Navigating Aging Alone: 5 Key Insights from the Mather Institute’s Latest Study

Are you aware that the number of solo agers—older adults who are unmarried, live alone, and lack adult children to depend on as they age—is on the rise? In 2021, the U.S. Census Bureau found that 28% of older adults in the U.S. fit this description.

A study by the Mather Institute, conducted from March 3 to March 20, 2023, reveals that solo agers prioritize maintaining their independence more than their counterparts, referred to as “supported agers.” Supported agers are individuals over 55 who are either married or in a long-term relationship, do not live alone, and/or have adult children they can rely on.

Solo agers often lack access to essential resources that help sustain their well-being and combat loneliness. They also face challenges in accessing informal caregiving, which is crucial for maintaining independence and managing their healthcare and financial needs effectively.

As Florida’s leading provider of senior living communities, a Westminster Life Plan Community offers a solution that caters specifically to the needs of solo agers. Choosing a Westminster Community addresses the top five concerns identified in the study, providing solutions that enhance the aging experience for those aging alone. Here’s how our communities can help:

  • Mobility: Choosing a life plan community can significantly enhance your mobility by providing easy access to well-being classes and personalized training right on campus. These facilities offer tailored fitness programs and expert guidance, ensuring that residents can maintain and improve their physical health in a supportive and convenient environment.
  • Independence: Our goal is to keep residents as independent as possible for as long as possible, and to give each resident a great reason to get up and get moving every morning. With maintenance-free living, we take care of everything so you can and can spend the day doing what you love keeping you active and engaged.
  • Dignity: By offering personalized care and support in a respectful and community-centered environment, we help maintain your dignity. Our approach is designed to meet individual needs with utmost discretion and sensitivity, ensuring that residents can continue to live autonomously as they age.
  • Mental Engagement: Enhance mental engagement at a Life Plan Community through increased social interactions and a variety of brain health programs that emphasize stimulating different brain areas. Each of our communities provide a rich environment for building connections and engaging in activities designed to maximize cognitive potential as residents age.
  • Social Connections: Significantly increase social connections by enjoying the vibrant social atmosphere at a Life Plan Community where residents can easily interact and participate in various group activities. This environment fosters new friendships and community involvement, ensuring that residents remain socially active and connected.

These are just five ways that a Life Plan Community can enhance your journey as your age. Choosing a Westminster Life Plan Community gets you access to life-enhancing services at your fingertips, an exciting and interesting calendar of lifestyle opportunities every day, and a supportive environment that embraces healthy aging and personal growth. Read the study for yourself and find the community that suits you today!

Westminster Lakeland Cuts Ribbon On New Name, Celebrates Joining Westminster Family

Following a ceremonial ribbon-cutting, residents, team members and distinguished guests celebrate the community joining the Westminster Communities of Florida family

LAKELAND, May 30, 2024 – Today, Westminster Lakeland officially celebrated its new name and affiliation with Westminster Communities of Florida. The community, formerly known as Florida Presbyterian Homes, is a Life Plan Community serving more than 250 residents, and now part of the not-for-profit family of 23 communities throughout Florida.

Following a program of special remarks by distinguished guests such as Lakeland Mayor Bill Mutz, LeadingAge Southeast President Steve Bahmer and Westminster Communities of Florida Chief Executive Officer Terry Rogers, the community celebrated with a special ribbon-cutting and outdoor party.

The affiliation between Florida Presbyterian Homes and Westminster Communities of Florida was first announced in September 2023. These two not-for-profit organizations share a common Presbyterian heritage, and Westminster Lakeland was founded in 1955, just one year after Westminster Communities of Florida’s establishment in Bradenton in 1954.

“Today is a very special day in the history of Westminster, and I couldn’t be more pleased to call all of you family!” said Terry Rogers, Chief Executive Officer of Westminster Communities of Florida.

Executive Director Doug Pinson led the event as master of ceremonies, and he said that the entire Westminster Lakeland community had been enthusiastic to hold the celebration. “We’ve been waiting for this day to come for a ribbon-cutting,” Pinson said. “From the very bottom of my heart, thank you for being here today and celebrating with us. This is a very special time, and I couldn’t be more humbled to be a part of this and proud to be a member of the team.”

