CULTURE MOMENT:  Mental Health Month

Self-Care Strategies (Part 1)

Self-Care is important, but lack of time, energy, and money can make it feel impossible. Two predictors of how we weather storms are if we feel we are able to take action on our own behalf and if we feel we have support from others. The tips below include practices that can help with both:

Do what you can and let go of the rest: It feels far easier, and even more fun in the short term, to spend my energy complaining about things I cannot control. But doing this gives my power away and leaves my wellbeing in the hands of others. When I focus on the actions I can take, I keep a far better perspective on most things in my life and work.

Access support: Strong social connections can help with anxiety and depression, healthier heart rates, and a more balanced perspective on all of life’s events. Those connections can be made during a phone call with a loved one on our way to work, by sharing funny memes with friends, using a video-call app to visit with a family member while cooking dinner, or talking with a colleague on a 15-minute break from work.

More to follow…

Resource: 10 Self-Care Strategies for Professional Caregivers, Dr. Carla Cheatham, MA, MDiv, PhD, TRT

3 Seasonal, Florida-Grown Fruits To Enjoy This Spring

As the days get longer and the weather gets warmer, there’s no better time to enjoy the bounty of spring produce grown in Florida. From avocados to zucchini (both fruits!), there are countless delicious and nutritious fruits to choose. In this blog post, we’ll explore three spring fruits and the health benefits they offer. Read on to learn more about the antioxidant-rich blueberries, Vitamin C-filled mangos, and the hydrating watermelon.

Blueberries are rich in antioxidants

Blueberries are a delicious, antioxidant-rich fruit that are locally grown in parts of Florida. Also full of Vitamin C and dietary fiber, blueberries support healthy digestion, help reduce inflammation and protect our cells from damage by free radicals.

Studies have shown that consuming blueberries regularly can help reduce the risk of developing certain diseases, including cancer and heart disease. The antioxidants found in blueberries have been linked to improved cognitive function and memory, as well as better vision health. Blueberries are also high in manganese, which helps with bone health, metabolism and energy production.

The sweet taste of blueberries makes them a perfect addition to a variety of dishes or snacks throughout the day. Adding them to salads or yogurt gives an extra boost of flavor without adding any unnecessary calories or fat. For a simple yet tasty snack, try making your own homemade trail mix with dried blueberries or adding fresh berries to your favorite smoothie recipe for an extra nutritional punch!

Mangos are a great source of Vitamin C

Mangos are a delicious and nutritious fruit that is widely grown in Florida during the spring season. Not only do mangos taste great, but they are also an excellent source of Vitamin C, an essential nutrient for overall health. A single mango contains approximately 43 milligrams of Vitamin C, which meets almost 75% of the daily recommended intake for adults.

When choosing a mango, look for one that is slightly soft on the outside but not mushy or wrinkled. You should also make sure it’s fragrant — if it doesn’t smell sweet then it likely isn’t ripe yet!

Mangos can be tricky to prepare if you’re unfamiliar, because of their large central pit and thick skin. To cut the flesh from around the large seed in the center, use a sharp knife to slice two equal lengthwise slices from either side of the pit. You can then cut the slices off the peel with a spoon.

You can enjoy your mango fresh or add it to salads, smoothies or other recipes for added flavor and nutrition!

Watermelon is delicious and hydrating

Watermelon is one of the best fruits to enjoy during the spring season in Florida, not only because of its delicious taste but also due to its high water content. Eating watermelon can be hydrating and a great way to beat the heat. Watermelons are composed of 92% water and contain electrolytes, such as potassium and magnesium, which help keep you hydrated, especially on hot summer days. Additionally, they are an excellent source of Vitamin A and C – two essential vitamins needed for healthy skin and eyes.

To make sure you get the most out of your watermelon, chop it into slices or cubes for quick and easy snacking. If you’re looking for a more creative option, use a melon baller to scoop it out and get creative with fun and quirky salads. You can also use a blender to make a delicious, healthy smoothie and enjoy a refreshing snack.

