Peg’s Perspective: What’s John’s key to a long, healthy, and happy life?

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Our Wesley Ridge resident, Dr. John Kirker has some definite ideas on the key to a long and happy life. And at 97, he’s an expert on the topic.

John Kirker was born in 1921 in Watertown, Massachusetts.    He served in the Coast Guard from 1942-1945 and went to Capital University on the GI Bill. John was happily married to his wife, Shirley, for 54 years before she passed away in 2017. They had three children, two girls and a boy.

In all his life experiences, John has endless advice! But, regarding living a long and happy life here are his top recommendations:

Good attitude. 

As anyone who meets him already knows, John always enjoys people, and has a very positive outlook on life. He is known for stopping by to brighten days with his big smile and pocket full of candy! Resident and staff alike are joyed by his presence.

Exercise. 

He and Shirley would walk every day for about 15 minutes, right after breakfast. Not only was it great quality time together, but it also kept the two of them active. Also, John has been playing golf for a long time! He began playing in Caddie Camp, a league for beginner golfers, in 1934.

Staying busy/hard work.   

John had a very successful career as Dean of Men, then as Chairman of the Department of Education. He enjoyed his years of work so much that he began an entirely new career after retirement. His post-retirement position consisted of evaluating projects for a not for profit foundation.

John also loved working around the house to keep himself busy. He painted the outside of the house several times and worked on other miscellaneous projects around their home. The work “never bothered me,” John explained. He truly enjoyed the work he did at their home.

Listening.    

John describes himself as a verbal individual. He enjoys talking with others and learning about their story. But, he believes that the ability to really listen to people is very important.

Church and Family.   

His motto is “I am Third”, meaning God is first, family is second, and he is third.

His wife brought him so much joy during their time together. And, John is extremely proud and thankful for his three children.

Music.

John enjoys listening to music, playing music, and even writing musical lyrics (which read like poetry). John is a gifted musical writer. He showed me lyrics that were a testament to a broken heart, but he added “This could be an ode to losing someone to dementia.”

Dr. John Kirker,   “Once an advisor, always a friend,”   we thank you for your insight.

Why should I discuss end of life decisions with my loved ones now?

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By: Amy Shaffer

Nineteen years ago my dad, Mike Poly was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer.  He was 50 years old-just a year older than I am now.  This was a man who was still playing softball with his friends and open gym basketball with the kids at Bishop Ready High School in Columbus, Ohio. We were in obvious shock when he was diagnosed. Thinking of life without him was unfathomable; but thinking of what was in store the next 8 months wasn’t even on our radar.

The first few months flew by as Dad had surgery and began radiation treatment.  My dad, my sister and I celebrated our “triple birthday” together (sadly, it would be our last).  He loved the beach, so he went three times that summer. We also made a trip to Keuka Lake, New York for a family wedding.  He even went to the Ohio State Fair about five times that year (he loved his corn, steak on a stick and lemon shake ups!).  Although his medical team was very honest with us about his prognosis, we still had hope because he was continuing to do the things he loved.

Mom and Dad had never had a reason to establish power of attorney, create a living will or elect a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order before now.  But just a few short months after his diagnoses, we were faced with these questions of his wishes. The social worker at Mt. Carmel first broached the subject of advanced directives with my parents while my dad was hospitalized for pain management.  She talked with them about a DNR and end of life decisions.  He was only 51 at this point; how could he and my mom even think about whether or not he wanted resuscitated?  As the cancer was ravaging his body, we began to learn the benefits of having advanced directives in place; about how important it was to know what dad wanted at the end of his life; about how we should carry out his choices; about what a gift it truly is to be reassured with these difficult decisions that we were doing what he wanted; we were honoring his wishes. Once we understood, it became a little easier.

But for many families, it’s not always as clear.  Our loved ones may live full, healthy lives, so we don’t think about what might happen if one day they can’t express their wishes. Or perhaps they have always refused to think or plan for their future, for fear of the unknown.  Most people think they have taken care of everything because they have a will or a pre-paid funeral plan, but never really face the reality of what may happen between now and when they pass away. My experience with my father as well as working in the healthcare and long term care industry has given me special insight.  I have shared the journey so many families are faced with.  I have witnessed the slow deterioration of our brains and bodies from a long term illness like dementia or Parkinson’s.  I have watched families face the difficult decisions of initiating or withholding life-sustaining treatment.  I have also witnessed acute, life threatening events like a stroke or heart attack when the decision for heroic, life-sustaining treatment must be made in a moment of anguish.

