Service Animal or Emotional Support Animal – What’s the Difference?

Service and emotional support animals are becoming more and more common. The last time I flew to Kansas, in the Dallas Fort worth airport I counted at least three dogs that the owners kept near and one service dog helping its handler to maneuver through the crowds safely. It seems more and more people are realizing the benefits of having an animal in their life. A bakery in Morro Bay has a whole display case full of doggie treats so people who are vacationing can purchase something yummy for their dog as they sip their coffee and have a sweet roll.

When we opened the Terraces at Sierra View Homes Retirement Community, we decided to become pet friendly. That was a game changer for many people looking for a pet-friendly retirement community. As of today, we have had numerous dogs (must be small dogs) cats, birds and a bunny living in the apartments.

So, what is the difference between a service animal and an emotional support animal? A service dog is trained to do specific tasks for the disabled person assigned to them. The disability could be physical, sensory, psychotic, intellectual or other mental disability. Only a dog can be a service animal no other animal can be considered a service animal according to the ADA.

A service dog can be trained to assist an individual who is blind or has low vision and navigating streets are difficult. They can alert someone who is deaf to the presence of people or sounds. Pulling a wheelchair, assisting an individual during a seizure, and retrieving items such as medicine are a few of the things a well-trained dog can do. Each service dog is trained specifically for the person who will receive the dog.

Service animals are usually allowed in most public areas as long as the dog is under control. A service animal must have a harness, leash or other tether, unless the handler can control the animal by voice commands or hand signals.

If the animal barks, growls or jumps on individuals, the dog and the owner will have to leave the area. Service dogs help disabled people live a more satisfying lifestyle and helps their handler to live an independent life.

Service dogs are important and have a real purpose but what does an emotional support animal do? Unlike the service dogs there is no formal training to be an emotional support animal. Emotional support animals can be cats, dogs, ducks, and the list goes on. These animals’ primary role is to provide companionship and comfort to their partners who may be suffering from psychological disorders. The psychological disorders could be PTSD, chronic depression, loneliness, or anxiety. Emotional support animals give unconditional love proven beneficial to many people.

The advantage of owning a pet or emotional support animal is the need to care for it gives incentive to get up in the morning. Stroking, holding, cuddling, or otherwise touching a loving animal can have a powerful effect in lowering blood pressure. Touch and movement are two healthy ways to deal with stress. Pets encourage playfulness, laughter, and exercise. Laughing at the antics of a playful pet helps you enjoy life with a sense of well-being. Studies show playing with a pet can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine which calms and relaxes us.

I expect to see more and more service dogs and emotional support animals in my travels and here at Sierra View Homes Retirement Community. I meet and greet residents, who brought their pets when they moved into the Community as they are walking their pets and enjoying the day. Animals do bring a sense of fun as Sassy, the cat, chases after her toy, or Sierra, the bird, tweets out a song, and the therapy dog make rounds just to say “hi.” Be it a service dog or an emotional support animal, more and more people are realizing the benefits of owning and loving a pet.

Chaplain’s Corner: Finding Yourself in the Story

As Christians we believe the Bible is the living word of God. What does that mean exactly? It means that alongside studying the context of what the text meant to its original audience, we are also called to ask what the text is speaking into our lives today. There are many ways to do this, but the way that I have found particularly powerful the last few years is the question, “Where do you find yourself in the story?”

Asking this puts us into a story in a new way, not as the reader, watching passively from a distance, but as a participant. We should be encouraged to ask wondering questions: What was it like to be this person? How would I react if that was me?

But we also should be attuned to knowing when we are to identify with someone other than the main character in the story. Take, for example, the parable of the Prodigal Son: You can read the story and find yourself as the prodigal son. Six months later you might very well find yourself as the jealous brother, or perhaps the forgiving father.

We never stop reading the Bible because it can speak to us differently through different characters as our life circumstances change, meeting us where we are on our faith journey. Embrace the living word and never stop asking, “Where do I find myself in the story today?”
– Caley Ortman, Chaplain

Chaplain’s Corner: The True Source of Prosperity

“For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.”