Meanwhile, Lakeland Mayor Bill Mutz celebrated the community’s extensive history in Lakeland. “This has been such a wonderful organization and community for so many years, and has been so life-enriching,” he said. “I am incredibly grateful that this community will be here for the future needs.”

Lucia Solomon, Westminster Lakeland’s Resident Council President, said that she was delighted to welcome all of those in attendance. “It is my pleasure to welcome you to Westminster Lakeland, a beloved community with a new name,” Solomon said. “Thank you for being here!”

The ceremonial ribbon-cutting was performed by Ms. Solomon. The ceremony also featured a blessing from the Rev. Dr. Etta Owens, chaplain at Westminster Lakeland, and a benediction from the Rev. Richard Huggins, a resident at the community.

Congratulations to Our 2023 Team Members of the Year and Volunteers of the Year

On May 22, 2024, we were pleased to recognize the best of the best — our Team Members of the Year and Volunteers of the Year from throughout the state — at our Annual Awards Banquet at the Rosen Plaza Hotel in Orlando. These amazing individuals performed incredible acts of service and brought the Mission of our organization to life every day.

In addition, we congratulate our two CEO award winners, whose awards were announced by Chief Executive Officer Terry Rogers:

  • Adrina Hawkins, Westminster Towers Human Resources Generalist, recipient of the CEO Award
  • Dominick DeSarro, Vice President of Pharmacy Services, who received the CEO Mission Leadership Award

“Adrina has truly served from the heart since 1997,” Rogers said in presenting the award to Hawkins. “She is determined and never satisfied, and she is fun, energetic, compassionate and determined. She has good humor, good spirit and a strong faith. It is my honor to recognize Adrina Hawkins for the CEO Award for 2024!”

In addition, Rogers congratulated DeSarro for contributing to the fulfillment of Westminster’s Mission in presenting him with the CEO Mission Leadership Award. “We have returned over $5 million to our Foundation and our communities during your tenure, and those dollars are a significant way that we are able to fulfill our historic Mission. Thank you for your professional leadership.”

The evening’s master of ceremonies, Jeff Mock, CGC, a member of the board of Westminster Communities of Florida, also offered the ceremony’s invocation and benediction asking God’s blessings on the organization and all of our team members and residents throughout the state.

Congratulations to all the amazing people who make Westminster Communities of Florida a great place to live and work!

We also thank our banquet sponsors for their generous contribution to supporting this event. Thank you to Clancy & Theys Construction Company, Seni, TridentCare, Westminster Home Care and Westminster Pharmacy Services.

You can read all about our Team Members of the Year and Volunteers of the Year and their amazing stories in the booklet below.

Westminster Woods on Julington Creek Celebrates Receiving Governor’s Gold Seal Award

Community and local civic leaders marked the recognition by State of Florida leadership of excellence in quality of care

JACKSONVILLE, April 23, 2024 – Residents, team members and civic leaders marked a very special occasion at Westminster Woods on Julington Creek: Receiving Florida’s Gold Seal Award recognizing the community as one of Florida’s top providers of quality nursing care.

This prestigious award, which is awarded by a panel of experts and approved by the Governor of Florida, was given to only three communities in the greater Jacksonville area and only 12 total in the state. Westminster Woods on Julington Creek, a Life Plan Community, is one of the three. Communities recognized with the Governor’s Gold Seal must demonstrate excellence in long term care over a sustained period while promoting the stability of the profession and facilitating the physical, social, and emotional well-being of nursing center residents.

Health Services Administrator Andy Andre expressed his gratitude to the hard-working team members of the Nursing Center. “Thank you for the sweat and the tears that goes into producing great services that ultimately lead to this achievement,” said Andre. “Because of your work this entire event was possible.”

“This team has done such a great job of documenting your excellence, every detail day by day, moment by moment,” said Mark Niemeyer, Executive Director. He thanked his team for the challenging work they do every day that led to the award. “This award belongs to all of us here today,” Niemeyer said.

Joining the celebrations were St. Johns County Commissioners Roy Alaimo and Christian Whitehurst; Teresa Scott, CEO of Penney Retirement Community and a representative of the Governor’s Gold Seal Panel; and senior leadership from Westminster Communities of Florida, including Chief Operating Officer Garry Hennis, Senior Vice President of Operations Jim Polaski, and Chris Callahan, Regional Vice President of Operations.

