Happy Fall Y’All!

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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 crogalsky@sierraview.org.

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:

Submit Your Photo in June!

Raise awareness! Submit a photo of yourself in purple or a pic with your family member impacted by Alzheimer’s, and we will post it on Sierra View’s Facebook page.

June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month. This is a cause that is near and dear to our hearts here at Sierra View Homes Retirement Community. Our Memory Care is full of amazing people that this disease has impacted.

(Make sure to tell us who you are wearing purple for and include names of everyone in photos so we can credit them correctly.)

Let’s help raise awareness end this disease once and for all!

For more information about how you can take action to help end Alzheimer’s check out http://alz.org/purple.


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 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 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.