Guest post: Restoring order to your closet

The closet is an intimate space. In it, we store our memories, hang our good intentions, stow our beliefs, and catalogue our image. In order to overhaul a clothes-closet and ensure your efforts last, you will need to unload the space completely. Clear your bedroom of clutter, make the bed, and have lots of laundry baskets (and, if possible – a rolling garment rack) for sorting and organizing items.

Begin the macrosort. Remove items by type: pants, skirts, jackets, etc. Shirts (for instance) will likely require several piles: tanks, short sleeve, long sleeve, etc. Add each type into an orderly pile or bin. Don’t try to make decisions at this point.

Conduct the microsort. Go through each pile one at a time and evaluate quantity. Only keep your favorites. Decision-making about clothing can be emotional. It’s okay to keep items with fond memories or in the size we used to wear; however, problems occur when we have kept so many of these we no longer have room for the things we do wear and enjoy!

If the framework of the closet is insufficient, consider a custom closet install. If the existing system is acceptable, clean and vacuum the closet and reload. For a full chapter on closet 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.

Meet June Hunter

“No more worries!”

When June Hunter decided to move to a new home in a new city, she didn’t quite know what to expect. But one year later and happier than ever, she continues to live her life to the fullest.

“I’m not just living a full life,” says June. “If you ask me, I feel like I’m living a full life-plus! And in a place that I’m proud to now call my home.”

With her grown daughters, their husbands, and her three grandchildren, June decided relocating near her family was important to her. It was through friends that she learned about Touchmark.

From Ontario to the prairies
Originally from Ontario, June lived there all of her life up until she met her husband, as he was attending his veterinarian studies at the University of Guelph.

“Harold was a prairie-boy at heart, so as soon as his studies were over, we decided to make the move to Regina, Saskatchewan.”

The couple moved to Saskatchewan in 1956, had two daughters, and worked together in their veterinary clinic.

“I have always liked to keep busy and was very involved in assisting with our business. I also served on the board of directors for the Regina Symphony and most of the committees at our church. Even now, I plan my day the night before, because I like knowing exactly what I am going to do the next day.”

After Harold passed away at a young age in 1982, June sold the family business and found work at a nursing home doing administrative work. After 10 years, she went to work in an Indian Artifacts Gallery for another 10 years.

“I have always loved art! In this job I was able to learn so many new things as I looked after collecting art pieces for the store. It was a marvelous experience.”

To this day, reading and art (especially painting) are what June does most in her spare time. “I can literally sit down in the morning, have the radio on in the background, and spend the rest of the day doing that. It’s very relaxing; it’s like therapy. It’s wonderful.”

Discovering new interests
June even found that by stepping out of her comfort zone, she wound up discovering one of her favorite hobbies—golf!

After a close friend encouraged her to take lessons, June was invited to join a women’s golf club.

“It’s a wonderful way to meet people. You enjoy the fresh air, and you can play it on your own or with others!”

Besides golfing and painting, June likes to listen to music and enjoys all of the musical guests who entertain at Touchmark.

“We just had a group in the other night that I just loved! I love the music of the ’50s and ’60s— Patsy Cline, Bing Crosby, and even some of the rock music that’s out there today.”

June has also been busy making new bridge friends within Touchmark, who meet twice a week to play cards. “More people should play bridge, because it really makes you think. You have to know where the cards are, and I like that it keeps your mind alert.”

Keeping busy is a priority for June. “I knit scarves and other little things while I’m watching TV; it’s a wonderful pastime.”

Settling into her new home
“Now that I’m here, I feel like I have the best of both worlds. I still like to cook, but I can go for meals if I want. My home is always clean, and between the office staff, medical staff, and cleaning staff, you’re just treated so well no matter who you are.”

With June’s personal motto being “you’re only as old as you feel,” she has been taking full advantage of the daily fitness classes Touchmark offers. “We do light aerobics, Pilates, stretching. For me, the program is just right.”

June is thankful the community offers the opportunity to “give back,” too.

“I’ve been able to volunteer in the Health Services Neighborhood here a few times now, helping to push some of the residents in wheelchairs around the community or on outings. It’s the little things they seem to enjoy, and I do, as well. I look forward to volunteering more of my time there.”