Hennis observed that the award recognized a long period of excellence in quality care. “I commend the entire leadership team for leading the community to a new level of excellence,” said Hennis. “For years we have had very strong clinical leaders and the current team stands on their shoulders, while taking this to the highest level.”

Commissioner Whitehurst said that he and his family live in Julington Creek and know the community’s reputation, already stellar, would now be further improved. “My neighbors always say that when the time is right for them, ‘I wouldn’t mind living at Westminster Woods.’ So it seems fitting that you have received the Gold Seal Award from the Governor,” Whitehurst said.

Chaplain Leslie McCarrick offered a benediction: “We are blessed beyond measure, Lord,” she said. “Their work is their ministry and because they have given their best and continue to give of their best, our life at this community is made very rich indeed.”

Following the ceremony, the attendees enjoyed a brunch with a delectable menu provided by the Dining Services team, including a special carving station with roast beef, a smoked salmon salad, shrimp and grits, and an egg Florentine frittata.

\Westminster Woods on Julington Creek is a Life Plan Community ideally situated on more than 90 acres of woods and lakes along the half-mile wide Julington Creek, in suburban St. Johns County. We have served senior adults in Jacksonville for more than 60 years, with an emphasis on wellbeing and Lifelong Learning, and backed by a financially strong and Mission-inspired, faith-based organization.

Westminster Winter Park celebrates our organization’s 70 years of service to older adults

Residents, team members and local civic leaders marked the occasion with outdoor evening celebration

WINTER PARK, April 18, 2024 – With an outdoor festival and a special pronouncement of congratulations from Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, Westminster Winter Park celebrated Westminster Communities of Florida’s 70th anniversary of serving older adults with more than 250 attendees and guests.

The organization, first established as a ministry of the Presbyterian Church (USA) as Presbyterian Homes of the Synod of Florida, began its service when the Life Plan Community today known as Westminster Manor opened in 1961. Westminster Winter Park, its second community, was founded in 1965. Today Westminster Communities of Florida has 23 communities spanning the state of Florida, serving more than 7,000 residents with 2,300 team members.

Scott Cairns, Executive Director of Westminster Winter Park, thanked the attendees with a word of welcome. “Thank you to all of those who will be celebrating today for being a special part of our first 70 years,” Cairns said.

“I think every year is special here at Westminster, but this year is our platinum anniversary year! I am so happy to be here and celebrating with you tonight,” said Chief Executive Officer Terry Rogers.

Demings brought a special congratulatory congratulating Westminster Communities of Florida for the occasion. “There’s a great group of people who work here and who live here to make this a wonderful place,” said Demings.

Attendees also enjoyed an invocation by the Rev. Jeff Parkkila, Chaplain at Westminster Winter Park, and the Rev. Maynard Pittendreigh, a retired minister, and a program featuring congratulatory remarks from Betsy Gardner, President of the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, and Residents’ Council Chairperson Sandy Dooley.

Following the ceremony, residents, future residents and team members enjoyed an evening of outdoor live entertainment and games under the shade of one of the community’s majestic trees. Attendees enjoyed a variety of delicious appetizers provided by the Westminster Winter Park Dining Services team, including a trio of sliders, crab cakes, pretzel bites and special-made desserts.

Westminster Communities of Florida, the state’s largest not-for-profit provider of active senior living, emphasizes whole-person wellbeing for its older adult residents. With communities in Bradenton, Jacksonville, Lakeland, Orlando, St. Augustine, St. Petersburg, Tallahassee and Winter Park, the organization serves more than 7,000 residents statewide with a lifestyle featuring active living, wellness and lifelong learning.

How Older Adults Can Celebrate Earth Day in 2024

Earth Day is next week, a global event that promotes environmental protection that began in 1970 is now celebrated in over 193 countries. For older adults, Earth Day holds particular importance as they become more conscious of their environmental impact and have the time and resources to contribute to environmental causes. We’ll explore five simple things that older adults can do to celebrate Earth Day and support the well-being of our planet.

