Boost Your Physical Well-being with Blue Zone Wisdom

If you are ready to take control of your health and physical well-being in the new year, look no further than the wisdom of the Blue Zones, renowned regions where people live longer, healthier lives. By incorporating simple adjustments to your physical activity, you can unlock the secrets to a thriving body and mind. From regular exercise and natural movement to quality sleep and stress reduction, use these tips to guide you towards optimal health.

We’re spotlighting the world’s Blue Zones in this series, because we all want to live longer, happier and healthier lives. We can learn from the people who live in “Blue Zones,” places like Okinawa, Sardinia and Loma Linda, Calif. It’s more than just nutrition — it’s a way of life that anyone can participate in and gain the health benefits. Follow the Blue Zones philosophy on food, physical activity, socialization and spirituality and you may just find yourself living to 100.


The Blue Zones emphasize exercise as a cornerstone for improving overall health, and it’s no wonder why. In these regions, incorporating at least 30 minutes of physical activity into their daily routine is a common practice. Whether it’s walking, running, swimming, or cycling, finding an exercise that you enjoy and can easily fit into your lifestyle is key. By following the wisdom of the Blue Zones and making exercise a source of joy rather than a chore, you can enhance your overall well-being and increase your chances of living a longer, healthier life.


Incorporating movement into your daily routine doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive, and the Blue Zones provide us with inspiring evidence. In these regions, people naturally engage in physical activities as part of their daily lives, contributing to their longevity and well-being. For example, in Okinawa, Japan, where the Blue Zones concept originated, individuals practice low-intensity exercises like tai chi and gardening, which help them stay active and healthy well into their golden years. By following their lead and finding activities that align with your preferences and surroundings, such as walking, gardening, yoga, or swimming, you can make movement a natural part of your life and reap the benefits of improved health and vitality.


Adequate sleep is not only essential for restoring and rejuvenating your body but also a common practice in the Blue Zones. In these regions, people prioritize quality sleep as part of their overall health and well-being. For instance, in Sardinia, Italy, where one of the Blue Zones is located, individuals enjoy an average of 8 hours of sleep per night, contributing to their longevity and vitality. By following their lead and implementing strategies to optimize sleep quality, such as establishing a consistent sleep schedule, creating a relaxing bedtime routine, and ensuring a comfortable sleep environment, you can enhance your sleep and reap the benefits of improved physical and mental health.


The Blue Zones highlight stress management as crucial for overall health. To reduce stress and follow their example, try incorporating relaxation techniques like deep breathing, yoga, and meditation into your daily routine. Spending time in nature, limiting caffeine and alcohol consumption, and engaging in enjoyable activities can also help clear the mind, reduce blood pressure, and improve your mood. By prioritizing stress reduction and incorporating these activities into your life, you can take control of your well-being and increase your chances of living a happier, healthier life.

By embracing these principles, you can take control of your health and increase your chances of living a longer, happier life. So, why not start implementing these tips from the Blue Zones today and embark on a journey towards optimal health? Learn all about how you can enjoy a longer and healthier life at a Westminster community — find the community nearest you on our website today!

Hard Work Pays Off: Adriana Cevallos Earns Bachelor’s Degree While Working Full-Time

Adriana Cevallos, the Administrator at Magnolia Towers, a rental retirement community in Orlando, has recently achieved a significant milestone by earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Polk State College in Winter Haven. Balancing full-time work with higher education is no easy task, but Adriana’s determination and hard work have paid off.
Alex Mookerjee, Executive Director of Housing and Rental Retirement Services, describes Adriana as smart, hardworking, and mission-oriented. “She’s also always looking to learn and do better,” Alex said. “I just really am so proud of her for doing this.”

After joining the Westminster Communities of Florida family in 2022, Adriana, who had a background in hospitality, decided to take on the dual responsibility of working as Administrator full-time while simultaneously pursuing her degree.

“It has been tough, I cannot lie,” Adriana admitted. “But I feel that it is a blessing that it’s finally done and that I was able to do it.”

