meditative quality in recording the temperature of the air and of the water, the quality of cloud cover, precipitation, tide and water clarity.

Having to document such details is a step toward becoming a better observer. The task requires a scrutiny of small increments I might otherwise miss and demands a focus that came to me less easily when I was in my 20s and 30s.
The opportunity to watch things intently and thoroughly offers a reprieve from our attention-deficit culture. There is no room here for distraction, for the fragmented, split-screen thinking that is so endemic in other parts of my life.

There’s also space on the data sheet for “other.” That could be the great blue heron poised on the opposite river bank, the muskrat slipping along the concrete embankment of the bridge, even the overheard offhand remarks of the angler.

And then there was the afternoon I finally saw the herring. Their quicksilver movement as they shimmered through the current made it nearly impossible to calculate their numbers, surely an exercise akin to measuring shadow and light. But with Polaroid sunglasses and uninterrupted attention, I settled on a figure.

“Number of herring present (circle one)” the data sheet instructed. And I filled in the small circle next to the numbers 11–100.

But what I saw was not the fish with a small dorsal fin, a split tail and spot behind the gills that I had been looking for, but rather, a silvery, iridescent flash in the creek, a bit of radiant ribbon flickering in the water. The herring were there without doubt, yet they made themselves manifest in a way I had not anticipated.

All of which is to say, paying close attention to occurrences in the natural world is like paying close attention to anything else in life. Oddly enough, the rewards can multiply. Or at least double — because inevitably, you find both what you are looking for and what you never expected.

Copyright© 2014 Next Avenue, a division of Twin Cities Public Television, Inc.

Front Porch is a not-for-profit support system for a family of companies that serve individuals and families through full-service retirement, active adult communities, and affordable housing communities.
More information is available at www.frontporch.net.