Moving to Assisted Living? Check Out Our Ultimate Checklist to Help You Prepare

Moving to assisted living in Florida is an exciting time. Assisted living offers a new way of life that is less stressful and more convenient. The transition can be a big one, so you should prepare for the move carefully. There are several checklist items that can help ensure you are prepared for the big day.

Talk to Assisted Living Staff

Assisted living staff are in the best position to help you understand what to expect before, during, and after you move. Make sure to have one or more conversations with them so that you know what you need to do on moving day and what you can expect when you arrive.

Plan Your New Space 

Your space in assisted living will be different than your space at home, and you should plan accordingly. Depending on your community, it’s possible that not all of your furniture will fit, or you may need new furniture that is more functional in the space. 

Having a plan for all of your belongings will save a lot of time and stress when it is time to move.

Downsize

In assisted living, the services and amenities available often mean that you don’t need many of the items you once had in your home. Transitioning to assisted living is the perfect time to take inventory of your belongings and sell or give away what you no longer need. 

Downsizing will not only make your move easier, but it will also set you up for a clean and clutter-free space in your new home.

Find Movers

Even if you are only moving a short distance, finding a moving company to help is the best way to go. Moving companies carefully pack all of your belongings and safely transport them to your new residence.

Take Care of Logistical Details

Finally, don’t forget the logistical details that come along with moving. You’ll need to:

  • Set up address forwarding
  • Notify friends and family of your address change
  • Disconnect utilities
  • Disconnect cable and internet services

If you are selling your home to move to assisted living, it may be a good idea to work with a professional to ensure everything is closed out before your move.

Look Forward to Your Move to Florida Assisted Living Facilities

There are a lot of elements to manage for seniors moving to Florida assisted living facilities. Adhering to this checklist will ensure that the transition goes smoothly and is as low-stress as possible.

What A Year: Our Top 10 Posts of 2022

It’s time for us to turn the page on another year. At Westminster Communities of Florida, we’re thankful that 2022 was another amazing year! We enjoyed exciting new developments all across the state, plus great news to share, and a variety of other top news about the active lifestyle our residents and team members enjoy every day. Here are some of the most extraordinary moments we have shared this year, in the style of David Letterman’s Top 10 lists:

10. Our Foundation Resident Art Show

In July, Westminster Woods on Julington Creek was pleased to host the Westminster Communities Foundation’s Resident Art Show. The show was also available for all of our residents, team members and their families to enjoy virtually, no matter where they live.

You can enjoy some of the amazing and award-winning work from the 2022 Resident Art Show for yourself! View our Virtual Art Show.

9. We Won Gold at The National Mature Media Awards

This summer, we were thrilled to announce that our Creative Team, part of our Community Support Services team, won a Gold Award and three Merit Awards in this year’s National Mature Media Awards. The Gold-winning campaign, “Happy To Be Here,” was a multi-channel campaign featuring direct mail pieces, advertisements, events, resident testimonials, buttons, referral program and so much more. In addition, the Merit Awards were given to our “Sweet and Savory” event, “100% Satisfaction Guarantee” campaign, and “Candid Conversation” campaign. We are so proud of all the team members who worked on these amazing entries!

8. The Westminster Towers-Westminster Winter Park Putting Tournament

The semi-annual putting tournament put on by the residents of Westminster Towers and Westminster Winter Park is highly competitive — and one of our most highly engaged posts throughout the entire year. The event is a favorite for both communities as residents enjoy getting together, engaging in some friendly competition and savoring a delicious lunch with friends. Westminster Towers started the tournament with a prayer from Chaplain Brenda and at the end of the day, Team Towers won with a 30-point lead.

7. Establishing A Gift to Support Team Members of Westminster St. Augustine

This summer, a resident at Westminster St. Augustine, Winston Allen, created a scholarship fund for the team members of Westminster St. Augustine and their family members who are seeking a career in law enforcement. The local newspaper, the St. Augustine Record, wrote about this wonderful gift — you can read all about it on their website: https://www.staugustine.com/story/news/local/2022/07/24/westminster-st-augustine-resident-donates-scholarship-law-enforcement/10027936002

6. Technology Makes Dining More Exciting at Westminster Point Pleasant

Westminster Point Pleasant’s new Market opened as a tech café in May. This new concept for the dining room in the River Room features ordering to-go items through a kiosk and offers sit-down service as items are served by a robot. So far, the response has been great — residents love this innovative way we’re making life more interesting.