Alex acknowledges the difficulty of working full-time in a position that requires being on call constantly. “We certainly work more than the hours say we’re supposed to work so it was quite an accomplishment,” Alex said.

Adriana made a commitment to Westminster to finish her degree, and she credits her success to her dedication and the support she received from her team and peers. “I received a lot of encouragement and love,” Adriana shared. “The position itself and the opportunity that Westminster gave me has been a blessing.”

Adriana’s accomplishment not only represents a personal triumph but also serves as an inspiring example for others. Since graduating, Adriana has been a source of support for her team, encouraging them to pursue career advancement opportunities and take advantage of resources for career advancement opportunities that Westminster offers including the Tuition Reimbursement Program and Team Member Scholarship Fund.

“Westminster offers the opportunity to grow and learn and they are always open,” Adriana emphasized.

“If you invest in your people it pays down the road,” Alex said. “The more we can do to invest in our people the better off we all are. Happy employees means happy residents.”

If you are interested in joining the team at Westminster Communities of Florida, serving seniors throughout the state, and pursuing your personal passion, explore the opportunities available at today!

Eat the “Blue Zone” Diet to Live Longer, Healthier and Better

Are you looking for a way to improve your overall health and well-being in 2024? Look no further than the “Blue Zones” diet! This diet is primarily vegetarian and is rich in whole grains, legumes, fruit, vegetables and minimally processed protein sources.

We’re spotlighting the world’s Blue Zones in this series, because we all want to live longer, happier and healthier lives. We can learn from the people who live in “Blue Zones,” places like Okinawa, Sardinia and Loma Linda, Calif. It’s more than just nutrition — it’s a way of life that anyone can participate in and gain the health benefits. Follow the Blue Zones philosophy on food, physical activity, socialization and spirituality and you may just find yourself living to 100.

What is the “Blue Zone diet”?

The Blue Zone diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. It’s low in processed foods, red meat and added sugar. This way of eating has been shown to reduce the risk of chronic diseases and certain forms of cancer. The Blue Zone diet can also help you improve your overall health and well-being, giving you more energy, better sleep, and a healthier weight.

How do you eat the Blue Zone diet?

  • Eat a plant-based diet.
  • Choose whole grains over refined grains.
  • Limit your intake of red meat and processed foods.
  • Choose healthy fats, such as olive oil, nuts and seeds.
  • Limit your intake of added sugar.
  • Drink plenty of water.

The science behind the “Blue Zone” diet

One study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that people who followed the Blue Zone diet for six years had a 23% lower risk of dying from heart disease. They also had a 13% lower risk of dying from cancer. Another study, published in the journal The Lancet, found that people who followed the Blue Zone diet had a 20% lower risk of dying from all causes.

Foods you should consider on the “Blue Zone” diet

Some of the foods that are recommended on the Blue Zone diet include:

  • Fruit: A great source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke and cancer. Consider eating more blueberries, strawberries and bananas.
  • Vegetables: Another important part of the Blue Zone diet. They are a good source of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Vegetables can also help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke and cancer. You can adopt leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and kale and alliums such as onions, garlic and shallots.
  • Whole grains: A good source of fiber, vitamins and minerals. They can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes. Focus on brown rice, quinoa, oats and farro (whole emmer wheat kernels).
  • Legumes: An excellent, plant-based source of protein for healthy meals. Whether it’s beans, lentils or pulses, you’ll find that these inexpensive and nutritious protein powerhouses help make your diet healthier.
  • Fish and lean meat: In the “Blue Zones,” not everyone is a vegetarian — but people primarily eat fish and lean meat, similar to the Mediterranean diet.
  • Plant-based fat sources: Consider using olive oil rather than butter, lard or other saturated fats in cooking and seasoning.

