Scott MacIntyre – Auxiliary Spring Benefit Dinner

You’re invited to Sierra View Homes’ 2018 Auxiliary Dinner, on Saturday, June 9th!

This year’s event features a silent auction, and the return of American Idol Star, singer, songwriter, and author Scott MacIntyre!

All proceeds will fund the anticipated Bistro/café renovation of Sierra View’s main banquet room.

If you have items you wish to donate for the silent auction, please bring them to the Activity Room before the event.

Time: Appetizers – 5:30 p.m.
Dinner in the Kings Canyon Room – 6:30 p.m.

Donation Amount: $60 per plate.

Sierra View residents receive a discounted rate of $40. Reserve a table of eight to receive the discounted rate of $420 per table.

Call (559) 638-9226 to make your reservation today!

Seniors and Social Media

When you think of social media, your first thought may be of teenagers on their phones. However, increasingly, you should think of a senior! Recent data provided by the Pew Research Center  revealed that seniors are more wired and socially connected than ever.

Electronic use among seniors is on the rise, with the number of seniors 65+ reporting owning a smart phone increasing from 18% to 42% over the last 5 years. Roughly one third of seniors now reports owning a tablet.

Social media use is also increasing steadily, with 35% of all seniors reporting use of social media platforms.  Of the seniors using social media platforms, the vast majority use Facebook, with Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter trailing far behind (see table).

However, while seniors are using these technologies more and more, we still have a ways to go in education and comfort-level,  as “just 26% of internet users ages 65 and over say they feel very confident when using computers, smartphones or other electronic devices to do the things they need to do online.”

As our society continues to move online for resources, societal discourse, news, and social connection, it’s important for older Americans to continue to acquire technological skills. The steady increases displayed by this Pew Research data shows that seniors recognize technology’s importance. The world is online – and so are seniors!

THREE YEARS RUNNING! Thank You, Reedley – You Voted Us Reedley’s #1 Retirement Community for 2017!

Thank you for the THIRD YEAR IN A ROW, Reedley! The Reedley Exponent asked, and you made your voices heard – Sierra View Homes Retirement Community was voted Reedley’s #1 Retirement Community for 2015, 2016, and now 2017 in the “Best of Reedley” competition.

When asked why he thought Sierra View Homes has been winning so consistently, Vito Genna, Sierra View Homes’ executive director, pointed to a strong resident community. “Our residents have turned this into a neighborhood, where people really get to know each other,” he explained. “When the weather is good, we have groups out by the gazebos in the evenings. Other groups meet routinely in the Terraces to play pool. We’ve created these neighborhoods where everyone cares for each other and they really look out for each other.

Genna also attributes the honor to Sierra View’s consistent staff. “Sierra View’s strength is our dedicated staff and culture,” he explained. “Our positive culture means that we have extremely low staff turnover, which translates to consistent, responsive, and loving service for our residents.”

In fact, Sierra View has experienced ZERO turnover in its licensed nursing staff over the last several years, which is extremely unusual in the nursing home industry, even in rural areas. The average turnover in RNs and LVNs nationwide ranges between 55% and 75%. Thus, this low turnover speaks to Sierra View’s positive work environment, and represents a real distinctive that separates us from our competitors. “We have an engaged, invested staff that enjoy their work here,” Genna said. “And they love investing in the lives of residents.”

Resident Ruby Arnst summed it up: “I have lived in four other retirement communities. Sierra View homes is by far the best.”

Thank you again, Reedley. We’re so glad to call you, your parents, and your grandparents friends. You’re #1 in our book, too!

For-Profit vs. Non-Profit – What is the Difference?

[Photo credit: EKG Technician Salary]

Should a retirement community’s for-profit or non-profit status affect my decision? This is a question that has been asked of me many times during my years in long-term care work, and being the clear and unequivocal about things person I am, the answer is “maybe.” This may sound strange as I choose to work in a non-profit environment. Reedley is fortunate to have a choice with its two non-profit and one for-profit facilities.