5. We Honored Our Team Members of the Year and Volunteers of the Year

We were delighted to celebrate our incredible Team Members of the Year and Volunteers of the Year for 2021 this summer. We held three recognition banquets – in Orlando, St. Petersburg and Tallahassee – to recognize them for their contributions to making life more interesting at our communities every day. You can learn all about these amazing individuals now!

4. Westminster Oaks’ New Memory Care Neighborhood Wins Eagle Award for Excellence in Construction

Westminster Oaks and Westminster Communities of Florida were delighted to announce that the new Memory Care neighborhood in the Life Plan Community in Tallahassee has been recognized by the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of North Florida with its Eagle Award for Excellence in Construction. Congratulations to our construction team members, including Director of Construction Bill Andersen and Construction Manager Rob Clerici, and contractors Cook Brothers, Inc., of Tallahassee!

3. How Afghan Refugees Are Building New Lives as Westminster Team Members

This year, we were delighted to sponsor several families of State Department-approved refugees from Afghanistan and to help them resettle and find work in our communities. We have helped these families find housing, start work, and enroll their children in school, thanks to the support of residents, team members and community organizations throughout Tampa Bay. We saw an outpouring of generosity, with contributions ranging from clothes and home furnishings, to bicycles and even English lessons provided by residents.

Learn all about the experiences of Noman Raoufi and Mohebullah Zyarmal as they acclimated to living in Bradenton and Orlando, as well as becoming successful new Westminster team members!

2. LeadingAge Florida’s Trustee Of The Year Award Given To Marjorie Phillips, Former Westminster Board Chair

In July, LeadingAge Florida honored former Westminster Communities of Florida Board of Directors chairwoman Marjorie Phillips for her extraordinary contributions to the residents and team members of Westminster Communities of Florida.

Phillips has served in nearly every position on the boards of directors and regional committees of the organization. This includes tenure as chairwoman of the Board of Directors of Presbyterian Retirement Communities, Westminster’s parent organization, as well as the Board of Directors of Westminster Retirement Communities, which is Westminster’s division of affordable Rental Retirement Communities serving older adults with low to moderate incomes.

“I am so appreciative of the nomination by Westminster and somewhat stunned that I would be given an award for doing something I so loved doing,” Phillips said, after receiving the award.
“Serving at Westminster was one of the great blessings in my life.”

1. New Memory Care Center Opens at Westminster Woods on Julington Creek

In September, the new Memory Care Center at Westminster Woods on Julington Creek opened. Residents’ Association President Dr. Joan Hodges said, “This building with all that it holds, carries the visions, hopes and dreams of those who have gone before us, those who will currently live here and those who will come here far into the future.”

Learn about how your family member or loved one can benefit from Memory Care at Westminster Woods on Julington Creek on our website today!

Remembering Anne Snyder – A Legacy of Helping Others

Anne Snyder lived for more than 24 years at Westminster Oaks, which made her friends and our team members into her extended family.  As a final gift to the community she so loved, she provided a generous $158,000 bequest to support her fellow Westminster Oaks residents.

Anne’s donation to the Benevolent Assistance program will help residents who have outlived their resources, through no fault of their own, to continue living at Westminster Oaks. Executive Director Shannon Sauls said, “The residents who receive financial assistance are extremely grateful, and their families are too.”

Anne, who lived to be 105, was a key part of the Tallahassee community and was known widely as a person who helped others in need. She was a charter member of both Covenant Presbyterian Church and Fellowship Presbyterian Church, where she was much-loved for her personal charm, leadership and work ethic. 

Ken and Anne Snyder met at The Ohio State University and were married in 1940. Both served in civil service after World War II. Anne retired after 15 years as the secretary to Judge Harold Carswell, the Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, and then moved to Westminster Oaks in 1997. She gained a wonderful community of friends who joined her in reading, gardening and strolling the neighborhood.

The recipient of Anne’s significant bequest, the Westminster Communities Foundation, was founded with a Mission to enhance the lives of Westminster residents and team members. The Foundation provides approximately $1.9 million each year in Benevolent Assistance for residents who have outlived their resources. Currently, sixty-eight Westminster residents benefit from benevolent assistance support. Jeff Coates, Vice President of Philanthropy, said that “being able to help our neighbors and friends continue to live in their communities, regardless of their resources, would not be possible without the enduring support of caring, generous people like Anne. Our community owes a debt of gratitude to her for the generous legacy in support of others that she left behind.”

