FAQs: How do I make new friends when I move in?

bloggraphic110216

We get questions every day about what life in our community is like from those considering a move. We asked some of our retirement counselors to weigh in and address some of these questions in a regular feature on our blog.

For many residents, one of the most rewarding parts of living at Touchmark is the ability to build new friendships and be greeted warmly throughout the community as you attend events and enjoy all that Touchmark has to offer. We understand the importance of relationships and have these tools available:

  • Welcoming Committees and Resident Ambassadors: These groups are comprised of existing residents who have volunteered to help new residents adjust to life at Touchmark. They can help make introductions around the community.
  • New Resident Welcome Announcements: Information about new residents is shared with all existing residents upon move-in. These announcements encourage existing residents reach out to new residents and help make the experience of living at Touchmark as welcoming as possible from day one.
  • Resident and Team Member Directories: These resources contain photos and personal information to help residents and team members get to know a little about the people who have chosen to live and work at Touchmark.

Retirement Counselor Melinda describes the move-in process for new residents at Touchmark at Harwood Groves in Fargo, ND:

Touchmark’s Move-In Coordinator will walk you through the entire move-in process and make sure you are feeling settled. She also lines up current residents to have a meal with you, give you a tour, and stop by to introduce themselves.

We host a monthly social for new residents and resident ambassadors to mingle and get to know each other. Residents are very friendly and recognize new faces. Many will stop to introduce themselves to new residents because they know what it was like to be new.

Touchmark also has a designated team member check in every few weeks for the first two months because it can be overwhelming when a person first moves. We want to make sure to answer questions along the way, not just when you first move in.

Gratitude goes a long way

Giving back and expressing gratitude are synonymous with this time of year—it’s only natural to look back on all we’ve been thankful for over the past several months as we look forward to the start of a new year. As we gather together over the holidays, we can share these feelings with loved ones and give thanks to each other.

Showing gratitude can be as simple as giving someone a compliment, sharing a meal with a loved one, or trying to see the positives in a bad situation. More formal ways to give back might include volunteering at a local food bank, becoming a mentor, making a charitable donation, or teaching a class.

Ingraining these habits in our everyday lives helps make these feelings more prominent and can encourage others to follow our lead. In addition to helping others feel a sense of purpose and appreciated, giving to others benefits the giver, as well.

It can help:

  • Increase self-esteem
  • Stimulate the release of endorphins similar to the “high” that comes from exercise
  • Gain a new perspective and take your mind off of everyday concerns
  • Grow as a person and develop new skills and knowledge

This month, consider the ways in which you can show your appreciation for those who make your life a little brighter each day. Spread kindness, express your feelings, and enhance self-worth for yourself and others!

Employee Profile: Kim Lehmann

Director of Health & Fitness Operations

Kim has been with Touchmark for 10 years and appreciates the opportunity her job provides to do the work she’s passionate about in a fun place with great people. She oversees all Touchmark Health & Fitness Clubs and focuses on meeting the needs of the active aging adult.

What is functional fitness?

Functional fitness is multi-dimensional exercise that trains muscles to work together in a way that promotes the common movements of daily function. These types of exercises are important to maintain one’s quality of life and activity level regardless of age.

What are the benefits of staying active longer?

Staying active longer helps to slow down the effects of aging on the human body. It can help maintain or improve bone density, maintain healthy weight, reduce the risk for cancer, strengthen muscles, reduce injuries or recovery time for injuries, and improve quality and longevity of life.

What keeps you at Touchmark?

Touchmark leadership is dedicated to the happiness and well-being of residents and employees while striving to be the best in the industry. The company is dedicated to doing the right thing in all circumstances, setting the stage for ethical conduct at all levels.

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

Quality.

Touchmark on South Hill named winner of international excellence award

Touchmark on South Hill announced  it is a recipient of the 2017 NuStep Pinnacle Award®. The Spokane retirement community was selected from 30 applicants to receive the Bronze Award in the Senior Living Division. It is the first time the award has been given to a recipient in the Northwest.

