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“Your mind is a powerful thing. When you filter it with positive thoughts, your life will start to change.” – Buddha.

The benefits of meditation have long been recognized as a way to release stress and improve overall health, and it has become a mainstream practice. Some large companies offer it to employees, doctors recommend it and schools offer it to students, so when residents of United’s Fish Creek community asked about meditation during one of the weekly yoga classes, program staff quickly brought in a program for those interested.

Jane Sponiar shows residents that meditation can calm the mind

Jane Sponiar shows residents that meditation can calm the mind

Enter meditation instructor Jane Sponiar. “I find that it’s often much easier for older adults to learn a meditation technique than young people. They aren’t as restless and can sit for longer periods and ultimately meditate longer.”

Jane’s introduces several meditation methods, and residents choose the form that suits them best. She comes in twice a month, with residents practicing on their own the rest of the time.

“Anxiety and its resulting impact on a good night’s sleep can affect all of us from time to time. Meditation has been shown to have a positive effect on many of these experiences,” she said.

 

Getting better sleep was one of the reasons resident Linda Bolton began meditating. “I heard they were starting a meditation program. It sounded interesting so I wanted to check it out. It’s been about six months now and I’m definitely seeing the benefit. I’m more relaxed and my sleep has improved.”

 

 

Jane Sponiar takes residents through a meditation program at Fish Creek

Jane Sponiar (right) takes residents Dorothea Grimm, Elfriede Post, Olive Hein and Linda Bolton through a meditation program at Fish Creek

Jane points to a number of studies have found that meditation can reduce depression and benefit those with Alzheimers, 

“The mind can be like a wild horse,” she said. “Taming it takes time and patience. In the beginning the horse tries to control you, but as meditation progresses, eventually the horse is tamed. This process strengthens the mind so you can take a more positive approach to life’.”

“At United, we follow the International Council on Active Aging’s Seven Dimensions of Wellness, which includes a spiritual or meditative side of living,” said Kim Coulter, Fish Creek’s program coordinator. “We regularly survey residents and get their feedback on the programs we offer. The meditation program arose from that feedback.”

“The goal is to find peace from the inside, and not rely on events or things on the outside to bring you peace,” said Jane.

Photos by United Active Living, Jane Sponiar, Pixabay. Video by Sherana Productions.

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! 

To learn more about life at United’s Fish Creek community, watch this short video.

Contact us here!

 

 

 

 


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“Social innovation thrives on collaboration; on doing things with others, rather than just to them or for them.” – Geoff Mulgan, National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts

Innovation and collaboration are two important words in the vocabulary of United Active Living’s new director of quality enhancement and innovation. For Cheryl Crich, both are key to keeping United in the forefront when it comes to working alongside older adults.

Cheryl has taken over the position from Dianne McDermid, who recently retired. With Cheryl’s joining, the role of innovation was added. While United’s philosophy has always been innovative, creating a focus on it ensures that United builds its knowledge in the most recent developments in older adult lifestyles, wellness and dementia support.

“United’s philosophy of including those living with dementia rather than segregating them from the community is very attractive to older adults and their families,” said Cheryl. “It’s rare to find a community that does this, but other inclusive communities, particularly in Europe and the U.S. are developing and enhancing their approaches.  We are part of that movement and can both share our experiences with them and learn from them.”

Cheryl Crich with residents Jack Boyd, standing, and Albert Gething

Cheryl Crich with residents Jack Boyd, standing, and Albert Gething

Cheryl, a registered nurse with certification in gerontology, was very excited to join the team at United. “The medical side of care is primarily focused on fixing a health issue, what I would call “doing for” someone. I value a broader focus on quality of life and wellness, or “doing with” someone. The difference is collaboration with residents and their families. It’s a person-centred approach that is at the heart of what United does. Our philosophy, values and holistic approach support residents to maximize their lifestyle, health and wellness.”

Cheryl’s background in geriatrics and gerontology has spanned the last 22 years of her career.  She came to United from Alberta Health Services where she was a manager of specialized geriatric services. She had toured Garrison Green and was familiar with United’s approach. She was also a former student in Dianne’s gerontology classes at Mount Royal University, so when Dianne’s position opened, Cheryl was keen to apply.

“It was highly appealing to me to come here. For me, focusing on residents’ strengths and continuous growth are essential. The positive side of aging may often be overlooked in society, but at United, the residents are living that positive focus every day,” said Cheryl.

Cheryl shares a laugh with residents Ray Waldock and Vivian Thomas

Cheryl shares a laugh with residents Ray Waldock and Vivian Thomas

“The thing that struck me most about coming to United was the resident experience,” said Cheryl.  “There is vitality and engagement in life here, a high level of happiness. My goal is to grow and build on the foundation that has been laid here. We have always been at the forefront of the wellness and inclusion philosophy and I can only see that expanding. I’ve been here two months and so far the whole experience has been so powerful and energizing!”

Photos by: United Active Living

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! 

To learn more about life at United’s Fish Creek community, watch this short video.

Contact us here!


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Ross and Ellenore in their Fish Creek suite

Ross and Ellenore in their Fish Creek suite

When Ross and Ellenore Campbell made the decision to move out of their family home, they wanted to be confident their next move would be the right choice for their lifestyle. United’s Fish Creek community stood out as a perfect fit for the couple who sought to continue living full and active lives. United Active Living values their residents’ right to live life on their own terms. United communities are designed to promote lifelong learning, creativity and connection while at the same time providing residents with a variety of healthcare and service options. Ross and Ellenore’s five children were all consulted in the decision, but it was daughter Jean Edmonson who first encouraged a dialogue about their transition to a new home.

Daughter Jean Edmonson

Daughter Jean Edmonson

“I encouraged a discussion with them about moving,” said Jean, who lives in Victoria. “I knew they were fine where they were but I wanted to know where they wanted to be should they ever have to move. They have always been very proactive about where and when to make a move. I was thinking about their future needs at the time because I didn’t want the decision to be made in a panic.”

Although thinking about leaving your family home can be difficult, it’s beneficial to consider your options while you have the time and energy. It’s important that your desires and preferences are reflected in the community you choose. Ross and Ellenore made their decision while they had plenty of time to consider what community best suited them.

Daughter Arleen Yee

Daughter Arleen Yee

“So Mom and Dad started looking around, but they didn’t find a community that worked for them. That is until they found United,” said daughter Arleen Yee of Calgary. “They were extremely encouraged and after determining that the Fish Creek community met their financial, social, mental and physical goals, they sent the family an email saying ‘We’re moving!'”

“They looked at a lot of communities, but when they found United, they wanted to move in right away,” said Jean. “They didn’t need to move but it was the right place to be, and should they need extra assistance, the community offers that without them having to move again. They are healthier and happier since their move to Fish Creek,” said Jean. “They are exploring new things, and are more active than they were in their previous home. Dad is in the art studio every day and many of the things they enjoyed, such as theatre, come to them or are easily accessible.”

Ross and Ellenore at a New Year's celebration

Ross and Ellenore at a New Year’s celebration.

“Today they are thoroughly enjoying themselves,” said Arleen. “Mom will call to say that she hasn’t heard from me in awhile, but it’s because I can’t keep up with them! I tease them that they are acting like a couple of 18 year olds!” Arleen chuckles. “They aren’t marking time, they are extremely active. It’s like it has been a total reboot for them. They are always doing something. Dad had to give up some of his artistic endeavours because the last place didn’t have room. Now, he practically lives in the studio. They are definitely looking forward, not back.”

 

“I like the whole package – the dining room, coffee bar, the suites,” said Jean. “I stayed in the guest suite at Fish Creek earlier this year and was very impressed. Staying in the suite gives them the space they need yet I was able to be in the community with them for the time I was there. It makes visiting very easy. It also gave me a different perspective. I wasn’t coming and going, I was there all the time. There is no doubt in my mind that this was a wonderful move for them.”

“Having all of the amenities that United has, and all of the support the staff provides, it really gives us peace of mind that they are being taken care of, but also that they are taking care of themselves,” added Arleen. “They have jumped right in and are thoroughly enjoying themselves!”

The decision to move can be overwhelming for older adults and their families. However, being proactive allows you to take advantage of all of the wonderful new opportunities, experiences and connections that a supportive community provides.

Photos by: United Active Living, Sherana Productions

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! 

To learn more about life at United’s Fish Creek community, watch this short video.

Contact us here!

 


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Nicole Kendall, director of health and wellness

Nicole Kendall, director of health and wellness

A major consideration when thinking about moving to an older adult community is the quality of health care offered should you need medical support. United’s approach is very different than what you might find in other communities. “We focus on the resident as a person,” said Nicole Kendall, director of health and wellness at United. “We follow a social model of care, which means the resident is the expert in their wellness. We focus on their strengths not their medical conditions, and the resident tells us how they want to live. Our philosophy focuses on enjoying an active, creative life supported by a highly educated staff that are trained to see you as a unique individual.”

Nicole, a registered nurse, worked in specialized geriatric clinics before coming to United three years ago. “Training in the nursing profession is primarily concerned with a person’s medical conditions that need to be fixed or changed, but I have always believed that residents know how they want to live and that we can support them by providing choice and control over their lives. It’s all about helping the resident live well rather than what is most efficient for staff. We don’t impose restrictions on the amount of time we spend with residents. We allow time to talk with them and get to know them. We focus on the person, not the illness. I was drawn to United because of the philosophy.”

Garrison Green resident care manager Keziah Angeles with resident Jane Kelly

Garrison Green resident care manager Keziah Angeles with resident Jane Kelly

Garrison Green resident care manager Keziah Angeles said it’s the residents that determine how they want to live rather than staff imposing rules. “For instance, one resident was used to having  her tea and breakfast at a certain time and a certain way. When she came here, we followed her lead because it’s her life. It’s more fulfilling for me from a professional standpoint because we get to know the residents as individuals.”

That approach can be a pleasant surprise for nursing staff who come to United from another community. While they may be used to referring to a resident by their room number, nurses at United always refer to the person by name. As well, nurses wear business casual attire, not scrubs or medical uniforms. Medications are given to residents in their suites,  and nurses knock before entering a suite. Residents are treated with dignity and respect.

Nicole and resident Alexis Beddoe work on a particularly difficult puzzle

Nicole and resident Alexis Beddoe work on a particularly difficult puzzle

When a person moves into a United community, a comprehensive assessment is conducted that involves all aspects of wellness. The team gets to know the resident and his or her interests and strengths.  It is a community approach that provides opportunities for residents to connect, while respecting their individuality and preferences. Each week the wellness team (nursing, food services,  housekeeping, programming, fitness, United Minds team members and artists) meets to share their knowledge about individual resident’s concerns, capabilities and needs and develop approaches that can help residents improve their quality of life. The team takes a collaborative approach to help residents live life as fully and comfortably as possible, in accordance with their choices and values, regardless of any health issues they may have. The members of the wellness team are different than you would see in a traditional medical model, which is a reflection of the relationship that all staff have with the residents at United.  Often, housekeeping or serving staff will see changes in their day-to-day interactions with residents.

“We are very sensitive to the fact that United is our residents’ home,” said Nicole. ”Should they need to go to the hospital we work with hospital staff to ensure that they have the health supports they need to come back home. Often, we will meet the hospital’s discharge team to advocate on a resident’s behalf,” said Nicole.  She recalls one resident with cognitive difficulties who needed to go to the hospital. Nicole travelled with him to ensure he was with a familiar person during his stay. “We can be as involved as residents want us to be.”

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. To this end, United has resident councils at both Garrison Green and Fish Creek.

“The council is a liaison between residents and staff. They listen to us about food, health, building maintenance and the social side such as arts and music programming. We have a lot of control over our own health. And it’s nice that staff are always walking around and are very approachable. They are so good with everyone,” said resident Jane Kelly who sits on the Garrison Green Resident’s Council.

“The medical world is turning more toward a person-centred approach, which involves taking into consideration a person’s desires, values and lifestyle, and working with that person to support their overall wellness,” said Nicole. “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. 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! 

To learn more about life at United’s Garrison Green, watch this short video.

Contact us here!


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“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well if one has not dined well.” – Author Virginia Woolf.

Ryan Bourquin with Fish Creek resident Landis Krause

Ryan Bourquin with Fish Creek resident Landis Krause

United’s new food services manager is carrying on the tradition of serving fresh, unprocessed foods at United’s two communities, but with a few twists of his own. Ryan Bourquin joined United in October, and oversees a team of eight cooks and about 10 serving staff at Fish Creek, and eight cooks and 15 servers at Garrison Green.

“I began apprenticing as a chef in 2002, and worked at a number of Calgary’s well-known restaurants, and introduced healthy, chef-prepared take-home meals at several restaurants and stores since that is a growing lifestyle trend in the city right now,” said Ryan. “To me, food has to be fresh, which means no preservatives and prepared as close to mealtime as possible. We don’t have large freezers at United, and we ensure that food is delivered at least three times a week so that we are always serving the freshest food possible.”

Fish Creek chef Mike Banville serves up a special order

Fish Creek chef Mike Banville serves up a special order

Ryan was attracted to United’s philosophy of community and finds the atmosphere at both Fish Creek and Garrison Green comforting and inviting. “United’s approach to serving nutritious five-star meals makes perfect sense,” he said. “Our residents were attracted to United because of the lifestyle, the community, the social aspect, the activities and programs. Healthy, nutritious meals go hand-in-hand with the lifestyle.”

One of the attractions of living at United is the flexible mealtimes and all-day menu. The kitchen is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and features a menu that is available throughout the day.

Residents can choose what to eat, when to eat, and with whom to eat. Plus, the all-day menu gives residents flexibility should they arrive back home after an outing and want a meal or snack.

Ryan regularly discusses food with residents and ensures their concerns or suggestions are considered when planning menus. “We operate on a four-week rotational menu, which means the same meal is never served twice over a 28-day period. This gives us a great deal of latitude to provide a wide variety of meal options. Residents’ preferences are noted and when a resident comes in to eat, we know  what the person prefers and what ingredients to avoid.”

Ryan is working on introducing a new menu in February. “About half of the menu will be new dishes. The other half are favourites that the residents told us they wanted to keep.” The all-day menu will expand to include lactose-free and gluten-free options and diabetic alerts. “I’ll also be looking at introducing smoothies, which is a quick, tasty way to introduce more ‘greens’ into the diet.’ He works closely with dietitian Marie-Anne Nason, to ensure that the menu reflects the Canada Food Guide and offers the best nutrition.

“To enhance the dining experience, all of our staff go through customer service training. It’s all part of the five-star dining experience,” said Ryan.

What’s on Ryan’s wish list? “Our relationship with suppliers will give us access to demonstrations here in the community so residents will be able to see how the food is grown and ask questions. I will also be introducing cooking classes, Sunday brunches and family dinners. Plus, we have space in the courtyard at Fish Creek for a garden, so that would be a nice addition to meals.”

Sous chef Albert Kuhn puts the finishing touches on a side salad

Sous chef Albert Kuhn puts the finishing touches on a side salad

In some cases, Ryan and his staff can see a positive change in residents who are eating better than they did on their own. “Often it can be difficult for an older adult to prepare nutritious meals if they are on their own. When they come here, we often see a healthy weight gain because they are eating complete meals and have access to healthy snacks.  That’s an important factor when considering a move to a United community.”

Ryan is new to the United community, but residents have been quick to count him as a member of the family. “The sense of community is strong here, and it’s nice to be part of that. Being able to deliver something that makes people happy – that’s what transforming the experience of aging is all about!”

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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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! 

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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!


You're Browsing Health

“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.