Since 1974, Benevolent Assistance at Westminster Communities of Florida has been 100% funded by donors to the Westminster Communities Foundation.

3 Fun Holiday Traditions for Families that Live Far Apart

The holidays are in full swing, and that means many people are spending time with their friends and family.

Families who live far apart may be wondering how they can celebrate together with so much distance between them. You may feel like it’s difficult to have holiday traditions with certain relatives, but it’s still possible to make special memories from farther away. Here are three fun holiday traditions for families that live far apart.

1. Regular Video Chats

With continual advancements in smartphone technology, video chats have become a popular way to keep in touch with long-distance family members. If you want to establish a new tradition with a faraway family member, consider scheduling regular video chats throughout the holidays.

Try sharing a meal over Facetime or opening presents virtually on Christmas morning. Doing so will help you feel close, even when you can’t be physically.

2. Sharing Special Cards

Sending cards is a beloved holiday custom for many. If you have family living far away, consider sending them a special holiday card with a handwritten message inside.

You can include recent photographs of yourself, your spouse, your kids or pets, or your other family members. To make it more personal, craft your own card instead of buying a premade one from the store.

This is an especially nice idea for residents of Florida assisted living facilities, who often can’t be with their loved ones for the holidays.

3. Sending Handmade Gifts

If you’re thinking about sending gifts to a long-distance family member this holiday season, you can make your gift stand out by making it by hand. Whether it’s a crafting project, a scrapbook, a collection of original poems, or a one-of-a-kind piece of art, your recipient will no doubt love getting something you took the time to create.

Who knows? Your creativity may even kick-start a new tradition among other family members who want to give more personalized gifts.

Celebrating the Holidays While Assisted Living in Florida

If you have a loved one in assisted living in Florida, you can still find ways to make the season bright, even if you can’t be together.

If you’re unable to visit them in person, try holding regular video chats, sending them a handmade card, or hand-making unique gifts for them to enjoy. In this way, you and your faraway family members can establish fun new traditions for future holidays.

A Passion For Educating Future Generations

Leonard “Sandy” Davey, Jr. (1930-2021)

For years, Westminster Towers was blessed to have Sandy Davey among its family. Sandy was known by many residents as a sweet and thoughtful person with a vibrant sense of humor. He felt the team members where like family to him.

Sandy spent most of his adult life in Orlando, where he was best-known as the longtime general manager of the WKMG-Channel 6 television station. Prior to embarking on his career in television, Sandy earned an economics degree from the University of Virginia and served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War.

His passing was a cause for sadness, but his memory will be further enhanced by a gift he made to his beloved Westminster community. Sandy left a generous bequest of nearly $132,000 to support the education of Westminster Towers team members and their families who are seeking to further their professional skills and education.

“Sandy’s bequest to Westminster is the ultimate act of generosity,” said Jeff Coates, Westminster Communities Foundation’s Vice President of Philanthropy. “His legacy will be known as a caring soul whose generosity will affect the lives of others through education.”

Sandy’s gift will impact team members and their children like Mia Concha, the daughter of Westminster Towers team member Andrea Montesanti. Mia, who received a 2022 scholarship, is a graduate of Seminole State College and is furthering her education by studying psychology at the University of Central Florida. Andrea said that the financial assistance provided to her daughter is making a difference: “I am grateful that, because of the scholarship Mia received, she was able to purchase the supplies and books she needed for all her classes at UCF.”

Thanksgiving Letter From Garry Hennis, Chief Operating Officer

At Thanksgiving we pause to acknowledge our many blessings and to express our gratitude. We give our thanks for gathering with family and friends, as well as for many cherished memories. As Westminster team members, we also give thanks for each other and for our strong family of service.

Each year, I write to share my gratitude with you. We have responded to a pandemic, catastrophic hurricanes, economic challenges and concerns about war and unrest throughout the world.  Even so, we have much to be thankful for. Above all, I am thankful for you.

I reflect on our Mission and see how you bring it to life within our communities. Through your love, dedication and courage you have served residents, their families, and each other. We have been tried as Americans, as team members and as an organization, yet we continue to live the Mission of service.

