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Thursday
Apr132017

Physical Therapy Success Story: Georgia Buchanan

A story of triumph for one Oklahoma senior whose path to recovery at Grace Living Center El Reno is inspiring others!


A medical setback couldn't keep Georgia Buchanan from reaching her goal of walking again. This isn’t the first time she’s worked with the skilled therapy team at Grace Living Center El Reno. A torn ligament in Georgia’s knee is why doctors recommended she get surgery. “It was because I fell so much,” stated Ms. Buchanan. 

She first worked with Physical Therapist Assistant Leigh Ann Griffith after undergoing a partial knee replacement, but the surgery didn’t hold forcing her to have a second correction surgery. Now, back on the road to recovery at Grace Living Center El Reno, Georgia is making great strides in physical therapy. “She has gone from not being able to walk to walking up to 50 feet now. She’s really shown good progression with the medical difficulties she’s had,” stated Griffith.

Besides working on rebuilding strength during her physical therapy sessions, Georgia is also working on balance to help her accomplish every day tasks such as standing at the sink to brush her teeth or making something to eat in the kitchen. “Georgia is one of our shining stars. She is always smiling, always talking about her friends and family and how much she enjoys her therapy,” said Griffith. All of her hard work in physical therapy is paying off and helping to get her closer to her goal of walking and ultimately becoming independent again. 

“They make me laugh and they help encourage me to keep walking and to keep doing my exercises too,” said Ms. Buchanan. While Georgia has been thankful to have such a great support system in place with her skilled therapy team by her side throughout this journey, it’s also been an emotional one. “I wouldn’t put any weight on this leg. And, I told my family that I would walk for them. My family tell me they’re proud of me,” said Buchanan with tears in her eyes. Grace Living Center El Reno has proved to be a home away from home, both Georgia and her family have enjoyed. “My family wants me here because they’ve been taking really good care of me,” said Ms. Buchanan.

[Click on thumbnail to enlarge photo.]




Wednesday
Feb152017

Lasting Love

Stories of lasting love can capture your heart and make you feel fairytales aren’t just for story books! As we celebrate the month of love, all you have to do is believe as some of our residents share their stories of true love. You may want to grab a tissue before reading any further, these stories each one beautiful and unique will not only inspire, but melt your heart!

The Brookfield Assisted Living (Claremore)

Bill and Jean MossBill and Jean Moss have been married for 70 years! They met on a blind date when Jean was still in high school and Bill had just returned from the war. From there, their love story began. They were married on August 19, 1946 in Tulsa, Oklahoma (after getting permission because Jean was only 17). Shortly after, Bill went to Seminary school in Dallas. Then after graduation he served as Pastor all over the state until finally settling down in Claremore, Oklahoma. Bill was the Pastor for many years and was responsible for the building of the new First United Methodist Church in

Claremore from which he retired. Jean says “they still love each other." Today Bill resides at the Claremore Veterans Center. Friends from Church bring him to The Brookfield every Monday to spend time with Jean and play Bingo. The couple still attends Church together each week at First United Methodist. Thanks Mr. and Mrs. Moss for sharing your beautiful story! 

Plantation Village Nursing Center (Altus)

Suzie WhittmerSpring bloomed on the outskirts of Paris in 1950 and among the beauty was Suzie Whittmer, a resident at Plantation Village Nursing Center, who was working as a waitress at a small restaurant in the castle of fellow frenchman Napoleon Bonaparte. At the time, her goal was to finish business school. However, those plans changed when U.S. Airman, Larry Whittmer asked for directions and swept her off her feet! Though it was a fairly tale meeting, Suzie never planned to marry an English speaking, red head, but found herself flying to America on June 25,1952. Just two days after arriving on American soil, Suzie married Larry on June 27, 1952. The couple traveled the world. And, after 63 wonderful years of marriage, Mr. Whittmer passed away. She still gushes when she tells the story of how she met the love of her life. A true story that reflects trust and courage!

The Springs (Muskogee)

Johnnie and Lizzie ToddMr. and Mrs. Todd met when they were 18-years-old thanks to family. The two dated for 6 months before saying “I do” in 1951. Now nearly 66 years later, they’re offering up this piece of advice for a lasting marriage, “love each other to the fullest, don’t give up when things get hard and always be 50/50 in everything,” they said. We couldn’t agree more, Mr. and Mrs. Todd!

Grace Living Center Norman

Joe and Marion CokerJoe and Marion Coker have been married for 67 years. The couple wed on August 27, 1949 after meeting one summer while Joe was working at his family’s car dealership. Joe states when they first met it was, “love at first sight.” He recalls asking her if he could have a date every night until the summer ended and he went back to college. She agreed. Marion said she had promised her parents she would finish school before she got married and kept her promise. Now nearly seven decades later, Marion comes to see her, “first and only love,” every day at Grace Living Center Norman. The pair still act like teenagers in love. Joe told us, “I’ve never loved anyone else,” while Marion sat by his side smiling!

Grace Living Center Chickasha

Elvie and Hazel MandrellAt the young age of 15, Hazel White, a resident at Grace Living Center Chickasha, was working as a waitress at the Sayre Oklahoma Bus Station when she saw a young Airman walk in and sit down. She later found out his name was Elvie Mandrell. At the time he was in the Air Force and was traveling to a base in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Elvie ordered a huge steak dinner with all the fixings and by the time he had finished his meal he was flirting with Hazel so much he left without paying his check. Elvie saw Hazel two more times and by that point was head over heels in love with her. When Elvie got back to base in Albuquerque, he borrowed enough money from the Red Cross to buy a bus ticket and sent it to Hazel to come see him. Hazel packed her bag and headed to Albuquerque, but she didn’t tell her parents where she was going. Hazel later sent a letter to her parents explaining she would be coming back to Sayre, but was first going to get married. Together they raised three children, one son and two daughters. Hazel said Elvie spoiled her in every way and that he was the best man she has ever met. Their son Gerald was visiting when she was telling us her love story. Gerald said his Dad was an amazing man who taught his children to respect others and the morals they live by today. Hazel said she couldn’t have asked for a better husband. Hazel is pictured with her son while holding her favorite picture of Elvie. Hazel said that’s what he looked like when we first fell in love. She said everyone thought he looked like Jimmy Stewart, and sure enough he does! Hazel, thank you for sharing your fairly tale romance. It certainly swept us off our feet!  

Grace Living Center Tahlequah (University Northwest)

Thelma and Atha MeigsThelma Meigs, a resident at Grace Living Center Tahlequah, University Northwest married her husband, Atha on October 2, 1948. The couple first met at a church revival in Santa Paula, California in 1947. Thelma told her future husband, “when you ask me to marry you, I want a Christian household.” And, he provided that. The secret to ever lasting love, according to Thelma, is God and a lot of patience. Great advice, Thelma!

Thursday
Jan262017

Soul Food Is Back on February 17!

The 17th annual Soul Food Festival at Grace Living Center Northeast is a celebration of community and culture as well as a tribute to a style of cooking that comforts the soul as much as the body.

Margaret Wright in her kitchen.What is Soul Food? Ask any of the hundreds of guests who attend the Soul Food Fest each year, and you are likely to hear that it’s “Grandma’s cooking,” the ultimate comfort food. 

Margaret Wright calls it tasty. As dietary supervisor, she works with a team of cooks and volunteers to prepare more than a ton of traditional Soul Food favorites, a job that has them working around the clock for days leading up to the event.

The Soul Food Fest is held each year during Black History Month and is designed to let the residents of the home located in northeast Oklahoma City know they are still an important part of their community.

The serving line at Soul Food Fest 2016.“It’s a labor of love,” Wright says. “We love making our residents feel special and want to thank the community for all they do to support us, while recognizing the amazing history of African-Americans. We could not do this without the help of many volunteers.”