The NuStep Pinnacle Award, now in its 18th year, is awarded to senior living communities and senior centers that have successfully integrated the whole-person wellness model into their settings and created a culture of wellness. Touchmark’s Full Life Wellness and Life Enrichment Program™
incorporates all seven dimensions of wellness: environmental, emotional, intellectual, occupational, social, physical and spiritual.

The application and review process for NuStep Pinnacle Award consideration is comprehensive and includes a five-page application and supportive documents addressing a program’s breadth, how residents are motivated to be involved, participation measures, supportive services, outcomes,
program enhancements, ongoing education about the seven dimensions of wellness and more. After reviewing all applications, NuStep selects finalists and does on-site visits.

“To receive this level of recognition for our community is an honor and wonderful tribute to all of the residents and team members of Touchmark,” says Jeff Bair. Bair is currently Touchmark regional vice president and served for 16 years as Touchmark on South Hill’s executive director.

When asked what makes Touchmark’s program unique, he explains, “We meet people where they are in terms of their health and well-being. Our program identifies residents’ individual strengths, skills, needs, interests and goals to help them lead a happy, healthy, and full life. When team members are hired, we identify their interests and talents, which can be drawn upon and shared with the broader community.”

Partnering with residents to identify their desires and dreams and working together to bring those needs, passions and abilities to life is the core of Touchmark’s program, both in philosophy and practice. “We encourage and support residents and team members to live happier, healthier lifestyles
by becoming involved and engaged,” Bair says.

The retirement community provides many noteworthy activities for involvement that include the A-MAY-Zing Race, Touchmark’s version of the popular TV show that incorporates the seven dimensions of wellness; vibrant monthly Men’s Club and Ladies Night; nature hikes with Touchmark Trekkers throughout Spokane; a multifaceted Brain Builders program; Wellness Lecture Series; Gonzaga University Game Night and happy hour; weeklong Ping-Pong® tournaments; an elaborate Mardi Gras celebration and well-attended Harvest Festival. Additionally, throughout the week, residents participate in spiritual pursuits and volunteer opportunities.

Touchmark’s Health & Fitness Center provides robust programming led by certified personnel. Classes include everything from Line Dancing, Ballroom Dancing, Functional Fitness Boot Camp and Stay Active & Independent for Life to Posture & Balance, PWR! Moves for PD (Parkinson’s disease)
and personal training.

The 2017 NuStep Pinnacle Award winners are:

Senior Living Division:
Gold – Carroll Lutheran Village, Westminster, Maryland
Silver – Friendship Village of Schaumburg, Schaumburg, Illinois
Bronze – Touchmark on South Hill, Spokane, Washington

Senior Center Division:
Gold – VINE Adult Community Center, Mankato, Minnesota
Silver – Peter B. Lewis Aquatic & Therapy Center, Beachwood, Ohio
Bronze – Milan Seniors for Healthy Living, Milan, Michigan

“Each of the 2017 Pinnacle Award winning organizations are notable in their dedication to helping individuals achieve optimum wellness,” said Steve Sarns, vice president of sales and marketing for NuStep. “Through their remarkable efforts, the quality of life of older adults — whether frail or active,
in assisted living or aging in place — is being enriched and enhanced in untold ways.”

Construction under way on new Touchmark community with unparalleled views and services

tpor_cam1_083116After building and operating 11 retirement communities in eight states and Canada, locally based Touchmark is now constructing a unique retirement community in the west hills near Portland’s Forest Heights. Established more than 35 years ago, Touchmark was one of the first companies to create retirement communities offering an enriched lifestyle and continuum of services and care. Today, Touchmark is among Oregon and Southwest Washington’s top 30 private companies.

The new community is situated on forested terrain northeast of Barnes and Leahy just three miles from downtown Portland and one mile from Providence St. Vincent Medical Center. Touchmark in the West Hills combines a remarkable, natural setting, vineyards and commanding views with convenient access to the area’s cultural activities, health care, shopping and other attractions.

Scheduled to open fall 2017, Touchmark in the West Hills will offer a range of active-adult living that will include two lodge buildings, single-family and garden homes, a health and fitness club and award-winning wellness offerings.

The project is providing work for more than 1,000 people during construction. Once opened, it will employ about 200 team members.

Residents will benefit from numerous on-site amenities such as a community garden and greenhouse, walking trails, vineyard, pickleball courts, hair salons, library and reading rooms, lounges, theater, chapel and much more. Restaurant-style dining will be available in both lodges.

The Clubhouse Lodge will offer 130 independent living homes with one and two bedrooms. Options will include fireplaces, balconies and sunrooms. The Terrace Lodge will include 146 homes for residents requiring health services and support for their daily activities. At completion, services will include assisted living, memory care, home health and home care.

Single-family and garden homes will feature innovative, barrier-free open floor plans with no stairs, upscale finishes and private outdoor areas. Instead of the typical three-story vertical structures, the garden homes are designed as two-story structures over parking garages. Each floor will have two homes. An elevator will serve all four homes.

All Touchmark communities are certified Best Friends environments. The Best Friends Approach is a groundbreaking method of care for individuals living with dementia. This approach focuses on building meaningful relationships and encouraging respect, empathy, support and trust. Evidence supports this reduces the anxiety associated with dementia and use of psychotropic medications.

“When completed next year, this community will be unlike anything offered in the metropolitan area,” said Touchmark Founder and Chairman Werner G. Nistler, Jr., citing the natural setting, views and design of the buildings. “All of that is a backdrop to our commitment to exceptional service and resort-style approach to hospitality.”

More than 15 years ago, Nistler envisioned the many benefits this rare site could offer, and for years pursued opportunities to purchase land parcels. “The spectacular topography, 210-degree views of 50-plus miles and convenient location are what first attracted me,” he says adding, “We plan to keep a significant portion of the site natural.”

An exceptional approach to a wellness lifestyle
In addition to the homes, services and amenities, what is striking about the new community is the many ways it will promote wellness.

The comprehensive health and fitness club is designed to meet the needs of those 50+ and will include indoor heated pool and spa, aerobics and fitness studios, specialized equipment, personal trainers, group exercise classes, a bistro and more.

A unique offering will be functional fitness training. Certified personal trainers/exercise specialists will work with members using a variety of equipment (jungle gym training system, universal training systems and other supportive gear) to engage multiple muscle groups at once. This improves strength as well as enhances balance and flexibility, all of which increase people’s ability to function better in their daily activities.

Touchmark’s Fall Reduction and Awareness Program also will be offered with trainers using the NeuroCom® Balance Master®, advanced equipment that applies interactive computer technology to identify and evaluate a person’s unique balance and movement patterns.

Membership in the club will be open to residents as well as adults 50 years and older.

The health and fitness club is part of a clubhouse that will provide restaurant-style dining with terrace seating, lounge and rooftop terrace. Meeting rooms for residents, civic groups and other functions will also be available.

Full Life offerings
Touchmark’s Full Life Wellness & Life Enrichment Program has won national and international awards for the ways it enriches people’s lives. Based on the seven dimensions of wellness and resident interests, the program results in a calendar filled with classes, events, excursions and activities.

Among the planned offerings are winetasting and demonstration kitchen gatherings, farm-to-table dinners, the Touchmark Trekkers walking program, wine/art/book clubs and more. Life Enrichment/Wellness staff will be Certified Cognitive Stimulation instructors and will lead Brain Builders classes to support brain health.

Touchmark in the West Hills is located on a wooded hillside. “This site offers spectacular views of the valley as far as the Coast Range plus the ever-changing natural setting of trees and wildlife,” said Touchmark CEO Marcus Breuer. “The fact that this is just minutes from downtown and Portland’s restaurants and cultural activities makes this a unique property.”

Extensive preserved walking trails will wind throughout the property when it is completed.

Vineyard offering Pinot Noir
Touchmark residents also will be able to stroll through rows of Pinot Noir grapes at Swede Hill Vineyards, located on Touchmark’s property. In fall 2013, Nistler and his wife Colleen teamed up with husband and wife winemakers Matt and Nancy Vuylsteke of Farm to Cork, LLC to plant Pinot Noir vines in the Swede Hill neighborhood, adjacent to Touchmark in the West Hills.

