Thursday, March 31, 2016

Laughter really is the best medicine

Adults don't laugh enough.  It is said that children laugh 300 times a day.  They giggle, they chuckle, they belly laugh and it all adds up to an average 300 times a day.  Adults on the other hand experience laughter less than 20 times a day. (on average)

Studies show that laughter is a great medicine for us. Several years ago there was an actual study where they invited people to watch a sitcom or a drama after work. They took blood work, blood pressure and measured heart rates both before and after the shows.  They learned that those that watched the sitcom lowered their blood pressure and blood sugar levels and went home happier and more relaxed than those that watched the drama.  This study also links laughter to relieving stress in our lives.  It's like a valve that releases the pent up emotions that often cause us stress.

Another study done in 2011 shows that laughing during a 15 minute comedy video increases our pain threshold by 10%.  The study shows that contracting your muscles during laughter releases the same endorphins as exercise, which help us fight pain.

We also burn calories when we laugh.  That's right, we burn up to 40 calories per 15 minutes laughed.  So if we can laugh for 60 minutes a day, that would be equivalent to rowing for 17 minutes.  Wouldn't you rather laugh!

So why don't adults laugh more often?  As we age we have more to worry about, grades and friends turn to work and family.  We have more responsibility, we may have less trust and we are always in a hurry.  We simply don't think we have time to laugh at the many funnies life has to offer.  But these studies show we really don't have time NOT to laugh.

Today is a good day to laugh a little more.  And if you are having trouble finding something to laugh about, find a child, they can help you without even thinking about it.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Know your fall risk!

Autumn is here in all it's beauty and splendor.  Autumn is a great time to discuss fall prevention and learn good practices to keep us on our feet.

Falling is not a natural part of aging. If you know and manage your own risk factors you can live a full and active life without fear of falling.  Following are some tips from the Ohio Department of Aging:

As the temperature starts its downward trend, and the days get increasingly shorter, it's time to start thinking about autumn and winter falls risks and how you can eliminate or reduce them.
  • Leaves, branches and other debris from trees due to the change in seasons can make walkways slippery or hide tripping hazards, like uneven surfaces, edges and steps. Keep walkways clean, and if you can't see that the surface is clear and flat, pick another path.
  • If winterizing your home includes cleaning gutters, changing light bulbs or other tasks that require you to get up high, use a step ladder or a step stool with a handle, and maintain three points of contact (two feet and a hand, or two hands and a foot) at all times. Do not climb on chairs or other furniture that was not designed for that purpose.
  • Shorter days mean less direct sunlight and less sunlight overall, meaning you may need more light to get around your home safely. Invest in extra lamps, nightlights and exterior pathway lights to make sure you can always see where you are walking, especially around doorways and stairs. Use the highest-wattage bulb recommended for your fixtures.
  • Don't let the cooler weather and shorter days limit your activity. Exercise that builds and maintains strength and balance is important to prevent falls year-round. Ask your doctor or physical therapist about indoor exercises that can help you maintain strength and balance when you can't venture out.
  • As the temperature drops, bundle up to stay warm, but make sure you can see in all directions and move easily and freely.
  • Keep shoes and walking aids (canes, walkers) free of dirt and mud. Dry them off immediately upon coming in from wet conditions. Remember, wet shoes are just as dangerous as wet floors.

Whether you are taking the "grand-ghouls" out trick-or-treating, or indulging in some adult fun this Halloween season, make sure your "trick-or-treat" doesn't become "TRIP-for-Treat."
  • If you'll be accompanying little ones on beggar's night, carry a flashlight and watch for uneven sidewalks, curbs, debris and other tripping hazards.
  • Fancy dressing is what Halloween is about, but avoid costumes with long gowns, robes or capes that can snag on objects or get tangled up with your feet.
  • Put on a scary face, but avoid masks that limit your peripheral vision and cause you to miss tripping hazards. Use make-up instead.
  • That fabulous footwear might be the thing that sets your costume off, but sensible shoes will be less likely to send you tumbling.
  • Your costume may fit your personality, but does it fit your body? Too loose, it can cause you to trip. Too tight, it can limit your movement.
  • Accessorize for success, but avoid dangling bits of costume that can be tripped on and ensure that props you are carrying won't cause injury if fallen on.
  • If you decorate your yard for trick-or-treaters, make sure walkways are far enough from decorations so that visitors don't trip on them, and are free of cords and debris.
  • If you're going for that "big scare," make sure the area is level and clear of objects to prevent falls when people react.
  • Know how alcohol affects your balance and perception, and drink responsibly.
  • Eat a balanced, nutritious meal before partying or trick-or-treating to make sure you have plenty of energy and to help curb the urge for sweet treats, which can affect blood sugar levels and cause dizziness.

Friday, August 7, 2015

You don’t have to handle your grief alone

Grief is a very hard emotion to overcome.

When you are in love, there is a mixture of emotions and feelings that make you feel invincible. Together you can conquer the world.

Grief is an entirely different matter. When you lose that person you loved so dearly, it is hard to let go. Or, you feel guilty if you try to let go.

If you have suffered a loss, whether it is a spouse, a child, family member or a friend, you don’t have to deal with it on your own. There are others who can help you navigate through the process of overcoming your loss. They can offer support and encouragement on your journey to healing.

West Liberty United Methodist Church offers a program called GriefShare.

GriefShare is a special 13-week course that is designed to help you rebuild your life by offering help, encouragement and hope.

Two sessions are being offered, choose wither a a morning or evening session, to accommodate your schedule. You can choose between 10 a.m. Mondays or 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays. There is a $5 registration fee that covers the cost of a workbook.

GriefShare is a network of more than 12,000 churches worldwide equipped to offer grief support groups. The program is nondenominational and features biblical concepts for healing from your pain.

The hope is that you will see your group as an oasis on your journey through grief. The three key parts to the program include a video seminar, small group discussion about the weekly video content and a workbook for journaling and personal study exercises to reinforce the weekly session topics.

All are welcome to attend the group meetings at any point. Each session is “self-contained” so you do not have to attend the sessions in sequence. You will be able to pick up any sessions you missed in the next 13-week cycle.

The cycle of Monday morning sessions starts Aug. 31. The Tuesday evening sessions begin Sept. 1. If you are not able to attend, the 13-week cycle repeats in January.

All sessions are at the West Liberty United Methodist Church, 202 W. Newell Street, West Liberty.

For more information or to register, call 937.441.3592.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Angels from the Past

The "senior citizen village" is now more than a dream.  The funding has been established and the groundbreaking set.  This was not the time to relax though.  The board of trustees was formalized and the articles of incorporation were established.  And Lois Bratka, chair of the development and service committees implemented the Green Hills Auxiliary.

The Auxiliary members represented the sponsoring churches.  Each church had one congregation member on the Auxiliary board and several volunteers. Early on the Auxiliary bought those non-essential items that made the center more like a home, which was part of the original mission.  Later after the apartments and then the care center opened the Auxiliary led crafts with the residents, planned parties and helped raise money for those items that make life more comfortable but wouldn't be considered a necessity. Things like an oven for the community room, patio furniture, garden plots, furnishings for the care center and so very much more.  They visited residents in health care, and folks who spent time in the hospital.  They offered transportation to those who wanted to get off campus as well.  They were the face people saw when they waked through the door seven days a week including holidays!

As you read their by-laws and expectations it is very clear that they continued the whole person wellness philosophy as well as what we call person directed care today.  Ella Kauffman reported to the Auxiliary the following statement in 1976:

     "One of the biggest problems I see for those coming to the care center is having to part with so many of life's material goods.  They may not feel like they can do as much, and therefore feel un-noticed or unimportant.  It is our job to to care, to listen and make sure they feel worthy and accomplished. No one can take away memories but we can give the gift of listening to those memories.

The Auxiliary became a key part of every project that benefited the residents for many years.   They were the volunteer base from 1974 until the mid 1990's.  They were truly angels of Green Hills Community!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Perseverance Pays Off

The dream to build a "senior citizen village" was shared by an entire town.  The news of the $1.5 million price tag didn't deter them.  The women got the ball rolling with their bake sale. Later, Loren King took on the responsibility of the fund raising.  

The consultants said a town the size of West Liberty couldn't raise the dollars needed to see their dream become a reality.  That did not deter the townspeople.  They continued to meet and plan as if they already had the funding needed. Seven churches joined together to comprise the corporation. Those churches were Bethel, South Union, and oak Grove Mennonite congregations, Church of God, Mt. Carmel Friend church, Grace Chapel and the United Church of Christ.  (all continue to be sponsoring churches today) Two members of each of these churches formed the original board of trustees.  

It's so interesting that this first board of trustees was so creative in their fund development strategy.  
They learned that the Farmer's Home Administration had money for building in rural areas.  They worked with them to receive a $1 million loan.  This was the first of it's kind given to a senior housing and nursing campus.  Once again a group of people who had no experience in senior housing or nursing care lead the way with an innovative idea. That particular idea got them 2/3 of their funding!

The bulk of the final $500,000 came from 447 individuals.  Each of the seven sponsoring churches asked every member to give.  (see picture of pledge cards they kept) The gifts ranged from $5 to $5000.  The equivalent of those gifts today would be $25.14 to $25, 412.55.

This part of the Green Hills story continues the progressive thinking that still sets Green Hills apart today.  It also highlights the fact that ordinary people gave what they could to build a dream.  One church alone couldn't have done it, but the power of those seven churches built the Green Hills legacy.  

Friday, July 17, 2015

“Our purpose is to meet the total needs – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual – of the older person, to offer a secure environment, a sense of dignity, and to help him/her retain his/her life style.”

This is the original purpose statement written by the founding fathers of Green Hills Community. In 1972 they had this vision for their senior citizen village. They wanted their elder loved ones to age in a place like home, with dignity and was focused on their entire well-being.

Wow, that is what every aging services provider strives for today. Some are good at it, others are still striving to reach that goal and still others just don't get it. But Green Hills has been doing it for 40 years, and doing it well!

There is so much about the Green Hills story that is fascinating, but the fact that this group of pioneers had a vision that was so progressive is the most amazing. These folks weren't in health care or senior housing. They knew nothing about how these industries worked. Yet they wrote a purpose statement that holds up and is even still progressive 40 years later!

So you have to ask, why did they choose this purpose statement? That was not the language used back then in healthcare of senior housing. Perhaps it can be found in the belief statement they wrote at that same time. 

"We believe in a ministry to the aging for those whose personal needs we have special concern. We believe in a ministry with the aging as we seek to involve them as partners in the total program. We believe in a ministry of the aging in which their special gifts of maturity, understanding, vision, concern and experience are recognized and utilized." 

These folks didn't know the "rules" for senior housing or health care.  They simply knew what they wanted for their loved ones.  And they were right on.  

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

It all started with a bake sale.  I love to tell this story.  A story of big dreams and a small town.  A story of perseverance, dedication and hard work.  A story that changed the lives of elders in and around West Liberty.

In 1968 several men talked about a building a "senior citizen village."   Their vision was a place that would include the residents in how it was run.  A place that would offer complete wellness, an idea far ahead of it's time.  A place that invited the residents to use their own knowledge and unique experiences to make it great.  

They did all the usual things; had a meeting, took a vote, got a quote.  This is where the unusual happened.  The quote was for $1,000,000 to build their village.  While the group forged ahead, there was one moment of despair among two of the original founders, Ira Thut and Walter Lautenbach.  But right in that moment of despair Ira's wife came home from her sewing circle and said, "The ladies are having a bake sale for our senior citizen village. We need to get started."  That bake sale raised $2232, equivalent to $10,505 today.  

That is why we say it all started with a bake sale!

Next up - find out about Green Hills original purpose statement and why it is even more relevant today!