As we acknowledge the challenging few years we have experienced, we do so knowing that the individual blessings for which we give thanks may have changed – but our gratitude to God and our commitment to our Mission of serving others remain constant.  I remain inspired by how you serve the residents each day and feel more grateful than ever for each of you.    

On behalf of the entire Leadership Team, we want you to know how thankful we are that you choose to be a member of the Westminster team.

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Garry Hennis
Chief Operating Officer

3 Ways to Celebrate Halloween with Loved Ones in Assisted Living

With Halloween quickly approaching, you’re likely making plans for how your family is going to celebrate. While Halloween parties and trick-or-treating are common ways to celebrate Halloween, you may be wondering how to include your loved one in assisted living in the festivities. 

Many older adults in assisted living facilities are unable to leave their residences, but they still want to participate in the holiday. Fortunately, there are simple ways to bring Halloween to them! Check out three great ways to celebrate Halloween with loved ones in assisted living in Florida.

Celebrating Halloween in Assisted Living in Florida

Is your parent or other loved one currently in assisted living? Check out three ways you can bring Halloween to them and help them celebrate the occasion.

1. Watching Spooky Movies

If your loved one doesn’t scare easily, a great way to get in the Halloween spirit is by watching spooky movies with them. You can pick some of their old favorites or new ones they might enjoy. Bring along some friends or family members to add to the audience and make it a group activity. Make sure you don’t forget the popcorn and candy to snack on!

2. Carving Pumpkins

Another fun way to celebrate Halloween with your loved ones in assisted living is by carving some pumpkins. This will be especially fun if you bring along any grandchildren or other family members. 

Make sure to bring along several small pumpkins that are easy to lift and carving tools that are safe to use for those with limited motor skills. Your senior loved one will be able to partake in a Halloween tradition and make a special memory with family members. 

If carving pumpkins is not an option, there are other creative alternatives that can be Halloween-themed. Many Florida assisted living facilities have arts and crafts centers where you can join your loved one for some Halloween painting or drawing!

3. Wearing Fun Costumes

There’s no age limit when it comes to dressing up for Halloween! To celebrate the holiday with your loved one in assisted living, you can dress up in fun costumes. Dress up as a funny character, and bring some costumes and accessories that your loved one may want to wear. This will help them get in the Halloween spirit and remember all the fun they had dressing up in their younger years.

Westminster Pharmacy Services Team Members Certified As Pharmacy Technicians

Westminster Pharmacy Services now has two additional registered pharmacy technicians among its team members! Congratulations to pharmacy billers Michelle Burris and Mayra Lucas de Gomez on their recent certification.

Burris and Lucas de Gomez completed a six-month program offered by the Florida Department of Health and passed the State of Florida Pharmacy Technician exam, making them licensed to perform and assist at Westminster Pharmacy Services as pharmacy technicians.

“The certification has opened up a lot more things I can do,” Burris said. From data entry and packing medications for pharmacists to review, to preparing deliveries to residents at all our communities, the certification licenses both team members to become more versatile and contribute to many other parts of our Mission of service to older adults. That’s on top of their responsibilities for billing and coordinating with insurance companies in their current roles.

The team at Westminster Pharmacy Services acquired the certification program to develop additional pharmacy technicians coming out of the global pandemic.

“Staffing is challenging for all areas right now, pharmacy included,” said Phil Layman, RPh, CPh, Director of Pharmacy Operations and preceptor for the certification program. “We became registered with the state of Florida to become a certification site and be able to do on-site training partly for that need. Our own team members are some of the best candidates that we could have.”

“Finding good, dedicated individuals is hard, especially after the pandemic,” said Dominick DeSarro, Vice President of Pharmacy Services. “What this opportunity allowed us to do is utilize the talent that we have within and refresh their experience and educational base with this new component.”

Burris and Lucas de Gomez are already familiar with many medication names, dates of supply and directions for prescriptions, on top of knowing the ins and outs of the billing process. The online training course covered areas they were not already experienced with, such as drug classification, data entry, drug calculations and how to complete fillings.

The long-term benefit is not only to the team member and pharmacy services team, but to the residents they serve.

“It’s important to know more to help the clients and residents more,” Lucas de Gomez said. The pharmacy technician certification has empowered her to better assist residents with their medication, and avoid transferring their calls to another team member to complete. “This is really important for us, and important for me personally. It allows me to help my community and help me do my job.”

