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

Current Terrace Apartment Openings!

Current Apartment Opening!

Sierra View Terraces has three apartment openings.

  • 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

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.

A Frank Look at the Hot Dog

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!

When is it Time to Consider Assisted Living?

Assisted Living MealWhen is it time to consider assisted living?

The time to start looking for an assisted living facility is when you notice it is no longer easy for your loved one to function all by themselves.

  • Watch the medications: Are they taking medicines at the appropriate times? Do you or another family member feel a need to remind your parent to take their medicine? Are they experiencing medical problems that may be due to not taking medications? Have they recently lost the help of a spouse or other person who was prompting them to take medications?
  • Are they keeping up their home? Is their housekeeping ability staying the same? How does the lawn look? Are dishes piling up? Are bathrooms sanitary?
  • Is your loved one skipping meals? Have you noticed significant weight loss? When you go to their home, is there healthy food in the cupboard?
  • Normal functioning: Is your loved one leaving things undone that they used to get done no matter what? Are bills getting paid? Does your loved one receive calls from collectors?

What is Assisted Living?

Assisted living is there to help the senior stay independent for as long as possible. The idea is to help the resident maintain health and ability by taking care of some of the everyday housekeeping chores such as cooking, cleaning, yard work, and medication maintenance, yet still allow the resident the freedom to come and go as they please, enjoy and entertain family and friends, be social, and enjoy various activities offered.

Make sure to look at several facilities to be able to choose the one that most fits your parent’s needs. Not all assisted living facilities are alike, so here are some factors to consider as you help choose your parent’s new home. 

Get Your Tickets to Hear High Sierra Jazz Band!

highsierrajazzbandCome join us on June 3, 2017 for a night of kickin’ jazz, a delicious meal, and fellowship with friends!

Sierra View Homes Retirement Community’s Annual Auxiliary Spring Benefit Dinner and Auction will feature a performance by three members of the famous High Sierra Jazz Band! 

Date: Saturday, June 3, 2017

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

Donation Amount: $60 per plate. (Full table discounts are available.)

Tickets are available from the Sierra View Homes office or by calling (559) 638-9226 before June 2.

Your donation will support special projects for the residents of Sierra View Homes!


Does Burned Toast Cause Cancer? Maybe.


Burn That Toast?

Practically every week our fire alarm goes off because of someone burning their toast. Sierra View Homes Retirement’s independent senior apartments are equipped with super sensitive smoke alarms. So we know there are some individuals that like that dark, tasty bread! Most of us have burnt toast or other foods at one time or another. Indeed, some like to eat foods that are nearly charred. But, did you know that burning your toast may increase your health risk? Researchers are looking at people who eat a lot of burned toast to see if they have increased cancer risk.

We have been warned, for years, about burning certain foods because when they are cooked at a high temperature they form compounds that can cause cancer. Starchy foods, especially potatoes, can produce high levels of the compound acrylamide when cooked at high temperatures for too long. Laboratory mice studies have shown high levels of acrylamide created a higher risk of cancer.

Acrylamide is what makes bread and potatoes turn a golden color when they are fried, baked, toasted or roasted. Cooking food until it turns yellow restricts the formation of acrylamide. The problem with this is that cooking at lower temperature may cause bad bacteria to thrive and thus there is an increased risk of food poisoning. Researchers are encouraging people to reduce the risk by following a normal healthy diet and generally limiting the foods that are major sources of acrylamide.

The Food Standards Agency of the UK has launched a campaign to warn about cancer risk of eating burnt toast, over-roasted potatoes and other starchy food cooked at high temperatures even though the risk of caner has not been proven in humans.

There has been no study of people who eat burnt toast to see if they have higher cancer rates. But there are chemicals in burnt toast that have been liked with cancers in both animals and humans. Burnt toast contains less acrylamide than potato chips and fries but it still has enough acrylamide to be of concern because we are likely to eat bread more often.

Since the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization are calling for a reduction of acrylamide levels in food, the food industry is exploring ways to cook foods using lower temperatures and using enzymes to reduce acrylamide levels. They are working hard to do this without losing desirability and taste. Many people I’ve talked to here at Sierra View want that golden brown for the taste– “Give me that warm dark toasted bread with butter and jam!”

Seniors love their toast. We suggest caution when dealing with toast. Toast your bread to the lowest level acceptable to you, or try toasting dark bread instead of white bread. You can decrease the amount of acrylamide you take in if you cut off the crust. If for some reason you do burn the toast, throw it away. Don’t try to salvage it even though it might look tempting or feel wasteful.

Glide into 2017


In this high tech world with all the gadgets that promise to make your life better, we are now seeing that a simple rocking chair can improve your health and your overall sense of well-being. Before you conjure up some antiquated image of an old person in a rocking chair, you need to see the evidence. Studies are being conducted by a number of leading colleges on the possible benefits of spending time rocking in a rocking chair.

Many of us have spent time rocking or gliding enjoying the soothing relaxing movement. Researchers are showing that rocking chairs help to reduce pain. The spinal cord can work in only one direction. So, when the brain is sending impulses down to the legs to push the rocker the pain receptors are blocked. President John F Kennedy got relief from his chronic back pain by spending time in a rocking chair.

Rocking chairs have been shown to improve the emotional health of those suffering from depression, anxiety and/or dementia. Researchers found by simply rocking back and forth in a rocking chair for at least an hour a day improves the psychological and emotional well being of the person rocking. No study reports why this works, but the results show the more rocking you do the better the results.