These closing words of the very first Psalm lay out the conventional wisdom that we find throughout the books of Psalms and Proverbs. Yet so often in life we are dismayed and frustrated at how often the wicked prosper and the righteous seem to come away empty handed. It offends our sense of what is right and what is fair.

We turn the Bible upside down for the secret key of what we have to do to make sure we have guaranteed security from pain, suffering and injustice. This dilemma was on the minds of the writers of scripture as well.

Of particular interest to me recently has been the book of Ecclesiastes. I recently heard a pastor summarize that Ecclesiastes asks the question: “What if the problem is not God failing to grant prosperity to the righteous, but with our expectation of what prosperity looks like?”

Clinton McCann suggests that “the happiness or prosperity of the righteous is not so much a reward as it is their experience of being connected to the true source of life–God.” May we remember to look for the prosperity that comes not through wealth and comfort, but through the source of life–God, which was present with us all along.
– Caley Ortman, Chaplain

Defining Self-Care

The month of Valentine’s has arrived! Of course, soon after Christmas, the popular Cupids and red hearts were up to remind us to be in good cheer and spend some money on goodies for our loved ones.

Let’s have a little different perspective this time. I would like to remind you to take care of yourself first. Taking care of yourself fuels the good you can do in the world. True self-care is more than a collection of sayings, self-indulgence or surface-level practices. It’s taking stock of your humanness and building yourself up.

Each one of us has dignity as God’s Children. From the womb to death, each one is worth love and care. We were created to love and be loved. By taking care of yourself, you recognize the precious gift you were given to live a meaningful life. Too many, especially some care givers, give so much of themselves in being thoughtful, hard-working, persistent care deliverers, and in-addition active family members. All that caring takes a toll and we can easily see some get to a fatigue that diminishes health.

To those individuals, I say take time out for yourself. The old saying, if you don’t take care of yourself first, you are not going to be much help to others. It’s enlightening to consider self-care as an important sustainable habit that replenishes the body, mind and spirit.

Perhaps in this month, you can rework some habits that bring consideration to yourself. Is there a danger of too much pampering of oneself? For most of us, I don’t think so. The more we receive, the more we give away. May this Valentine’s Day find you replenished and able to love without limit and joyful to know that you are loved.

– Vito Genna, Executive Director

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Wisdom for 2019

The following articles was penned by Sierra View Homes’ Executive Director Vito Genna for our monthly email newsletter. Would you like to receive our newsletter, which includes events and happenings for the month along with messages like this? Email Kecia at KFriesen@sierraview.orgwith the email address you’d like to receive it at, or simply message us on Facebook! 

The New Year was ushered in with lots of noise. If not reveling yourself, you probably watched the “noise” that was displayed at the New Year celebrations from all parts of the world. To say we live in an “age of noise” is certainly an understatement. The sounds envelop us from radio, TV, and social media.

When I was in school I used to admire the folks that could do their homework and study while the music is blaring. I am too easily distracted. Indeed, one of the first disagreements Adriana and I had was over “noise.” Adriana liked to have the radio or a tape running all the time. She enjoys background music no matter what she is doing. She often says she doesn’t listen to the lyrics, she just focuses on the melody. Needless to say it took a while to find compromise and continue marital bliss. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against this form of entertainment and even a time of distraction, but I do think it all has its place.

We live in a noisy world even in rural areas. We are bombarded with new ways of listening (some residents have ‘Alexa’), and phone telemarketers to tell us what we desperately need. We are in a world of instant awareness with 24/7 news. So much of the news cycle is babble rather than hard news. It’s a constant form of comment and noise rather than facts of the happenings.

Unfortunately, in such a so-called sophisticated atmosphere, we see way too much anxiety, worry and panic. We have given up on our peace of mind and quiet contemplation.

A 16th Century mystic gives us some sound advice in her short poem:
Let nothing distract you
Let nothing frighten you
All things are passing away
God never changes
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing
God alone suffices. 

May you have many happy moments in 2019, let the noise drift away and have quiet time to reflect and contemplate the constancy of God.
– Vito Genna, Executive Director

Happy Fall Y’All!