For-Profit

For-profit corporations are owned privately. An individual, a group of investors, or a corporation that owns a chain of skilled nursing care centers can hold ownership. For-profit centers may have a much higher overhead since the owners want a return on their investment. The owners set the standards and interpret the regulations. They hire an administrator who will follow their direction, guide the staff to maintain quality care of the residents and will keep the center running with a good profit margin. The administrator must work within the budget set for him/her. Maintaining high standards of care can be very challenging.

Non-Profit

Non-profit corporations do not have a private owner and therefore do not pay dividends to anyone. A volunteer board of directors hires an administrator to interpret the rules and regulations and guides the skilled nursing center. The administrator has the same issues that a for-profit administrator has, but a big difference is the non-profit administrator has more financial liberty to get the job done. He/she is able to increase staffing as needed, increase spending on needed supplies and repairs, and has more freedom to get higher quality of food. If revenue is higher than expenses, it is put back into the community. Since a non-profit is a community benefit corporation, excess revenue is used to enhance the community. The government does not charge these non-profits property tax so the extra funds can be invested in the community. All other fees and taxes are paid in like fashion

Is One Better? Research Says Yes.

In 2012, the Center for Medicare Advocacy looked at the non-profit and the for-profit skilled nursing centers to see if there was a difference in care. The answer they came up with was yes, there is a difference. They found that the non-profit centers were better able to adequately staff with qualified people, provide the necessary supplies and have better Department of Health inspection reports. Non-profit centers across the country tend to have lower prevalence of pressure ulcers, fewer residents on psychotropic medications and have been able to decrease the need to be hospitalized. The study showed that the centers who did not have to pay dividends to the owners had better overall outcomes. The report also states that even though their findings were greatly in favor of the non-profit side of the industry there are for-profit centers that perform very well and there are some non-profits that perform very poorly.

Sierra View Homes Retirement Community and Palm Village are non-profit and strive to put their excess revenue back into the community. Both retirement communities were founded and sponsored by individual churches. Members of the churches put up funds and sweat equity to get the retirement communities started. Although church members are involved, the Board of Directors of each non-profit tries to provide care by its mission or ministry that the founders started with.

It is hard to understand all the differences in the non-profit and for-profit senior living facilities. We are truly lucky to have three quality facilities in our community. Be it the non-profit Board of Directors or the for-profit Owner Investors directing the retirement community, the quality starts with the leadership and the mission to care for the elderly. I have met many for-profit and non-profit leaders who have strong ethics and provide excellent services. So is there a difference between the two?  My answer is still “maybe,” but I have chosen to work in a non-profit community because I appreciate the ability to work with a board of directors who is committed to a mission of caring for seniors.

Current Garden Apartment Opening! 2 Bed, 2 Bath.


Now Available!

Sierra View Homes Retirement Community has one current opening in the Garden Apartments:

  • 2 Bed, 2 Bath Garden Apartment – 1,054 square feet

Please contact Crystal Rogalsky for more information at (559) 638-9226 or crogalsky@sierraview.org.

Current Terrace Apartment Openings!

Current Apartment Opening!

Sierra View Terraces has one apartment that will be available as of July 1, 2018:

  • 1 Bed, 1 Bath -680 square feet. Available on May 1. [Floorplan]
  • 1 Bed, 1 Bath with Den – 828 square feet. Available on July 1. [Floorplan]
  • 2 Bed, 2 Bath – 994 square feet.  Available on May 1. [Floorplan]

Please contact Crystal Rogalsky for more information at (559) 638-9226 or crogalsky@sierraview.org.

Avoiding Falls As We Age

Challenges seem to creep up on us, as we age. One change is losing your balance and suddenly finding yourself on the ground. Recently, I had an unexpected fall when I was at a camp in the mountains as I came down a short flight of steps, I think I must have missed a step because I suddenly found myself splat on the ground! I looked around and was pleased to see no one had witnessed this event. Next, I took stock of my extremities and found that nothing was hurt so I gathered myself and got up. I realized that I was stunned and shaky as I stood there reassessing what just happened. I am fortunate to have the strength and ability to rise up by myself. As we age the strength changes in our muscles and bones and falls can be devastating.