Foods you should avoid on the “Blue Zone” diet

In the Blue Zones, people avoid certain foods that are simply unhealthy. To reap the full benefits, consider avoiding:

  • Processed meat, such as bacon, sausage and hot dogs
  • Fatty meats, like highly marbled beef and pork
  • Highly refined grain products like white bread, white rice and pasta
  • Excessive amounts of unhealthy saturated fats, whether butter, lard or fatty meats
  • Artificial sources of trans fats like partially hydrogenated oils
  • Drinks with added sugar

Live longer and make dining a pleasure 

Are you interested in adapting the “Blue Zones” approach to living? Learn all about how you can enjoy living longer and healthier at a Westminster community — find the community nearest you on our website today.

Fitch Ratings Reaffirms Westminster’s A- Bond Rating

We’re pleased to announce that Fitch Ratings recently reaffirmed Westminster Communities of Florida’s A- bond rating, an excellent investment-grade rating that is a reflection of our commitment to good stewardship of our resources, as inspired by our Mission. In these challenging times, we’re proud to say a Westminster community is still a strong partner for the future for residents and their families and team members.

In the view of Fitch Ratings, Westminster’s strength is having sound operating principles and a diverse portfolio of communities. Fitch wrote, “The ‘A-‘ rating reflects the expected resilience of (Westminster Communities of Florida’s) financial profile through Fitch’s forward-looking scenario analysis, given its robust business profile, which is characterized by very strong revenue defensibility as a multi-campus, regionally diverse life plan community (LPC), and sound operating and capital metrics.”

View the entire press release below.

How to Choose Safe Gifts for Kids This Holiday Season

Every year, millions of toys are sold to children around the world, bringing joy and laughter during the holiday season. However, it’s important to remember that not all toys are created equal. Some toys can pose serious risks to children’s health and safety. In this article, we will explore what makes toys safe to gift and provide some tips for choosing age-appropriate toys. By taking these considerations into account, we can help protect our little ones and create a safer environment for them to enjoy their childhood.

What makes toys safe to gift?

When shopping for toys, there are a few key considerations to keep in mind:

  • The materials used: Avoid toys made from toxic materials, like lead or phthalates, as these can be harmful if ingested or inhaled. Opt for toys made from natural materials like wood or cotton, or from high-quality plastic that is free from harmful chemicals.
  • The size of parts: Small parts can easily be swallowed or inhaled by young children, posing a choking hazard. Ensure that toys are age-appropriate and have parts that are too large to fit into a child’s mouth or nose.
  • The edges: Choose toys with smooth, rounded edges and surfaces that are gentle to the touch. Avoid toys with sharp edges or points, as these can cause cuts or punctures. Toys with rough or uneven surfaces can also be hazardous, as they can cause abrasions or splinters.
  • Safety regulations: Look to guidance provided by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and American Society for Testing and Materials that set safety standards designed to ensure that toys meet minimum safety requirements and are not likely to cause injury or harm to children.

By considering these factors when choosing toys, you can help ensure that the toys you give to children are safe and suitable for their age and development.

Age-appropriate suggestions

Choosing age-appropriate toys is crucial for ensuring children’s safety and fostering their development. Toys that are too advanced or complex can be frustrating and overwhelming for young children, while toys that are too simple may not provide enough challenge or stimulation for older children. Here are some guidelines for selecting age-appropriate toys:

For infants and toddlers (ages 0-3):

  • Look for toys that encourage sensory development, such as rattles, teething toys and soft books.
  • Toys that promote gross motor skills, such as balls, ride-on toys and walkers, are also appropriate.
  • Avoid toys with small parts that could be choking hazards.

For preschoolers (ages 3-5):

  • Encourage creativity and imagination by selecting blocks, dress-up clothes and art supplies.
  • Help develop fine motor skills with puzzles, Legos and Play-Doh.
  • Avoid toys with sharp edges or points that could cause injury.

For school-aged children (ages 6-12):

  • Promote intellectual development by gifting board games, science kits and educational software.
  • Get them up and moving with the gift of a bicycle, scooter or sports equipment.
  • Avoid toys that are violent or promote negative behaviors.

For teenagers (ages 13 and up):

  • Encourage creativity and self-expression with musical instruments, art supplies and writing journals.
  • Toys that promote social interaction and teamwork, such as sports equipment and board games, are also beneficial.
  • Avoid toys that are dangerous or could be used to harm others.