The best thing about living at Touchmark?

“No more worries,” exclaims June. “No more worrying about random things like caring for a home. This is the ultimate. You get a bit of everything all in one place. I feel so blessed.”

Tips to have a successful holiday season

For some, the holidays are a favorite time of the year. The days are about experiences and people, family traditions, recalling old memories, and creating new ones. This changes for caregivers and people living with dementia, though.  Use these tips to help you stay connected with your loved one during the holiday season.

It is important to build on past traditions and memories.  Focus on activities that are meaningful to your loved one. Your family member may find comfort in singing holiday songs or looking through old photo albums.  Involving the person in holiday preparation is one way to engage and interact with someone living with dementia.  As the person’s abilities allow, invite him or her to help you prepare food, wrap packages, help decorate, or set the table. This could be as simple as having the person measure an ingredient or hand decorations to you as you put them up. Be careful with decoration choices. Blinking lights may confuse or scare a person with dementia, and decorations that look like food could be mistaken as edible.

You may need to adjust your expectations. It is imperative that you adjust festivities and times your loved one is involved in; you want to plan things based on his or her best time of the day.

There may be significant changes in cognitive abilities since the last time an out-of-town friend or relative has visited. These changes can be hard to accept, so giving others a heads-up before they come home is important. Make sure visitors understand that changes in behavior and memory are caused by the disease and not the person. If your loved one is experiencing a particular challenge, be sure to give an example of what that challenge is and how to redirect or assist the person. You may find it easier to share these changes in a letter or email that can be sent to multiple recipients. It’s helpful to include a picture of your loved one, if there have been some physical changes, as well.

Give yourself permission to do only what you can reasonably manage. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and let others contribute if they offer. Be honest about any limitations or needs, such as keeping a daily routine. Sticking to the person’s normal routine will help keep the holidays from becoming disruptive or confusing.

Be sure to plan time for breaks and rest. You also may want to consider breaking large gatherings into smaller visits of two or three people at a time to keep the person with Alzheimer’s (and you) from getting overtired. Choose the timing of your events carefully. If evening confusion and agitation are a problem, consider changing a holiday dinner into a holiday lunch or brunch. If you do keep the celebration at night, keep the room well-lit and try to avoid any known triggers.

Finding the right gift for your loved one can be challenging. Please see the attached graph for some holiday gift ideas. Less is more, not only when looking to purchase gifts but also when planning your holiday celebrations.

Catch them if you can

What’s the next adventure when you’ve already traveled to all seven continents, all 50 states, and have been to all Canadian provinces? Ask Fran and Ralph Brown!

The active couple moved to Bend, Oregon six years ago from the San Francisco area after visiting longtime friends and walking the River Trail. Ralph explains, “As we saw Touchmark, we asked, ‘What is that?’” After a tour on Saturday, they returned Sunday with friends and found their home.

Next month marks their 50th wedding anniversary. Ralph was stationed in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and Fran was there on vacation. Ralph struck up a conversation with Fran (or vice versa!) at a swimming pool, and they went out for two-and-a-half weeks. Fran returned to Toronto, Canada; they reconnected in the San Francisco area at Christmas, got engaged, then Ralph departed for a nine-month deployment to the Far East.

On his return, they were married at Treasure Island in San Francisco and honeymooned on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Career in the service
Ralph grew up in San Francisco, served in the Navy for 30 years, and spent 12 years as a financial planner assisting military clients. He held a part-time job in Tiburon, California, at a small company managing a warehouse and driving a forklift. “I enjoyed that,” says Ralph. “Here at Touchmark, I have enjoyed being on the Resident Council and focusing on the buildings and grounds and providing input to management on behalf of the residents.”

Born in Toronto, Canada, Fran was a physical education and swim instructor. She went back to school to get a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology. “I taught Jazz Aerobic Calisthenics classes in Key West, New York, and other areas for Navy wives even before Jazzercise® became popular.” In addition to her fitness activities, Fran now enjoys attending Bible study groups, hiking, scrapbooking, and participating
in community projects.

World travelers
As osprey and eagles soar outside their window, they share favorite places they’ve traveled. “I’ve been to Africa three times, and I love the animals and wildlife habitat,” says Fran. Ralph says he prefers Chile and Antarctica. “They’re beautiful, quiet places with lots of good adventures.”