Statistics show that one-third of the population over 65 will fall each year. The statistics increase dramatically once a person reaches the age of 85 and above. Why do people fall? There is a long list of reasons. Some major factors are environmental trip hazards such as uneven surfaces or wet surfaces, throw rugs or poor footwear. A rapid change in blood pressure, ear problems causing balance issues, and heart problems are a few physiological reasons a person could suddenly fall. Certain medications can cause you to be light headed or dizzy. Taking medications improperly can lead to trouble. Work with your doctor to change medications to something that do not give you these side effects.

Fortunately, for me, I had the strength to get up on my own. Many people over the age of 65 cannot rise up from the floor on their own. Leg strength is an important part of healthy aging. Exercising regularly builds leg strength and helps the body maintain balance. If you suspect you have muscle weakness and are afraid you might fall, schedule an appointment to see your doctor. He/she can prescribe some physical therapy for you to help you build up your muscles and maintain balance. If you do fall and are unable to get up you could be on the floor indefinitely, especially if nobody regularly checks up on you. At Sierra View Homes, we have pull cords in each Independent Living apartment and Assisted Living bedrooms and the bathrooms to call for assistance when you are in trouble. Some folks have chosen to have an “alert pendant or bracelet” on them so all they need to do is push a button and help is on its way. Some of these folks have made Sierra View Homes the first person to call on their system.

Many times doctors will prescribe a walking aid if they feel you are at risk of falling. There are many types of aides such as various styles of canes, front-wheel walkers, three-wheel walkers and four-wheel walkers. All have their advantages, but they are not without risk. The aid can become a trip hazard. If you are using a walking aid, please pay attention to where your feet are in relation to the walking aid. It is easy to do the exact thing you were trying not to.

I was happy to say the only thing that was hurt in my fall was my pride. I was able to stand up and get on with the events of the day. Many people are not so lucky. If you are over 65 and have had a fall, do not ignore it. It could be a symptom of a treatable condition. Work with your doctor on what may be the cause. He/she may prescribe a strength and balance program to increase your odds of catching yourself if you trip. You should check your medications for possible side effects of dizziness and finally, yet importantly, be sure to wear sturdy shoes that offer good support. We are living longer and it is important to keep the risk of falling to a minimum to have the best quality of life possible.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy – The Search for Happiness

Photo courtesy of Paul.

“Happy, happy, happy”, was a phrase our oldest son would often use when he was very young. It has stuck with our family through the years. You can still hear the phrase pop up from someone in the family. Children seem to be full of happiness and cheer. Who does not smile while watching young children at play?

So, what makes you happy? How do you know you are happy? Are there certain things that happen to tell us we are happy? Many of us think ‘if I just get to retire from my job I will be happy’ or ‘if I win the lottery then surely I would be happy.’ ‘Maybe this very expensive corvette will do the trick to give me happiness.’ These are just a few situational happenings to show how we search for happiness.

“He/she is having a midlife crisis,” is often said of people who make large life choices or make large purchases in an effort to increase the excitement and happiness of their lives. How many of us get something we have longed for only to find it did not give us lasting happiness? For many of us events or new things can provide moments of happiness and soon we find these moments do not last and our thought process shifts to the less than positive. We have to look for the next big thing to give us that lift again. I have often heard “it’s the journey not the destination that brings interest and happiness.” Studies show being happy is a conscious decision to look at life positively and enjoy the moment.

Therefore, you may ask, ”is there a secret formula for finding happiness?” As I looked for information on this topic, I came across a number of ideas on how to make your life happier.

Here are a few of my favorite ideas for increasing our happiness:

  • There are people who are naturally joyful and jovial. These folks keep everyone around them smiling. It is good to surround yourself with some friends like this.
  • Enjoy the simple pleasures such as watching a beautiful sunset or admiring a rainbow. Maybe a simple cup of coffee with a friend is reason to be happy.
  • Do the things you love and have purpose for you. Doing something that makes a difference in someone else’s life can bring pure joy to yours.
  • Practice gratitude and you will be surprised how good you feel. My mother was insistent my sister and I wrote thank you notes whenever we got a gift from anyone. To this day, I enjoy writing a thank you note to people who have touched my life in some special way. The act of showing gratitude not only lifts the sender’s spirits but also lifts the receiver’s spirit. I have kept many thank you cards that came my way relishing in the thoughtfulness.