In following these guidelines, you can help ensure that the toys you give to children are safe and appropriate for their age and developmental stage. This will help to protect children from injury and harm, and will also help them to learn and develop in a healthy and positive way during the holiday season. By taking these precautions, we can create a safe and enjoyable environment for children to enjoy their toys and make lasting memories during the holidays.

Reducing stress around the holidays

It’s the holiday season, with family and friends gathering to celebrate and enjoy. For many it also comes with an unwelcome burden: Added stress on ourselves and our loved ones. That can take away from our enjoyment of what can be our fondest memories.

How can we manage our stress so our holidays are enjoyable and memorable? We asked Wendy Tamarit, Resident Experience Coordinator, to share her 7 tips on reducing stress around the holidays. It’s just another facet of MyWLife, Westminster’s exclusive program for well-being of mind, body and spirit, that all residents and team members can enjoy.

1. Be mindful about eating healthily. The holidays come with lots of special foods, which we should enjoy! It’s more important to eat healthy foods when you’re having a “regular” meal. The nutrition boost will also help you keep your energy up and help out your immune system.

2. Try to get the appropriate amount of sleep each night. Don’t go on less than you’re used to. Our events are more special when we’re well-rested.

3. Eat a healthy snack before a holiday party so you aren’t starving when you arrive. One tip is to eat an apple and have 8-10 ounces of water. The fiber in the apple and the water will help you feel sated when you arrive.

4. If you have an exercise routine, keep with it! That doesn’t mean you have to be working out 7 days a week. A simple walk, a trip to the gym, a yoga class or tennis with friends is not only good for your body — it’s great for stress management, too!

5. Make time to “be still.” With work and family, parties and shopping, it can seem like a never-ending rush! Carve out time where you can relax quietly, without a device, to you can recharge yourself and your holiday spirit.

6. Don’t overspend your resources. We all have limits. It’s tempting to get the perfect gift for everyone, no matter the cost, but it can add a lot of long-term stress to our finances.

7. Most of all, learn to say “no.” It’s OK not to host every function or to contribute to every party or bake sale.

To learn all about how you can enjoy living or working at a Westminster community, visit our website and find a community near you today! 

Celebrating Myrna and Merle Allshouse – A Legacy of Helping Others

The Westminster Communities Foundation is honored to recognize longtime residents Myrna and Merle Allshouse for a generous $50,000 bequest to the Suncoast community’s Benevolent Assistance Program. 

Myrna and Merle’s children, Kim and Scott, join us in celebrating this gift by sharing, “Our parents were deeply committed to the importance of community throughout their lives. It was that sense of community that brought them to Westminster. They were strong supporters of arts and education, values that were shared by many of their friends in the larger Westminster Suncoast community and particularly by those who were affiliated with the Academy of Senior Professionals at Eckerd College (ASPEC).  Through their gift, they wanted to provide the opportunity for others to have the joy and comfort they found in living in the Westminster community.”

Merle was a lifelong scholar and educator retired from Eckerd College in 2002. Upon his retirement, he continued to learn through classes at the University of South Florida in geology, politics and Florida history.  Known to his friends as a “gentlemen scholar” he was also an avid boater and amateur pilot.  Merle passed in April 2016 while residing at Westminster Suncoast.

Myrna succeeded in two careers, first as a mother to two children and then in the insurance industry.  In retirement she became a talented watercolor artist who often shared her passion by encouraging others to pick up a brush and paint alongside of her.  In 2021, she moved to Montpelier, VT to be closer to her family, but she fondly remembered her time at Westminster Suncoast.  Throughout their lives, Myrna and Merle most valued advocating for social justice, art and education, but their dedication to these values in retirement was truly inspiring. Myrna passed in September 2023.

The Westminster Communities Foundation received Myrna’s bequest in support of the Suncoast community. The Foundation provided $1.25 million last year in Benevolent Assistance for residents who have outlived their resources. Currently, more than fifty 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 Myrna and Merle. We are eternally grateful for their support and the legacy they left at Westminster.”

