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Whether you became a caregiver progressively over time or suddenly following a crisis, you are forced to adjust to a new normal. Now in addition to wife, mother, colleague and friend you have also added caregiver to the list of things you are.

You are confronted with a broad range of tasks from navigating the health care system to calling doctors and managing appointments and taking care of your loved one’s day-to-day needs. It can be overwhelming and stressful and at times can require a significant amount of your time and energy. Caregiving for a loved one is a profoundly important role and despite its challenges there can also be a tremendous opportunity to strengthen family bonds.

“The aging experience is associated with many transitions in family relationships,” said Nicole Moore, learning and development coordinator with United Active Living. “Both older parents and their adult children need to renegotiate their relationships and find a healthy balance between autonomy and dependency.”

Evidence shows that the majority of caregivers struggle to deal with the demands of this role. The high levels of stress associated with caregiving can lead to negative consequences like depression, anxiety and worsened health. Opportunities for career advancement may be delayed, more sick days may be requested, or they may feel the need to leave the labour force altogether in order to focus on caregiving. But while the commitment may be time consuming, caregiving opens new opportunities to reconnect with family.

“Caregiving can be challenging but also offers many valuable rewards. It can bring siblings together and further enhance the relationship between the caregiver and recipient,” said Nicole. 

“As our parents experience declining health or cognition, their relationships with their families change. This can be a source of stress, but among the challenges there is also opportunity,” said Bridget Coulter, United Minds coordinator. “Often, closer bonds between family members develop, leading to enhanced sense of meaning and an opportunity to give back. These benefits serve as role models of good behaviour for future generations.”

Studies show that more than one-third of an older adult’s caregiving support comes from a family member, usually an adult child. Caregiving can be complicated as some adult children feel they have an obligation to their parents and are unable to offer as much support as they feel they owe or would like to give.  At the same time, caregivers wants to ensure their parent receives the best possible quality of care and quality of life.

Living at home with the help of a caregiver and other supports may allow parents to continue to feel independent, but as a caregiver, you will want to ensure that you are informed of other options should home no longer work.  It’s best to be prepared for a turn of events.

“If you are considering making a move into a supportive community, start an open dialogue with your parent and other family members. Discuss what quality of life means to the parent. Hear their views on what is important for them. This helps you best decide how to proceed,” said Nicole.

Moving to a United community provides families with a large support network, a wide range of activities and a social community they may have been missing living at home. Your loved one will have access to daily oversight and assistance with housekeeping, meals, medications and personal care in addition to a rich array of engaging programming and creative expression programs.

When a parent moves to a United community, we encourage the continued involvement of caregivers and other family members. “Your caregiving role does not end when your loved one moves in,” said Nicole.  “We join you in supporting your loved one; you become part of our team. We welcome your involvement in care and program planning.”

“Our team provides support so that you can focus on your relationship again,” added Bridget.

Why wait? Call today to arrange a tour!

Imagine! Flex your creative side. Fine dining. New friends. Luxurious suites. Live the lifestyle you deserve at one of our United Active Living communities. Click the button on the right to arrange a tour at Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a tour. We are happy to help! 

Contact us here!

 

 

 


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Ask someone over 70 what concerns them most about getting older and you’ll get a variety of answers, but falling will likely be in the top 10. If someone has fallen and been hurt in the past, then falls become top of mind. More than a third of people over 65 fall each year and that’s why it’s so important to guard against falling by building leg strength and staying active.

What causes balance issues? Disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, dementia and even mild concussions can interfere with the brain’s ability to keep the body balanced.

Medications used to treat allergies, anxiety, insomnia or depression can lower blood pressure to the point of dizziness or make a person feel sleepy during the day, which can lead to a fall.

“When you are feeling dizzy it can seem like you are spinning or that the whole world around you is spinning,” said Jenn Kitchen, United’s exercise therapist. “This can increase your risk of falling and lead to an overall feeling of unease. So we’ve created classes that are unique to Calgary’s older adult communities that focus on dizziness and how to combat that feeling of vertigo.”

You depend on three systems working together to help you keep your balance:

  • Your eyes, which help you determine where your body is in space and how it’s moving;
  • Your sensory nerves, which send messages to your brain about body movements and positions;
  • Your inner ear, which houses sensors that help detect gravity and back-and-forth motion.

Vertigo is the feeling that your surroundings are spinning or moving. With inner ear disorders, your brain receives signals that aren’t consistent with what your eyes and sensory nerves are receiving. Vertigo results as your brain works to sort out the confusion.

More about it can be found here, but basically dizziness occurs when some of the calcium carbonate crystals that are normally embedded in gel in your ear become dislodged and move where they shouldn’t be. These dislodged crystals can interfere with the normal fluid movement that is used to sense head motion, causing the inner ear to send false signals to the brain.

Fortunately, there are easy treatments to help you overcome dizziness issues. “There are easy, non-strenuous exercises that you can use to strengthen the link between the ears, and the process that detects movement with the eyes and brain. We want to have all three systems work in conjunction more effectively,” said Jenn. “We’ve designed a program where you will learn several techniques to align the body’s balance systems more effectively.”

Some of the things you will learn in Jenn’s new class include simple exercises for the eyes and head to help retrain the brain to cope with the skewed signals coming from the inner ear. Exercises such as squats, two-leg stance and one-leg stance, jogging and various ways of walking are explained as ways to improve balance.

Along with Jenn’s dizziness class, United offers yoga and Tai Chi classes, and balance and strength classes to give you the best ammunition to guard against falls.

Why wait? Call today to arrange a tour!

Imagine! Flex your creative side. Fine dining. New friends. Luxurious suites. Live the lifestyle you deserve at one of our United Active Living communities. Click the button on the right to arrange a tour at Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a tour. We are happy to help! 

Contact us here!


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Most of us take walking and getting out of a chair for granted, but as we get older such basic movements can get more difficult, especially if we don’t exercise to keep muscles strong. Falling is of particular concern for older adults. At United Active Living, classes are held several times a day to encourage residents to maintain their strength, balance and general mobility.

Jenn Kitchen working with residents at Garrison Green

Jenn Kitchen working with residents at Garrison Green

“What I find particularly interesting is how residents are very motivated to get up early and come to our classes,” said Jenn Kitchen, United’s Kinesiologist. “Our programs are designed for the residents and tailored to their specific interests.”

Jenn graduated from the University of British Columbia, worked in long-term care in Vancouver and in a physiotherapy clinic in Calgary before coming to United.

“I love working with the older adults. Each day brings a new experience. It’s very rewarding.”

United holds three to four exercise classes three times each week at its Garrison Green community, and one to two a day at Fish Creek. As well, contractors are hired to provide yoga and Tai Chi classes. Balance classes that are specifically designed to reduce falls are held three times each month and Jenn has introduced circuit training to improve overall strength.

The exercise classes follow the philosophy developed by Professor Debra Rose at Fullerton University in California. The program focuses not only on strength and endurance but being aware that all of our senses play a huge role in balance, and providing unique exercises that utilize all of our senses. The exercises are designed to challenge and manipulate a participant’s environment to progressively challenge their capabilities.

“Maintaining balance and mobility is essential to aging successfully,” said Dr. Rose, in her book Fallproof. “In addition to making it possible to perform basic activities of daily living, such as rising from a chair or climbing a flight of stairs, good balance forms the foundation on which a healthy, active lifestyle is built.”

This summer Jenn is going to introduce a program called Vestibular Ocular Therapy. People with vestibular disorders often experience problems with vertigo, dizziness, visual disturbance, and/or imbalance, which can cause a person to fall.

Garrison Green residents enjoy a walk in the parkOur residents exercise using outlets that don’t seem like exercising – swimming, yoga and walking clubs are all ways they stay active and healthy.

The exercise classes are always fun and exciting and different equipment is used each class to keep things interesting.

“Fall prevention is always an underlying goal in all of our programs,” said Jenn. “Falling is not a normal part of aging and can be prevented with proper exercise, education and awareness. Providing education and fall prevention strategies decreases the fear of falling and gives residents the confidence and resources they need.”

United has a close relationship with the nearby Mount Royal University. Residents use the swimming pool and fitness facility, including the indoor walking track.

“Each resident is different and I tailor each class to work with residents who are at different stages of fitness. For me, it’s important that the atmosphere be positive, friendly and respectful. We’re all aiming for the same goal. To improve our overall fitness.”

Why wait? Call today to arrange a tour!

Imagine! Flex your creative side. Fine dining. New friends. Luxurious suites. Live the lifestyle you deserve at one of our United Active Living communities. Click the button on the right to arrange a tour at Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a tour. We are happy to help! 

Contact us here!


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The best time to research an older adult community either for yourself or a parent is when you don’t need one. Time is on your side, and the pros and cons can be weighed without the stress of a time constraint. Searching when your health takes a turn not only limits your choices, but decisions can easily be made in haste without a thorough consideration for the results.

“Lately I’m seeing a lot of families who have waited too long,” said Gail Hinchliffe, president, United Active Living. “It’s laudable to want to keep a parent at home, especially if they continue to be independent. But it’s heartbreaking when a family comes to us after the person’s health has deteriorated. What a difference it would have made if they had started their search earlier.”

Where do you start? Have a look at our article, five questions to ask yourself when looking for an older adult community.

And after you’ve made a decision, how our welcome team smooths the transition.

United’s two communities offer fully independent living, plus assisted living and memory care options. Staff are trained to support those needing extra care whereas family members might not be, which can be very stressful on caregivers.

“Often the deterioration in cognitive or physical ability can be slow to recognize. It sneaks up on you,” said Bridget Coulter, United Minds coordinator for United’s Garrison Green community. “Often the older adult doesn’t recognize the weight they are placing on the family. And the family doesn’t see it either – at first. It can start out with help getting dressed and maybe some meal preparation, but at some point the family members find themselves spending more and more time with the parent until they are forced into a decision to leave the family home. By then they may find themselves with limited options.”

Bridget is working now with a resident at Garrison Green who was physically mobile but couldn’t recognize her surroundings and was unresponsive to communication. She worked each day with her, exposing her to artwork, music and other stimulating activities. Within a month, the resident was engaging in conversation, laughing with staff and participating in the music programs. Bridget said the family was stunned at her progress.

“Watching someone who was so withdrawn interact again with people and activities is so rewarding,” said Bridget. “It’s because our environment looks at the whole person. We are not an institution or medical facility. Our focus is social, not medical. Our staff are trained to work with residents as individuals, with the goal of restoring the quality of life they once enjoyed.”

“That’s really the key to the whole thing,” said Gail. “Quality of life. If you can dress yourself and prepare your meals and go out to enjoy activities, that’s fine. But when an older adult needs constant support, can no longer go out and becomes lonely, depressed and withdrawn, it should be obvious to the family that quality of life is deteriorating, and that’s where we can make a real difference. But the key is to focus on maintaining an independent lifestyle rather than waiting.”

Resident Wendy Martin was living in Phoenix, but her family is in Calgary. “I had many friends there, but I didn’t have my family. I came to Calgary to be closer to them. We looked at several places, but when I came to United I could hear the laughter. It really is active living.”

Residents Gordon and Jeanne Schnell’s motivation was similar. “We were living in Sidney, B.C. but we moved back to Calgary to be closer to family.”

Families should pay attention to the social life of a parent. As family and friends move away, the life of a senior can shrink, leaving them isolated and bored. In a United Active Living community, life expands. Living in a United community helps to build a new life.

“People are living longer, and it’s important that we retain a high quality of life in our later years,” said Gail. “Don’t wait until health pushes a parent out of their home. Talk to us while there is still plenty of time to ensure you or your parent finds the right community and lifestyle that will keep them active and engaged.”

Why wait? Call today to arrange a tour!

Imagine! Flex your creative side. Fine dining. New friends. Luxurious suites. Live the lifestyle you deserve at one of our United Active Living communities. Click the button on the right to arrange a tour at Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a tour. We are happy to help! 

Contact us here!


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“Aging is not a disease to be cured; it’s an opportunity that needs to be seized.” – Marc Middleton, founder and CEO of Growing Bolder.

If you’re thinking that an older adult community is about people telling you what to do and how to live your life, think again. United Active Living is all about enjoying an active, creative life supported by a highly educated staff that are trained to see you as a unique individual.

Nicole Kendall, right, and United president Gail Hinchliffe discuss United's philosophy on QR77 radio

Nicole Kendall, right, and United president Gail Hinchliffe discuss United’s philosophy on QR77 radio

“We focus on the person, not the illness,” said Nicole Kendall, resident care manager. “I was drawn to United because of the philosophy that socialization and a stimulating environment work in a resident’s favour to promote health and well-being.”

Nicole, a registered nurse, worked in specialized geriatric clinics before coming to United. “I always believed that residents know how they want to live and that we can support them in their health care. They shouldn’t be told what’s best for them.”

United takes a holistic team approach to wellness. When you move into a United community, a comprehensive assessment is conducted that involves nursing, pharmacy needs, the art studio and fitness areas – all aspects of your wellness. The team gets to know you, your interests and strengths. They meet you where you are and support you to live in a way that creates richness and meaning to you as an individual.  It is a community approach, providing opportunities for residents to connect, while respecting their individuality and preferences.

“We are very sensitive to the fact that United is your home,” said Nicole. ” We follow a social model of care, which means the resident is the expert. We focus on the resident’s strengths not their medical conditions, and the resident tells us how they want to live.”

Residents are empowered to make their own decisions about what is right for them, such as when they eat, what programs they attend, and the relationships they build. The benefit to this approach is that it supports residents in maintaining their independence in order to have a meaningful and fulfilling life.

“The medical world is turning more toward a person-centred approach, which involves the person to a greater extent in managing their own wellness. This is an approach that United has been working with for several years, and we see an ongoing benefit to the residents who are engaging more in community and creative pursuits,” said Nicole. “It’s an amazing place to work!”

Why wait? Call today to arrange a tour!

Imagine! Flex your creative side. Fine dining. New friends. Luxurious suites. Live the lifestyle you deserve at one of our United Active Living communities. Click the button on the right to arrange a tour at Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a tour. We are happy to help! 

Contact us here!

United is changing the conversation around aging. From our innovative United Minds (memory care) program to professionally staffed art studios and extensive creative programming, our communities offer more than you might expect. If you have questions or topics you would like us to cover in future blogs, let us know.


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“The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d rather not.” – Mark Twain

Twain had a way with words, and while we chuckle, we have to wonder if he would have thought this if he had the variety of foods available to us today. Variety makes meals interesting, and if they are made with quality ingredients, there is no need to think of them as having “to eat what you don’t want”.

Marie-Anne Nason, Registered Dietician

Marie-Anne Nason, Registered Dietician

“An adult’s body changes during old age in many ways, including a decline in hormone production, muscle mass and strength,” said Marie-Anne Nason, a registered dietitian who works closely with United Active Living’s executive chef, Kevin Stephenson and his team of chefs. “Also in the later years, the heart has to work harder because each pump is not as efficient as it used to be. Kidneys are not as effective in excreting metabolic products such as sodium, acid and potassium, which can alter water balance and increase the risk for over- or under-hydration. In addition, immune function decreases and there is lower efficiency in the absorption of vitamins and minerals.”

Older adults, she said, should continue to consume nutrient-dense foods and remain physically active. However, deficiencies are more common after 60, primarily due to reduced intake or malabsorption.

The latest research shows that meals for older adults should have extra servings of grains, vegetables and fruit, and lower sodium and fats.

Marie-Anne uses the Canada Food Guide to help her and Kevin’s team provide meals that are balanced for older residents. It was revised a few years ago to include recommendations for each age group. To support the Guide’s recommendations, fewer processed foods are used, and local, fresh ingredients take priority.

Calories vs. Nutrition

For all adults, the important consideration is nutritional value. Caloric intake is only one small part of the picture. It becomes important if there are issues with severe weight gain or weight loss, but as a general rule, the focus needs to be on nutrient density.

“Dietitians don’t talk about calories very much any longer, unless there is a concern with weight. Instead, we want to ensure the calories you do get come from quality sources,” said Marie-Anne. “Your body is much better off taking in 140 calories in vegetables and fruit rather than a can of pop.” The key is to ensure that the calories ingested are of high nutritional value.

Many older adults have lost weight as they age, others have gained weight. Both are often caused by poor food choices, and sometimes because appetites have changed.

“Balance is the key as we get older. Menu items should vary, and offer a lot of choice for residents,” said Marie-Anne.

In this respect, she is very pleased with the menu offered by United. The focus is on personalized service where residents can choose what to eat, when they want. Chef Kevin has developed a four-week rotational menu, which changes based on the availability of seasonal fruits and vegetables.

The emphasis is on fresh, variety and nutrition.

“I totally believe that residents are eating far better after moving to a community where a five-star chef and kitchen staff are preparing the meals to ensure variety and nutritional value. I see it often where older adults are healthier after the move, they are enthusiastic about life and their activity levels are higher.

“Food is such an important part of a resident’s day that it’s gratifying to see the positive outcomes from a well-designed, nutritious menu plan,” said Marie-Anne.

Why wait? Call today to arrange a tour!

Imagine! Flex your creative side. Fine dining. New friends. Luxurious suites. Live the lifestyle you deserve at one of our United Active Living communities. Click the button on the right to arrange a tour at Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Related articles:

Serving Up a Nutritious Advantage

Have a question about United Active Living’s unique approach to aging?

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According to the World Health Organization the greatest health risk for older adults is living an inactive life. Physical activity can prevent the onset of impairments that lead to an increased risk for falls.” – Finding Balance Canada

It could be said that exercise is one of the leading causes of health. It’s especially true for older adults. The old adage “use it or lose it” applies to everyone, but for older adults fitness can make all the difference should they slip and fall. Reyna Bruckner is a fitness and program coordinator at United Active Living. In this article, she discusses the importance of fall prevention, strength training and balance in an active lifestyle.

Movements we take for granted like walking, bending over or getting out of a chair can all be compromised if we don’t keep active. Our programs are designed by the residents and tailored to their specific interests.

Reyna Bruckner leading class OPMy exercise classes use functional everyday movements that enable the participants to maintain independence and function in day-to-day tasks. Good posture is critical to good balance and a large part of each class is focused on maintaining an upright posture. Every class starts with a warm-up and then incorporates strength training, endurance exercises and balance techniques for a full-body workout. Strength and resistance training are so beneficial in building strong bones, helping arthritis and preventing osteoporosis. Balance exercises play a large roll in fall prevention. I am a firm believer that age has no boundaries. I get to see it every day with a group of older adults who are eager and enthusiastic to exercise with me week after week!

Anne walking

After two hip replacements, Anne is determined to stay active

“I never miss an exercise class. I am always the first one in the room!” – resident Anne Hicklin

At United Active Living we develop the exercise classes using the philosophy of Professor Debra Rose at Fullerton University in California. This program focuses not only on strength and endurance but being aware that all of our senses play a huge role in balance, and providing unique exercises that utilize all of our senses. The exercises are designed to challenge and manipulate a participant’s environment to progressively challenge their capabilities.

“Maintaining balance and mobility is essential to aging successfully,” said Dr. Rose. “In addition to making it possible to perform basic activities of daily living, such as rising from a chair or climbing a flight of stairs, good balance forms the foundation on which a healthy, active lifestyle is built.”

Motivation is a huge part of starting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Keeping participants motivated is very important. Our residents exercise using outlets that don’t seem like exercising – dance expression, swimming, yoga and walking clubs are all ways our residents stay active and healthy without engaging in typical exercise.

The exercise classes are always fun and exciting and we use different equipment each class to keep things interesting.

“I can now walk farther and longer without getting short of breath. The exercise classes really help.” – resident Douglas Rathwell

Fall prevention is always an underlying goal in all of our programs. Falling is not a normal part of aging and can be prevented with proper exercise, education and awareness. Even though fear of falling isn’t a medical condition, it is one of the major contributing factors of experiencing a fall. Providing education and fall prevention strategies decreases these fears and gives residents the confidence and resources they need to live happily without worry.

Kay boxing

98-year-old Kay tries her hand at MRU’s punching bag

We have a close relationship with the nearby Mount Royal University (MRU). A couple of years ago, we began a walking program at their fitness facility. Since then the program has almost tripled in size and we now have a full busload of dedicated individuals taking part. Every resident is determined to beat their number of laps from the previous time. They are really challenging themselves to reach their full potential. Some residents use the swimming pool, others walk the track and some use the weight and cardio machines.

“I have noticed so many changes in my balance and confidence.” – resident Lil Tyler

Strangers and students will come up to the group and express their amazement. It’s very motivating for the students to see someone four times their age putting in so much effort at the gym. It’s wonderful to see both generations interacting together, all trying to achieve the same thing – a healthier self.

Related articles:

Healthy Activities for Health Aging

Why wait? Call today to arrange a tour!

Imagine! Flex your creative side. Fine dining. New friends. Luxurious suites. Live the lifestyle you deserve at one of our United Active Living communities. Click the button on the right to arrange a tour at Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a tour. We are happy to help! 

Contact us here!

United is changing the conversation around aging. From our innovative United Minds (memory care) program to professionally staffed art studios and extensive creative programming, our communities offer more than you might expect. If you have questions or topics you would like us to cover in future blogs, let us know.


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Author Betty Friedan once said in her book The Fountain of Age, “Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.”

That view is evident in the programs and activities that United Active Living offers residents. Our philosophy promotes healthy and active aging. And that means endless opportunities to continuously learn new things. For many, this period of life might be the first time they have found the freedom to pursue interests that were set aside for family and career.

“All of our programs and activities have a purpose,” said Reyna Bruckner, fitness and program coordinator. “They have to be interesting and fun, but they should also be thought provoking and challenging. We want to make sure that when residents come here to live that they continue to find purpose in their lives.”

United’s programming is unique in that it offers a wide variety of experiences. Rather than just having one exercise class, for example, there are a number offered, and at various levels, from sitting and wheelchair exercises to weight bearing workouts in a well-equipped gym.

“Our programs are tailored to meet your needs, whether you’re an absolute beginner who has never exercised or you are someone who has exercised your whole life and are quite fit,” said Reyna. “Fall prevention is also an important focus for us. We want to maintain their independence for as long as possible because falls in older adults can be very serious so exercising regularly can reduce the seriousness of a fall.”

Exercise classes are popular

Reyna leads an exercise class at Garrison Green

Healthy Aging is Paramount with Residents

Reyna points out that activities are open to anyone, and evolve as resident interest changes. Residents make suggestions about the type of activity they would like to see, and Reyna incorporates those interests into the programming. “I don’t create the programs and the residents simply show up. It’s the residents who come to me with what programs they’re interested in, what they want to see. They bring newspaper clippings to me of plays that they want to go see or classes that they want to take. It’s really resident driven. They make the choices and I facilitate their needs.”

At last count there were more than 60 activities and programs available to residents in March, plus special events such as Easter brunch, birthday parties and TED talks. Community partnerships also offer experiences outside the community that many residents may not have been exposed to before. Mount Royal University offers university courses open to residents, and supports organized trips to the pool and fitness facility. There are visits to Heritage Park, the Calgary Philharmonic, music, dance, painting, sculpture and writing, and professional artists come by to give in-house workshops.

Dr. Gene Cohen, a pioneer in the work around creativity and aging, said that research “vividly demonstrates that when the brain is challenged through our activities and surroundings, it is altered through the formation of new synapses (contact points between cells). More synapses means better communication among brain cells and increased opportunities for new ideas connecting.”

It’s clear that the health of residents confirms Dr. Cohen’s findings.

“One of the things that I really love is to see a resident come in who has been isolated in their home, and hasn’t had that social interaction or that sense of community,” said Reyna. “As they come into this community, other residents and the staff reach out to welcome them. They become involved in the activities and programs. It is such a wonderful thing to see their faces knowing that they’ve found that sense of community again.”

Why wait? Call today to arrange a tour!

Imagine! Flex your creative side. Fine dining. New friends. Luxurious suites. Live the lifestyle you deserve at one of our United Active Living communities. Click the button on the right to arrange a tour at Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a tour. We are happy to help! 

Contact us here!

United is changing the conversation around aging. From our innovative United Minds (memory care) program to professionally staffed art studios and extensive creative programming, our communities offer more than you might expect. If you have questions or topics you would like us to cover in future blogs, let us know.


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It’s fun to get together and have something good to eat at least once a day. That’s what human life is all about – enjoying things.” – Chef and author, Julia Child

“It’s all about fresh, fresh, fresh! Our residents wouldn’t want it any other way,” said United Active Living’s executive chef Kevin Stephenson.

Kevin has earned his credentials at private clubs including the Ranchmen’s and Silver Springs Golf and Country Club in Calgary over a 30-year career. He knows a thing or two about fine dining.

“Our philosophy makes sense,” said Kevin. “You’re here to live and make a community and have friends and enjoy your meals. It shouldn’t be ‘eat what and when we tell you to eat’. But that approach is common in many places and it’s not right. We don’t accept that in our homes, so why should our residents accept it in their homes?”

Menu options abound!United’s approach is unique in Canada. The kitchen is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and features a menu that is available throughout the day. After all, aging isn’t about one-size-fits-all.

Meals are based on feedback from residents. When they move in, food interests and issues are discussed with staff and noted in a database. When a resident comes in to eat, the kitchen staff knows what the person prefers and what ingredients to avoid. Kevin mingles with residents at mealtimes to learn what they like and what they don’t. He wants them to be “wowed” when they leave the table.

Menu Options Backed By Research

This approach to nutrition is supported by research that shows that a varied menu of meals, served from fresh and nutritious ingredients is far better for older adults. So-called superfoods have been in the spotlight in recent years. Vegetables and fruit that feature blue, red and green colours are considered especially rich in nutrients.

An extensive Healthlink B.C. publication talks about the importance of eating well as we age.

“A healthy diet provides the ingredients to build and repair bones and tissues and keep the complex workings of the human body functioning optimally. It also provides the mental and physical energy necessary for daily life – work, recreation, relationships and time with family. It is clear that a healthy diet also protects us from infectious illnesses and chronic diseases so that we may age with a minimum of ill health, pain and disability. As people age, the need for calories decreases while the need for nutrients often increases.”

Improving On The Home Cooked Meal

Nutrition and good food

Kevin designs menus with two goals in mind: to cater to personal tastes, and to provide nutritious meals. Half portions are a common request.

“I work closely with our dietician, Marie-Anne Nason, to ensure that our menu reflects the Canada Food Guide and offers the best nutrition,” noted Kevin. “To help us with that, we buy local as much as we can. The food is fresher, and we like to support local producers, to build a relationship with them.”

“The Canada Food Guide is a terrific resource to help us ensure that the nutritional content of the menu is suited for older adults,” said Marie-Anne. “United’s focus on freshness, local and flexibility is impressive and it’s being well received by the residents.”

 

 

And it’s not just about nutritional value. Meals are another way to socialize. It’s an important part of a resident’s day. Residents can eat what they want, when they want and with whom they want.

Bistro dining“We decided that we would go into the dining room, and we’d spot a table that needed two more people and we would just ask if we could join them, and we did this every meal for a few weeks and got to know so many nice people,” said resident Betty Earle. “To this day after more than three years we still have those good friends here.”

Residents get to know each other and forge some of their strongest and best relationships over a glass of wine or a perfectly done steak. They discuss current events, or other topics that they find interesting. Sometimes, the discussions lead to the creation of special-interest groups that open the discussions to everyone.

Resident Joyce Doolittle likes the flexibility. “I think they do a good job with the food. They really are thoughtful about it. And it means less shopping for me. There’s a whole area of grocery shopping that I don’t have to do because we eat lunch downstairs, and that’s a good way to socialize. And you can bring guests in for meals, or if you want to go out, they’ll pack you a lunch with juice and sandwiches and cookies. That’s a good service to have.”

Private diningroomFresh is the hallmark, and locally produced is the first choice. “Variety is the spice of life in everything including food,” said Kevin. “It’s really important to have lots of choices. We work on a four-week rotational menu which means we don’t repeat meals the same month but even so, we make substitutions for special occasions, or make use of seasonal fruit and vegetables, so we certainly have the flexibility to change things up a bit.

“And when you can laugh and enjoy food that’s what life is all about.”

Related articles: Why Community Is Important As We Age

Why wait? Call today to arrange a tour!

Imagine! Flex your creative side. Fine dining. New friends. Luxurious suites. Live the lifestyle you deserve at one of our United Active Living communities. Click the button on the right to arrange a tour at Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a tour. We are happy to help! 

Contact us here!

United is changing the conversation around aging. From our innovative United Minds (memory care) program to professionally staffed art studios and extensive creative programming, our communities offer more than you might expect. If you have questions or topics you would like us to cover in future blogs, let us know.


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“Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, age don’t matter.” – Baseball star Leroy “Satchel” Paige

When you think of an older adult, what comes to mind? Someone with a walker? Someone who has dementia?

Whether we want to admit it or not, most of us have a general image of what an older person looks like or their mental capacity. You may even see them as no longer having value to society. The fact is that older adults volunteer their time heavily to give back to society. They actively seek out new friendships, stay active and learn new skills. The widely held belief that giving older adults something – anything – to do is good enough isn’t how today’s older adults want to live their lives.

This prejudice based on a person’s age is called ageism, and it is widespread. Society has developed a clear boundary, and labeled it “senior citizen”. At 64 a person is fully capable and a contributing member of society, but at 65 the opposite becomes true.

“You run into that in some places. I think quite often in stores. Some clerks look through you, or past you when you get older,” said United Active Living resident Lil Tyler.

These days, many people in their sixties feel more like 40 and are just as active as they were before they retired, some even more so.

Defying the Accepted View of Ageism

Baby boomers are entering retirement, which means older adults now outnumber children under 14 in Canada. These older adults are healthy and capable, which means many are choosing to stay in the workforce where their years of experience are valued. Or if they can’t, they start new businesses.

Dianne McDermid Quality Coordinator“I think none of us wants to think of aging as being a period of decline and isolation, and really it shouldn’t be,” said Dianne McDermid, quality coordinator, United Active Living. “The only reason that it is in many cases is because we put people in a situation where we don’t provide what they need to grow and learn.”

United’s philosophy is one of respect for residents said Dianne. “A good example is that we don’t have fixed mealtimes, and we don’t have residents assigned to eat at particular tables. They didn’t do that before they moved in here so we believe that they shouldn’t have to do that after they move in here.”

 

 

“Until I was 81, I didn’t really mind getting older,” said resident Joyce Doolittle, who continues to stay active in the arts community in Calgary. Her advice? “Be accepting. Celebrate the things that you can celebrate and don’t rail at the things that you can’t do anything about. It’s really not that different from any other age of life. You really have to accept where you are and realize that all you have is now and make the most of it.”

Sitting in a room alone, staring at the four walls isn’t an option. “I don’t think age should impact what you want in life. I’m a human being. Same as someone who is 20 or 30 or 40,” said Dianne. “We all like friendships, we all need to be loved and comforted. We all like to be stimulated. We all like to have fun. You know, that’s not going to change because my chronological age changes. It doesn’t even change between the ages of 30 and 100.”

Tim Tyler in interviewResidents Tim and Lil Tyler find life at United to be stimulating. “I think it’s more important to keep doing what you have been doing, instead of give it up. The important thing as you grow old is not to give up and retreat but charge into life. Keep at it. My own family looks on me and Lil as examples of how to grow old. We don’t retreat. We’re still interesting to talk to about events. We’re still active,” said Tim.

 

Resident Lil Tyler“There’s a sense that everybody knows you’re a person, and not just a person with needs but a person who has something to give, and I think that is very important,” added Lil.

 

 

 

“People are living here, they aren’t just existing. They have friends, not just acquaintances. People are involved and engaged. They care and contribute to the community,” said Dianne.

Getting older can be wonderful time of life, noted Dianne. It shouldn’t be feared but seen as an opportunity to reflect on a life full of experiences, and the knowledge and wisdom gained. Ageism can put a damper on those experiences, and can leave an older adult wondering about their worth – if we let it.

Why wait? Call today to arrange a tour!

Imagine! Flex your creative side. Fine dining. New friends. Luxurious suites. Live the lifestyle you deserve at one of our United Active Living communities. Click the button on the right to arrange a tour at Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a tour. We are happy to help! 

Contact us here!

United is changing the conversation around aging. From our innovative United Minds (memory care) program to professionally staffed art studios and extensive creative programming, our communities offer more than you might expect. If you have questions or topics you would like us to cover in future blogs, let us know.