Please consider discussing advance directives and end of life decisions with your partner, your parents and your closest friends.  Encourage them to communicate their choices and urge them to put a legal document like a power of attorney, a living will and/or a DNR into place.  Then, have that courageous conversation with your kids and let them know your wishes.  There is no gift more valuable than to make your choices known so that your loved ones aren’t left to these difficult decisions in a time of crisis.

 

Peg’s Perspective: Fifty Tips on Aging Well to Celebrate 50 Years of Excellent Service

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As The Wesley Communities approach 50 years of excellent service, our CEO Peg Carmany offers “Peg’s Perspective” on a variety of topics affecting seniors and their adult children as they plan and choose to age well – 50 tips to celebrate 50 years!

Tip # 1 of 50 – What’s the key to a long, healthy, and happy life?   

Answers from an interview with Joe and Millie Anderson — people who know how it’s done!

Joe and Millie Anderson met at church when Millie was 15 years old . . . . Millie remembers Joe and his brother Frank coming into church “just a little bit late,” and Millie said to her sister,  “They’re here!”

Joe remembers that Millie was “a step above my pay grade.”

After 66 years of marriage, they bring a unique perspective to aging well, not just surviving, but thriving.

Both came from rather large families.    Joe is the youngest of 8, and Millie had four brothers.    Millie’s father died when she was five.

From Joe, who ran a successful business that has been passed to his family:    “Be straight with people.   Never, ever cheat.    And be loyal to your family, and keep them together.”

And Millie’s advice?    “Church, church, church, all the time”      “We never knew we were poor, we made our own fun.”    And from her Grandmother, who lived with them,  a deep love of poetry.

Joe and Millie’s advice exactly fits with research from The Longevity Project, which shows that in order to live not only longer, but better, people both work hard and play hard. And, if you want to live a long life, going to church really may be the answer to your prayers.         It’s the values from church – respect, compassion, gratitude, charity, humility, harmony, meditation, and preservation of health that seem to predict longevity, not what’s being preached from the pulpit.

So there you have it, tips from the pros . . . . I sincerely thank Joe and Millie for sharing their insights with all of us.

References:

THE LONGEVITY PROJECT: SURPRISING DISCOVERIES FOR HEALTH AND LONG LIFE FROM THE LANDMARK EIGHT-DECADE STUDY

4 Things to Try when Facing a Tough Time

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By: Kayla Statema

I’m sure you have heard the saying, ‘April showers bring May flowers.’ And, even as we grow and change as a company, the weather at our communities in central Ohio continues to prove this quote true. But, this short phrase is so much more meaningful than just getting through Columbus, Ohio weather!

People often look back on this quote when battling a rough patch in life. Sometimes it can be hard to see the positive that can come out of a tough time, but it’s important to keep a few things in mind when facing a challenging situation.

  • Let go of guilt and forgive

When you and your family are facing a tough time, it is important to understand that everyone will not quite be themselves. Little things that you would brush off before, may now make you upset. And, the same is true for your family and friends who are facing difficulties. You are not to blame for this, and neither are your friends and family. You all must learn to let go of guilt when you act out of character. And, you must forgive when someone you love acts out of character. If you cannot let go of guilt and find forgiveness, it will start a cycle of anger between you and your family, your friends, as well as yourself.

  • Allow others to help

It’s important to allow others to help. You may not be able to take on as much as you used to at work or at home. During a difficult time, it is important to be open and honest about what you are going through. And, if someone offers a helping hand allow them to assist you. During this time someone cutting your lawn or picking up a shift at work can make a world of a difference in your wellbeing.

  • Notice positive gestures

When you are going through a hard time it’s easy to be angry at the world. So, during this difficult time challenge yourself to look at the world in a different light. Thank the person who held the door open for you. Embrace the person who picked up the tab for your morning coffee. And, thank your spouse who stopped by the grocery store to pick up the milk you needed. Noticing these small gestures can make a difference on your overall attitude. If you are finding it difficult to notice these positive gestures, try starting a gratitude journal. Then, before you go to bed each night, note the things that happened that day which you are grateful for.

  • Be kind to yourself

You’ve probably heard this before, but it’s so important. Take time for yourself during tough times. A tough situation can take up a lot of your free time so, it’s important to make the most of every minute. Go for a walk to get fresh air. Take a hot bath with aroma therapy to relax. Or, if you have a bit more time, schedule a massage or a day trip. This may help to balance out the emotions you are feeling.

We know it can be hard to keep in hindsight, but always remember—April showers bring May flowers. As people, we will always change, hit rough patches and face challenges. But ultimately, a move to a new city, may bring us closer to new friendships. The passing of a loved one may allow you to be more understanding and compassionate in the future. And, no matter what the scenario, one day you may be able to help others going through a similar situation.

Peg’s Perspective: Life Lessons I Learned from Our Residents

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By: Peg Carmany

I first began to work in senior housing in 2002, and it’s remarkable to me how fast those 15 years have flown by.   As I look back, I think my biggest misconception at the beginning was that I was here to help them. In reality, they have given me invaluable gifts of knowledge and friendship.

Here are but a few of the things I have learned from my residents over the years:

  1. Adversity does not have to define you.     If you get a chance to live into your 80s (or 90s) (or 100s!), life will definitely throw you some curve balls.     Poor health.   Unexpected loss of a loved one.    Financial troubles.      You name it.    And at some point (and I’m not entirely sure at what age, but it will happen), you grieve, you adjust, and then you accept that everyone is carrying around something that is burdensome.
  2. Once you realize #1, you are kinder to others as a result.
  3. Gratitude is important. It sounds trite, “Count your blessings.”   But it is not trite, it is important.     Almost always, there is something, oftentimes more than one thing, to truly be grateful for, and to acknowledge.
  4. If you become a good listener, most people will think you’re a terrific conversationalist.
  5. Life is short, and it goes by quickly, and none of us are getting out of here alive. Don’t waste a day lost in meaningless details. Know that “This too shall pass,” eventually.

Now in 2018, I continue to remind myself how much our residents have helped me grow as a human being. I am better at handling the curveballs that life throws my way, whether it’s at home or at work and I strive, every day, to express my gratitude in a variety of ways. But most importantly, I truly enjoy spending time with the people who have taught me so much. There’s always room to grow.

Our Chef’s Share Their Favorite Recipes

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At The Wesley Communities, our residents, staff and family members typically come together over a meal. This time spent together allows everyone to slow down from a busy day. It is a time when people can focus on relationship building, not health concerns or other details of daily life. At the table, friends are made and conversations flourish.

Our communities take pride in serving nourishing meals to our residents and staff during meal time. It’s important to ensure that we all remain as healthy as possible. Here are a few of the foods that we love enjoying together:

Chef Glen’s Turkey Chili

Chef Glen works at Wesley Ridge Retirement Community. He loves serving this Turkey Chili. It’s a great comfort food for those cold rainy days!

Chef Kevin’s Mediterranean Salmon

Chef Kevin has served this dish to many people and ‘they all love it,’ he explains. The flavors a great way to switch up your typical dinner menu.

Chef James’s Farro Salad

This salad is the perfect side dish or afternoon snack. It is packed full of nutrients for guilt free enjoyment. Not to mention, it will keep you full longer.

And remember, all of these meals taste better when you are surrounded by those who mean the most to you. So, take a step back from your busy day every once in a while to have a meal with you mom, dad, co-worker or best friend. We bet you’ll enjoy your meal, learn new things, and feel refreshed afterward.

What is your favorite meal to eat with your family?

How to Love Your Loved One When They Have a Life Limiting Illness

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By: Peg Carmany

When someone you love is diagnosed with a life limiting illness, it may be a time when the kaleidoscope of your life suddenly snaps into focus. Or it may be a time when the laser focus of your life becomes scattered. And very likely, there will be some of both. Of the research I have done, and the practical tips I can share from my own experience, these are my favorite pieces of advice:

1. Remember there is no right answer on how you’re supposed to act, and you should not assume that you are supposed to know exactly what to do and exactly how to act. It’s OK to fall apart, but one word of caution about that: try not to let the person who is ill be your primary source of comfort when you do hit a wall.
2. When trying to follow Tip 1, remember that your established role with this loved one doesn’t necessarily switch at the moment of diagnosis. Perhaps only one of you has ever been good under stress? It’s okay to keep it that way. Both of you may take great comfort in continuing on with familiar patterns.
3. Make it a priority to show your love as your loved one is facing what may be overwhelming and scary. It’s not all roses and chocolates – be authentic, be honest, and be yourself. Express gratitude to them for how they have positively impacted your life – and share happy memories – and don’t be afraid to say goodbye, tenderly.
4. Respect their authority to make their own decisions, whether you like it or not. These are their choices, not yours.
5. Keep things as normal as possible. Continue watching your favorite tv shows together or listening to their favorite music, it can be a very meaningful thing.
6. Laugh when you can, and don’t be afraid to poke a little fun at the whole situation. A sense of humor will lighten any mood!
7. And perhaps most importantly: listen, and give advice only when asked. This one can be the most challenging. Often, we are great talkers, but not the best listeners.

Remember, your loved one needs your emotional support. If you are feeling overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Often family and friends who live near by are more than willing to help with errands. And, if you need further support, Wesley Hospice can visit your home, the community you live in, and even hospitals.

We send our deepest condolences to the families who are faced with a loved one being diagnosed with a life limiting illness. And, we hope that with these tips you’ll be able to better love your loved one during this time.

How to Downsize (and stick to it!)

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In a society where ‘bigger is better’, it can seem impossible to downsize. And, even if you want to downsize, you may worry about all of the things you have acquired over the years. But, as we all know, bigger isn’t always better. And, simplifying your life may have benefits to your overall well-being. So, where do you start?
1.) Realize what you have.
A lot of times we collect things that we don’t even realize. When downsizing, it’s important to make a list of everything that you have. Pick a week to designate to taking inventory. To make the task seem more achievable, break it down into one or two rooms per day. Make sure you record all the items in that room and the number of each item you have.
2.) Streamline your list.
Now that you have this big, long list what do you do? From your inventory list, make three different categories, things you haven’t touched in a year, things you use a few times a year, and the things you use on a weekly basis.
Most of the things you haven’t touched in a year may be thrown away. But, sentimental items, like family heirlooms, may not. Be honest with yourself when sorting through these items.
The second list should be things you have used a few times in the past year, but do not use on a weekly basis. Go through your ‘past year’ list and see if you can narrow it down. For example, if you have 150 books, pick 15 that you cannot part with.
And, the third list should be things that you use on a weekly basis. In many cases, most the weekly basis list may be kept, except for duplicate items, such as two vacuums or multiple sets of dishware.
3.) Donate or sell immediately.
This is the most important step, because if you have your items sitting around your house for too long they might just end up back on that book shelf! Consider donating items to families, friends or a homeless shelter. If you are selling your items, determine a sell-by date. If you don’t sell them by the date, then donate them. This will keep you from waiting around for a buyer for too long.
4.) Creatively store the remaining items.
There are some items that you just won’t be able to part with, and that is okay. Pictures and important paperwork may be among the things you choose to keep. Now, the key is to store these items creatively. It’s easy to go out and find boxes to put on a shelf. But, stop and ask yourself if this is the most effective way. Look for furniture pieces that can double as storage, such as a hollow ottoman. This way, you will be able to store photos, paperwork, and other important items, without your guests knowing.
If you have decorative family heir looms, consider using them to decorate your new place. And, if these items are too large to keep in your new home, think about passing them down to another family member. If you can’t bear to part with them, a climate controlled storage unit is an option, too.
Through taking these steps, you may be more likely to stick to your downsizing project! And remember, you are simplifying your life in order to make room for bigger, better things such as being closer to your grandchildren. Or, waking up on a cold, snowing day knowing that you don’t have to worry about finding someone to shovel your drive way.

What to do when the weather turns cold?

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By: Peg Carmany

As the weather starts to turn colder, and our choices of outside activities here in Central Ohio become more limited, I find myself making lists of things to do such as good books to read, good movies to watch (or re-watch), and then there’s the ever-present wealth of learning opportunities on the internet – TED talks, Podcasts, silly hamster videos, and much more!

What do the residents find to do at Wesley Glen, Wesley Ridge, and Wesley Woods when the weather outside turns frightful? Well, it varies depending on the interests of the individual, but the communities offer a wide array of activities to meet a wide range of interests, including (but not limited to!) the following:

For the theater lover:

The drama group at Wesley Glen meets regularly, and practiced all fall for its winter reading production.

For the fitness fanatic:

There are so many wellness activities, including yoga classes for all levels, meditation classes and water aerobics at Wesley Glen and Wesley Ridge. Wesley Ridge has its chair volleyball team, where competitive spirit runs high!   At Wesley Woods, we have state of the art fitness equipment and various classes to take. Many campuses also have dance fit classes to keep everyone moving!

For the competitive player:

On top of all of these fun to-do’s we also have Rummikub, bridge and chair volleyball. When these events are going on, they bring out the best in us! You get a chance to see everyone’s friendly, but competitive nature. Some of the games can get intense, and they will have you on the edge of your seat!

For the contemplative spirit:

One of my personal favorites is our worship services. I’m happy to know that our residents have a place, right at home, where they can attend services. New residents love attending these services, and it is a great way to meet others in the community. On top of this, we also have prayer groups that meet regularly.

For the crafty cat:

If you are the crafty type, like me, you will enjoy our art classes and knit and crochet groups. These groups create an endless amount of beautiful crafts.   We have some very talented artists!  And, you can really see the personality of individual shine through their work.

For the busy bee:

If you are looking to get out, many times we have dinners out and other outings, with transportation provided. Even in the cold, wintery months it is nice to get a breath of fresh air.   Or, outings in the bus to look at Christmas lights, also a personal favorite!

For the homebody:

If you are looking for a more relaxed day, visit our library or our on-site salon. Our peaceful libraries provide the perfect atmosphere for an afternoon of reading. We also have book clubs, such as our brain fit book club, that our residents enjoy. And, our salons will be sure to pamper you when you need it. You leave with your hair looking great, and your spirit uplifted.

On top of all of this, we also have a choral group, educational offerings, volunteer opportunities, on-site sundry shopping and billiards that many different people enjoy.

Rarely (if ever) does a resident say “there’s nothing to do,” in fact, the more likely “tongue in cheek” complaint is, “The calendar is too full!   I have a hard time choosing!”

One of the greatest benefits of moving into a retirement community is the ability to stay socially active. As the CEO of The Wesley Communities, I am proud that we have an environment where our residents can learn, relax and thrive in community.

Liver Disease and Nutrition

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The liver serves many purposes in the body, including filtering harmful substances from the blood, producing substances that assist with food digestion, and helping to change food into energy. There are many kinds of liver diseases, such as:

  • Cirrhosis: Scarring and hardening of the liver
  • Fatty Liver Disease: Build-up of fat in liver cells
  • Bile Duct Disease: Bile is a liquid made in the liver that helps break down fats in the small intestine. Bile duct disease keeps bile from flowing into the small intestine where it is utilized.
  • Hepatitis (A), (B) and (C): Disease of the liver caused by the hepatitis A, B, or C virus
  • Hemochromatosis: Buildup of iron in the liver (inherited disease)
  • Others can be the result of drugs, poisons, or drinking too much alcohol

Some of the effects of liver disease include weight changes, loss of muscle mass, ascites and/or edema (fluid retention), jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), dark urine and/or light-colored stools, fatigue or loss of stamina, nausea, vomiting, anorexia, altered taste perception, and/or signs/symptoms of vitamin and mineral deficiency. Depending on the diagnosis, alterations in calorie, protein, fluid, fat, vitamins or minerals may be recommended. For most liver diseases, a healthy diet will make it easier for the liver to function and may help repair some liver damage.

In general, it is important to:

  • Limit high sodium foods
  • Avoid foods that may cause foodborne illness such as:
    • Unpasteurized milk products
    • Raw or undercooked meat, poultry, fish, seafood, and eggs
    • Unwashed fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Eat enough food to obtain adequate calories, vitamins, and minerals.

How can these changes be made?

  • It may be easier to eat several small meals throughout the day (4-6) as opposed to a few large ones.
  • Look for no-sodium or low-sodium versions of foods you like to eat, such as crackers, cheese, canned vegetables, or soups.
  • Avoid overly processed foods, as these tend to be higher in sodium.
  • Use herbs, spices, vinegar, oils, juice, or herb mixes (e.g., Mrs. Dash) to flavor food instead of salt.
  • Between meals, enjoy healthy snacks, such as:
    • Fruits and vegetables with dip, whole milk, yogurt, cereal, bagels, roasted nuts, and peanut butter.

Check with a dietitian or doctor for your specific dietary needs.