Plant Trees and Pollinator-Friendly Plants

Planting trees in your garden or neighborhood has numerous benefits. They absorb carbon dioxide, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and release oxygen for us to breathe. Trees also filter pollutants and prevent erosion, contributing to cleaner water. Additionally, planting pollinator-friendly plants attracts vital butterflies, bees, and other pollinators, supporting our ecosystem. Lastly, trees and these plants provide shade and habitat for local wildlife, enhancing biodiversity and enriching your local ecosystem.

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

Reducing consumption means making conscious purchase decisions and buying only what’s necessary, reducing waste and greenhouse gas emissions. Reusing items extends their lifespan, reducing the need for new products. Seniors can mend, repurpose, or donate items like clothing and furniture. Using reusable bags, bottles, and cups is also beneficial. Recycling saves resources and reduces landfill waste. Seniors can participate in local programs or set up home recycling systems. Every small act makes a difference in preserving the planet!

Conserve Water

To conserve water and protect aquatic ecosystems, seniors can take these simple actions:

  • Take shorter showers, aiming for under 5-10 minutes.
  • Fix leaking faucets promptly to eliminate water wastage and reduce utility bills.
  • Water lawns deeply but infrequently, allowing water to reach the roots. Watering in the morning or evening minimizes evaporation. Using collected rainwater for gardening further reduces freshwater usage.

Conserve Energy

Older adults can have a significant energy-saving impact by:

  • Turning off lights when leaving a room to reduce energy waste.
  • Unplugging appliances when not in use. Unplugging televisions, computers, and kitchen gadgets, can help save a substantial amount of energy over time. Power strips can be used to make unplugging multiple appliances easier and more convenient.
  • Opt for public transportation or carpooling. Taking buses or trains for errands and social events, as well as carpooling with friends or neighbors, helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save energy.

Supporting Sustainable Businesses

Choosing sustainable businesses helps protect the environment by prioritizing responsible resource use and production processes. These businesses minimize waste, reduce energy consumption, and use renewable resources. Opting for local and organic produce reduces carbon emissions from transportation, supports local farmers, and promotes a healthier ecosystem by minimizing pesticide use.

How are you celebrating Earth Day and making a difference for the environment this year? Discover how residents at Westminster communities across the state are celebrating Earth Day by finding a location near you today!

We celebrated 70 years of serving older adults and the founding of Westminster Communities of Florida with a special ceremony in Bradenton

Residents, team members and Bradenton civic leaders mark occasion with special ceremony and outdoor carnival celebration

BRADENTON, April 5, 2024 – With an outdoor carnival and a special proclamation from Bradenton Mayor Gene Brown, Westminster Communities of Florida celebrated its 70th anniversary of serving older adults with roots in the founding of Westminster Manor in 1954.

The organization, first established as a ministry of the Presbyterian Church (USA) as Presbyterian Homes of the Synod of Florida, began its service when the Life Plan Community today known as Westminster Manor opened in 1961. Westminster Communities of Florida today has 23 communities spanning the state of Florida, serving more than 7,000 residents with 2,300 team members.

Terry Carr, Executive Director of Westminster Manor and Westminster Point Pleasant, thanked the attendees at the special ceremony with a word of welcome. “Thank you to all of those who will be celebrating today, and thank you all very much today for being a part of our first 70 years,” Carr said.

“This year will be a special year,” said Chief Executive Officer Terry Rogers in celebration of the anniversary. “I think every year is special here at Westminster, and I am so happy that we are starting our celebration here in Bradenton where it all began.”

Brown brought a commemorative copy of a proclamation congratulating Westminster Communities of Florida for the occasion. “We are still a small town here in Bradenton,” Brown said, “and we wouldn’t have… what the Presbyterian Church saw and started in our community without that sense of pride and longevity.”

The City of Bradenton’s proclamation read, in closing, “Now therefore it be resolved, as the Mayor of the City of Bradenton, I do hereby proclaim April 4, 2024, as Westminster Communities of Florida’s 70th anniversary… and encourage all citizens to congratulate them on 70 years of serving older adults in Bradenton.”

One resident, Patti MacKay, had a personal connection that she shared as part of the presentation: Her mother, Jeanne Oliver, attended the ground-breaking for Westminster Manor and later lived there as a resident. “I’ve shared Mom’s story, and our story. But what I want to end with today is YOUR story,” MacKay said. “Today is just another chapter!”

Attendees also enjoyed congratulatory remarks from Jacki Dezelski from the Manatee Chamber of Commerce, who celebrated the organization’s 350 team members in Bradenton; Sharon Barhorst from Bradenton Kiwanis; and Ruth Anne Rood representing the Bradenton Tropical Palms, a neighbor of Westminster Manor.

Following the ceremony at Westminster Manor in the morning, residents, team members, and civic members attended an outdoor carnival in the afternoon at Westminster Point Pleasant. The afternoon featured highlights like a “Jeopardy!”-style game with trivia about Westminster, a photo slideshow highlighting the last 70 years of history, and live outdoor entertainment by The Boomers, a local music act.

Senior Chaplain Dino Silvestrini opened the afternoon’s event with a special invocation, which closed with: “Today, we pray for the next chapter of our story. May our commitment to serve from the heart remain unshakeable. May our innovations continue to break barriers… May our legacy echo through generations, a testament to Your grace and our commitment to inspiring older adults to enjoy happy, healthy and purposeful lives.”

Westminster Communities of Florida, the state’s largest not-for-profit provider of active senior living, emphasizes whole-person wellbeing for its older adult residents. With communities in Bradenton, Jacksonville, Lakeland, Orlando, St. Augustine, St. Petersburg, Tallahassee and Winter Park, the organization serves more than 7,000 residents statewide with a lifestyle featuring active living, wellness and lifelong learning.

Five Things Residents Wish They Knew Before Moving to a Life Plan Community

Are you considering moving to a Life Plan Community but are unsure if it’s the right decision for you? You’re not alone. Many people have the same concerns before making a change. Regional Director of Sales for Westminster Communities of Florida, Andrea Sieradzki, has more than 35 years of experience in the senior living industry and has had the privilege of meeting many prospective residents as they explore their options. Given her expertise, we approached her with a question: “What are the things residents wish they knew before moving to a Life Plan Community?” In response, she graciously shared these five invaluable insights.

1. You’ll sleep better at night
Opting for a Life Plan Community not only grants you peace of mind, but it also extends that assurance to your family and loved ones – and you’ll sleep better at night for it. It’s not a matter of if something is going to happen, it’s a matter of when, and being prepared and having a plan in place for when something happens allows you to take a deep breath and relax. Creating a plan for your future is probably the most important thing you can do, not just your family but for your mental health as well. You’ll be able to sleep well at night knowing you have access to a full continuum of care with priority access should your needs or your spouse’s needs change. Residents of Life Plan Communities have a personal, customized plan they can rely on, ensuring the security and well-being of their future.

2. I wish I had done this sooner
The most common thing I’ve heard throughout my career is, “I wish I had done this sooner,” and “The fear of the unknown held me back from making this type of a decision.” Life Plan Communities are not “old folk’s homes” anymore. They offer resort-style living with no worries about the cooking and cleaning, but more importantly, they offer the freedom for you to come and go as you please. Choosing a Life Plan Community gives you the opportunity to shut the door and go on that world cruise that you’ve always wanted to go on. You don’t have to worry about a pipe bursting or something happening while you’re gone – we take care of all of that. This is a gift you give yourself, and is a way for you to finally enjoy those things that you’ve put on the back-burner.

3. It’s more affordable than you think
A lot of people don’t realize how affordable it is! People say, “I didn’t explore this option because I felt like it was out of my financial reach.” When you consider the tax benefits that you receive when you choose a Life Plan Community, and the discounts you receive when you move through the levels of care, having the ability to just have one monthly fee makes it so much easier. Plus, with property insurance and property taxes going up at a rapid rate, this makes a Life Plan Community a very attractive option. A Life Plan Community is a safety net and the predictability of costs over the years allows you to protect your nest egg longer.

4. You’ll find a whole new beginning
I don’t think people realize what a supportive, caring network you’ll find at a Life Plan Community. The new beginnings, the feeling of second family, the knowledge that if anything were to happen with your spouse, you have a support network in place already. You have a whole group of people who care about you, not just fellow residents but also team members who are tenured, who have been here a while, who are really engaged and really love what they do.