How can you enjoy these 3 delicious, seasonal fruits and much more? Westminster Communities of Florida has dedicated chefs who develop a new seasonal menu every few months, featuring local produce at its peak. Find a community near you today and discover delectable chef-prepared dining for breakfast, lunch and dinner!


Four Types of Reflective Questions

When reflecting on a situation, coaching through self– individual– and team– reflective questions can support a healthy dialogue. To do so, there are four types of reflective or shared questions that can be utilized.

Questions focused on the “past or present”:

1. Awareness– questions aimed at determining knowns. Examples: What have I tried? When did that happen? How often does that happen?

2. Analysis– questions that dig a little deeper to uncover unknowns. Examples: What would this ideally look like? What is different now? How well is that working?

Questions focused on the “future”:

3. Alternative– questions that surface additional solutions to ideas/thoughts not previously considered. Examples: What do I think could work instead? What else could I try?

4. Action– questions that solicit the plan for what is going to happen. Examples: When am I going to do that? What is my plan between now and when I get together with my supervisor/team next? 


Starting Your Own Garden: The Mental and Physical Health Benefits for Seniors

Spring has sprung – and you may be thinking about how you can spend more time in the garden, enjoying the great outdoors. Besides making our world more beautiful, did you know that gardening can make you healthier?

It’s true! Read more to learn all about how you can start your own garden in Florida, whether you live in St. Petersburg or Tallahassee, and how it can make you healthier as well as happier.

The mental health benefits of gardening

Gardening can provide older adults with a variety of mental health benefits. For example, a flourishing garden can offer a sense of accomplishment and purpose. It give seniors an opportunity to express their creativity and can help them stay in touch with the natural world. Seniors who don’t want to tackle their own home gardens can start by joining a community garden, where there is a sense of community and gardeners can enjoy chatting with each other and sharing knowledge of the natural world.

Gardening is also an incredibly therapeutic activity. Not only does it help reduce stress levels and improve physical activity, but it also has been linked to improved mental well-being and cognition. Studies have shown that gardening can reduce symptoms of depression, help manage stress, and improve overall mental health in seniors.

Creating a garden in your backyard or joining a community garden is a great way to stay active and engaged. Plus, you can enjoy the fruits of your labor with the fresh produce or beautiful flowers you will be able to harvest!

How gardening can help your physical health

Gardening can help improve strength and balance, which can certainly be diminished due to aging. Additionally, gardening is a low-impact form of aerobic exercise, which is beneficial for those with joint or muscle pain. Regular exercise can help to prevent or delay the onset of certain diseases, such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

The activity of gardening allows seniors to be outdoors and enjoy the natural environment. With the right precautions and assistance when needed, gardening can be a safe and rewarding activity for seniors. They should be sure to wear safe and comfortable clothes, and that they’re going to be working outside for a long time, they should have a way to contact someone if they need assistance. 

Plants to try adding to your garden in summer in Florida

The spring and summer months in Florida bring an abundance of blooms, so it’s a great time to add some new plants to your garden. A few of the best options include hibiscus, canna lilies, and angel’s trumpet. Hibiscus is a tropical flower that produces large, colorful blooms and is ideal for adding vibrant color to any garden space. Canna lilies are also a great addition, as they produce long-lasting flowers in a variety of bright hues. Angel’s trumpet is a shrub with trumpet-shaped blooms that come in shades of white, pink, and yellow. All of these plants will add a bright and cheerful touch to any garden.

Gardening can be a great way to stay active, interact with others, and reduce stress, making it an excellent activity for seniors.

A Westminster community can be a home for your garden

Did you know that many Westminster Life Plan Communities have a resident garden? These intimate spaces allow residents a place to enjoy the great outdoors, whether they garden or just appreciate beautiful natural life. Some gardens, like at Westminster Suncoast in St. Petersburg, are so bountiful that they even supply fresh herbs and vegetables for the Dining Services team to enjoy with dinner!

You can find the Westminster community that is perfect for you or a senior family member or friend today. Learn more with our community locator!


