Tip Sheet for Visiting Aging Parents Over the Holidays

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Tip Sheet for Visiting Aging Parents Over the Holidays

Are you a long distance caregiver for an aging parent?  Will you be visiting him or her over the holidays? [Read more…]

UPMC Senior Communities keeps the “active” in “activities”

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When Marie Downs Deasy moved into Cumberland Woods Village, an independent living environment for seniors on the UPMC Passavant Hospital campus, she had no expectation of replicating the active, engaged lifestyle she had enjoyed with her husband when he was still living. Now three years later, she is effusive about the array of opportunities to socialize, remain active and broaden her horizons. “We don’t miss anything!” Marie exclaims.

Marie credits Christine Cassese, Life Enrichment Coordinator at Cumberland Woods Village. “She’s so caring and resourceful. And everything she does is in good taste. Christine is a true leader.”

Christine, who taught elementary school at an earlier point in her life, puts her creativity to good purpose in bringing to fruition worthwhile programming on the residents’ behalf.  She makes an important distinction in the way she interacts with the residents versus her years in the classroom. “People have a tendency to treat seniors like children,” says Christine. “I speak to them and interact with them as accomplished adults with a lot of living still to do.”

Christine meets with the residents monthly to discuss potential activities and adventures both on campus and off that translate into a social calendar that anyone would envy. On campus, movies, live entertainment, exercise, lectures and the creative arts are just some of the offerings available. Off campus trips include boat rides at Moraine State Park, performances at local universities, and casino and outlet shopping excursions.  “I’ve seen more of Western Pennsylvania than I every imagined I would,” Christine laughs.

One of the residents’ more memorable trips was to the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, PA shortly after its opening last fall. The group toured the museum, explored the walking trail and crash site, and paid homage to those who lost their lives at the Wall of Names that follows the flight path. “Our residents were very moved by the whole experience,” recalls Christine.

When asked what activity is most important to her, 90 year-old Marie is quick to answer, “Zumba!” Christine herself teaches two classes a week, and Marie is pleased by the recent addition of weekend classes. Additionally, Marie takes advantage of the ongoing offerings of the Legacy Theatre, the state-of-the-art performance space adjacent to Cumberland Woods Village that features a full calendar of live productions and free educational seminars and movies.

Both Marie and Christine recognize the therapeutic benefit of meaningful activity. Says Marie, “My blood pressure is lower now than it was before I moved in!” Deanne Thomas, Christine’s counterpart on the UPMC Senior Communities Seneca campus in Penn Hills, concurs. “I recently heard a resident express how grateful she was to be 99 years old and still making a contribution to society.” The resident was referring to her 10 years spent as a “Grandbuddy” to teacher Terry Solomon’s third grade class at O’Hara Elementary School, part of the Fox Chapel School District.

Now entering its eleventh year, the “Grandbuddy” program began with a conversation between Deanne and Terry, whose mother-in-law had resided at Seneca Hills Village. Terry suggested setting up a pen pal program to help the children with their writing. The idea grew, with residents traveling to the school to play a game of “Are You Smarter than a Third Grader?” The next year, they returned for a spelling bee.

The program evolved into Grandbuddy visits to Terry’s classroom, capped by a student field trip to Seneca Hills Village at the end of the school year. Approximately 16 residents participate each year, pairing up with students at a September “meet and greet.” In addition to letter writing and playing games, the Grandbuddies and students work together on writing and art projects, reading books, putting on a talent show, and a spring carnival.

“The Grandbuddies are such great listeners and ask great questions. And the kids are equally interested in what they have to say,” says Terry. “They truly care about each other. It helps the children become more sensitive, kinder and more patient.”

Corrine Clendening, a retired teacher from the North Hills School District, has been a Grandbuddy for the past four years. “Teachers are constantly being evaluated. But of all the evaluations I received over the years, the one that matters most is the love I get from these children,” she says.

Anne Meritzer became a Grandbuddy shortly after she moved into Seneca Hills Village two years ago. “I wanted to be busy. I didn’t want to just sit in my room,” she says. She instructs the children to call her “Granny Annie” and believes they fill a need by giving students “grandparents” they can visit with a few hours at a time. “These children are so special. I just love them so much,” says Anne, who became so close with one little girl that she was invited to her birthday party.

While it takes no small amount of coordination to sustain a program like “Grandbuddies” year in, year out, Deanne points out that not all activities require a lot of planning and resources to be successful. “One of the biggest surprises to me has been the success of the creative writing program,” explains Deanne. “I give the residents a one-sentence prompt, something like ‘It was a snowy day in Pittsburgh…’.  You cannot imagine the range and expressiveness of their writings.”

At Sherwood Oaks, the UPMC Senior Communities campus in Cranberry, the residents decide upon and direct activities themselves, consistent with the philosophy of self-governance unique to that community.  One of the most well-received events in recent years is the annual Veterans Day commemoration, which has filled Sherwood Oaks’ 300-seat auditorium every year since its inception four years ago.

Founded by resident Harriet Burress, whose husband is an Air Force veteran, and organized by her and a committee of approximately ten fellow residents, the Sherwood Oaks residential community attends an hour-long ceremony to honor and thank the living and the deceased veterans who call this UPMC Senior Community home.

One of the most impressive aspects of the commemoration is a huge display of memorabilia in the lobby outside the auditorium including uniforms and medals. Assembled that morning, the value of the items is inestimable, to the point where special security is hired for the day.

Music is an important element of the program, and this year a quintet from Seneca Valley High School’s band and a quartet from their choir will fill that role. Representatives from the local Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Seneca Valley ROTC will participate. A wreath ceremony will honor the deceased veterans from the prior year according to branch of service.

Every year, the program features a keynote speaker. This year’s presenters are residents George and Mary Kay Wallace, co-founders of the only official repository of historical artifacts from the American defenders of Bataan and Corrigador, which speaks to the World War II campaign in the Philippines.  They have cultivated a large collection of artifacts, worth an estimated one million dollars, that is housed in a museum in the Brooke County Public Library in Wellsburg, West Virginia, where Mary Kay once served as director.

Harriet feels she was called to undertake this endeavor, literally and figuratively. She remembers vividly an email she received identifying the thousands of World War II veterans dying every year. She feels compelled to act in a manner that would bring these men and women honor. She says she is “thrilled and proud” of the success of the event and of the committee that brings it to fruition every year.

To learn more about UPMC Senior Communities, call 1-800-324-5523 or visit UPMCSeniorCommunities.com. For more information about upcoming events at The Legacy Theatre adjacent to Cumberland Woods Village, visit TheLegacyLIneup.com.

 

Senior Communities Welcomes the Rehabilitation Institute to its Skilled Nursing Campuses

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An exciting new approach to rehabilitation now is available at four UPMC Senior Communities skilled nursing facilities, where intensive rehabilitation and physical therapy are helping [Read more…]

Welcoming National Aging in Place Council to the Pittsburgh Area!

logo_400x120By: Patricia Neurohr, Chair

I started my Personal Assistant and Home Care business, At Home with Ease, after I experienced the lack of necessary in-home services to assist my parents when they lived alone and wanted to age in place.  Most of us have either experienced this first hand or know a family that has been impacted by a similar situation.

Several key issues have become clear as I talk to customers and their families: [Read more…]

Presents for Patients®

Presents for Patients® will kick-off the 29th season on Thursday, Nov. 29 from 5  to 7 p.m. at St. Barnabas’ Gibsonia Campus, 5827 Meridian Road.  The free Christmas celebration is open to the community, inviting families and neighbors for a night under the stars as  St. Barnabas lights the 90-foot Christmas tree.

Activities include Zambelli fireworks display, musical entertainment, hot chocolate by a toasty bonfire and sing along to Christmas carols. Refreshments will be served.

Kevin Benson from WPXI-TV will be holding live coverage interviews with Presents For Patients® spokesperson Valerie Wilden. As the night comes to an end, guests can pose with Santa Claus for keepsakes!

PRESENTS FOR PATIENTS® was founded in 1984 by St. Barnabas president William V. Day. The program has granted gifts and holiday visits for more than 431,113 patients in facilities in Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, Tennessee, West Virginia and South Carolina. PRESENTS FOR PATIENTS® mission is to see that every patient in a long-term care facility receives a holiday visit or a gift.  The goal of PRESENTS FOR PATIENTS® has always been to touch the lives of nursing home patients through kindness and generosity of spirit.

The Tree-Mendous Light Up and PRESENTS FOR PATIENTS® celebration is open to the public. RSVP by calling 724-443-0700, ext. 5310 or e-mail ltassos@stbarnabashealthsystem.com.