Happiness can be difficult to maintain. It is easy to get into negative thinking. Scientists say there is a neurological reason for the strong emotions such as happiness and sadness. When the part of the brain that plays a key role in emotions becomes stimulated it remains that way for a long time and can cause the brain to imprint a memory. The more emotional the situation, the stronger the memory will be.

This emotional memory is the reason the Music and Memory program at Sierra View Homes Retirement Community works so well. Music creates a strong emotion and these emotions have memories tied to them. We get the specific music that a resident had an emotional tie to when they were much younger. Some studies say the strongest musical memory time are around 8 years old through the teenage years. We work hard to put together their most favorite songs and artists. Watching residents, who are affected with dementia, light up as they listen to music of their youth is a wonderful way to bring out their happiness memories.

It does not take a lot of money, fame or social position to be a happy person. Indeed, a person with minimal material goods or some of the toughest struggles in life seems to be happier because they appreciate and are thankful for even the smallest blessings. It takes dedication to be aware of the little pleasures in life. It takes being grateful and to have a sense of purpose. Spend time with a friend, write a thank you note, give someone a word of encouragement and see how it makes you feel. You might find you are happy.

Some Like it Hot!

The Central Valley of California is in an extremely dangerous heat wave. We are used to summers days where the temperature cools down at night. Lately, however, there has been very little cooling at night. Seniors especially are subject to ill effects of extreme hot weather. Heat exhaustion and or heat stroke become real possibilities when the temperatures soar to 90 degrees and above and there is little relief. Lack of awareness and concern for the high air conditioning bills will slow the response of some seniors in seeking relief.

Sierra View Homes is one of the cooling centers in Reedley.

Hot weather is dangerous without proper protection and preparation. Employers, according to state law, need to be aware of the heat and have plenty of fluids to drink and shade for their employees to stay free of heat related effects. All employees, especially the ones who work out doors, must know how to spot heat related issues such as dehydration, heat stroke, and heat exhaustion

Outdoor employees are not the only ones who have to watch for heat-related issues. It is important to pay attention to the senior population as this heat wave continues. People 65 and older have decreased ability to notice changes in their body temperature. They do not sweat as much as younger adults do. Sweating is an important of the body’s heat regulation mechanism. Chronic health conditions can reduce the body’s ability to respond to heat conditions. Prescription drugs can further impair one’s sense of how hot your body truly is.

Dehydration is the root of many heat-related health problems. Dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and most seriously heat stroke can cause serious health issues up to and including death. When the body’s temperature becomes unusually high, neurological issues can happen and emergency treatment must be sought. It is extremely important to drink plenty of water or juice, even if you are not thirsty. It is a good idea to limit alcoholic or caffeinated drinks as they contribute to dehydration. A good rule of thumb is to drink fluids at every meal and to sip fluids throughout the day rather than drinking a lot of fluid quickly.

If dehydration is not corrected, heat exhaustion becomes a real possibility. Early warning signs of heat exhaustion include excessive sweating, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache and muscle cramps. Heat exhaustion and lead to nausea, vomiting and fainting, which can rapidly lead to a heat stroke. Symptoms of heat stroke are high body temperature, absence of sweating, confusion, seizures and coma. Heat exhaustion and especially heat stroke are extremely dangerous. If you see someone who appears to be in trouble it is important to get help for him or her a quickly as possible.

Whether or not you are older than 65 there are things you can do to avoid heat-related issues. Some suggestions are wearing light-colored, lightweight, loose-fitting clothing. Wear a wide-brimmed hat. Stay indoors during the hottest part of the day and limit outdoor activities to the early morning hours. Watch the heat Index. If there is a lot of moisture in the air, the body’s ability to sweat is diminished leaving you with less ability to cool down. Seek air-conditioned environments if you do not have air-conditioning in your home. Cooling centers are set up and ready for folks to come in and cool off if the temperature is over 100 degrees. Sierra View Homes is one of the cooling centers in Reedley.