The elevation, varied exposures, and volcanic soil are ideally suited to the growing of premium wine grapes that will be meticulously hand farmed. The first harvest happened this fall. More information is available at swedehillvineyards.com.

An information center is now open at Touchmark’s recently remodeled company headquarters at 5150 SW Griffith Drive in Beaverton. Hours are Mondays through Fridays from 9 am to 6 pm and Saturdays 10 am to 4 pm. The center offers virtual tours, floor plans and photos of the site and views. Appointments can be made by calling 503-954-1640. More information about the project is available at TouchmarkPortland.com.

Architects for Touchmark in the West Hills are LRS Architects and Senior Vice President of Architecture with Touchmark Development & Construction Joseph Billig, AIA. Andersen Construction is the general contractor. Senior Vice President and Director of Construction Rick Wessell and Development Manager Michelle Platter, both with Touchmark Development & Construction, are overseeing the project.

Reducing the risk of breast cancer through awareness and early detection

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, now is as good a time as any to make sure you’re educated on the risks and early signs of this disease to help keep yourself or your loved ones healthy. While breast cancer is not preventable, there are several ways to help stay protected and minimize the effect of this potentially deadly condition.

Eighty percent of all breast cancer cases occur in women over the age of 50, with 60% found in women over the age of 65. A woman’s risk of breast cancer tends to increase with age—which makes regular screening and early detection all the more important.

For women between the ages of 50 and 74 years old, a mammogram screening is recommended every two years. This X-ray exam is usually covered by insurance with no out-of-pocket costs, and is the most effective way to detect any signs of cancer as early as possible.

In addition to regular screenings by a professional, it’s important for everyone to be aware of some of the early warning signs of breast cancer, and bring them to the attention of your doctor as soon as possible. Common warning signs include:

  • Lump in the breast or underarm
  • Thickening or swelling of part of the breast
  • Pain in the nipple or breast
  • Redness or discharge from the nipple
  • Any change in the size or shape of the breast

While most incidences of breast cancer are found in women, men are not immune to the disease. It’s important for everyone to be aware of the risk factors and know how to identify early signs in themselves, their partner, or a loved one they care for. This month, educate yourself and promote lifelong health.

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.

Downsizing at any time for simpler living

Downsizing is a popular topic in the world of senior living—a move to a retirement community often involves sorting through decades of belongings and preparing to transition to a smaller space. There are countless consultants and organizations available to help older adults prepare for this overwhelming task.

But lately the downsizing trend is not limited only to those who are preparing for a major life change like a move to a retirement community. Simplified living has become a way of life for people of all ages. Removing unnecessary belongings can help relieve stress, cut down on cleaning, and allow for more time to focus on life experiences rather than tending to belongings.

In 2014, Japanese organizing consultant Marie Kondo released The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, which quickly became a bestseller in a society that has become obsessed with “stuff.” In her book, Marie shares how to joyfully declutter your home and surround yourself with things that make you happy. Her purposeful approach to simple living promotes happiness and creating an intentional home space.

This trend shows us that we don’t have to wait for a major life transition to start the downsizing process. Eliminating clutter and being mindful of what we bring into our home can provide benefits for anyone.

The tips below can help you get started whether you’re looking to simplify certain areas or prepare for a big move.

  • Limit the amount of space you’re willing to give certain items. Only allowing yourself to keep enough books to fit on a bookshelf can make it easier to determine which ones are most important to you.
  • Keep additional clutter from entering your space. Opt out of catalogs, subscribe to paperless billing, and consider the usefulness of freebies and giveaway items before accepting them.
  • Follow the one-year rule. If you haven’t used something in the last year (or two), especially clothing, it’s unlikely that you will use it again at all.
  • Save digitally. If something holds sentimental value to you, take a photo of it to keep forever. Similarly, take time to digitize old photos and videos to free up physical storage space and keep your memories intact online.

Simplifying over time can help make a move all the more easier when the time comes. Create intention in your home!