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Peg’s Perspective-Brain Fitness: Hardwiring for Happiness

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The Brain Fit Book Club at Wesley Glen really enjoyed reading (and discussing, over a course of several months) Hardwiring Happiness by Rick Hanson, Ph.D.  The book explores how we as humans are originally hardwired for negativity, not positivity. Why? Dr. Hanson refers to “Paper Tiger Paranoia,” which looks at the special power of fear:

“Our ancestors could make two kinds of mistakes:  (1) thinking there was a tiger in the bushes when there wasn’t one, and (2) thinking there was no tiger in the bushes when there actually was one.   The cost of the first mistake was needless anxiety, while the cost of the second one was death.   Consequently, we evolved to make the first mistake a thousand times to avoid making the second mistake even once,” Hanson explains.

So, we are genetically programmed for fear and anxiety. And anyone who has ever experienced the “hamster wheel of the mind” in the middle of the night can surely relate to that.

But we can, through a variety of ways, begin to hardwire our brains in a different way, in essence, change our brains for the better. The key, according to Dr. Hanson, is to become mindful of the thoughts you are thinking, step back and observe what you are thinking, then work with it to pull the negative thoughts from your own head like you would pull weeds from a garden, and then actively cultivate positive experiences and thoughts. Dr. Hanson calls it “Self-Directed Neuroplasticity,” which is cultivating good, positive thoughts in your head, including living and dwelling with good memories and thoughts, not bad ones.

The negativity bias, while good for survival in harsh conditions, is lousy for a good quality of life, fulfilling relationships, and long-term health. So, take a cue from Dr. Hanson, and regularly take in the good.     Many people are a much better friend to others than they are to themselves. He recommends taking notice of the good, and try not to focus on the negatives that inevitably arise in everyone’s life. Your life-long happiness with be enhanced as a result.

Source: Hardwiring Happiness by Rick Hanson, Ph.D

Peg’s Perspective– Brain Fitness: Safety and Reciprocity

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“Fifty Tips on Aging Well to Celebrate 50 Years of Excellent Service”

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 # 9 of 50 – Brain Fitness: Safety and Reciprocity

The Wesley Communities have established a “Brain Fitness” club that consists of members from our three campuses, and the residents attend regular meetings to get updates on state-of-the-art research regarding brain health. It’s good to learn about how to keep our brains “fit,” and how to slow or even stop the progression of Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

The Brain Fitness club was established in response to rather current research that shows that you can create new and stronger neural pathways in your brain through exercise, proper diet, and a variety of other factors, including a strong social network and learning new things.

Social support is not merely the same thing as being in the presence of others. The critical issue is reciprocity: being truly heard and seen by the people around us, and feeling that we are held in someone else’s mind and heart. Numerous studies of disaster response have shown that social support is the most powerful protection against becoming overwhelmed by stress and trauma.

Wesley Glen, Wesley Ridge, and Wesley Woods at New Albany offer “brain fit” opportunities, including good dietary options, exercise and fitness classes, and a variety of activities to stimulate brain activity, learning, and just plain fun.

One of the most popular activities at Wesley Ridge is Chair Volleyball. Ken, a resident at Wesley Ridge, says: “[Chair Volleyball] is the most fun we’ve ever had! … But most of all, we’ve found it a great way to learn a lot of names of the residents in a very short time and we’ve made a lot of friends. We really enjoy being with the people on the volleyball team!

Perhaps the strongest attribute of The Wesley Communities is the element of social support. Many residents at our communities will testify to the fact that it’s never too late to make good friends, and as a result, create the reciprocity that is vital to good mental health.

We call it ‘The Wesley Way’.

Sources: The Body Keeps the Score:  Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

 

 

 

Peg’s Perspective – What’s the key to a long, healthy, and happy life?

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“Fifty Tips on Aging Well to Celebrate 50 Years of Excellent Service”

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!

Peg’s Perspective

By:Peg Carmany

Hazel was born in Olathe, Kansas in her family’s farmhouse. Hazel’s parents were hard-working, encouraging people.  She remembers her mother helping all of them to be their very best. “Stand up straight like God intended,” her mother would explain. Hazel was the eighth of nine children in her family.

She attended a one room country school, with only two others in her class. It was a four mile walk each way—except during the winter when the snow was so high they could walk across the fence rows in the pasture, which made the walk a little shorter.

She remembers wearing dresses made of feed sacks with pretty designs when she was very young. But, when she was in the third grade her family moved to Springfield, Missouri. Here, she received a new dress from her mother and had a pencil box with new yellow pencils. She remembers how exciting it was to receive them!

Hazel went on to attend McPherson College in McPherson, Kansas. Here, she met and married her husband Bob. They were married for 47 years, and moved to Wesley Glen after Bob was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. It became difficult for her to care for him at home, so she knew she needed a helping hand.

Now, Hazel has been living at Wesley Glen for 24 years—since 1994! And, she has a lot of good, practical advice on how to live long, and how to live well!

Here are Hazel’s 5 tips for a long life:

  1. You have to have faith, and be connected to a faithful community. There can be lots of trauma in life, and at times you may say, “Lord I need a broader back.” She tries to not fret about things by trusting in her faith.
  2. Good children and a good family—that really helps! She has two children, a son-in-law, and two grandchildren. They are very good to her and she enjoys their company.
  3. A good diet. She is very conscious of what she eats—no fried foods, no pasta, no butter, very little red meat, and lots of vegetables!
  4. Exercise –she and Bob always kept a big garden, and she’s a faithful walker. Here at Wesley Glen she’s up almost every day by 5 or 5:30 a.m. to head to the workout room and walk two miles on the treadmill.
  5. Positive attitude –Hazel smiles and greets everyone she meets. She volunteers at church and at Wesley Glen. Her impact stretches far and wide!

