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.

‘Celebrating life, purpose, happiness and health’ at the 2024 Westminster Games

Residents from Westminster Communities of Florida’s senior living communities enjoyed outdoor festivities, games and fitness opportunities at Eckerd College

ST. PETERSBURG, February 23, 2024 – With lawn games, live music, dancing and more outdoor fun, the Eighth Westminster Games was celebrated on Friday at Eckerd College. More than 300 residents and team members from Westminster Communities of Florida’s communities throughout Florida came to enjoy some friendly competition. At the end of the day, their objective was to have fun in the great outdoors!

The Westminster Games showcase Westminster Communities of Florida’s active lifestyle, featuring their exclusive MyWLife program for wellbeing of body, mind and soul. Residents enjoyed a fun and active experience, supported by Eckerd College students and faculty, plus live music provided by the Bus Stop Band and a special salsa dance.

Chief Executive Officer Terry Rogers opened this year’s Westminster Games. “It’s that time of year again— time to unleash your inner Olympian!” said Rogers. “And it is time to celebrate this beautiful community and family that we have. Each of you plays a role in making this day amazing. Today is not all about winning the medals, it’s also about celebrating life, purpose, happiness and health. With hearts full of excitement and a shared spirit of good sportsmanship, let us officially declare the games open. Let the games begin!”

“On this beautiful day, we shout for joy, mindful of our many blessings,” said Doug McMahon, Chaplain of Eckerd College. “Let us go forth to love our neighbor and make a difference in our world.”

Attendees competed as teams by community in a variety of games to celebrate active living and wellbeing for seniors, with horseshoes, ring toss, corn hole, ladder ball and croquet.

Following the games, residents enjoyed a group boxing exercise, facilitated by the Westminster Resident Experience team and led by Steve Gallagher.

The winning team of the Eighth Westminster Games was Westminster Winter Park, followed by Westminster Towers and Westminster Shores. The spirit award for best team cheer was also won by Westminster Winter Park, which earned them an additional 5 points in the judging.

“Congratulations to all the winners!” said Jim Polaski, Senior Vice President of Operations.

We congratulate Westminster Winter Park, and all the residents of Westminster Communities of Florida, for joining us in celebrating active living.

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.

Beat the Heat This Summer with Our Vocational Dimension of Well-Being

Westminster Communities of Florida believes that to be “well” you must consider the entire being: body, mind and spirit. We offer residents and team members an active and engaging lifestyle inspired by eight dimensions of holistic wellness. All summer we’ve been highlighting how you can take advantage of each of the eight dimensions of wellness to stay cool and active during the summer months, from physical well-being to spiritual wellness.

This final week, we’re focusing on our vocational dimension of well-being: staying active by finding new and fulfilling opportunities to remain engaged in our lives. Making use of your skills and abilities is a great way to stay engaged and active throughout the summer.

Keep up with your hobbies in the great outdoors — safely

Do you love to paint, bird-watch or take photos? Stick with them through the summer months, avoiding the peak of the heat: Paint en plein-air or bird-watch in the cool mornings. But keep in mind that it isn’t spring, and it’s important to stay safe and hydrated. Be sure to check on the local conditions before you go, and always bring a buddy or a group to stay safe. Don’t forget your water and sunscreen!

Try something you love but haven’t done before

Find a way to stay engaged in the summer months by finding something completely new. Is there something you’ve always wanted to try but have never had the chance? The great indoors offers tons of opportunities: Learn to cook something new, take a pottery class, or even study a new language. Doing something different can help you gain new skills, meet new people and have a great time doing it. No matter what you choose, make sure it’s something that excites you and pushes you out of your comfort zone.

Become an art expert or a book collector

Libraries and museums are a great way to stay engaged in pleasant, air-conditioned spaces. Have you always wanted to read Anna Karenina or become an expert in Van Gogh’s unique paint strokes? You can find the engagement and resources you need to learn, with expert librarians and museum docents, who’d be happy to engage.