Heat-related issues are real and can be serious. Everyone, especially those over age 65, need to be extra careful and pay attention for the warning signs of heat-related trouble. Take steps to keep cool by dressing in light clothes, drink plenty of fluids and monitor your indoor thermostat to keeping it no higher than 82 degrees. We live in an area that can have extremely hot temperatures; consequently, it is important to understand how you deal with the heat and have a plan to cool down.

A Frank Look at the Hot Dog

hotdog
As summer looms ever closer, we think of the American outdoor cuisine, the hot dog. Whether at a baseball game or just outside grilling, the hot dog with toppings seems delightful. I thought that maybe it is time for a closer look at the old favorite.

All of us have enjoyed a good hot dog. There are all sorts of hot dogs on the market these days. In the food committee at Sierra View Homes, we often hear we need to put hot dogs on the menu. Indeed, in a quick survey, it became apparent that hot dogs are a staple for many seniors living alone. It is so easy to pop one or two from the freezer into the microwave for an easy meal.

Hot Dog History

I wanted to know the history of the hot dog. What I found out is what we call a hot dog has been in existence for a very long time and there are several stories about its origin. One story said the frankfurter was developed in 1487. That was five years before Columbus set sail for the new world. Frankfurt, Germany, claims to have created the first Frankfurter. The people of Vienna, Austria, want to claim the birthplace of the wiener. The hot dog sold during the 1800s in the United States was probably a mixture of widespread common European sausage recipes.

 

Hot Dog Ingredients

The next step was to understand what ingredients went into a hotdog. A typical hot dog usually has highly processed low-quality meats with lots and lots of preservatives. Common ingredients include meat trimmings, usually pork or beef trimmings, but chicken and turkey are also popular, fat, and flavorings such as salt, garlic, and paprika. Sodium erythorbate and sodium nitrites are also added preservatives that cure the meat. Nitrates enhance color and increase shelf life. Hot dogs are amazingly high in fat and sodium content. One dog can have 14 grams of total fat, 5 grams of saturated fat and 400-500 milligrams of sodium. All this totals up to nearly 20 percent of the daily recommendation.

 

Are Hot Dogs Nutritious?

The all-important question is whether hot dogs are good for you. The answer is a resounding, No! They are not nutritious. Huge amounts of sodium and nitrates should make us pause before we consume that dog. We all have heard about nitrites in hotdogs. During the cooking process, nitrites combine with amines, naturally present in meat, to form cancer causing compounds. These compounds have been associated with cancer of the oral cavity, bladder, esophagus, stomach and brain. Nitrites occur naturally in many vegetables, like spinach, celery, green lettuce, and root vegetables; but the vegetables appear to be effective in reducing the risk of cancer. When eating food like hot dogs it is important to eat antioxidant rich food such as tomatoes or vitamin C packed orange juice to counter the risk.

There are healthier hot dogs on the market these days. Hot dog producers are now making dogs processed without nitrites. Nitrite free hot dogs taste the same as the nitrite dogs but the color is browner instead of red. Supermarkets are now stocking Nitrate/nitrite free or uncured hot dogs. These dogs rely on natural sources of nitrate such as celery juice, extract or powder. There are also hot dogs made with organic turkey or chicken. It is important to read the package carefully because there still could be high sodium, saturated fat content.

 

Hot Dog Choking Risk

In our campus food committee meeting, we also needed to discuss the possibility of people choking on hot dogs. In the 65 and older population, chewing and swallowing may be lessened due to illness or other health issues so the possibility of choking is a real issue.

Choking is the third leading cause of death for all ages. Common culprits are nuts, popcorn, grapes, carrots and, yes, hot dogs. Hot dogs are dense and have small diameters that fit easily into the windpipe creating a plug that blocks airflow. Good advice is to chew carefully and not swallow in big gulps and have something to drink on hand so you can swallow and move things along.

Alas, we had all better think twice before we reach for that not so healthy, not so safe frank. Frankly, you would be better to skip it. In my report to the food committee, it became apparent hot dogs do not belong on the menu. We will enjoy other healthier summer food!

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