Connecting through music

Family was the main draw for Stan Stewart when he moved to Touchmark. “I wanted to live closer to my son,” he says. When he and his son first visited Touchmark, he was impressed with the different levels of care available.

“It seemed like a good fit.” Once settled, he quickly grew to appreciate the community of people seeking social connection, something lacking where he had previously lived. “There, the residents had all grown up together, attended the same high school, and spent their whole lives there. It was hard. I have a lot more friends at Touchmark. The people here are more likely to make friends.”

Stan and his son Christopher, who plays flute, guitar, and piano, share a deep love of music, and the father and son attracted a large audience when they played in the Touchmark lobby. “The place was packed!”

Music was the path to a new friendship with Harry Kramer, who heard Stan singing, and the two men started talking about music. Harry, who started piano lessons at age 5 and has played keyboards for 30 years, says he’s impressed with the quality and range of Stan’s voice.

“I often accompanied my wife when we played at dances. She was a big hit when she played an electric bass guitar. She got the standing ovations, and I got all the sitting ovations,” Harry jokes.

Stan enjoys Harry’s sense of humor and says it’s better to perform with him than alone. The two now regularly play together, often treating residents to lively, toe-tapping performances.

Generations of music
Born in Kansas City, Missouri, Stan says his love of music grew from deep roots. His greatgrandfather played the fife in the Civil War. His grandfather played the flute. His father was in the military, so the family moved around a lot before settling in Modesto, California. “I learned how to play the guitar in college, but my true instrument is my voice.”

“I communicate with people through music,” he says, adding that he characterizes his music as more of an avocation than a full-time job. After studying economics at the University of California at Davis, Stan pursued a career in business that included insurance and estate planning, much of that time in Modesto.

Singing semiprofessionally
The road to performing in public started when he played some chords on a guitar at the insurance office where he worked. A coworker invited him to his house for band practice, and the other musicians asked him to sing with them for an Open Mic night.

“The next night I was the lead singer for a band.”

Stan says there are two kinds of music: country and western. “If it doesn’t tell a good story, I’m not interested in it.”

He often opened his shows with the Johnny Cash signature song Folsom Prison Blues. Stan croons the opening lines: “I hear the train a comin’. It’s rollin’ ‘round the bend. And I ain’t seen the sunshine since, I don’t know when.”

Travel time to gigs with bandmates was often spent singing so they were warmed up by the time they arrived. “Once we were done performing, we walked off the stage and divvied up the money.”

After entertaining for 10 years in Modesto, Stan now is part of a duet, having formed a friendship through a shared love of music. “Harry is very talented and knows many of the songs I like to sing. He’s got the talent, and I just sing along,”

Harry credits Stan with reviving his love of playing. Dealing with the grief of losing his wife of nearly 60 years was “the most horrible time.” He says the community of friends at Touchmark helped him to embrace the idea that “life is for the living.”

Today, Stan and Harry take pleasure sharing their musical talents with each other—and spreading the joy of music to others.

Stan and Harry

Enjoying your collections

Recently I heard that young people today don’t really collect things. That’s not the case for those of us from earlier decades. Over the years, we’ve collected memorabilia. Snowmen, dolls, trains, dishes, quilts, teacups, photos, and much more bog down our closets, attics, and minds. But with every added item comes added responsibility. We must pay for it, know where it is, store it, dust it, and insure it. This can be exhausting and expensive!

There comes a time when for whatever the reason, our collections begin to be neglected. Instead of regretting this moment, we must allow ourselves the freedom to find new homes for these special items. Good homes can often be found online or by putting the word out to friends who would appreciate the treasures and continue to celebrate them. Museums and private collectors can be ecstatic to care for (and perhaps even purchase) your items.

As organizing consultants, we are often helping clients “give well” and part with belongings thoughtfully. Careful “rehoming” of collections brings relief and even pride to those who are simplifying, knowing they’re sharing their passion with others. After trimming the volume of your collections, prioritize your favorites so you can actually enjoy them. Hang those legacy quilts on the back of your couch or on the wall. Proudly display your grandmother’s teacups. And please: use the good china!

Vicki Norris, president of Restoring Order®, is a nationally recognized organizing expert, author, and speaker. Her team of professional organizers serves home and business clients in Washington and Oregon. You can watch her organizing segments on KPTV’s Fox 12 More Good Day Oregon. Visit RestoringOrder.com for more information.