We are grateful that Hazel lives at Wesley Glen, and appreciate that she practices what she preaches, truly “walking the walk.” She is a fine example of how to live a long and healthy life.

Mike the Miracle

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Mike, who had suffered a major stroke in 2013, graduated from Wesley Hospice on September 27th. His friends, family, and the team at Wesley Hospice are so joyous at the miracle that occurred for Mike and his family.

Click the link above to read Mike’s story.

Peg’s Perspective: Taking Care of Your Telomeres

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“Fifty Tips on Aging Well to Celebrate 50 Years of Excellent Service”

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!

Peg’s Perspective:

As we age we all think about many health tips we have learned along the way.  But, emerging research suggests that taking care of our telomeres should be our top priority!

Elizabeth Blackburn is a Nobel Prize-winning biologist who studies telomeres. “If you think of your chromosomes (which carry your genetic material) as shoelaces, telomeres are the little protective tips at the end,” Blackburn explains during an interview with The Guardian.

“Telomeres wear down during our lives, and when they get too short they can no longer protect our chromosomes. These chromosomes then become inactive. When this occurs, there is an increased risk for major conditions and diseases of aging, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer,” explains Meghan Routt ANP/GNP-BC, AOCNP, who is the Director of Physician Services and the nurse practitioner in the Schafer Clinic at Wesley Glen.

Blackburn’s work surrounds her belief that we can lengthen our telomeres, or at least stop them from shortening, in order to stay healthier longer.

So, how can you protect your telomeres?

In summary, it’s the same message we’ve all been talking about lately – we need to improve our lifestyle by managing chronic stress, exercising, eating healthier, and getting enough sleep.

Blackburn suggests incorporating a combination of various exercises, such as walking, swimming, yoga, and weight-lifting, to increase telomere health. One interesting finding of the study is that moderate exercisers keep their telomeres as well as marathon runners.

According to Blackburn, a balanced diet centered around whole foods has a “quantifiable effect” on telomeres when compared to a diet high in processed foods.

It is good to remember that the daily choices we make impact the quality of our cells. So, make healthy food choices, get moving, and try meditation to reduce stress and improve the quality of your sleep.

The cells you save may be your own.

 

Source:

The Guardian

Peg’s Perspective: More about a good attitude. . .

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Tip # 5

“Fifty Tips on Aging Well to Celebrate 50 Years of Excellent Service”

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!

Peg’s Perspective:   More about a good attitude. . .

As I walked across the driveway from my office to the main lobby at Wesley Glen this morning, three residents were outside singing “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” with their strong and smooth voices.

“Oh, what a beautiful morning

Oh, what a beautiful day

I have a wonderful feeling,

Everything’s going my way.”

If you remember the movie Oklahoma and this song, I am quite sure you now have the tune in your head. (And if you do not, please look it up on Youtube, you won’t regret it.)

This line of the song hits three aspects of keeping a positive attitude:

  1. ‘Oh, what a beautiful morning’–Wake up, breathe in the fresh air and look around at all things for which you are grateful.  This is an excellent way to begin every day.
  2. ‘Oh, what a beautiful day’–Throughout the day remember to stop and see the beauty.  Take a walk…spend timewith family…do something that you love every day.
  3. I have a wonderful feeling, everything’s going my way’–Keep a positive outlook on life, even when something worrisome occurs.  Step back and realize that although you are not in control of the situation, you are in control of how you react to it.

I know the residents who were singing this morning, and I promise you, they are interested and interesting, but their lives have not been without hardships.  And yet, sometimes-oftentimes, actually- if you expect a beautiful morning, you will receive a beautiful morning.

So, how to age well?   Focus on the positive and face the negative with a few deep breaths and the knowledge that “This too shall pass.”   It will.

“Those who wish to sing will always find a song.”   Swedish Proverb

 

Our Trip to the Orchard

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By: Cheryl Fey, Life Enrichment Coordinator at Wesley Ridge Retirement Community

Before our trip to the Branstool Orchard, we stopped to get lunch At Watts Family Restaurant. As we sat around the table waiting on dessert, we discussed our most memorable moments at orchards. Below are a few of the residents’ responses!

One couple, Bill and Martha, have been going to orchards in the Utica area every year since 1972.  First, they went to Legend Hills, then to a little roadside stand operated at the farm of Mr. Branstool.  Later Mr. Branstool enlarged his orchard and opened a larger building that has been successful for many years.

Hope remembers her time at Muskingum College when, during her freshman year, she went to an apple orchard, sat down on the ground, and ended up sitting in poison ivy!!  Something she has never forgotten.

Mary Lou went to the Hayes-McClay strawberry farms on Ebright Road to pick strawberries in the fields.  She was a member of Sweet Adelines, and the group would go to the Hayes home for homemade strawberry shortcake made specially from her hand-picked strawberries.

Mary Jo and Jim, who lived near Richfield, Ohio, used to go to Babb’s Orchard for apples and peaches.  As a child, Mary would peel the peaches in extra thick slices, so she could have lots of peach to eat with the peels!  As an adult, she would go to a family farm to get apples, plums and sour cherries to make pies and cobblers and for canning

One resident remembers going with her mom to an orchard with apples and peaches.  She would climb a ladder to pick the fruit – lots of fun.

The Heits take their grandkids every year to pick fruit.  One year the kids were each given their own bags to fill and when they went to check out, there was 85# of fruit!  Even though they really didn’t want to buy that much, they had to because the fruit was already picked!  No one had a credit card, so everyone was digging through their purses and wallets to come up with enough cash to settle the bill.  Obviously, they never did that again!

It is always a joy for me to hear about the residents’ experiences. From cooking and family to poison ivy and bags over flowing with fruit, their stories never disappoint!