Meet Josephine Spencer

Josephine Spencer greets each day with her infectious enthusiasm. “When you have the kind of active lifestyle I have, there’s no such thing as an average day,” she says with a smile.

Josephine enjoys taking advantage of many activities Touchmark has to offer. “I’ll do anything I can do, because I can.”

Whether it’s participating in an exercise class, creating art, meeting with her Bible study group, teaching sing-alongs in the memory care neighborhood, playing bridge and poker, listening to speakers, or attending Book Club and birthday nights, Josephine is always eager to learn new things and make new friends.

The decision to move to Touchmark was an easy one. Moments after walking in the front door for the first time, she knew she’d found her new home. “I just knew the moment I got here this was the place for me.”

Three-and-a-half years later, she loves it even more. “It’s so convenient! It’s close to downtown, both hospitals, and other health care options.”

Josephine has enjoyed getting to know the new chef, Clinton. “I really appreciate how responsive he is to what I like to eat,” she says. “And I love the barbecued ribs and the spinach with chicken salad!”

She has always liked to eat fresh, healthy foods. “Now it takes a lot less effort on my part to get those meals.”

Commitment to service

Though Josephine decided not to pursue a career as she became a wife and mother to two boys, she always placed a high value on service to her community.

“I’ve always volunteered. It’s just what I’ve always done and what I still really like to do.”

Since moving to Sioux Falls over 10 years ago to be closer to one of her sons—a biology professor at Augustana University—she has volunteered around the area in a variety of capacities. Fluent in Spanish and a piano player, she is happy to volunteer as a musician at a local Latino Lutheran Church.

Josephine lives with a simple yet profound philosophy: “Whatever you give, you get back.” That’s how she feels about living at Touchmark.

“You get back more than what you give, and I try to give as much as I can.”

Josephine loves to stroll the halls and check in with her friends, who all appreciate her eclectic style, both in personal fashion and how she decorates her apartment. While she’s very confident in her taste, it’s something she was never formally trained in; she just picked it up through the years from her sisters and family.

“We were never into the ‘in’ thing. I just found things I liked that worked and eventually kept learning and growing.”

She treasures the beautiful art pieces she and her husband collected over the years, many from his ancestors.

“I like hosting impromptu gatherings in my apartment and planning our next outing or trading news about what’s happening.”

One thing friends don’t notice upon entering her home is a TV. “I’ve never had one. It’s nothing against TV, it’s just never been a part of our lives. We never even thought to get one.” She does admit to sneaking an occasional peak at her computer to check out videos on YouTube and elsewhere.

Raised on the ranch

Josephine was raised on a ranch in Texas hill country with her two sisters.

“I couldn’t even rope a fencepost,” she says, laughing, “but I loved to ride horses!” When she was 5, her best gift was her first horse. “My sister and I rode mostly for pleasure, but during World War II, most of the neighboring young men were off to war, so we helped our father during roundup time.”

Life with her husband and his service in the Air Force took them far away from Texas, with the couple eventually settling in northern Vermont. “I loved growing up in Texas, but I was happy to get to see and experience other parts of the U.S.” She has been a widow since 2010.

A blessed life

“I feel tremendously blessed to have kept my health through the years.” She loves spending time with her kids and grandkids, and as much as she enjoys the meals at Touchmark, she likes going out to a nice dinner with her family on occasion.

Josephine has also come to view many of Touchmark’s team members as her friends. She has a great appreciation and respect for them as well as the instructors and performers who come to teach and entertain residents.

“Anyone who takes the time to teach someone else a new skill is someone worth getting to know in my book!”

She says she would be glad to teach some of the other residents a little Spanish if someone is interested in getting acquainted with a foreign language.

With all the activity in Josephine’s life, she never knows what each new day will bring. But she does know she’s ready for it, whatever it is!

“I plan on learning as much as I can and giving back as much as I can for as long as I’m able!”

The Seriousness of Our Senses

Our five senses—hearing, vision, taste, smell, and touch—connect us to others and the world around us, allowing us to experience things in a number of ways. It’s easy to take our senses for granted, until one or more of them start to diminish.

A decline in senses is a natural effect of aging. Health and environmental factors can also facilitate sensory deterioration. Long-time smokers may experience reduced taste and smell sensitivities, while people living with diabetes may have issues with vision.

While sensory changes can be frustrating, acceptance and a positive attitude can help make the changes more manageable. With patience, you can often learn to compensate for the diminished sense with others, while adaptive devices can also provide assistance.

  • Hearing is often considered our most social sense—and can lead to withdrawal and isolation as people become more and more hesitant to interact with others. Misunderstanding others can also lead to paranoia and disagreements. Avoid shouting, speak face-to-face, and eliminate background noise when speaking with someone who has hearing loss.
  • Vision loss can lead to problems with mobility, poor orientation, and even hallucinations. It may keep people from moving around and getting outside, and also lead to isolation. Many low vision aids can help with adapting to this change. Regular eye exams ensure the most up-to-date assistance.
  • A diminished sense of touch affects both the ability to distinguish between different objects and textures, but also to detect pain. Older adults are less likely to be able to perceive internal pain or rising temperatures. They may also miss out on the therapeutic benefits of another person’s touch.
  • Changes in taste and smell often go hand in hand for those over the age of 50, and can cause food to become unappealing. A loss of smell can also create consequences with safety and personal hygiene. Find ways to enhance the flavor of foods without salt, add textures, and follow good oral hygiene to help retain smelling and tasting abilities.

If you notice changes in a loved one, bring it up in a tactful way. Avoid making someone feel inadequate and instead focus on finding ways to help them adapt and remain successful.

Getting reacquainted with our environment

Sometimes we don’t realize how easy it is to make a difference in the health of our world, or how easily we can impact it. With Earth Day coming up, this is a great time to think about ways we can help ourselves, while also enjoying our environment, and helping our planet.

The world’s resources are not unlimited, and recognizing that fact by choosing alternative transportations is a good place to start. For instance, by walking, bicycling, and/or taking the bus on your next shopping or social outing—rather than driving or riding in a car—you can cut down on fossil fuel use. At the same time, by adding a little more physical movement each day—even if it’s just walking from the bus stop to the store—you can significantly improve your health over time. Small changes have big impacts!

You can always build on small actions, too—the next time you are out for a walk, bring along a paper bag and a rubber glove and pick up a piece of trash or two on each trip. It doesn’t take much to improve the world around us, and, who knows, other people might even be inspired by your actions and choose to join in!

Another seemingly small thing you can do for your body and the planet is to eat locally grown foods and avoid processed or heavily packaged foods as much as possible. Processed foods can contain ingredients that aren’t good for you. And by eating locally, you’ll further cut back on fossil fuels by limiting the need for the foods you eat to be transported across the country—or the world. Eating locally also cuts back on the resources used in manufacturing plastics and cardboards for packaging. This may mean eating fruits and vegetables only when they are in season—when they naturally taste their best!

Through a few small actions you can make big differences in the health of the planet, your immediate environment, and your own body. Start small and keep working your way up, and eventually you’ll inspire others, making you feel great in more ways than one!

 

Staying physically active for greater independence

As we age, it’s essential that we stay active. Exercise does more than keep our hearts healthy—it benefits our bones, our muscles, and our minds! By staying physically active, we’re more likely to be able to stay independent as we age.

At Touchmark, our full-service Health & Fitness Clubs and Studios provide everything you need to stay healthy every day, in a fun and supportive environment.

Enjoy a full life of fun and fitness

Our full-service Clubs are open to both Touchmark residents and the public—for individuals 50 or older. The Clubs include indoor heated pools, warm-water spas with whirlpool jets and seating for eight, group exercise studios, NeuroCom® Balance Master®s, various types and styles of cardio equipment, personal trainers and professionally trained staff, and many other amenities.

Designed exclusively for those 50+, we offer a wide range of specialized classes (such as Zumba, Functional Fitness, and Balance & Stability) and specialized equipment that can positively affect conditions such as arthritis, cancer, heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, diabetes, hypertension, and depression. Members of the Clubs and Studios are welcome to train for their general health and wellness or work toward more specific goals.

All programs are tailored to individual levels of ability, skill, and personal fitness goals and are designed to help you improve and maintain strength, flexibility, balance, coordination, and cardiovascular fitness, as well as supporting emotional health, and mental acuity, for maximum independence today and beyond.

The right level of care

Touchmark offers a wide range of care and lifestyle options to meet current health needs and to help plan for the future—allowing residents the ability to age in place and eliminate future moves.

Lifestyle options for residents of Touchmark range from Independent Living—which offers maintenance-free living and full community amenities—to Assisted Living and Memory Care for those requiring more care and assistance in everyday activities. Retirement counselors can help determine the most appropriate level of care for you or your loved one.

Touchmark team members in our memory care neighborhoods provide person-centered care through the Best Friends™ approach. This industry-leading method of care focuses on building meaningful relationships with those living with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia. Memory care homes are intentionally designed to provide a secure, comforting, and supportive home environment.

For those recovering from an accident, illness, or surgery, some Touchmark communities also offer Home Health services for medical care and Home Care services for personal care.

Experience active-adult retirement living at Touchmark …

At Touchmark, we truly believe that a full life is available to anyone—no matter one’s age. We live this belief by ensuring residents have the unique tools, opportunities, and community support necessary to bring their personal visions to life.

Our Full Life Wellness & Life Enrichment Program™ has won national and international awards for the unique way it helps people enrich their daily lives, encouraging each of us to take control of our own health and happiness. It does this by focusing on key areas of enrichment, including health and fitness, lifelong learning, volunteerism, creative arts, and spiritual well-being. Residents and team members at each community create an exciting calendar of classes, events, excursions, and activities, such as the Touchmark Trekkers walking program, the Knifty Knitters, CardioFit, and the Brain Builders group, and many, many more.

Each of these areas of enrichment falls under a tier of our seven dimensions of wellness, and our Health & Fitness Clubs and Studios are just one of the ways we help enrich residents’ lives every single day.

Wellness within our world

When thinking about our personal health and wellness, we don’t often consider the effects our environment can have. But how you interact with the earth can have a significant impact on your well-being. When we are aware of how our actions and behaviors affect the world we live in, we can make informed decisions and feel good about our choices.

The resources of our world are not unlimited, and recognizing that fact is one of the most effective ways to develop our emotional wellness. Awareness of our place in the world and the consequences of our actions and behavior are the foundation of living of life with environmental wellness. We must consider not only our world, but the world of our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

This month, we celebrate Earth Day and give thanks to all that our environment provides us with. But that gratitude can be a part of our everyday lives with just a few simple habits.

  • Engage in activities that help you appreciate the world we live in, while also stimulating other areas of wellness, such as walking, meditating, and gardening.
  • Walk or ride a bike instead of driving, when possible. When not possible, consider taking public transportation or carpooling.
  • Be cognizant of your impact on the world and work to reduce your footprint—turn off lights, recycle, and avoid polluting the air and water.
  • Reduce the use of toxic chemicals—choose “green” cleaning products and pesticides to reduce negative effects on people, pets, and the earth.
  • Eat local, whenever possible. Visit local farmers markets and eat what’s in season.

Cultivating our environmental wellness not only helps the earth stay healthy—it also helps to foster other areas of our personal health, by allowing us to breathe fresh air, eat nutritious fruits and vegetables, spend time outdoors with others.

A Practical Guide to Downsizing, Part 3 – Parting with Items

Everyone will face downsizing, yet many people procrastinate because they’re overwhelmed with their volume of belongings. In this final edition of this 3 part series, and I’m going to help you with parting with items.

WHAT ARE THE PROS & CONS OF HAVING A GARAGE SALE OR DONATING ITEMS?

As a veteran professional organizer, I typically advise my clients (who are overwhelmed by clutter already) against garage sales. For those with little time to spare and who relate their time to money, a garage sale can sap your time and energy for relatively little compensation.  However, if you have items of great value, it might be worthwhile to hold a brief, well-advertised sale or to consign the items.  Be sure to evaluate all hidden costs of doing so, such as time spent preparing advertising, pricing items, borrowing and returning tables, and cleaning up.

Donating to charity is always a win-win choice.  Groups often gratefully receive items you no longer use or want, and you get a tax deduction. A great donation value guide can be found at Salvation Army’s site www.SAtruck.org.

WHEN PARING BELONGINGS, WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT?

At first, the sorting and purging process can be a struggle because it involves making decisions that have been delayed and facing years of backlog.  However, as the process gains momentum, people begin to feel more freedom with less stuff and are liberated to pursue the things that really matter to them (which is really why many people downsize in the first place).

After the ball is rolling, and belongings are being re-homed (either to family members or charity, or via a sale) people start to feel relieved of burdens. They make better decisions about accumulation and tend to thin out their possessions on a more regular basis to avoid returning to the burden they left behind.

I hope this practical guide to downsizing series has left you empowered to “right-size” your life!

 

About the author:

Restoring Order founder Vicki Norris

Vicki Norris is a professional organizing expert, dynamic entrepreneur, speaker, television personality, and author who helps people live their priorities. Founder and president of Restoring Order®, an organizing services and products company, Norris teaches others how to identify their priorities and create sustainable change in personal organizational habits that support those choices.

This article and others are available on Vicki Norris’ website at http://www.restoringorder.com/.

A Practical Guide to Downsizing, Part 2

Everyone will face downsizing. I prefer to think of it as right-sizing your life. You’re not losing space and sacrificing belongings; you’re gaining a new season of freedom!

In this second edition of this series, and I’m going to help you with decision-making.

ARE THERE ANY RULES OF THUMB TO SIMPLIFY THINNING YOUR BELONGINGS?

Before you toss an item in a box, determine what category it belongs to and group it with its type.  For example, even though photos and memorabilia may be strewn throughout the house, you can set up boxes in the living room into which all memorabilia will be added as you pack. That way you will know how much space your memorabilia requires, and you can plan its future “home” in your new environment.

Grouping items by type can be shocking once you see all of your similar belongings together. You may discover that you own a disproportionate number of items in one category, like household linens, for example. As you behold a gigantic mound of sheets, bedding, and throw pillows, you may be more willing to pare down that category.

Identifying your priorities, realistically evaluating the available space in your new home, and grouping your belongings by type before you pack will make it easier to let go of your excess.

SHOULD YOU PART WITH ANTIQUES & ITEMS OF VALUE?

Antiques have at least two kinds of value: retail value and sentimental value. You must first determine which type of value your antiques offer. If you are keeping something simply because it “cost a lot” or “might be worth something someday,” then you are banking on its retail value. You can only cash in on this purported value, however, if you are willing to part with the goods.

If you are holding onto items because they evoke precious memories, that is a legitimate reason for retaining the item, within reason. No conscientious friend or professional should advise you to dispose of an object if it would break your heart.

 

About the author:

Restoring Order founder Vicki Norris

Vicki Norris is a professional organizing expert, dynamic entrepreneur, speaker, television personality, and author who helps people live their priorities. Founder and president of Restoring Order®, an organizing services and products company, Norris teaches others how to identify their priorities and create sustainable change in personal organizational habits that support those choices.

This article and others are available on Vicki Norris’ website at http://www.restoringorder.com/.

Employee Profile: Wendy Schrag, RN-BC, Vice President of Clinical Operations

Wendy has been a nurse for over 18 years and joined Touchmark 14 years ago. She helps ensure all health services across the company are effective, compliant, appropriate, and adhere to The Touchmark Gold Standard.

 

What makes working at Touchmark different from other retirement communities?

Touchmark is proactive and is always looking for ways to help residents lead healthy lifestyles.

 

What keeps you at Touchmark?

I appreciate the opportunity to be able to learn and grow every day.

 

How do you form relationships with residents?

I listen and try to respond to what they or their families say they need. I believe education is essential to understanding dementia and I enjoy helping all as they travel their journey.

 

What activities do you use to help residents stay healthy?

I work with my teammates to create new programs such as functional fitness or other leading options that we believe will help enhance residents’ health and wellness.

A Mouthful of Wisdom

The first few months of the New Year are a time for fresh beginnings and preparation for the future. Good nutrition is essential to good health and well-being, and March is Nutrition Month, making this a great time to check that your diet is on track for a happy and healthy new year.

The first step to optimizing your diet is to make sure you’re getting the right combination of nutrients. Look for a rainbow of food colors on your dinner plate, including proteins, fruits, whole grains, such as rice and wheat pasta, and dairy or other sources of calcium.

When they’re available, the best kinds of foods to eat are called “whole foods,” which just means they come from the earth to you, with minimal processing. Whole foods include any raw meats, raw fruits and vegetables, and unsweetened dairy products. (Whole foods don’t have to be raw when you eat them, just when you buy them!)

Whole foods are best because you can easily control their salt content, as well as any other ingredients. That doesn’t mean you can’t ever eat anything that comes in a box, but you should keep track of the nutritional content, serving size, and the fat and sodium levels available on the side of the box. Ask your doctor what levels are right for you, and compare this information to your recommended levels when choosing prepared and frozen foods.

Another important part of good nutrition that is easy to control is to make sure you’re getting enough water. It’s easy to forget to drink water, and doctors say that feeling thirsty can already mean you’re dehydrated — so try these handy tips:

  • Every time you take any medication, drink a full glass of water.
  • Always keep a glass of water next to your bed.
  • After every meal, drink a glass of water.
  • Eat plenty of foods with high water content, such as fruits and salads.

Eat and drink towards a healthier you, and make this year even better than the last!

 

Eat smart to live healthier

As our bodies change with age, so do our nutritional needs and priorities. Appetites might decrease as a result of less physical activity, as a side effect of medication, or even simply from living in isolation.

Eating a balanced, nutrient-rich diet is important at any age, as it contributes to maintaining physical and cognitive health. The best approach to healthy eating is to eat from all basic food groups (grains, vegetables, fruits, quality protein, and dairy) and limit saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, added sugars, and salt.

In addition to choosing whole, balanced foods, the tips below address the unique nutritional needs of seniors.

  • Cut sugar intake—choose water instead of sugary drinks and fruit for dessert.
  • Use spices and herbs instead of salt to add flavor to your meals. Choose low-sodium or reduced-salt options when available.
  • Eat foods high in levels of vitamin B12, such as fortified cereal, lean meat, or some types of fish.
  • Choose foods rich in dietary fiber to avoid constipation.
  • Pay attention to serving sizes and calories to make sure that you are eating the right amount of food and meeting daily recommended values of nutrients.
  • Drink plenty of low-fat or fat-free milk for vitamin D.

March is National Nutrition Month, making it a great time to focus on mindful eating and making healthy choices.

Changing your eating habits is more than just a quick-fix diet, it’s a lifestyle change. Start small—take the salt shaker off of your table, switch to whole-grain bread, or pick up a few more fruits and vegetables on your next shopping trip.

Effective changes don’t have to be expensive or complicated, and can make all the difference in your quality of life.