These are just a few photos from Sierra View Homes’ Facebook page. Follow us on Facebook to catch a glimpse of your friends and loved ones and to keep up-to-date on the latest happenings!

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Lessons from Half a Century at Sierra View Homes

Nancy Petinak, circa 1981, dancing with a resident. “This was a really proud moment for me,” she said. “This resident suffered from PTSD and never talked or smiled. Over time, music brought him out of his shell, and he even danced. This picture captures a miracle.”

A lot changes in 44 years, but some things never change. No one can attest to this better than Nancy Petinak. The 79-year-old Reedley resident recently retired from her role as Activities Director at Sierra View Homes Retirement Community, a career which spanned an impressive 44 years.

Happy retirement, Nancy Petinak! You are loved. Thank you for your service!

Nancy played a pivotal role in the growth of Sierra View Homes from a small skilled nursing facility to a full-service continuing care retirement community. Nancy’s career is a source of great pride for Sierra View, as she exemplifies the unusual longevity of the organization’s staff, and more importantly, the service-oriented heart found beating beneath the everyday workings of the community.

When Nancy first began at Sierra View in 1975, she little expected that it would be the first and only employer of her career. “I was just hired because I could play the piano!” Nancy laughed. The director at the time, Art Bergthold Sr., wanted someone who could incorporate music into activities for the residents, and Nancy set out to do just that. She added music into workout classes, sing-alongs, performances, and weekly church services.

Before long, she had discovered that this was more than a job, it was a life’s work. “I realized it was a mission, and that God had placed me here for a reason, to help people and make their lives better each day,” she explained.

Nancy, circa 1982.

Over time, the methods she used to fulfill that mission evolved. “For many years, I focused on bringing events to Sierra View’s residents, like a Country Fair fundraiser that drew thousands of people from the neighborhoods in Reedley,” she explained. “I told our residents, if we can’t bring you to events, we’ll bring the events to you!

This philosophy, and her activity programs, were groundbreaking by necessity. “The year I started, activity programs had just begun to be required by the state, and innovations like assisted living and memory care for dementia patients didn’t exist yet,” she said. “Skilled nursing served a very wide variety of ability levels, from people who just needed a bit of assistance to Alzheimer’s residents who entered with extreme cognitive challenges.”

Nancy, circa 1982.

Thus, almost by accident, Nancy became a pioneer of dementia care. She established Sierra View’s Special Needs program, which laid the groundwork for Sierra View’s current Memory Care, transforming a dining room into a “neighborhood” with centers focused around everyday activities like cooking, laundry, sewing, and a home office. “We saw an immediate difference in our resident behavior,” she explained.

She recalls one particular resident, a former newspaper editor, who came into Sierra View angry and lashing out at the staff. However, at Nancy’s suggestion they added a typewriter and desk to the office area for him, and his behavior changed overnight. “He was suddenly very industrious, and typed all day long – it was like he was back to work,” Nancy said. “When we read what he was typing, it wasn’t always relevant, but it was clear that he was typing his feelings out. His family noticed an immediate improvement. They were so grateful that he was finally content and at peace.” Her program was so successful, in fact, that she visited other communities and spoke at conferences to teach about best practices in dementia care.

When Sierra View Homes’ dedicated Marden’s Place Memory Care wing was built, Nancy’s role pivoted once again, beginning to focus even more on the social needs of residents and their families. “I spent a lot of time mentoring families, dealing with individual concerns, walking residents and their families through power of attorney issues and disputes – basically helping families to understand what was happening to their loved ones,” she said. “But one of my favorite things was to sit with people and sing with them.”

In fact, over 44 years, Nancy has found that music is one of the constants. She helped bring the iPod Music program to Sierra View’s residents, where residents are provided with an iPod tailored to their individual favorite music. This has had special success in Sierra View’s Memory Care, where residents show marked improvement in happiness while singing along to their favorite tunes. “Music and scripture and prayer are the things that are never damaged by Alzheimer’s or dementia,” Nancy explained. “I’ve always told families that, and they seem to find comfort in it. Music, God’s Word, and prayer all speak straight to our heart, and that never changes.”