5. You are ready!
I hear, “I’m not ready yet,” “I’m not old enough,” “I’m not sick enough,” and “I have this milestone I’m waiting for,” a lot. My biggest take on that is you are ready! You may have lived in your current home for decades. However, the house that once perfectly served you and your family may no longer be the best fit for you. You may find that you spend a lot of your valuable time cleaning, managing the yard work, working on repairs and paying for taxes and homeowner’s insurance. You can utilize those resources in a different way and truly give yourself the carefree lifestyle that you’ve always longed for. When you choose this type of lifestyle you not only gain all that free time back to pursue creative, intellectual, physical and social pursuits, but you gain a whole new perspective on a chapter in your life that will bring longevity and vitality to you. What are you waiting for? There’s no time like the present to start creating your new lifestyle and enjoying all of the wonderful opportunities at your fingertips instead of being isolated in your home.

Ready to find the perfect fit for your future? Find a Westminster community near you today!

Women’s History Month Spotlight: Sharon Piety-Nowell, Westminster St. Augustine

Westminster St. Augustine resident Sharon Piety-Nowell retired from the field of education after a remarkable 47-year career. Starting as a second grade teacher, she gained extensive experience in various roles, including elementary school principal, course evaluator for the Federal Aviation Administration, and holding multiple leadership positions at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida. After 15 years of dedicated service, she retired as Dean of the university.

“I didn’t really plan any of that. I didn’t have career goals aside from teaching second grade,” Sharon said. “I had opportunities that I accepted and I think that’s one of the things that’s really important to nurture in young people starting out in the career today is to nurture their willingness to take risks and opportunities.”

In honor of Women’s History Month, Mrs. Piety-Nowell shared invaluable insights from her extensive career in education. With a wealth of experience under her belt, she generously offered advice and tips for aspiring women aspiring to pursue a career in this field.

How do you feel that the landscape in your field has changed for women who are wanting to pursue a similar role/position?

I think that one way the field has changed is that there are more opportunities available for advancement professionally. Clearly women are being promoted to those higher levels of the professional ladder, however I still think that the academic institutional culture is still a patriarchal system and men still receive higher respect and pay, even though clearly in the field of education, there are more women than men.

What’s interesting is most of the structure in education, whether its K-12 systems or college levels, are controlled by boards – boards of trustees, boards of directors, school boards – and those are mostly men, and that effects the entire culture then. I think all of those things make it challenging for women still to be able to achieve what they are capable of achieving. If they will take the risk and take advantage of opportunities, I think they will be as successful as possible.

What do you think your field needs to be doing now to continue to advance women wanting to pursue a similar career?

I’m a big fan of mentoring, so I think it’s really important that the professional groups in education mentor the younger women in the profession. That has to start with K-12 classrooms and by examining the reward system for females. They really need to look at how they can reward female characteristics like caring, compassion, being servant leaders, using critical thinking and problem solving, and making sure those characteristics are rewarded along with traditional characteristics like leadership, power and control.

I really think one of the ways mentoring can be occurring that I don’t see happening as often is all of us retired professional women can be mentoring college students in a formal way. I do it naturally because I have graduate students that have stayed in touch with me, but it seems like we’re losing an opportunity not to make it more formal and cultivate the relationship between retired professionals and college students.

What advice would you offer to younger women who may be interested in pursuing a career in your given field?

I keep trying to analyze how I got into the positions I got into because I didn’t really set career goals to do that, and my conclusion is that you need to build a skills toolbox that can cross a broad set of abilities that you can apply to a diverse cultural setting. These skills are social and emotional intelligence, critical thinking, collaborative problem solving, needs assessment skills, research skills and especially a love of lifelong learning and education.

Can you share a memory of yours were you felt that the women that you were working with, stood together to overcome the challenges that are associated with being a woman in your given field?

I’ll give you two. One was from when I was an elementary school principal and one from when I was Dean. When I was an elementary school principal, I was the only female administrator in the school out of 18 administrators. I started as the principal of a small school with 130 students. However, after the first year, I was asked to close that school and combine it with a larger school with the total population of 600 students, and of course, the community didn’t want this. The group of teachers I worked with were unbelievable. We bonded together and structured the transition for the students and the parents to become one larger school and one full community and the results were just phenomenal. I was there 10 years and it was just one of the best experiences of my career because that group of women had such a strong bond.