Ralph adds they really enjoy sharing their travel experiences with the Touchmark community. “For our most recent presentation on Namibia, over 100 people showed up.”

So, what’s next for Ralph and Fran? Off to Iceland and Greenland next summer, which will be their 13th trip overseas, and they always love visiting their grandkids in Spokane and San Diego.

“We love Touchmark! With all of our travel, we really appreciate how we can up-and-go and not worry about security,” says Fran. “The staff are lively, fun, and interactive, from the front desk to housekeeping to maintenance.” Ralph adds, “They are responsive, engaging, friendly, and they always know your name. Last year Fran was diagnosed with breast cancer. “Throughout the entire experience, I was so thankful for the incredible support when coming home to Touchmark.”

Both enjoy meeting new people at social hours in the lodges and sharing meals with friends in the dining room. “The food is very good,” says Fran. “They give a balanced portion, their salad bar is very fresh, and you should really try the tasty salmon.”

Ralph likes attending Current Events on Thursdays, when a group gathers to discuss the past week of events and what’s going on in the world. “There’s so much to do at Touchmark whether it’s concerts, Scottish dancers, playing Jeopardy every Friday to challenge our brain, playing bocce ball outside, or walking on the beautiful River Trail right outside our front door.”

“We also enjoy the various health lectures, like the one recently on how music has such an impact on memory,” says Fran.

Whether traveling or engaging in Touchmark’s many Life Enrichment/Wellness offerings, the Browns savor their very full, active life!

Success{FULL} role model

Meet Neal Gamsky

Dr. Neal Gamsky describes himself as “a high-energy person.” The 84-year-old leads an active life with Irene, his wife of nearly 60 years. Born into “abject poverty”, Neal met Irene in elementary school. The two later became high school sweethearts. At age 25, after graduating from college with bachelor’s degrees in education—and his two-year stint in the US Army completed—they married.

Education and working with young people have played a central role in the couple’s lives. Irene, a teacher, earned a master’s degree in counseling. Neal followed his time in the army with law school, a master’s in psychology, and three years as a high school counselor. “I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” he says of their two daughters, who also have advanced degrees.

In 1962, a persistent professor persuaded Neal to pursue a doctorate—and the degree opened a new life chapter. He worked in a psychiatric facility at the University of Wisconsin and for the state in mental health. This led to an opportunity at Illinois State University (ISU). “They brought me there to start a counseling center and teach clinical psychology,” Neal shares. “I became a full tenured professor, and I taught for several years before being appointed Vice President and Dean of Students”; he continued to teach clinical psychology for another 20 years. Today, three awards at ISU are named after him.

Building a life at Touchmark
Since moving to Touchmark, the couple has become involved in numerous activities offered through the Full Life Wellness & Life Enrichment Program™. They continue to participate in outside activities, as well.

Neal enjoys trophy fishing, gardening, and photography; reads medical research and financial reports (“it keeps my brain sharp”); and attends plays, musicals, and lectures with his wife. In addition, he exercises for two hours on most days of the week. Neal serves on the Touchmark Resident Council (he was formerly president), and the party-loving couple invites other residents into their home “so we can get to know them.” They are also ICAA Champions. “I like trying to get people involved in trips and other activities,” Neal says.

He encourages others to eat well, exercise, and participate in intellectual activities.

For Neal, active aging “means engaging yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally in the community and for yourself. You have to stay active—exercise, be involved intellectually and emotionally, and interact socially. It means having a sense of curiosity.”

Outside the community, the couple advises older friends to downsize. “Things don’t create your life, people do,” Neal observes. “We let friends know that you’re not giving up your life when you downsize. Instead, you’ll be more engaged in life, if you move out of a large, demanding home.”

It’s all about perspective
Neal also finds that a positive attitude to aging makes a difference. “I’m trying to grow old cheerfully,” he stresses. Someone who naturally jokes a lot, he cites the example of his mother, who died at age 96 and “always chose to look forward to tomorrow.”

Travel is a particular passion. Every year includes a three-month stay in Florida for the couple, who’ve “been to all 50 states and visited every presidential home, museum, birthplace, and many of their graves,” Neal shares. The world travelers have explored every country in Europe, plus Finland, Russia, Africa, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and South America. His once or twice a year travelogues are enjoyed by Touchmark residents.

Young people, too, have learned from these active-aging role models. “My wife and I gave back-to-back presentations—six of them—to high-school health classes for sophomores, juniors, and seniors combined,” Neal reveals. Pre-presentation surveys asked the teenagers their biggest worry about growing old. “You’ll never guess what most students answered,” says the former high-school counselor and grandfather of four—“getting wrinkles!” Among the words of wisdom he shared with the students? “Age is not a matter of years; it’s a matter of perception.”

Filling her days with enthusiasm

Caroline DeinemaMeet Caroline Deinema

Caroline has converted one of her bedrooms into what she calls her “activity room.” In it, she has her loom and spinning wheel, her sewing machine, and her computer.

But Caroline’s interests travel way beyond that room. In her parlor, she has a harp; on her wrist, an Apple watch; in her refrigerator, homemade yogurt; and beyond her front door more pursuits.

“I feel I’ve been given the enthusiasm for interesting things,” says Caroline.

Caroline grew up in Madison County, Iowa, and then attended the University of Iowa, where she met her future husband. After graduating, they moved to his hometown of Canton, South Dakota, about 20 minutes south of Sioux Falls.

With her nursing diploma, Caroline sometimes worked in a doctor’s office, but mostly, she devoted herself to being a full-time mother and wife. She and her husband raised two sons and a daughter.

“My husband had a Ford dealership for 35 years; we were married for 42 years.”

In 2012, on her 80th birthday, she moved to Touchmark.

“I moved to Touchmark, because I had been taking care of our home by myself for 20 years after my husband died, and I just wanted to retire from that,” she says.

A fascination with “strings”
Near Caroline’s loom is a beautifully handcrafted spinning wheel from Norway that once belonged to her mother-in-law. Caroline first learned how to weave by going to a workshop. She then became interested in spinning the wool, which led to making her own natural dyes. “I collected weeds and cooked them on the stovetop.”

Nowadays, she focuses on the spinning and weaving. “I have lots of ideas for new projects.”

About 30 years ago, Caroline was visiting with a piano teacher who also gave harp lessons. Fascinated by the beautiful instrument, Caroline began lessons. After three months, she bought her own harp.

When she’s not playing her harp for her own pleasure, which she does frequently, Caroline shares her talent. “I play throughout Touchmark around Christmas time and as background music for special occasions.”

A reputation as a techie
Caroline is absorbed with technology and owns an iPad, iPhone, Mac desktop computer, and her most recent purchase, her Apple watch. She is self-taught and considers technology an essential part of her life.

Caroline uses her devices to play games, do online banking, shop, read e-books—and help others.

“Often when I’m with a group of friends, a question will arise, and someone will look over at me and say, ‘Caroline, just look it up on your machine!’”

She also appreciates the health benefits. “Learning technology or new music is very healthy for the brain.”

Always learning new uses for her equipment, Caroline especially gets a kick out of teaching her kids a few things.

She says that one of her sons loves to brag about his mother to his friends. “He’ll say, ‘Now who do you know that’s 82 years old who owns an iPad, iPhone, and an Apple watch—and knows how to use them!’”

Exploring the world abroad
Caroline has traveled quite a bit. She has visited China, South America, Haiti, and the Galapagos Islands (her favorite trip).

When she was 70, she hiked the Grand Canyon with her daughter, taking five days to hike down to the Colorado River and back.

She also has a time-share in Cabo, Mexico, and meets her children there once a year.

“The weird thing about me is, I really like the South Dakota winters,” Caroline confesses. “I’m not interested in being a snowbird and going to warm places to escape. I want to stay here during the winter. I just turn on the fireplace and watch the snow fall.”

And exploring her world at home
Caroline has practiced yoga for many years and has added tai chi since moving to Touchmark.

She is not inclined to use the exercise machines, preferring walking. She and her dog are often seen taking morning strolls on the Touchmark paths.

She belongs to a Touchmark book club. She plays Texas Hold’em twice a week at Touchmark and drives 25 miles to Canton once a week to play mah-jongg with friends.

“I used to be very good at cooking, but I’ve sort of relaxed on that. I eat many of my meals in the dining room now. Recently, someone brought me a basket full of vegetables, so I made a couple batches of Ratatouille, my favorite.”

Caroline always makes her own yogurt. “It’s a standard in my refrigerator!”

She also volunteers regularly at the Washington Pavilion of Arts and Science. She has worked at the information desk twice a month for nearly 15 years. “It’s such a wonderful environment for seeing art and the artists—a very enriching place to volunteer.”

She also enjoys taking the Touchmark bus with friends to restaurants and special events. “If the bus is scheduled to go to lunch, dinner, or other activity—I’m on it! I really enjoy the social aspects of it.”

“Touchmark is such a wonderful community. When I go away, I really miss it and the people. And when I come back, it is so good to see everyone again. We really look out for each other. It is very much a family and community from the staff to the residents. It’s a great experience.”

Focusing on fun—and family history

Dorothy KrogenDorothy has a Bucket List she’s working her way
through. The last big item is a hot-air balloon ride, and she’s determined to take that ride. She also vows never to go a day without having fun.

Raised on a farm in Killdeer, North Dakota, Dorothy graduated from high school in 1948 and then took a summer course at Dickinson College, a teacher’s college.

“They were so short of teachers back then,” recalls Dorothy, “that you could just take a summer course and teach in a country school.”

After she received her teaching credentials, a friend introduced her to the school board president of a small school. She was hired on the spot to teach five students: a
first-grader, a fourth-grader, two seventh-graders, and one eighth-grader.

That’s where Dorothy met her future husband. “It’s a funny story. This young man rode up on his horse and saw me standing on the porch in a blue dress. … The rest is a
long story.”

Dorothy married this young man in the spring of 1950 and moved to his farm. Together, they raised three children.

Traveling the world
After retiring, Dorothy and her husband enjoyed traveling. They visited many European countries including Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Austria, and Germany. They toured Australia and cruised through the Panama Canal.

They also traveled all over Canada and the United States, first with their own fifth-wheeler, then with bus tours.

“My favorite place was New York City. I’ve been there three times. I especially loved the Broadway plays. Australia was also a great trip, particularly when my brother was our tour guide.”

In 1981, Dorothy and her husband started making annual treks to Arizona to escape the North Dakota winters. They made many friends from all over the country.

“We had a wonderful life. My husband and I were married almost 60 years before he passed away in 2009.”

Moving to Touchmark
A few years later, Dorothy decided she wanted to move closer to family, so she moved into a Touchmark cottage in the fall of 2013, not too far from her daughter.

Now Dorothy is near six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, with another on the way.

She lives with Molly, a very talkative cat, who loves bringing in “live gifts” for the two of them to play with. Sometimes, Dorothy posts pictures of Molly and these gifts on her Facebook page.

“Touchmark doesn’t just feel like home, it is home. They offer you everything here. The house is wonderful. The people are nice. I just love it here. I can’t say enough nice things about Touchmark.”

Dorothy continues to go to Arizona in the winter months. “This will be my 34th year,” she says. “Molly and I fly down. I’ll keep going as long as I can.”

Every day is eventful “I sign up for everything that Touchmark has to offer.” She dances, takes riverboat cruises, goes on casino excursions, and visits different restaurants with friends.

She also plays pinochle every day. “I like to beat the boys,” she says with a grin.

“Do I work out in the gym? No, that’s not my favorite thing to do. My favorite thing to do is to write books on my family’s history.”

Dorothy’s lifelong passion
When Dorothy married in 1950, she began using her wall calendar to record daily notes on everything she and her family did. In 1960, she began writing a history of her
family, using those notes. She started out using a manual typewriter and pasting pictures onto the pages. “It’s like an autobiography with pictures,” she explains.

She has since exchanged her typewriter for a computer and now scans her pictures into her digital text document. “Oh my, this is so much easier and faster!”

Besides documenting her immediate family, she also researched ancestors. She traced her husband’s family back to 1534 and her own family to about 1746. “When I’d get little bits of information about their lives, I’d make a story out of it.”

Dorothy recently published her third book of family history, covering the years 2009 through 2013, and will soon start on her fourth.

“It takes a lot of my time, but it’s something I love to do. I will do this as long as I live; as long as I am able to do it.”

Philosophy of life
Like many people, Dorothy has a Bucket List. At 86, she still wants to take a hot-air balloon ride.

“I want to do what I want, and have fun every day for the rest of my life!”

He aims to “live life to the fullest”

Paul KimblePaul’s exuberance for life is contagious. That’s because Paul wants to make every day as good as it can be—for himself and for everyone around him.

Raised on a family farm near Hazlehurst, Mississippi, Paul developed a strong work ethic growing up and then worked hard to get an education to launch a successful career.

In 1948, he took a job with Dun & Bradstreet, the US-based, worldwide credit-rating company. “Most of my business knowledge was on-thejob training in the areas of financial analysis, marketing, and management,” says Paul. “I was awarded the company’s presidential citation on two occasions.”

Since key people in the company were often transferred, Paul and his family moved many times during his 25-year tenure.

In 1973, though, Paul decided he did not want to move his wife and two sons again. “I just knew it was time for us to quit moving,” he says. “I’m a family person first and a business person second.” When he was offered a job by The Cardwell Companies (conveniently located in El Paso, Texas, where they were living), Paul left Dun & Bradstreet.

After several years with The Cardwell Companies, he became executive vice president of Petro Shopping Centers, a related company, which grew into a nationwide modern chain of truck stops. He also was vice president of several related companies having operational, marketing, and financial responsibilities.

After almost 25 years at Cardwell, Paul retired in 1997 and remained in El Paso with his wife Mary.

Paul laughs when he says, “I sort of wish I had never retired. I just love to work; I love people!” This love and concern for others was also evident during his 43 years as an active Rotarian.

Traveling the world
Paul and his wife did a lot of traveling after he retired. “We went to Europe 13 times, traveled all over the United States, went to Asia, New Zealand, Australia … you name it,” he says.

“Over the years, my wife and I met a lot of people on our travels. It’s comforting to still get emails from people you met 10 or 15 years ago,” Paul says, adding, “When I lost my wife, it was comforting to get over 100 sympathy cards from people we know. We’ve got a lot of friends.”

Today, Paul continues traveling. He recently went to the Eastern Caribbean for 10 days. In late summer, he’s going on an Alaskan cruise with family, and he’ll soon return to Mississippi for a visit.

Building a life at Touchmark
In 2012, Paul and Mary’s sons began encouraging them to move closer to one of them. That meant relocating to either Ruidoso, New Mexico, or Edmond, Oklahoma (about five minutes from Touchmark).

“Our son in Edmond did a lot of research and talked to many people, and everyone recommended Touchmark,” Paul remembers. After a few conversations with Touchmark, he and his wife made a trip to Edmond and signed an agreement to build a cottage.

“We got to choose a floor plan and customize it with the options we wanted,” explains Paul. They lived in one of the Touchmark apartments while their home was being built, so they were able to walk to the site and see the progress almost daily.

They moved into their new home in February 2013. Ten months later, Paul’s wife passed away unexpectedly.

“We were married 65 years,” says Paul. “I miss her every day, but life goes on.” Today, Paul honors his wife’s memory by continuing to plant the flowers that she loved so much.

“Every day is a good day”
Each morning when Paul gets up, he sends a text to his son in New Mexico that reads, “I’m vertical today.” Paul laughs hard. “That way, he knows I’m fine.”

Paul says he is in excellent health and “still able to do anything I want to do.”

His preferred form of exercise is taking daily walks outside, but he also uses the treadmill at Touchmark. “I walk real fast, and I walk for a long time,” he says. “I just enjoy being outside.”

He also gets exercise by planting flowers in his yard. “My wife loved flowers. Last fall I put out 250 pansies and a lot of vinca.”

Paul stays very busy with activities that combine his love of people with his business background. He is on the Touchmark Resident Council, representing cottage residents. He is also very active in his church, currently serving as the Finance Chair and a member of the Building Committee.

He belongs to a Touchmark singing group and enjoys the fellowship he finds here. “We look out for each other; it’s a supportive group of people here.” He prides himself on getting to know everyone, including the Touchmark staff, who he finds exceptionally helpful.

“Even though I like to plant flowers all of the time, I don’t like to pull weeds. So, they are always coming over and weeding my flowerbeds. And they trim my trees, mow my yard, and come in once a week and clean my house. My needs are all taken care of here,” he says, smiling.

“I want to make every day as good as it can be,” says Paul. “That’s what I live for: To live life to the fullest.”

Pursuing adventures—and fulfilling dreams

Jean and Max JenkinsThe last two years have been especially busy for Jean and Max Jenkins. In 2013, they celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary and their 75th birthdays with a series of once-in-a lifetime adventures. They also continued planning the next phase of their life together, refining their search for a retirement community that would provide a continuum of care and full-life opportunities on one campus.

“We traveled and did some adventurous things, like taking a trip to Costa Rica to zip-line over the rainforest through 14 platforms,” says Jean. “We also went skydiving near Star, Idaho.”

They fulfilled individual dreams, too. Max climbed a 13,000-foot peak near Breckenridge, Colorado, and Jean won a Gold Medal in the Lewis-Clark Senior Games in the women’s rimfire handgun event, held in Lewiston, Idaho.

In 2014, the couple did more traveling and finalized their plans to move to Touchmark. “Touchmark best matched our criteria for retirement living,” Max explains. “We like the continuum of care; affordability; attractive, comfortable, and well-maintained homes; opportunities for active living; interesting residents; and the great chef.”

With their love of travel and family—son, daughter, and three grandchildren—scattered across the country, the couple also find Boise’s easily accessible air travel convenient.

Moving was a challenge. “We downsized significantly, holding multiple garage sales, selling through Craigslist, donating items; it was no small undertaking after more than half a century of acquiring stuff,” says Jean. Their house sold within a month, and two months later, the couple had moved into their new Touchmark home.

Advanced degrees, family, and many moves
Jean and Max met during freshman orientation at Idaho State University. While Max finished his five-year pharmacy curriculum, Jean, who received her bachelor’s degree in Home Economics, worked as the home demonstration agent for Bannock County Extension Service.

“Then we moved to Reno, where Max worked at a drugstore chain, and our daughter was born. After a year, we were off to Germany, where Max served as an Army Medical Service Corps Officer.”

Two years later, the family, which now included a son, returned to the US.

“I enrolled at the University of Idaho Law School and worked summers as a pharmacist in Reno,” explains Max. “I worked 80 – 100 hours a week, including the midnight to 4 am shift, seven days a week, in downtown Reno. I saw all kinds of interesting people, including celebrities, during those nights!”

“Our hard work paid off,” beams Max. “At graduation, we were proud to be free from any debt, and we had money in the bank.”

Max was hired by Osco Drug/Jewel Companies in Chicago, passed the Illinois Bar Exam, and became director of Pharmacy Operations before being given the task to start the company’s first photo-finishing plant.

“I then joined Carhart Photo Corporation in Rochester, New York.” As president, he led Carhart’s turnaround before it was sold to a subsidiary of Eastman Kodak. After retiring from Carhart Photo, Max was a nonpaid executive director for the Rochester Habitat for Humanity affiliate.

Called to serve
After years of managing the household, substitute teaching, volunteering, and raising children, Jean took the plunge and entered seminary to pursue a Master’s of Divinity degree. Ordained to Word and Sacrament by the Presbyterian Church in Rochester, Jean served for more than 13 years as a New York state chaplain.

“I worked with people who have developmental disabilities living outside the traditional institutional setting,” says Jean, who pioneered a community-based model of chaplaincy called Merging Two Worlds.

With additional specialized training, Jean served the Presbyterian Church as an intentional interim pastor. “Shortly after we moved to Lewiston, I came out of retirement to serve as the interim pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, just 35 miles to the north in Moscow. We had been members of that church when Max was a law student.”

Life at Touchmark
Today, Jean and Max are busier than ever. “There’s more to do than time allows,” laughs Jean.

Max continues his stock market trading activities along with pursuing a new goal to complete an ancestry chart and keep his photos up to date and accessible “within the cloud.” He also continues to be active with his early morning one-mile run to the local McDonald’s, where he drinks coffee and reads The Wall Street Journal on his Kindle, and then runs back home before breakfast. He also does 132 push-ups plus other exercises each weekday.

Jean is transferring all her sermons to an electronic format, so they, too, can be stored in the cloud. She also continues her quilting projects, painting, making new friends, preaching from time to time, and “staying alert to ways to serve the community at Touchmark.”

And their adventures continue. The two met friends in Park City, Utah, to check out The Extreme at Olympic Park—one of the steepest zip lines in the world. They are also planning a rafting trip in September with four Touchmark friends to the backcountry of the lower Salmon and Snake rivers.

Her motto is, “I’ll try it!”

Meet Clara Braun
Her motto is, “I’ll try it!”

Clara BraunSince moving to Touchmark in the fall of 2011, Clara has taken advantage of nearly every exercise class, social event, group activity, and bus excursion the community offers.

In fact, if it’s on the Touchmark Full Life calendar, Clara has probably tried it.

“I join everything that I have time for. I always have from day one when I moved in here,” she says. Then, she begins listing her current activities: “Posture & Balance. Fit to be Strong. Qigong. Water exercises in the pool … I also play cards and board games. We recently started a singing group, and I go to the coffee hour every afternoon. Let’s see,” she pauses to think, “There is Brain Builders as well as the Bone Builder exercise class I go to twice a week. Whenever the leader can’t come, then I lead the group,” she adds.

“And I join all activities connected to arts and crafts. I also enjoy all of their socials here. Wine socials. Birthday parties. Wonderful entertainment comes in. And a group of us takes the bus out to eat twice a month.”

There are so many things going on around her that Clara often must choose between two or more activities. “I’m lucky that my community has a pool, but sometimes, I can’t get into the pool, because I have something else I want to do.”

Clara is also on the Touchmark Resident Council and works with residents, team members, and administration.

“I like it here. I liked it from the day I moved in,” she says.

A long life of farming and hard work
Born and raised on a farm in Napoleon, about 75 miles southeast of Bismarck, Clara moved to Bismarck after high school. A year later, she married a farmer whose farm was just seven miles out of town.

Clara and her husband raised corn, wheat, barley, oats, alfalfa, and cattle. They also raised one son and three daughters.

After Clara’s husband passed away in 2010, she remained on the farm for about a year and then decided to move into town.

Her daughter encouraged her to move into town, reminding Clara that she was in town almost every day anyway, so she might as well move there.

“So I thought, OK; I want to move into a retirement community, so I won’t have to move again. I went and looked at all of the retirement homes in Bismarck with my daughter, and I decided this was the nicest. I know I chose the right place.”

She explains, “I could have moved to an apartment or bought a condo, but I would still be alone. Here, I have a lot of companions.”

And so many things to do right outside her front door. Clara especially appreciates the Touchmark bus service. “They take us nearly everywhere we want to go. I like that very, very much,” she says. “I also like that they come in and clean my home. I worked hard all of my life, and now I let them come in and clean. And they do the cooking for me, too!”

Clara cherishes time with children, grandchildren, and siblings
While her companions and activities within Touchmark offer more than enough to keep her busy, Clara is also blessed with having a big family with whom she keeps in close touch.

Many of Clara’s close-knit family live nearby. Two daughters live within a short distance of Bismarck: one just a mile away, and the other 13 miles out. Her son lives only 45 miles away, and her other daughter is in Virginia. Grandchildren also live within visiting distance. Plus, she has 10 living siblings, eight brothers and two sisters.

Clara participates in a lot of family birthday parties and holiday celebrations throughout the year and enjoys traveling with family. She recently toured Israel with one of her daughters—and rode a camel. She has taken her four children and their spouses to Alaska and Hawaii.

A time to fully enjoy life
Living on a farm all of her life except the one year she lived in Bismarck between high school and marriage meant Clara didn’t have extra time for personal pursuits.

“When I was younger, I was lucky if I got to travel outside of North Dakota. We didn’t travel until the last 25 or 30 years.”

Once their son was old enough to stay home and take care of the farm, Clara and her husband started traveling quite a bit, including trips to Europe. They also went to Arizona for 14 winters to escape the cold and snow.

Now, Clara is enjoying the freedom to pursue a variety of activities.

“My approach to life is to exercise and eat healthy,” she says. “And live life to the fullest!'”