A team in New York State Department of Health did a rocking chair study of 25 nursing home residents who were diagnosed with dementia. After six (6) weeks of monitoring the residents, rocking for at least an hour a day, the team found the residents were emotionally calmer. Anxiety, tension and depression were decreased and these residents required less pain medication.

A surprising benefit was the residents had better balance after rocking. The light exercise that happens while rocking burns calories, improves knee extension, and strengthens calf muscles giving residents better ability to stand up straight.

Recently, with a memorial monetary gift from the Wendell Rempel family, Sierra View Homes purchased six (6) new rocking chairs for Marden’s Place, our assisted living memory care unit. The chairs are unique in that when you sit down in them the chair stays firmly in place. When you lean back the rocking mechanism releases and the chair starts moving. This initial engagement is a great benefit to the residents who could be unaware of how to make a rocking chair move. The residents start to rock and often will keep the chair moving. When it is time to stand up the rocking mechanism disengages as the person leans forward to stand. Once again the chair is solid with no motion.

The rocking chairs are used regularly and are frequently requested by the residents. Rarely do I see a chair-sitting idol. The staff in Marden’s Place tells me the chairs have made a difference in how they care for the residents. “The residents are more calm and they seem happier,” a staff member recently told me. Another staff member said her “residents seek out the chairs and are disappointed if they are all in use.”

Rocking brings a safe activity to people who live a sedentary lifestyle. It does not make up for strength–training such as lifting weights but it has value in increasing strength, decreasing pain and creating a sense of well-being in a person who rocks regularly. So, my advice is to dust off those old rockers and place them in a place of prominence and glide or rock on through 2017.


“You have Parkinson’s” a friend of mine heard when she went to a Neurologist to find out why her hand would not stop shaking. She now had an explanation for the shaking hand that she could not stop no matter how hard she tried. “I have the same disease as actor Michael J. Fox and boxer Muhammad Ali,” she reported. “It is time to understand more about Parkinson’s disease? How did I get this disease? What can I do to get rid of it? “ She was full of questions.

Parkinson’s disease affects the brain. It affects certain nerve cells called neurons and gradually breaks them down so they don’t work. When these neurons are healthy they produce a chemical messenger substance called dopamine. Dopamine is necessary for normal brain activity. When dopamine levels decrease, it causes abnormal brain activity. This abnormal brain activity produces the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

Why certain people get the disease and others do not is a big mystery. Scientists say there are several factors that could play a role. One factor could be your genes, but research is quick to point out a genetic link is rare. The genetic link becomes a factor if you have immediate family members who have Parkinson’s disease. Another risk factor to consider is exposure to certain toxins or environmental factors such as pesticides, insecticides and more but again, research in inconclusive as to which environmental factor might be the trigger. Researchers continue to look for what triggers the neurons to decline in order to find a cure.

Parkinson’s disease signs and symptoms vary from person to person. Early signs can be slight enough to go unnoticed for years. Early warning signs can be the loss of the sense of smell or your handwriting becomes shaky. As the disease progresses, typically the physical symptoms start on one side of the body. There could be tremors or shaking often in the hand or fingers. The tremor continues even when your hand is resting. Rigidity in the leg muscles can create a difference in your ability to walk. Your steps may become shorter and you may have more difficult picking up your feet. Parkinson’s disease can change the way you speak, affect your posture and disrupt your ability to do personal care. Most people with Parkinson’s continue to lead effective lives. It is only when it becomes acutely pronounced that it can become debilitating

Since Parkinson’s disease affects the brain it could also affect thinking, sleep, swallowing and more. Depression could be a big challenge. It is important you have a support group and talk to your doctor about how you are feeling and be proactive about your symptoms. Retirement Communities such as Sierra View Homes are good places to find support groups.

As of now there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease but there are things you can do to help yourself. One way to enhance daily quality of life and even build impressive power, strength, and flexibility is to train like a boxer. Rock Steady is a popular boxing class just for people with Parkinson’s disease. The training exercises are geared to the symptoms that are often present. Training for boxing has shown to give Parkinson’s sufferers ability to have quality of life. Swimming or water aerobics is also a great exercise to keep fighting against Parkinson’s symptoms. The sweeping movements help with strength and balance. Your doctor may prescribe physical therapy to plan an exercise program. It is important that people with Parkinson’s disease keep exercising and moving to maintain strength, balance and control. It is not only a benefit in reduced symptoms but exercise also helps stave off depression.

There have been good results with deep brain stimulation where a probe is placed in the brain and is connected to a generator implanted in the chest. The probe sends electrical pulses to the brain and reduces Parkinson’s disease symptoms. Some people have great results in symptom reduction.

Medications for Parkinson’s disease have improved over the past decade. Carbidopa-levodopa is the most effective mediation according to Mayo Clinic research. As with all medications there are risks and side effects. It is important to work closely with your doctor to find the right medicine and dosage that gives you the best outcome.

Researchers all over the world are working on finding a cure. Some are looking for what causes a person to get Parkinson’s disease; some are looking at specific proteins in the brain that could be the trigger of neuron depletion.; another research program is looking at a specific artery in the brain that may hold the answers. Maybe we will see a cure soon.

In the meantime, if you have heard the words “you have Parkinson’s disease”, take heart. Work with your doctor to have the best course of action to maintain the highest quality of life, don’t stop moving and find a support group to have a community that understands what you are experiencing. There are many people who are on the same road and supporting each other gives encouragement to be the best you can be.