Self-Reflection as a Tool for Learning

Self-reflection gives the brain an opportunity to pause amidst the chaos, untangle and sort through observations and experiences, consider multiple possible interpretations, and create meaning. This meaning becomes learning, which can then inform future mindsets and actions.

Through a reflection practice, you can rewrite old stories that don’t serve you, examine the “why” of what happened, and explore “what’s next.” Thinking about your past can help you find out what’s holding you back and get it out of the way, or find the insights you need to stay on target toward a big goal.

To get started:

  1. 1. Instead of simply pondering these topics, write out your thoughts. “Therapeutic or expressive writing” can help reduce depression, up your creativity and even make you physically healthier.
  2. 2. Reflect regularly for the greatest benefit. Set some calendar reminders to reflect on your birthday, at the end of each quarter.
  3. 3. Be open to using reflection spontaneously when you’re stuck, when you’ve failed miserably, or when your team just accomplished something major.


How you can stay in touch with family and friends after moving to a senior living community

Are you considering a move to a senior living community but worried about how you’ll keep in touch with family and friends? You’re not alone. Many future residents have the same concerns.

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to stay connected and keep in touch with the people you care about. From FaceTime to card nights to private dining parties, residents have plenty of options to stay connected with their loved ones.

In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the best ways to keep in touch with family and friends after moving to a senior living community.

Enjoy a video call to have a virtual visit with family or friends whenever you like

A virtual visit can help maintain ties even when residents and their friends are separated by thousands of miles. Modern technology for video calling like FaceTime makes visiting easier than ever. Video calls allow residents to enjoy a face-to-face conversation with family or friends anywhere in the world, from the comfort of their living room. No expensive travel required!

Residents can use FaceTime or video chat services like Skype, Google Hangouts and Zoom to stay in touch with those who matter most. Grandparents can share stories with grandchildren who live far away or have regular catch-ups with distant relatives. Video calling also makes it possible for to host a virtual event, like a game night or movie watch party.

Enjoy a card or board game night and mix the “old” and “new” friends

With many social connections in their current neighborhoods, the prospect of moving to a senior living community can be daunting for many older adults. Fortunately, there are plenty of in-person social opportunities at senior living communities — some of them more informal than others.
Many senior living communities have groups of residents who enjoy a night of card games or board games. Play poker, Clue, Settlers of Catan or whatever you prefer, and enjoy having social opportunities and good friends at your fingertips.

These social events offer a reason for residents to invite their friends and family members over for a night of fun and laughter. It also provides an informal setting for guests to meet other residents and engage in meaningful conversations.

For older adults who want to make sure they stay connected to their friends, one surefire way to make things more fun is to invite their “old” friends to meet the “new” at a game night. It can make for a memorable evening filled with laughter and good company — all while bonding deeper relationships with fellow residents at the same time.

Host a dinner party and let someone else do all the work

Dining is an important part of life at a senior living community. But a special event may call for having a few friends over for dinner, and who wants to do all the cooking and dishes?

That’s why many senior living communities offer residents a variety of catered dining options, to invite guests over for a special dinner party. A special menu developed with the Dining department makes it simple and convenient to plan an event. Enjoy a luxurious meal without lifting a finger!

Inviting friends and family over to experience their community is also great to help those who may be considering making the move themselves. Guests get an up-close look at the lifestyle offered at their friend’s new home. Private dining options allow potential new residents to get an idea of what life would be like for them.

From poker nights to private dinners, there are plenty of ways for residents of senior living communities to keep in touch with family and friends. To learn all about how additional socialization opportunities abound at a Westminster community, find the community that suits you today on our Web site!

Robots, AI and Alexa Can Promote Seniors’ Quality of Life, Connections to Family and Friends

Many older adults wish to “age in place,” by remaining in their homes with assistance, and to stay socially engaged with friends and family. Fortunately, new advances in technology are providing solutions to combat these challenges of isolation.

Today, seniors have the opportunity to stay connected at home and to build meaningful relationships and stay healthy and active through technology, like AI (Artificial Intelligence), robotic pets and devices like Alexa.