To learn more about or donate to the Foundation contact: Tish Burke at (727) 867-1131

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

Showcasing Dedication and Determination: Algeir Warren’s Story of Service

On his way to work one morning, Algeir Warren’s car began to smoke under the hood. Algeir is a bus driver at Westminster Winter Park and was in a time crunch with only 20 minutes to get to work to drive residents to church. After delivering his car to the mechanic closest to the community, he decided to run the four miles to work.

“My job is to be there on time!” Algeir said. “I wanted to make sure I was there on time.”

Algeir is just one of the 2,700 dedicated team members at Westminster Communities of Florida. These remarkable individuals serve older adults with the same commitment in communities across the state. Each day they make decisions with the best interests of our residents in mind and inspire us with the same unwavering commitment Algeir showed by choosing to run to work.
“It was amazing to me that he decided to this but what I think what was even more amazing was that he didn’t tell a lot of people about it,” Westminster Winter Park Executive Director Angie Layfield said. “He just did it because I think he felt it was the right thing to do and he didn’t want to let the residents down.”

Algeir is a distance runner and has completed eight-mile runs, 10-mile races and half marathons.
“I run a lot so I thought I can do that in that amount of time!” Algeir said about the race to beat the clock to the community. “I got there in time – I made it!”

“Algeir really understands that the disappointment or the letdown for those residents would they not have been able to make it to church that day was something he didn’t want those residents to experience,” Angie said. “I think he is a person who truly understands the impact that team members have on a resident’s day, every day. It shows our team members understanding of their role in the resident’s quality of life.”

Algeir has been part of the Westminster Communities of Florida family for a little over a year and hopes to transition to the community’s physical therapy department having recently graduated with an associate degree in physical therapy.

He said he is drawn to geriatric health and enjoys working with the elderly.

“They all have stories,” Algeir said. “When you work around them, you realize that some of them don’t even have family members or anybody to talk to. I can relieve some of that and brighten up their day! I can be somebody that they can talk to and help them get back to walking or help them with their balance.”

We are immensely grateful for Algeir and all the team members who continue to serve and uplift our residents in extraordinary ways, making a difference in their lives each and every day. Their dedication and determination truly make Westminster Communities of Florida a place where excellence thrives and the spirit of service shines bright.

Thanksgiving Letter From Garry Hennis, Chief Operating Officer 2023

Dear Team Members,

During this time of great unrest in the world, we pause and give thanks for our many blessings. Together we have experienced challenges in the last several years – disease, hurricanes, an uncertain economy, and a changing business environment. Today there is war in Ukraine and in the Holy Land, threatening life, health, and religious beliefs throughout the world.

However, we have much for which to be grateful this year: Our families, our friends, our fellow team members, and our residents.

Our country celebrated some of its first Thanksgiving holidays under similarly difficult circumstances. As Americans we have relied on our gratitude for each other and for our many blessings from God to help us get through whatever challenges face us. 

As I reflect each year on what I am grateful for, I realize that I am most grateful for my family and friends, for the ability to share a Thanksgiving meal with those loved ones — and for you, the Westminster team members.

Our Mission of service is dear, and you live it each day.  No matter your job, your work is essential to the Mission of Westminster Communities of Florida.

This Thanksgiving, on behalf of the entire leadership team, I thank you for everything that you do. I hope you enjoy this holiday and that you take time to give thanks to all those with whom you share it.

1 Chronicles 16:34: “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”

In the Words of Experienced Authors: Essential Tips for Aspiring Writers from Westminster Communities

Westminster Communities of Florida is home to a diverse community of over 7,000 residents hailing from various parts of the United States and around the world. Among them are retired teachers, ministers, doctors, nurses, businesspeople, soldiers and published authors. Some residents have published works in retirement, engage in writing poetry during their free time, or have even published as a result of writer’s group challenges. In an effort to tap into the wisdom and experience of our talented authors, we approached them with a simple question: “What advice do you have for aspiring authors?” Whether you’re contemplating taking on the National Novel Writing Month challenge or embarking on the journey of writing your first book, the seasoned authors at Westminster have shared their invaluable insights and guidance.