If you’re already an expert in these matters, consider volunteering at these organizations! You can lead a book-study group or even volunteer to be a docent yourself.

Help someone else out

During the summer months, the kids are out of school. Do you have a passion for teaching, subject matter expertise or a desire to help kids in need? Consider tutoring opportunities, help out at your local Big Brothers and Big Sisters club or inquire at your local school or public library about volunteer opportunities.

If you find you’d rather help adults in need, support furry friends, or help entrepreneurs launch new businesses, there are a variety of ways to lend a hand and be productive while staying indoors.

How to do it

You have a variety of fun ways to gain new skills, make use of your passion and meet new people while making a positive difference. But in the summer months, it’s important to stay safe.

Don’t forget our other tips on beating the heat this summer, emphasizing all eight dimensions of My W Life wellness. Learn all about it and find the Westminster community near you this summer and fall!

‘God put us here for a reason’: Serving the residents during Hurricane Idalia is part of our Mission

When a hurricane or tropical storm threatens Florida, like Hurricane Idalia this week, team members at Westminster Communities of Florida have a top priority: Ensuring the safety and well-being of the residents we serve. Our Mission is to serve from the heart and inspire older adults to enjoy happy, healthy and purposeful lives.

What impact has Hurricane Idalia had? Some of our dedicated team members are living out our Mission, today, by evacuating with residents or sheltering at their communities through the storm. Regardless of their normal jobs, their principal responsibility right now is to provide for the residents’ needs.

Today we caught up with five of these team members to learn about their experiences, why they chose to stay at their community or evacuate with residents, and what is inspiring them to stay hard at work during a storm.

Jackie Walker Ellison, Cook, Westminster Shores, temporarily at Westminster Winter Park

In St. Petersburg, Westminster Shores was forced to relocate residents out of the path of the storm. Jackie Walker Ellison always knew she would be with the residents, from the moment she first heard. “The residents said to me, ‘Jackie, are you coming with us? I know we’ll be OK if you come with us.’ So I had no doubt,” Ellison said. “I knew for sure I would be evacuating, I called my husband and my mother and I told them, ‘I’m going with my residents, I’ll see you whenever.’ ”

The group of 24 residents was accompanied by Ellison to Westminster Winter Park, where they’re enjoying the hospitality of the residents and team members there. The Westminster Shores team is occupied with providing for the needs of the residents during Hurricane Idalia. “I think it brings everyone together as a team,” she said.

Ellison has worked at Westminster Shores for 29 years, and “I love my residents. I wouldn’t have been here so long if I didn’t love this place and my residents. God put us here for a reason,” she said. “Right now, the residents are happy, we’ve been watching movies and playing games, and everything is going smoothly.”

Michele McCann, Assisted Living Activities Coordinator, Westminster Palms, sheltering in place

“I choose to be with the residents during the most emotional time, like a hurricane, because that’s my quality as a caregiver,” said Michele McCann, Assisted Living Activities Coordinator at Westminster Palms. “Challenging times like this bring out the best in people, and I get to see it and share it.”

McCann was sheltering in place at the community in St. Petersburg, along with residents from Westminster Palms and residents from Westminster Point Pleasant in Bradenton. She has lived in Florida for more than 7 years, and has experienced three hurricanes in St. Petersburg so far. McCann said she feels that the way the team bonds, whether through an evacuation or sheltering in place, makes the team stronger. “We are going to come out better on the other side of this! We always do. We are so lucky that we are here, in our home, together, instead of relocating like so many had to. I have come to feel like this is my home, too.”

Carlos Santiago, Maintenance Engineer, Westminster Point Pleasant and Tiffany Mestre, Administrative Assistant, Community Support Services, temporarily at Legacy Pointe at UCF

A group of residents from Westminster Point Pleasant were also with Maintenance Engineer Carlos Santiago and Tiffany Mestre, an administrative assistant at our Community Support Services office in Orlando. The residents had evacuated from Bradenton due to the risk of storm surge and flooding, and were enjoying the hospitality of Legacy Pointe at UCF.