The 25 team members at Westminster Pharmacy Services have been serving residents in Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care and Nursing Care, providing consulting, nurse liaison, and pharmacy services to residents at all Westminster communities for 15 years, a milestone they celebrate this month.

“One of the things that we’re extremely proud of is that, as part of the family of Westminster Communities of Florida, our margin goes back to the communities, so it’s continuously feeding and supporting the communities that we serve,” DeSarro said. “We serve them twice. That’s truly our Mission.”

Congratulations to Michelle and Mayra on their certification and to the team members at Westminster Pharmacy Services for 15 years of dedicated service to our residents.

To join the team at Westminster Pharmacy Services and find the opportunity that suits you today, follow us on LinkedIn @WestminsterCommunitiesFL, on Instagram @WestminsterCareersFL, or on our website at http://www.WestminsterCommunitiesFL.org/careers!

Chief Operating Officer, Garry Hennis, “Thank You” After Hurricane Ian

October 12, 2022

Dear team members,

Recently Hurricane Ian hit Florida with great destruction. Our heart breaks for the devastation of Fort Myers, Cape Coral, much of Southwest Florida and in the homes of our friends and family. The aftermath of this hurricane is heartbreaking.

The whole Westminster Communities of Florida family was affected, we were forced to evacuate seven communities from Bradenton, Jacksonville, Sarasota and St. Petersburg. Many team members traveled the state to evacuate with the residents we serve, and others sheltered in place during the storm in Central and North Florida.

Thank you for everything that you did to support the residents and each other. Your service to Westminster and the Mission of our organization was of the very highest caliber. Throughout the storm, we continued to serve the residents. At critical moments, every team member was involved, from nursing support to dining services, lifestyle and wellness to maintenance, housekeeping and more. Your tireless efforts before, during and after the storm provided for the safety and security of all residents.

We are thankful that our communities, the residents, and all of you are now safe and sound. Despite the destruction all around us, life is returning to normal. Now the hard work of recovery begins. Some of you have experienced the damage to your own homes or those of friends and family. Others have been emotionally or physically affected by this storm. Please offer the blessing of grace to yourselves, the residents, and your fellow team members as we heal and recover.

Westminster is truly blessed to have the best team members. You are why the persons we serve have chosen to live in one of our communities!

Thank you for going above and beyond to help us fulfill our Mission, not only during Ian’s impact, but each and every day.

Sincerely,

Garry D. Hennis
Chief Operating Officer

What Are the Early Signs of Dementia?

Dementia refers to a loss of cognitive functioning that can severely impact a person’s daily life and routines. It often results in memory loss, confusion, and other distressing symptoms. Nearly one-third of all adults older than 85 have developed a form of dementia. Although it is common, dementia is not a normal part of the aging process.

Symptoms of Dementia

Dementia begins when healthy brain cells begin to degenerate. They lose their connections with other brain cells, causing people to experience the first signs and symptoms of dementia. Some of the most common early symptoms of dementia include:

  • Confusion
  • Memory loss
  • Wandering or getting lost
  • Balance issues
  • Poor reasoning skills
  • Difficulty communicating with others
  • Repeating questions
  • Taking longer to finish routine tasks
  • Impulsivity

When an older adult first begins to experience these symptoms, it’s important that they see their physician. Dementia can be divided into different types, many of which have treatments that reduce symptoms effectively.

Why Dementia Occurs

While it is completely normal for older adults to lose some healthy brain cells, the accelerated rate of loss associated with dementia is not normal. Dementia has several different causes that affect various cells and regions of the brain.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common reason for a diagnosis of dementia in older adults. It accounts for 60-80% of all dementia cases. This disease causes a buildup of proteins in and around brain cells, which can result in a loss of function.

Vascular dementia is the result of damaged blood vessels, which can interfere with the delivery of blood and oxygen to the brain.

Frontotemporal dementia is a rare form of dementia that occurs in people younger than 60. It is thought to be a result of abnormal levels of certain proteins.

Lewy body dementia is the result of deposits of the protein alpha-synuclein. These deposits are called Lewy bodies.

Mixed dementia refers to dementia that has more than one cause.

Seeking treatment can help people with any type of dementia achieve a greater quality of life.

Florida Assisted Living Facilities Can Help

When a loved one is dealing with dementia, Florida assisted-living facilities and Florida independent nursing facilities can provide compassionate care and enriching services to help them cope with their symptoms. People with dementia often benefit from substantial support as they navigate their daily lives. 

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