According to the African American Registry, Soul Food has been associated with African Americans of the Southern United States for generations and can be traced back to the days of slavery. Soul Food is comprised of many dishes, but is often associated with the use of beans and greens, along with lesser-used cuts of meat like turkey neckbones, ox tails and pigs’ feet. Other popular dishes include sweet potatoes, fried chicken, macaroni salad, corn bread and cobbler.

:: WANT TO KNOW MORE: Click here to read A Brief History of Soul Food.

Mm Mm Good Pig Feet 

Wright says slow-cooked pigs’ feet are a treat that everyone should try. These are so tender, the meat can be sucked right off the bone.

Ingredients:

  • 8 pigs’ feet (clean them well with water)
  • ½ cup celery (chopped)
  • ½ cup bell pepper (chopped)
  • ½ cup yellow onion (chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon Lawrey seasoning salt
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar

Instructions:

Combine all ingredients in slow cooker or Dutch oven.  Add water to cover and bring to boil. Cover and simmer for 4 hours. Serve whole with barbecue sauce.

 

Soulful Peach Crisp

This dessert is super easy because it uses a box of yellow cake mix and canned peaches. 

Desserts are plentiful at Soul Food Fest!Ingredients:

  • 2 large cans of sliced peaches in syrup
  • ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ sticks of margarine or butter
  • 1 ½ cups of sugar
  • ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon of nutmeg
  • ½ cup of corn starch

For crumble:

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • ½ stick butter
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions: 

Mix peach ingredients together and pour into rectangular cake pan. Combine the box of yellow cake mix with ½ stick butter and sprinkle of top of peach mixture. Sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon on top. Cook at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

:: EVEN MORE ABOUT SOUL FOOD & RECIPES: Soul Food Online

:: 2012 NewsOK VIDEO & FEATURE STORY ON MARGARET WRIGHT (with recipes)

:: 2009 EDMOND SUN FEATURE ON SOUL FOOD FESTIVAL

Wednesday
Dec212016

The 31 Days of Grace!

In every family, there are always those stories that seem to be passed down from generation to generation. Especially at this time of year – during gatherings with loved ones – stories from yesteryear tend to be the topic of many conversations. Maybe it’s because everyone seems to get a little sentimental around the holidays, but whatever the reason, these stories can tug at your heart, make you giggle or even give you a glimpse of the past. 

Within each one of our 31 Grace Living Center communities, on any given day, there are hundreds of stories shared by our residents with staff, family or friends. We wanted to pass along the joy we feel when one of our residents shares a piece of their story with us. Each day during the month of December, we are showcasing a resident from each one of our communities with one of their favorite Christmas stories or memories on Facebook and Instagram. We call it the 31 days of Grace. Here’s a few of those stories shared by our wonderful residents!

Myrtle Faulkner
Grace Living Center Brookwood - South Oklahoma City

One of our oldest residents at Grace Living Center Brookwood, Ms. Myrtle Faulkner, at the young age of 90-years-old, shared one of her favorite Christmas memories with us. She expressed how she misses her family tradition of everyone gathering at her home to laugh, love, and have a great time. Ms. Faulkner says she loved being in the kitchen and cooking for her family! Her best dish, you ask? She said it would always be the stuffing and the cornbread. 

 

 

 

 

 

Reba Scribner
Grace Living Center Edmond

Ms. Reba Scribner, a resident at Grace Living Center Edmond, loves to reflect and reminisce about past holiday seasons when her Mother and Grandmother would crochet blankets, scarves and mittens to give to others on Christmas day! Right now, Reba is working on a scarf to give to her favorite CNA. Reba says "that a gift made from the heart is better than a gift from the store any day.” Reba truly believes this and loves to teach this adage to others! 

 

 

Clarence Pruett
Plantation Village Memory Care Assisted Living - Altus, Oklahoma

A Christmas story by Clarence Pruett, a resident at Plantation Village Memory Care Assisted Living: Mr. Pruett says he has told this story many times to his family. When he was 9-years-old, back in 1928, he wanted a table for Christmas to put in his bedroom. In April of the same year, his family’s house was blown away and they had nothing left. To his surprise, Mr. Pruett did receive a table for Christmas! And, at 97 years young, he still has it to this day. It’s now a piece of furniture treasured by both of his daughters too! 

 

 

Ms. Brandon
The Springs - Muskogee, Oklahoma

 A Christmas story by Ms. Brandon, a resident at The Springs: She remembers when she was 7-years-old that her father put flour throughout the house and then walked on it to make it look like Santa’s boot prints. Ms. Brandon says her father was so excited, he woke her and her siblings up Christmas morning to tell them Santa had come! Ms. Brandon recently celebrated her 98th birthday and says she remembers it like it was yesterday! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Betty Griffin
Sunset Estates - Tecumseh, Oklahoma

It's a story that made us feel like Christmas can be full of surprises: Betty Griffin, a long time resident at Sunset Estates, says last Christmas was her most memorable one yet. She thought no one would visit on Christmas because her granddaughter had just been born. However, Betty’s son Justin surprised her and brought her only grandchild up to meet her for the first time on Christmas Day. She described being overwhelmed with joy when she met her 10-day-old granddaughter, Grace, and held her tiny hands.

Wednesday
Nov162016

Holiday Guide for Senior Caregivers

November is Family Caregiver Month, a time to celebrate and acknowledge the tremendous effort family caregivers put into caring for their loved ones around the clock.

November also marks the beginning of the holiday season. For most, the holidays are a care-free vacation away from daily life and work meant to celebrate time honored traditions and to spend time with extended family. For a caregiver of an elderly loved one, the holidays can be an additional stress to an already challenging 24/7 job.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 2 million seniors suffer from some form of depression. The holidays can often intensify these feelings of sadness and despair due to severe health complications or the loss of a spouse or close companion. As a caregiver, it can be challenging to manage the mental, physical and emotional well-being of your aging family member while also trying to relax and enjoy the holidays yourself.

We’ve created a guide to help caregivers navigate and enjoy the holiday season, while including your elderly loved ones in activities that will be special and uplifting for both of you.  

1. Know the Signs of Depression in the Elderly

It’s important to be able to recognize signs of depression in the elderly, especially around the holidays. Although there are many ways to assist and encourage a depressed senior, any form of depression should be assessed and treated by a medical professional. 

 

  • Emotions:

 

An elderly person with depression may exhibit signs of irritability, anxiety, inappropriate guilt and feelings of worthlessness, sadness, or helplessness. These emotions may intensify over the holidays, especially if your loved one has recently experienced a decline in their health or the loss of a spouse or companion.

 

  • Behavior:

 

Even if your loved one doesn’t tell you how they’re feeling, changes in behavior can indicate that they are depressed. Loss of interest in daily activities, irresponsible behaviors, or a decline in personal hygiene are all red flags to look out for.

 

  • Physical changes:

 

Your loved one may complain of fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, headaches, backaches and digestive issues, all of which are physical manifestations of depression.

2. Plan Ahead and Adapt Holiday Activities for the Elderly

Including your elderly loved one in holiday activities can help raise their spirits throughout the holiday, especially if they are depressed. Remember to schedule activities with your loved one ahead of time to avoid causing unnecessary stress or confusion. Always leave time for peace and quiet for both you and your senior family members.  

 

  • Preparation:

 

Giving your loved one small repetitive tasks within their ability can help make holiday preparation more enjoyable for both of you. Below are a few simple activities you should consider putting on the calendar for your loved one this holiday season:

 

  • Making cookies
  • Holiday shopping
  • Decorating
  • Wrapping gifts

 

  • Outings:

Sometimes, as a caregiver, you might assume that your elderly loved ones are too tired or fragile to go on outings, but there are many holiday outings that they could still enjoy.

First, ask whether your loved one has any old holiday traditions that they miss and try to work those traditions into this holiday season. Maybe they used to go to a tree-lighting festival with their spouse or to the ballet with their parents. Tapping into these memories is a great way to share in something that is special to your loved one. If they don’t have any beloved traditions to share, make new traditions such as:

  • Volunteering

Volunteering is a great way for seniors to feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves during the holidays. As a caregiver, try to find volunteer opportunities that balance contribution and the potential for fatigue. 

Sharing Tree is an Oklahoma City non-profit that serves families in need by providing a “dignified shopping experience at no cost”. Sharing Tree has four branches and a variety of volunteer opportunities, so it’s a great choice for seniors who may be limited in what activities they are able to do. To contact Sharing Tree about volunteering, call Donna Robison at 405-634-2006.

  • Shows

Holiday shows are the perfect outing for seniors with limited mobility who might enjoy an activity in which they can remain seated. Oklahoma City offers a variety of holiday shows including the OKC Ballet’s Nutcracker and Lyric’s A Christmas Carol, both of which offer multiple show times throughout December.

  • Festivals

Oklahoma City offers many options for holiday festivities throughout November and December – options that are fun for the entire family. These outings allow your elderly loved one to connect with the younger generations in your family while celebrating the season. 

Stroll (or ride o the canal boats) through Bricktown to see the Canal Lights, visit the Red Earth Tree Fest to discover and celebrate local Native American traditions or check out the Downtown Historic Church Tour to remember the reason for the season. No matter what your loved one’s abilities or interests, there is a local holiday event that you can enjoy together.

  • Workshops

If your elderly loved one is crafty and wants to learn something new, try attending a seasonal workshop together. 

Edmond Fine Arts institute offers a special opportunity for seniors with dementia. “Coffee & Creativity” is an art therapy class offered every first Monday of the month. This event partners with the Alzheimer’s Association to provide art therapy to seniors and a relaxing cup of coffee for their caregivers. 

  • At-Home Activities:

If your loved one is unable to go on outings or would prefer to stay home during cold weather, there are still plenty of ways to connect with them and make the holidays feel special. First, ask about their favorite holiday traditions, memories and stories from their childhood or years past. Often, seniors who are depressed during the holidays are mourning a spouse, family member, or friend that they have lost. In this case, try to engage in activities that celebrate those who have passed, such as scrapbooking, telling stories about them together or preparing their favorite food. Acknowledging and celebrating loved ones who have passed can be comforting and make a positive emotional connection to the current holiday season.

3. Learn How to Talk to Seniors Suffering from Depression

Sometimes the most important way to help a depressed senior over the holidays is simply to communicate with them in a way that conveys empathy, love and patience. Follow these quick tips when communicating with your elderly loved ones this holiday:

  • Listen

One big contributor to depression in seniors is isolation. Seniors spend a lot of time alone. Over the holidays, take advantage of your time together to ask them about how they are doing and actively listen to their emotions, frustrations and stories.

  • Acknowledge their feelings

If your loved one is sometimes confused or irritable, it can be easy to write off their emotions but, steer clear of these assumptions. It is important to verbally acknowledge feelings. If your loved one tells you they are too tired to participate in a full day of festivities, acknowledge that their fatigue is valid and offer a quiet place for them to rest. 

  • Try not to give advice

While giving advice can feel like the helpful thing to do, it may be ill-received by the senior in your life. Instead, listen intently and ask open-ended questions to show that you care. Help your loved one by letting them talk openly about their frustrations. 

  • Be patient and encouraging

Always be patient and encouraging, remembering that the holidays can be stressful and exhausting for seniors. With each interaction, try to lessen the negative emotions that they may be experiencing.

At Grace Living Centers, we recognize that each person in our care is unique. We strive to consider their feelings, hopes and frustrations in everything that we do. We hope that this caregiver’s guide to the holidays helps you enjoy this holiday season with your elderly loved ones while helping them through bouts of seasonal depression. 

Unfortunately, many seniors do no live near their families and are unable to spend the holidays with loved ones. These seniors can truly benefit from the kindness of people in our community. If you would like to make a positive difference in the life of a senior this holiday by donating your time or a thoughtful gift, contact us at Grace Living Centers to learn more about Adopting a Senior.