Santiago, the maintenance engineer, said that he had been through the worst in 2017 when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico. “We were there with no power for 60 days, and we weren’t able to do anything,” he said. By comparison, he felt that everything was under control and being well maintained for the residents through both of his hurricane experiences as a Westminster team member.

“This job is personal for me,” Santiago said. “The residents are my family and I want to make sure that they are well taken care of.” In 2022, Santiago was recognized as Westminster Point Pleasant’s Team Member of the Year for his dedicated service to the residents. He said it was his honor to serve the residents.

Evacuating with the residents is just another extension of his commitment to the community, Santiago said. “This is my second time evacuating with the residents, and it doesn’t matter how many more. I will always volunteer to be there for them. We are here for each other and for the residents.”

Countless storms had also affected Mestre, a Florida native. But she had never had an experience like today’s. “It’s wonderful to help the residents and hear about their interests and stories. This is a great way to see how the residents live,” Mestre said. “I am getting to know what a day in the life of a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) and an ADON (Assistant Director of Nursing) are like. It has opened my eyes. Bless their souls for doing all of this.”

The effects of the storm had been mild in Orlando, but Mestre said that nevertheless, she and the residents felt more secure and had been brought closer together by the experience – and the residents were thankful for the security. “This has really brought our Mission to life for me in a way I had not experienced it,” said Mestre.

For Santiago, part of living in a hurricane zone meant more practice – and that he had found that the team is getting stronger through the experience. “The more we do this together, the more we become comfortable with each other, and the better organized we become. When you send a group of people together for one purpose and for our Mission, we get the opportunity to grow together and learn from each other,” said Santiago.

Beth Szabo, Services Coordinator, Riverside Presbyterian Apartments, sheltering in place

Another part of the Westminster Mission is to serve residents with low to moderate incomes, in our affordable Rental Retirement Communities. Beth Szabo, services coordinator at Riverside Presbyterian Apartments, was sheltering in place at the community to ensure that the residents were well cared for throughout the potential effects of the storm in Jacksonville.

“I’ve lived in Jacksonville since 1976, so I have lost count of how many hurricanes I’ve been through now. In 2004 they were coming so frequently we all said, ‘I’m over it, just let it go,’ ” said Szabo. “We have had to evacuate a few times over the years, like for Hurricane Matthew in 2016. But we did not have to this time.”

For Szabo, serving during a hurricane is a natural extension of her choice to work at the community, because the residents are like her extended family. “I have a heart for seniors, and the residents here mean a lot to me,” she said. “If something happens then I want to be here to help them.”

Szabo added that she feels safer riding out a storm at Riverside Presbyterian Apartments than at home. “Here at the community, I know that we have a great team looking out for everyone. We’re very small but we support each other.”

A facet of our Mission

While a hurricane is unexpected, serving the residents and supporting their fellow team members wherever we are and however we can is just another facet of the Mission of Westminster Communities of Florida: We serve from the heart and inspire older adults to enjoy happy, healthy and purposeful lives.

Be sure to learn all about how you can make a Westminster community your home to live or to work – find a community near you or follow us on Facebook and on LinkedIn!

Personalized Gifts to Send your Grandkids Back-to-School in Style

It’s back-to-school time, and if you have grandkids or great-grandkids who are heading for a new year a learning, why not send them back to school with these personalized gifts?

These gifts include customized water bottles and pencil cases with the child’s name and favorite colors, or even a personalized school bag or backpack.

Pencil Case

Rainbow Glitter Pencil Case

Crayon Name Pencil Case

Large Letter Pencil Case

Keychains for backpack

Name Cut Out Keychain

Raised Name Keychain

Beaded Name Keychain

Name tags for school supplies

Holographic Name Tags

Mario Name Tags

Boho Name Tags


Classic Yellow Pencils

Pastel Color Pencils

Rainbow Pencils


Corduroy Backpack

Black With Leather Tag Backpack

Sleeping Animal Backpack

Water Bottles

Colorful Water Bottle

Mermaid Water Bottle 

Dinosaur Water Bottle

Achieving Emotional Wellbeing Through Our Eight Dimensions of Well-Being

At Westminster Communities of Florida, we believe that wellbeing is much more than just physical wellness, and that you must consider the entire being—body, mind and spirit—to be well. This summer, we’re diving into each of Westminster’s Eight Dimensions of Well-Being to guide you to whole-person wellbeing.