The other one, when I was a Dean, I had the privilege of being the host to the Black Women’s Roundtable in 2011 at Bethune-Cookman University. Their purpose was to come and mentor young students on campus and serve as role models for the undergraduate and graduate students. Most of them were first generation college students and it was an experience seeing women mentoring women from all of the country. It was a transformative leadership program. Most of our students went onto masters and doctorate programs, and to become leaders in their chosen careers, a perfect example of women working together and overcoming challenges. You can imagine what it’s like to be the first woman in your family to go to college and then to go all the way through to your masters and doctorate – it was a really powerful experience.

Women’s History Month Spotlight: Martha Inman

Martha Inman has been the Assisted Living Activities Coordinator at Westminster Oaks in Tallahassee for more than 27 years – and she’s loved all of it. She has been the bedrock of the Activities team for so long that she has created an entire philosophy around it. “The Activities team is called to go in two directions: To serve the residents when needed, and to be a peer and a friend when needed,” Martha says.

This month, while we honor Women’s History Month, it’s important to look at how our field has changed and the women who touch residents’ lives. In 2023, Martha was recognized for the many ways that she makes the residents’ lives engaging and enriching when she received the CEO Award from Chief Executive Officer Terry Rogers at our Annual Awards Banquet.

How do you feel that the landscape in your field has changed for women who are wanting to pursue a similar role/position?

Activities has always been a more female-centric part of the field of senior living. Today, however, we are seeing the opposite! We see more acceptance of men who want to seek these roles. We have to be enthusiastic and welcoming of them, too, when we get a wonderful man serving in the role.
We have also come a long way in finding people who put the experience of the residents first, and show each other respect and mutual understanding. As we have shifted away from a clinical emphasis to really emphasizing lifestyle, learning and engagement at any age and level of independence, we have had to build a stronger Activities team.

What do you think your field needs to be doing now to continue to advance women wanting to pursue a similar career?

I think we’re already doing what we need to do. Salaries have nearly tripled in my time in the field, which allows me to bring in those who are passionate – men or women – who have something to bring to the table, whether it’s crafts, or music or something else.

There have always been amazing women in leadership in our organization, and having a woman who can be your mentor is a real advantage for women entering the field today. I have been fortunate to have three mentors who are women leaders, Sandy Hugg, Shannon Sauls and Vicki Brown. Sandy taught me what our field is all about and to be a daring risk taker and to encourage me. Shannon came one year later, and as my supervisor, she was always encouraging and allowed me to try creative programming for our residents. Now I work directly for Vicki, and she is an amazing leader, as well as a former nurse and Director of Nursing (DON).

Westminster Oaks has over the years become a haven for many women who needed to get her place in the world, financially, and to move to a better place in their lives. We help our team members build strong lives and provide for their families. We advance women who want to come to the company and stay with the company, and we fulfill our Mission in doing so.

What advice would you offer to younger women who may be interested in pursuing a career in your given field?

Check your temperament and ask yourself if you want a true vocational mission or calling. It takes that to succeed in this job. You have to be in it for the thrill of seeing the impact that you make in enriching people’s lives, and bringing joy to their lives as the outcome of what you do. If not, it will simply be hard work and you will say that it is too much at times. I have a lot of faith in the Lord, and I think our work is a place where we can make sure people are here with joy and leaving with joy at the end of their lives.
Our job is to keep the residents enjoying the in-the-moment joy that fills their lives. They have moved to a point where the responsibilities, worries and fears are behind them. We re-enrich their lives with what we can bring them to remember, explore, create.

Can you share a memory of yours were you felt that the women that you were working with, stood together to overcome the challenges that are associated with being a woman in your given field?

We have been blessed that I’ve been here for 27 years, and had so many strong women in leadership, that we have not had that problem. Many of our senior leaders are women, many of our Resident Council leadership have come from Florida State or Florida A&M University and they are women, and they create a supportive environment and expect that environment everywhere. Westminster Oaks has always been a very supportive place for female team members, even if the field as a whole may not have always been supportive.

Honestly, I feel blessed to have had this experience.

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