“1. Read widely from a variety of authors.
2. Know and limit the audience for whom you are writing. Don’t try to write for everyone. And know what response you want from your readers.
3. If your story in not unfolding well, start over.
4. Unity, coherence and proportion in every paragraph and transitions from paragraph to paragraph.
5. Brevity is still the soul of wit. Don’t lose your readers in details, keep your message moving.
6. Beware of signing with a vanity press. Get an agent—-if you can. At least try to get an agent to look at your work. Vanity presses will take any manuscript and charge plenty to put a cover on it. When in doubt about a contract, pay a lawyer to explain it to you before you sign.”
Richard J. Smith, Ph.D, Resident at Westminster Point Pleasant
Author of “Life After Eighty”, “Musings of an Old Man,” “Once Upon a Christmas,” “Tales from a Twilight House,” “Brain Exercises for Older Adults,” and 26 other titles available.

“Aspiring authors should join a writer’s group. My 335-page novel is the result of a class project where I was given a picture and instructed to write a 500-word essay based upon the picture. I have written many short stories, poems and a few plays since moving to Westminster Manor in 2015. In my first class, an experienced writer volunteered to assist me with grammar. I believe I would not have been successful without his help.”
J. Gary Shaw, Resident at Westminster Manor
Author of “OUTSIDER COPS – The Caribbean Case” and currently working on “Outsider Cops – The Canadian Case.”

“My advice to aspiring writers: Write the story you want to read. Read, listen, observe, write, rewrite. Keep going.”
Nancy Pate, Resident at Westminster Towers
Author of “Fiddle Dee Death,” “Marsh Madness” and “Way Down Dead in Dixie”, written under the pseudonym Caroline Cousins.

“In retirement I began to think about writing my story. Once I completed my story as an autobiography, I began to think about my wife’s life story. So, in a nutshell, that is how I ended up writing the two books. Publishing a book during my publishing timeframe had become remarkably easy. Amazon offered an opportunity for anyone to self-publish a book with very little or no cost. However, you needed to learn what their requirements were for designing a cover, editing and publishing a manuscript. I followed their direction and they did the work to create two books that are offered for sale in the U.S. and countries all over the world. What a great incentive to self-publish a story!”
Jerrel B Powell, Ph.D., Resident at Westminster Woods on Julington Creek
Author of “ALDENA Farmers Daughter, Wife, Mother: A Memoir of Our Life Together” and “THE MIDDLE SON: My Journey from the Dust Bowl Days of the 30s to the Present”

“Read, read, and read some more, especially in the genre you plan to write. Write often. Join a writer’s group and ask for criticism, especially from those who have published.”
Don (“Doc”) Sanborn, Resident at Westminster Manor
Author of “Sanborns Camp: A Memoir,” “Escape From Xanadu: A Memoir of Survival, Adventure, and Coming of Age,” and “Plebe: My Year at the Citadel.”

“My advice to new authors is to know your subject better than anybody else. Be sure your references are iron clad and be careful how much ‘fluff’ you insert. Fast readers will just skip it and become annoyed because you are wasting their time.”
William Talley, Resident at Westminster Woods on Julington Creek
Author of “The Talley Principles: Contemporary Methods to Effective Management.”

“My advice for anyone wanting to publish a book: First, enlist the help of others. Join a critique group who can help revise your work, and hire a professional editor to make your finished product the best possible. Will your book be self-published, or will you send your manuscript to a traditional publisher? The world of traditional publishing is very competitive. No matter which route you choose, realize that the success of your book depends upon you to promote it. Be prepared to put forth effort.
Debbie Burton, Resident at Westminster Winter Park
Author of the “Tales of Blueberry Street” series

“I am proof that dreams deferred are not dreams denied. Believe in yourself and keep writing.”
John A. Vanek, Resident at Westminster Shores
Author of the “Father Jake Austin Mystery” series including “DEROS,” “Miracles,” “Absolution,” “Bedeviled,” and “Epiphany.”

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