Your emotional state has a large effect on your overall wellbeing. Our emotional dimension is guided by a goal of understanding your feelings, accepting limitations and dealing with the stressors of daily life in order to achieve stability.

In this blog post, we’ll look at what causes stress in seniors, how to identify stress in older adults, and the top five ways to manage stress as a senior. Let’s get started!

What Causes Stress in Seniors?

Stress is an unavoidable part of life, and it can be especially difficult for seniors who are dealing with additional physical limitations. In fact, older adults experience higher levels of stress than younger adults due to a variety of factors, including changes in lifestyle, health issues and even financial concerns.

One of the most common causes of stress in seniors is isolation. As people age, they tend to become less socially active due to physical constraints or the loss of loved ones. This lack of connection can lead to feelings of loneliness and depression, which can then cause increased stress levels.

How to Identify Stress in Older Adults

Identifying stress in older adults can be difficult, as the signs and symptoms of stress may manifest differently than in younger people. Common signs of stress in seniors include physical changes such as sleeping problems, fatigue, headaches, and digestive issues. Behavioral changes such as increased irritability, difficulty concentrating or remembering things, and social withdrawal are also common indicators of stress. Seniors may also experience a range of emotions such as anger, sadness, fear or guilt that they have difficulty managing.

Top 5 Ways to Manage Stress as a Senior

There are many strategies and techniques that can help. Here are five of the most effective ways to manage stress and anxiety in seniors:

  1. Get Regular Exercise: Exercise is one of the most beneficial activities for reducing stress levels, as it helps to increase endorphins and reduce cortisol levels. Incorporating aerobic activities such as walking, swimming or dancing into your daily routine can help reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. Yoga is also an excellent way to relax tense muscles while also calming the mind.
  2. Practice Mindfulness: Mindfulness is a form of meditation that focuses on being aware and present in the moment without judgement or criticism. Focusing on your breathing, paying attention to your thoughts and emotions without getting caught up in them, and engaging in activities such as yoga or tai chi can be very helpful in managing stress.
  3. Talk it Over: Talking about our feelings with someone we trust or even a professional counsellor can be extremely beneficial when it comes to managing stress. It’s important to express our worries rather than keeping them bottled up inside which can lead to further problems down the line if not addressed properly.
  4. Make Time for Yourself: Taking time out for yourself every day is essential for maintaining emotional wellbeing as an older adult – whether that means going for a walk or simply taking some time out from your busy schedule for reading or doing something creative you enjoy. Allowing yourself some ‘me-time’ will help you stay focused on what really matters and allow you time to relax away from any sources of stress or anxiety you may be feeling at any given moment.
  5. Stay Connected: Staying connected with friends and family members helps seniors feel supported, loved, accepted and less isolated – all key elements when dealing with stressful situations. It doesn’t have to be a physical interaction either – social media platforms like Skype or FaceTime allow us to stay in touch without having to leave our homes which can be particularly useful if mobility is an issue due age-related illnesses such as arthritis.

Take Steps Towards Emotional Stability

Stress is an unavoidable part of life and can be especially difficult for seniors. It is important to take steps to identify and manage stress in seniors in order to maintain their overall wellbeing. By following these steps, seniors can be better equipped to handle the stressors of life and achieve a state of emotional stability.

When you choose to live at a Westminster Life Plan Community, you’ll have access to fun programming with all eight of our dimensions of wellbeing in mind, including addressing your emotional wellbeing. Learn more about the lifestyle you can enjoy at a Westminster community, and find the community near you today!

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