In this blog post, we will explore an Italian pilot program using robots to help seniors stay mentally engaged, the potential of AI chatbots to combat loneliness, and the various technology options now available to improve older adults’ lives.

Robots can promote engagement

Recently, The New York Times reported on an innovative program in Italy testing robots to help seniors stay mentally engaged. This program uses robotic pets to provide companionship and socialization opportunities for elderly people who are isolated and relieve the burden on caregivers.

The article said that Italian families, who are challenged to provide care for their loved ones at home, were eager to embrace technology after the demonstration. “You want to hug it,” said Annarita Caliumi.

Elsewhere in the world, a study conducted by Stanford University in Japan found that robot adoption could benefit Japan’s aging society. The researchers found that nursing homes in Japan that adopted robots provided better care for their residents and actually had more, not fewer, team members caring for them.

AI can help combat loneliness, provide virtual assistant services

New advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology can help combat loneliness by providing seniors with chat bots that offer companionship and meaningful conversations. A chat bot can help reduce feelings of loneliness and anxiety by providing engaging conversation topics and listening without judgment or criticism.

In addition to companionship, chat bots can also offer practical solutions for older adults as a virtual assistant. A chat bot could help seniors with banking or medical appointments, if they have mobility issues or limited transportation options. They could place orders online or book appointments over the phone. AI could afford older adults greater independence and the comforts of home, while still being able to access important services.

Robotic pets at Westminster Oaks offer residents the benefit of a furry companion

At Westminster Oaks, a Life Plan Community in Tallahassee, residents in Assisted Living and Nursing Care can enjoy the benefit of a furry companion with special robots — a Joy for All Companion Pet. These robotic companions can open and close their eyes, lift their paws, open their mouths and move their heads and bodies. They are especially appealing to residents with Alzheimer’s and dementia, and help create meaningful interactions with visiting loved ones.

Mildred Trezza, a resident at the community, gave a Joy for All companion pet to her friend who recently moved to Assisted Living. She chose a yellow tabby cat as the robotic pet, because it reminded her of a beloved pet named “Butterscotch.”

Many other technology options are now available to improve older adults’ lives

Today, with the assistance of technology, seniors and their families have many options to help stay connected, as well as stay healthy and keep their homes safe for older adults. The range of technology options that can help seniors stay active, healthy and socially connected is vast. This can help promote “aging in place,” where residents stay in their homes with the assistance of new services to support their changing needs. For example:

  • Smart pill boxes can be set up to open at certain times, or to notify family members when their loved one doesn’t take their medication.
  • A voice assistant device, like Alexa, Cortana or Siri, can help older adults access technology services using a familiar, voice-based format.
  • Smart home security systems and cameras can allow family members to virtually check on a parent or loved one.

Westminster Communities of Florida offers residents My W Assistant. That is a special, Alexa-enabled voice assistant package that they can use to learn about the day’s calendar of lifestyle activities, find out the dining menu and more. Because My W Assistant is powered by Alexa, it can also control their lights, thermostats and more.

In short, advances in technology have made it possible for seniors to benefit from both practical solutions such as virtual assistance tasks and enjoyable activities such as interacting with robotic pets — all from the comfort of home. With so many options available at their fingertips, it’s easy to see why seniors are eager to take advantage of these new opportunities in order to improve their quality of life while remaining safe and socially active at the same time!

To learn more about the ways that technology can enhance the lives of older adults at a Westminster community, find the community that suits you!

5 Reasons Why Southwest Florida is the Best Place to Retire in an Assisted Living Community

Many seniors face the difficult decision of where to spend their golden years. While there are many factors to consider, including cost of living and healthcare, one place stands out as an ideal location for seniors looking for an assisted living community: Southwest Florida.

Here are five reasons why Southwest Florida, with its beautiful beaches and vibrant cultural scene, is the best place to retire in an assisted living community.