Another thing that doesn’t change is the service-oriented heart in Sierra View’s staff. “I’ve been blessed to work with a group of people who share my mission,” said Nancy. “Sierra View seems to draw people who want to make residents’ lives better every day, and I’ve been honored to work with many people who have really made a difference.”

Likewise, she has met incredible people in Sierra View’s residents. “One of our residents invented the little clip on pens so that you can hook it to your paper. Another invented a revolutionary design for airplane wings. We’ve had doctors, lawyers, missionaries, and Olympic medalists,” she said. “Sierra View is full of a wealth of stories and wisdom and history, just there for the asking.” So her advice to the younger generations after her? “Ask.”

Some things change – buildings rise up and organizations grow, and foundational staff like Nancy move on to new adventures. But the music, the heart of Sierra View Homes, and Nancy Petinak’s legacy, will always remain.

10 TIPS for Living a Dignified Life as You Age

“Aging with dignity is the ability to live life to its fullest in the place you call home, regardless of age, illness or disability. “ So starts an article by Victoria R Ballesteros and Athan G. Bezaetis. Both are communication professionals with the SCAN Foundation. The article they wrote covers 10 points on the topic of aging with dignity. These are good points to use to look to the future. Here is a summary of those points with some comments of my own.

TIP #1: You Are Not Alone

We have been hearing for a while now that the huge number of baby boomers are now reaching retirement age. There are not enough retirement communities, assisted living buildings or skilled nursing facilities to accommodate the numbers of people who will need care. It is important for you to talk to your family. Share with them what aging with dignity means to you on a personal level and listen to what it means for them.

TIP #2: Different People Need Different Kinds of Support

Most folks need someone to socialize with, some need help with medication management and others need some help to make sure they eat nutritious foods. Older individuals with health conditions that make routine activities difficult need specialized help. There is help for giving care in the home. Contact your Area Agency on Aging, Medi-Cal office, and your doctor to find out what help is offered in your area. There are no free services; however, there are people who are willing to volunteer occasionally. A good place to look for volunteers is your church.

TIP #3: Family Member Support Counts.

Family is a vital part of aging with dignity. Family members do many kinds of hands on care for individuals who have health needs. Someone in the family often helps with finances either managing money or helping to pay for needed help. Emotional support is an important family contribution. This can be challenging when you also have to grieve the loss of health and vitality.

TIP #4: Plan for Expensive Long-Term Care

Hiring people to provide care in your home can get very expensive. I understand a certified nursing assistant is being paid more than $15 per hour in most cases. In-home support organizations are charging $25 per hour and above. Nursing Homes are trying to keep costs to the resident as low as possible, but ever increasing environment regulations forces the cost of providing care to continue increasing. Many nursing homes cost $7000 a month and above.

TIP #5: Medicare Does Not Pay

I get a number of calls each week with the question, “Does Medicare pay for my loved one’s stay in Skilled Nursing or Assisted Living>” They are so surprised when I have to tell them Medicare does not pay. Medicare will only pay for a short-term rehabilitation stay not for custodial care. If you stay longer in a Skilled Nursing Home, you will have to pay out-of-pocket. If you end up spending all of your assets, you may then apply for Medi-cal, California‘s version of Medicaid. Medi-Cal has several programs to assist you in paying health care costs.

TIP #6: Talk to Your Loved Ones.

Planning is important. Decisions are extremely difficult when a crisis happens. Has a Durable Power for Health Care been established? If it has, how old is it, and are the agents listed in the document still able to fulfill the functions assigned to them? Are health care wishes spelled out in the document, or have there been explicit conversations with the Durable Power agent so the wishes can and will be honored when that time comes?

TIP #7: Talk to Your Loved One’s Doctors

Aging brings health care changes. Being a strong advocate for someone who is aging means you need to know about what the doctors feel is the right treatment. Do you have the right specialists? Are there contradictory issues or treatments going on? Doctors do not necessarily talk to each other.