Reclaim your space! Restoring order to the family room

One of the best features of any home is the family room—precisely because of the loved ones it convenes! It’s a gathering space, an entertainment den, and a respite from the demands of life.

It can also become a magnet for “everything else.” Our handbags, catalogs, projects, paperwork, pet supplies, reading materials, and media can pile up and add to visual “noise.” This visual clutter detracts from the restfulness of the space.

To retain the respite of this essential space:

  • Define the purpose of the room, including what activities you will do here
  • List the types of items that land here and get stuck
  • Determine whether all those items need to live there or could live in a nearby location
  • Find a new location for items that don’t serve the purpose of the family room
  • Establish a work center somewhere else to eliminate creeping paperwork
  • Create a routing system to whisk away landed items at the end of each night

I also find that occasionally rearranging the furniture and swapping out blankets and pillows seasonally can keep this main thoroughfare fresh and inviting.

Enjoy your orderly family room and especially the ones in it!
For an entire chapter on family room organizing, get my room-by-room organizing book Restoring Order to Your Home.

Vicki Norris, president of Restoring Order®, is a nationally recognized organizing expert, author, and speaker. Her team of professional organizers serves home and business clients in Washington and Oregon. You can watch her organizing segments on KPTV’s Fox 12 More Good Day Oregon. Visit RestoringOrder.com for more information.

Maintaining healthy habits during the holidays

The holidays are a time of gathering with friends and family to show gratitude, share a meal, and spend quality time together. In the midst of celebrating, it’s easy to let healthy habits slip and find ourselves indulging in sweets, drinks, and heavy meals.

But there are easy ways to maintain healthy habits during this busy time and still enjoy all that the holidays have to offer. Here are some tips for continuing the diet and exercise routines established throughout the year at special meals or holiday parties:

Find balance. If you overindulge on one meal, eat lighter on the next. Consider following the 80/20 rule: eat healthier foods for 80 percent of the day and enjoy a special meal or dessert for 20 percent of the day.

Eat until satisfied, not full. By sticking with normal-sized portions, you can enjoy the delectable treats of the season without overeating. If you’re still feeling hungry after 20 minutes, it’s OK to go back for seconds.

Choose your favorite treats. If pie is your favorite dessert, have a slice! But avoid piling other types of desserts on your plate just because they’re available.

Stick to your exercise routines. Even with a busier schedule during the holidays, it’s especially important to continue with regular exercise schedules to balance out the extra calories.

Don’t get discouraged! If you overindulge, simply get back on track. Try to reduce your intake as the holidays wind down to get back into your normal routine. Add more exercise if possible to burn more calories.

Being mindful about your approach to eating during the holidays can help make it a happy and healthy season whose effects you won’t have to worry about in the new year!

Meet Bill and Carolyn Hines

“Have fun, will travel” is their motto
Planes, Trains & Automobiles is a popular movie, but if you add a motorcycle, you get a good idea about how Carolyn and Bill Hines like to spend their time.

They fly across the country in their own plane. They drive their snazzy Subaru BRZ. They sail on Lake Hefner, and Bill tools around on his motorcycle. They have traveled in Europe, partly by train. They have also ridden the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad between Chama, New Mexico, and Antonito, Colorado, and the White Pass Scenic Railway out of Skagway, Alaska.

Along with traveling, Carolyn (73) and Bill (74) are deeply committed to community service. Their long list of volunteer activities includes helping at the Oklahoma History Center, ushering at the Civic Center, and spending time with WhizKids, an after-school program connecting under-served Oklahoma City children with mentors to build reading skills, confidence, and moral character.

Each is active physically. They enjoy hiking; the couple have hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, spent the night at Phantom Ranch, and hiked back up the next day. They skied in Colorado and New Mexico for over 40 years. Carolyn has practiced yoga for many years.

They retired about a decade ago as longtime civil servants at Tinker AFB, he in human resources recruiting engineers and she as a program controller. “We’re native Oklahomans, and we wanted to remain in the Oklahoma City area, where our four children live,” says Carolyn.

Search leads to Parkview
The Hines had wanted to downsize for a while from their northwest Oklahoma City home and only became serious about it over the last two years. The couple wanted to make the decision as to where they would live before a health crisis might require their children to make it for them. “It’s part of planning for old age,” Bill says matter-of-factly.

Their children appreciated their forethought and agreed moving to a retirement community was a “wise decision.”

So the search began. “We visited several,” says Carolyn. “Some were more like a hotel, where the people seemed to be very quiet and not as outgoing and welcoming as the people living in Touchmark. Others were welcoming, and the residents seemed to be having a good time, but the houses were not as nice as those in Parkview. But it was the people living at Touchmark who caught our attention.”

Bill agrees. “They were so friendly. Touchmark seemed to be the friendliest, had the most fun activities, and had really interesting people. Every time we sat down, someone was talking to us.”

Rescue dogs play a role in decision
They knew they wanted to choose their floor plan and build a home from scratch. Then there was Coco and Gidget to consider. They needed a fenced yard with room to run and play. “The nearby Coffee Creek neighborhood trails are wonderful,” says Carolyn. “We can walk the dogs almost every day. Parkview is perfect.” They also like how close Parkview’s gazebo is to their home. “It’s on the other side of our backyard, and is such a comfortable setting!”

The close proximity to the YMCA at Mitch Park was a plus for Carolyn, as well, who is highly committed to yoga classes there.

The parties also attracted the couple. Oktoberfest, with its German beer and pastries, was a favorite for Bill. “We never felt alone. Someone would always stop and ask where we were from,” he says.

“Touchmark’s a fun place,” says Carolyn. “It’s nice to not have to do the yard, to not have to get a cleaning lady. Everything is just kind of convenient and carefree.”

Whether taking a road trip, flying somewhere, or staying put in their new home, carefree and fun best describe these Parkview neighbors.

Employee Profile: Chris Bullard

Executive Chef, Touchmark on Saddle Drive

Chris joined the Touchmark team in 2015 seeking an opportunity to grow as an Executive Chef and work with a different population. Since then he has learned the inner workings of serving residents and how to listen to them to create unique menus that take into account their diverse needs and preferences.

What keeps you at Touchmark?

The strong sense of camaraderie among residents and staff.

What is your favorite part of the day?

At the end of the day, I know we have made a difference in residents’ lives.

What is your favorite dish to make?

It’s a toss-up between a good Hungarian goulash or chicken and dumplings. When cooking for residents, I enjoy making our surf-and-turf dinner: USDA choice roasted and carved beef tenderloin and cilantro lime shrimp satay with seasoned asparagus, baked potato, and baklava for dessert.

If you could describe Touchmark in one word, what would it be?

Progressive.

Rocket science—just one of her many passions

tafv-dorothysmithKeeping a sharp mind and an active lifestyle helps us feel more vibrant. Dorothy Smith’s extensive knowledge and seemingly endless energy are definitely key contributors to her enriched lifestyle. Her favorite subject? Science!

Dorothy’s lifetime love of learning, science, math, and travel has helped her lead a very interesting and full life. Her first job, right out of college, was with an oil company. She and her colleagues were brought contour maps, seismographs, and local data from an area. Their job was to combine the data and try to find oil.

“We made these maps that looked very similar to weather maps,” Dorothy remembers. “And then we’d try and make educated guesses on where oil could be. I liked that job a lot, because there was something exciting when you did all your calculations right.”

Dorothy worked that job while her soon-to-be husband fought in World War II. They had had plans of going to medical school together, but when the war ended, Dorothy had graduated. They were married, and he returned to school. So she started teaching math at a couple of universities until she found a job working at the US Naval Research Laboratory in Wisconsin. There, she worked with a small group of men and women doing calculations for an atomic scientist.

“There was a scientist working on Flame Theory for ramjets. We were the computers, since back then we didn’t have computers like now. We did all the paper calculations and statistics, basically backing up what he was trying to prove.”

Traveling the world
Dorothy also worked for many years with the Friendship Force International, an organization that strives to build a world of peace through adult foreign-exchange programs. She’d spend a week or so with a family, go to work with them, learn bits of their language, and experience life with them. She participated in trips to Colombia, Korea, Germany, Russia, China, Japan, up the Amazon, all over the US and Canada, and to nearly countless destinations all over the world. “I loved traveling. I’ve been to all seven continents, including Antarctica, and to every state and province in the US and Canada.”

These days, Dorothy likes to watch videos and take online courses on subjects in the medical science field. She “picks up a class or two” on anatomy, physiology, and neurology. “Just fun courses to keep my mind sharp!” She also enjoys learning about astronomy and watching the sun, moon, and stars from her deck.

“Before I moved to Touchmark, I would drag my lawn furniture out at all times in the middle of the night and gaze at the stars. My daughters actually got me a star for my 90th birthday. There’s a star named after me in the Orion constellation.”

In addition to continuing her learning, Dorothy stays involved with church groups and was recently awarded a Lifetime Service Award by the Friends of Hospice organization. She also enjoys “always finding something fun to do at Touchmark,” and going on outings with friends.

“I’ve had a great time getting settled in Touchmark. It’s such a nice, homey feeling here. I’ve recommended Touchmark to lots of people.”

Reclaim your space! Restoring order to your kitchen

The kitchen is the gateway to the home. It’s the most congested, most productive, and typically most beloved space—and worth our attention to organize and optimize this essential household thoroughfare.

The key to kitchen organizing is setting it up correctly. If you’re always digging for things, unload the space entirely and begin anew. Assign a purpose to each cabinet and drawer based on frequency of use for the items stored.

An ordered kitchen facilitates preparation and easy cleanup. Create these zones: bakeware (for oven use); cookware, hot pads, and stirrers (for range); food prep (for bowls, colanders, and food processing); storage ware (bags/wraps/containers); beverage station (coffee mugs, hot-drink items); serving pieces/utensils; and everyday dishware and glassware. Establish an office supply drawer and one utility drawer. Label each cabinet and drawer with post-it notes to retrain yourself on items’ new locations.

The food pantry is a related but separate project. If you don’t have a pantry, identify a bank of cabinets to dedicate to food, ingredients, and daily vitamins/supplements.

Finally, create room for comfortable conversation, beauty, and hospitality, which are the central functions of a healthy, welcoming kitchen. These touches make a kitchen personal and inviting. Now, enjoy your ordered heart-of-the-home kitchen!

An entire chapter on kitchen organizing is featured in my room-by-room organizing book Restoring Order to Your Home.

Vicki Norris, president of Restoring Order®, is a nationally recognized organizing expert, author, and speaker. Her team of professional organizers serves home and business clients in Washington and Oregon. You can watch her organizing segments on KPTV’s Fox 12 More Good Day Oregon. Visit RestoringOrder.com for more information.

Practicing self-care as a caregiver

When a loved one is diagnosed with a deteriorating health condition requiring daily assistance and support, it’s only natural to focus on that person’s well-being.

Taking on the role of caregiver for a family member or friend is one that often comes without any notice or preparation. Responsibilities can increase over time until they become all-consuming, often leaving other areas of life in neglect. Putting the needs of an ailing loved one first is gracious, but often unhealthy for the caregiver.

Over time, caring for a loved one can result in sleep deprivation, lack of exercise, poor eating habits, and a general failure to care for yourself. But the best way to care for a loved one is to make time for your own physical and emotional wellness.

  • Visit your doctor. You likely spend plenty of time at doctors’ offices already, but be sure to go for at least an annual visit and share any changes in your sleep, behavior, mood, or appetite.
  • Be realistic. Remind yourself that the care you’re providing is helpful but the effects of the health condition are usually beyond your control.
  • Take breaks. Caring for someone is a round-the-clock job with no time off. Without time to yourself, caregiver burnout is inevitable.
  • Ask for help. It’s perhaps most important to accept and recognize when caregiving duties become more than you can handle. There may be a time when professional care or a move to a retirement community can enhance your loved one’s quality of life.

Talking to a friend, family member, or your doctor about how you’re feeling can provide valuable support for those carrying the stress of being a caregiver. Look into local support groups, as well. Paying attention to your own needs is just as important as the care you’re providing.

A wealth of memory care resources from Touchmark

Touchmark is committed to providing relationship-centered care that meets residents where they are and encourages them to live a full life. We use the industry-leading Best Friends™ Approach to care to get to know each individual resident and build a relationship with them.

To further help residents living in our memory care neighborhoods experience meaningful connections with family members, friends, and staff, Touchmark has developed the tools listed below.

  • The ABCs of Life Book: This picture-based communication
    tool helps people recall long-term memories by triggering them as they go through the alphabet. It is a 2014 winner of the ALFA National Mature Media Awards.
  • Memory Care Resource Flip Book: This valuable resource was created to provide caregivers and loved ones with
    information on a variety of subjects related to a dementia diagnosis and the journey of the disease.
  • Memory Blocks: Colorful blocks with words on them can help residents form sentences and short stories, recall memories from certain words, or sort blocks according to color.
  • Match and Chat Game: Based on local states/provinces and their corresponding flags, this game challenges memory to match the correct cards together, and also features a more personal reminiscing feature with questions about where a person has lived and traveled.

To learn more about these tools and how you can use them for yourself or with your loved one, speak with a team member in memory care.