Beautiful Beaches

Southwest Florida is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the country. Anna Maria Island, located just a short drive from Bradenton, is known for its pristine white sand beaches and clear blue water. Longboat Key, another nearby island, is a popular destination for beachgoers and water sports enthusiasts. Whether you enjoy sunbathing, swimming, or simply taking a leisurely stroll along the beach, Southwest Florida has something for everyone.

Mild Climate

One of the most appealing aspects of living in Southwest Florida is its mild climate. While the rest of the country may be dealing with snow and freezing temperatures during the winter months, residents of Southwest Florida can enjoy warm, sunny days year-round. This makes it an ideal place for seniors who want to escape harsh winter weather and enjoy a more relaxed, outdoor-oriented lifestyle.

Arts and Culture

The Sarasota area is known for its thriving arts and cultural scene. The Ringling Museum of Art, for example, features a stunning collection of art and artifacts from around the world, while the Sarasota Opera offers world-class performances throughout the year. With a wide range of museums, galleries, and cultural events, there is always something new and exciting to discover in Southwest Florida.

Excellent Healthcare

One of the most important considerations for seniors when choosing a retirement destination is access to quality healthcare. Fortunately, Southwest Florida is home to some of the best hospitals and medical facilities in the country. Residents of Westminster Manor in Bradenton, for example, have access to a range of healthcare services right on campus, including skilled nursing care with The Health Center at Westminster Manor and rehabilitation services.

Active Lifestyle

With its warm climate and abundance of outdoor activities, Southwest Florida is the perfect place for seniors who want to stay active and engaged. There are endless opportunities to stay active and healthy – including fitness classes available to residents. Plus, with a vibrant social scene and plenty of opportunities for volunteer work and community involvement, seniors in Southwest Florida can enjoy a fulfilling and enriching retirement experience.

Discover an Amazing Assisted Living Community in Bradenton

In conclusion, Westminster Manor in Bradenton, Florida is the perfect assisted living community for seniors looking to retire in Southwest Florida. With beautiful beaches, a mild climate, thriving arts and cultural scene, excellent healthcare, and endless opportunities for an active lifestyle, an exciting retirement experience is right around the corner. Visit the Westminster Manor website to learn more or schedule a tour today!

5 Easter Activites for Grandparents to Do With Grandkids

Chocolate eggs are in the grocery store, Peeps are on display and Easter is right around the corner! Being with family at Easter offers an opportunity to bond with your grandchildren. If you’re looking for something to do together outside of dyeing eggs, here are 5 more fun ways you can connect with your grandchildren.

  1. Easter Scavenger Hunt: Try this twist on the traditional Easter egg hunt. If you have grandchildren of varying ages, the little ones can search for plastic eggs or chocolate bunnies while the older children are challenged by riddles and puzzles leading them to clues around the house or yard. Find Easter scavenger hunt cards online (like these!) and consider customizing your scavenger hunt to reference your family members or specific places in your home.
  2. Make an Easter Treat: Cooking and baking are great group activities with a delicious reward for your hard work. Scroll through these 50 Easter Recipes Grandkids Can Help Make from Taste of Home to find recipes for jelly bean bark, cinnamon roll bunnies and fluffy bunny pancakes. You’ll find a variety of recipes to the ages and abilities of your grandchildren. Get the kids involved in the process! Have them read the recipes, measure out ingredients, stir and mix and, of course, taste test.
  3. Planting Flowers: Do you have a green thumb? Get the little ones excited for the flowers to sprout by planting one together. Make it personalized by picking out what you’d like to plant, decorating the flowerpot and learning about how to care for the flower together. If you don’t have a flowerpot handy, use eggshells set in an egg carton as a home for your seedlings. Don’t have a green thumb? “Plant” some jellybeans in a flowerpot and return to your pot later in the day to find that lollipops have sprouted in their place!
  4. Read Together: Snuggle up and read an Easter-themed book. Many of the characters your grandchildren love to read about have Easter-themed storylines from The Berenstain Bears and Pete the Cat to Curious George and the Little Blue Truck. They’ll love going on Easter adventures with their favorite protagonists in books like “Happy Easter, Mouse!” “It’s Better Being a Bunny” and “Happy Easter from The Crayons.” Stop by your local library to pick up some seasonal stories to read together, or if you’re too busy out on a scavenger hunt to sit down and read, purchase some of these titles and add them to their Easter basket.
  5. Arts & Crafts: Another way to cater your Easter activities to the specific ages of your grandchildren is to create some artwork together. Older kids can create or color more advanced drawings of their own images. For younger kids, use their hand or footprint to make a bouquet of flowers to display. Check out this list of the 80 Best Easter Crafts for Kids and Adults to Celebrate Spring from Good Housekeeping for a plethora of ideas for DIY projects from origami bunnies to an Easter wreath made of painted cupcake liners.

Which of these five activities do you plan on doing with your grandchildren this Easter? Try them out and let us know which activities were a hit with your family.

Women’s History Month: We Celebrate Diversity of Leadership

This March, as we celebrate Women’s History Month, we’re spotlighting the many ways women contribute to the Mission of Westminster Communities of Florida. Their significant impact makes our communities a better place to live and work. Today, we’re delving into what empowers some of our long-term leaders, and how to see the value in having a diverse team.

Westminster Oaks Executive Director Shannon Sauls said that as a leader in her community, it’s motivating to see her team members’ potential for development as they go about their own work. “It’s terrific to see people stepping up and showing leadership and great organizational skills, from people you didn’t expect,” Sauls said. She said she is thankful her team members at the Life Plan Community in Tallahassee always come to work motivated to do the right thing.

Stacy Oliver, Administrator at Westminster Plaza, a Rental Retirement Community in Orlando, also applauded the team members at her community for making her a stronger leader. She said that they are her encouragement as a leader. “They’re respectful and reliable, and a good group of people,” she said. “We motivate each other, because we love the residents.”

Oliver said that her experience in a variety of roles as a team member has taught her the value of “hearing a diverse mix of voices, both people in different roles and men and women.” She has been at Westminster Plaza for more than 10 years, but started her Westminster career in St. Petersburg, working in Dining Services. She received her bachelor’s degree with the support of the Virginia Baxter Scholarship provided by a former resident. Oliver worked in a variety of other roles, prior to her current role as Administrator at Westminster Plaza.

Each leader observed that having a diverse mix of people in leadership roles stimulates diversity of thought and opinion – and leads to better outcomes.

Oliver said that she thinks having a diverse team means that everyone brings their unique perspective to the table. “Some roles are predominantly male, and women have to speak up to be heard. Especially as a woman and as an African American, it can be hard to make yourself heard,” she said. “But you have to go with it! You have to express yourself, and do what you’re here to do.”

Sauls said that having women in leadership roles matters, but just as important is who you are, as an individual. “Your history, your personality, your strengths, your thought process, your way of analyzing information,” all play a role, Sauls said. “Not just men and women but also people of different backgrounds, different heritages and different ethnic backgrounds.”

Senior living is a field where the majority of team members are women, Oliver pointed out. But, Oliver added, “We are seeing a generational change, where now we are having a more diverse team of leaders in our communities. That makes the overall team stronger.”

Oliver said that being a strong leader begins with having strong mentors, and credited her own mother for shaping her and inspiring her as a leader. “Sometimes she held two jobs while taking care of my brother and me. She made sure we never went without, or never knew what we didn’t have,” she said. “I carry that with me.”

Sauls agreed that mentors’ value is in inspiring, not just in teaching. She said of her own mentors, “Of course they are incredibly talented people. Any of them could probably work elsewhere but they choose to work at a not-for-profit organization, and touch many, many lives.” To Sauls, a satisfying part of her work is knowing that what we do makes a difference. She said, “Our decisions impact people’s lives, health, safety and quality of life. Our communities are a place where what we do matters to many, many people.”

Westminster Communities of Florida is honoring the contributions made by women in leadership throughout the organization all month. Follow us on LinkedIn or on Facebook to read other parts of this series.

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