TIP #8: Build a Circle of Support

The Durable Power of Health agent is certainly an important person in the life of someone who is aging. It may also be important to have discussions with your loved one’s attorney, financial planner, insurance provider and other family members. It is never an easy task to bring everyone together, but it is important to bring all people involved into the decision-making process to honor your loved one’s wishes and desires.

TIP #9: We All Have Different Definitions of Aging with Dignity

We all want to age with dignity, choice and independence. We want to live life to the fullest regardless of age, health care issues or ability. Be sure you understand how your loved one defines aging with dignity and make that part of the master plan.

TIP #10: Get Involved

Decisions are being made at the state and federal level that could impact the services available to you and your loved ones. Stay informed and speak up by talking to your local, state, and federal officials. The SCAN Foundation website can keep you updated.

Aging with dignity is important and creates less fear in the aging process. At Sierra View Homes Retirement Community, we strive to do person-centered care to increase dignity in the lives of the people we care for. We care-plan the resident wishes in the Residential Care/Assisted Living Facility, keeping the resident center in the plan of care. There are activities for the independent living to help foster friendships and a sense of belonging and to stay physically agile. The goal is to provide an outstanding environment that promotes dignity and a sense of well-being.

For more information about Sierra View Homes Retirement Community, please contact Crystal Rogalsky at (559) 638-9226 and

10 Tips for a Great Garage Sale in Reedley

10 Reedley Yard Sale Tips! Are you ready to move into a Reedley retirement community like Sierra View Homes, but you’re still drowning in STUFF? Let’s downsize! It’s time to hold a garage sale!

Here are a few handy tips and tricks to make sure your Reedley garage sale draws a crowd:

  1. Don’t Forget Your Yard Sale Permit!
    Check out the City of Reedley’s rules for garage sales. The City of Reedley requires homeowners to purchase a $10 permit to hold a sale, and prohibits more than 2 yard sales each calendar year.
  2. Post Your Sale Online.
    Multiple websites are available to help you promote your yard sale, and most allow you to post your sale for free. 

  3. Post a Yard Sale Classified Ad in The Reedley Exponent.
    Yard sale ads cost $16, and the deadline is 10 a.m. on Monday for inclusion in Thursday’s newspaper. You can compose and submit your ad using The Reedley Exponent’s classified ad submission form. Then you will receive a call from them to provide payment over the phone.
  4. Put Up Signs. More signs = more awareness. Plan to post 5-10 brightly-colored signs.

  5. Try a Theme Sale.
    If you have a lot of one type of item, use that as your theme to draw traffic! Some ideas: Electronics Sale, Book Sale, Downsizing Sale, Furniture Sale, Clothing Sale, Garden Tools.
  6. Team up with Neighbors.
    A multiple-house sale will draw more interest.
  7. Don’t Overprice.
    A good rule of thumb is 10% to 25% of an item’s original value. Keep in mind that people shop at garage sales to get deals. If you want to sell the item for what it is worth, it will be worth more to collectors, or it’s a big-ticket-item, you may have better luck selling the item on Craigslist or Ebay.

  8. Keep Change on Hand.
    A good rule of thumb is to get $100 in cash:

    • 3 – $10
    • 6 – $5
    • 30 – $1
    • A roll of quarters.

      Make sure you keep your cash in a money belt or cash box!
  9. Make a Pleasant Shopping Environment.
    • Use Tables. Customers like to see things up close. Borrow tables if you need to in order to give you sale a more professional feel.
    • Hang Clothes. Hang clothing on a rack or a ladder, or on a closet pole held by two chairs.
    • Think Ahead. Have electrical cords for people to test out electronics, batteries for battery-powered items, and a mirror for people to try on accessories.
    • Music. Put on some nice music to add to the party atmosphere and make shopping more pleasant.
    • Beverages. If it’s a hot day, sell water, or get some neighborhood kid-entrepreneurs to put up a lemonade stand in your yard.
  10. Don’t Bring the STUFF Back In!
    Once an item leaves your home, don’t bring it back into the house.

    • Designate a “free” box for items that you just want people to take off your hands!
    • Donate the leftovers, or post them online for free: