The Bridges

The Bridges Receives A Favorable Survey Inspection

Biennial Inspection Survey Is Citation-Free

The Bridges Retirement Community was recently granted a citation-free survey by The Agency for Healthcare Administration, the state agency that oversees the operations of all assisted living facilities in Florida.

The purpose of the unannounced visit by the Agency was to conduct a biennial inspection of the facility to verify compliance with the many rules and regulations that are required of a licensed assisted living facility and ensure that residents are happy and well cared for. The survey process inspects all areas of an assisted living facility including nursing care, medication management, employee training, meal selection and service, cleanliness and input from staff, residents and family members through private interviews conducted by the surveyors.

A citation-free survey indicates the surveyors found no deficiencies and quality services are being provided to residents at The Bridges. According to Donna Steiermann, The Bridges Executive Director, “It is due to our outstanding staff that continues to dedicate their time, talents, and unending kindness and compassion that we passed our inspection with flying colors.”

Assisted Living Checklist When Touring

Simple Checklist for Choosing an Assisted Living Facility

You’ve finally made the decision to begin touring assisted living facilities. You will soon discover each facility, not unlike each person, has its own personality. It is important to bring a checklist, or mentally carry one with you when you tour. Part of your tour will include observation and the other part question and answer. Below is a simple checklist to use as you tour facilities.

1. Are the grounds well-maintained?
2. Is the facility attractive, clean and odor-free?
3. Are there different floor plans? What is the square footage of each?
4. What are the amenities? What is the fee for each?
5. Is there an activities calendar? Ask to see the calendar.
6. How are residents encouraged to attend activities?
7. Are there options at every meal? Ask to see a menu.
8. Is there an entrance fee?
9. Is there 24-hour staff on-site?
10. What is the monthly rent? Is their an entrance fee?
11. Is transportation available? Is there a fee?
12. How are medications managed?
13. Do the residents appear to be happy?
14. What is the interaction between residents and staff?
15. How many residents live at the community?

Once you have toured 3 or 4 communities, you will notice the similarities and differences of each. Using your checklist of answered questions and observations, you will soon determine the community most appropriate for you or your loved one.

How Seniors Benefit from Pet Therapy

How Seniors Benefit from Pet Therapy

When Rex, the black lab, and his owner walk into The Bridges Assisted Living Community, senior residents are eager to greet them. Rex is a pet therapy dog operating under PAWS for Friendship. A non-profit organization, Paws for Friendship is comprised of volunteers sharing the unconditional love of their personal pets with others. Anyone who has stroked a dog’s fur knows the soothing and comforting feeling a dog provides.

Mary is a resident who will stop what she’s doing to spend time with Rex. She lights up when Rex sits on the floor next to her chair while she gently pets his slick black coat. After Mary, Rex will make his way to the other residents sitting in the lobby who want their turn with him. The next stop for Rex is visiting with residents in the Memory Unit. While they may not be able to remember his name or that he has ever visited them in the past, these residents are delighted to see his wagging tail. They, too, want a turn petting Rex and patting him on the head.

Studies show that even short periods of time interacting with a dog can lower blood pressure, reduce stress hormones and increase levels of serotonin, the “feel good” chemical, in the brain.

Rex is only one of many dogs who visit residents at The Bridges. These special pets make people feel happier and healthier!

Rex, the pet therapy dog

Rex, the pet therapy dog


Dancing for Wellness at The Bridges Assisted Living Community

Assisted Living Residents Dance for Wellness

Dancing is more than moving your body; it is also working your brain. Our brains are the directors of our bodies’ movements. The more moving you do, the more the brain is stimulated. At The Bridges Assisted Living Community, our residents have many opportunities to move and groove and exercise their brain at the same time! Take for instance our Chair Dancing class. While seated in a chair, residents move their arms, legs and body in an instructed method to the music of their era. This popular class is fun and beneficial. A new addition to our Activity Calendar is a class called “Brain Dancing”. This class specifically targets the brain with body movements. For example, the instructor will ask participants to write their name in the air using their elbow. (Give it a try; it’s not as easy as it sounds). Next, participants may be instructed to use their arms and body to sway like a tree to the soothing music. For sixty minutes participants use different body movements all while working their brain and their body.

The website, Examined Existence, reported, “A study conducted by researchers from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine proved the benefits of dancing on the brain. The study, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, shows that dance is the best exercise to improve a person’s cognitive skills – whatever age he might be. The research, in fact, targeted senior citizens to determine which activity reduces the risk of dementia. As per the results, 76% of those who danced frequently exhibited lesser signs of dementia, compared to those who answered crossword puzzles and read often.” While dancing is good cardiovascular exercise, it turns out it is also good exercise for our brains.

Brain Dancing

Brain Dancing class

When is the Right Time for Assisted Living?

7 Tips for Determining When It’s The Right Time for Assisted Living

Is it time for a move to assisted living? Determining the right time to make a move to assisted living is different for each individual. However, there are a number of clues that signal it may be time to consider assisted living for your loved one.

  1. Medication Management
    Have you noticed that your loved one has not taken their medication or taken it incorrectly? Are medications expired?
  2. Household Finances
    Are there stacks of bills that have not been paid? Do you find unopened mail?
  3. Daily Meals
    Is your loved one able to prepare meals for themselves? Do you find expired or moldy food in the refrigerator? Are they able to safely use kitchen appliances?
  4. Mobility
    Has it become difficult for your loved one to maneuver safely in their home? Are they at risk for falling?
  5. Household Responsibilities
    Is the yard or home kept neat and tidy as it used to be? Is your loved one able to maintain their home as they used to?
  6. Personal Hygiene
    Do you find your loved wearing the same clothing day after day? Are they able to bathe and groom themselves? Is your loved one capable of laundering their clothing?
  7. Social Isolation
    Does your loved one have friends they don’t see as often as they used to? Are they unable to attend social functions?

While making the decision to move your loved one to an assisted living community can be a difficult one, ensuring that your loved one is safe and well-cared for will give you peace of mind.

Assisted Living Residents Keep Active

Assisted Living Residents Keep Active with Putt Putt Golf

Residents of The Bridges Assisted Living Community were treated to an indoor game of miniature golf. The course included six holes with varying degrees of difficulty. At hole 3, golfers were faced with a pond of water to putt over, while hole 4 was set up with a challenging sand trap. All levels of golfers were encouraged to try their hand at a fun and somewhat competitive game. The winner was awarded with a trophy and sported a green blazer.

In addition to the golf game, assisted living residents stay active with a variety of activities designed to appeal to a wide range of interests. Activities are planned to inspire residents physically, mentally, socially and spiritually, such as chair dancing, karaoke, art classes, corn hole, Wii bowling, mind games, Bible study, and group outings to restaurants and shopping. A full calendar of activities can be found at

Acitivites at the assisted living community includes miniature golf.

Pete Zylman was the big winner of the putt putt tournament.

Making Friends When Moving To Assisted Living

Tips to Making Friends When Moving To An Assisted Living Community

Similar to anyone making a move to a new city, job or assisted living community, you may be thinking, “How will I make new friends?” This is a common anxiety/concern for just about everyone. Consider these few tips to building friendships when you relocate to your new home. Before moving in:

  1. Attend lunch or an activity before making the move. Chances are you will meet a few residents and will recognize them again when you move in.
  2. Ask the staff how they will help you meet new friends. They will gladly help you transition smoothly to your new community and will introduce you to your neighbors and to the residents in the dining room.
  3. Attend a variety of activities and you will surely meet folks who are interested in activities that appeal to you. Who knows, you might even discover new hobbies and activities that interest you.
  4. Volunteer to help with activities, projects or programs. The more active and involved you are, the more opportunities to meet new friends.
  5. With a positive attitude and an open mind, you will enjoy your new home.
Friends meeting at an activity.

Making friends at an assisted living community.

Seniors Chair Dance at Assisted Living Community

Seniors Chair Dance at Assisted Living Community

For seniors at The Bridges Assisted Living Community in Brandon, FL, participating in chair dance class help them stay fit and energized, which is important to their overall well-being. A favorite activity each week is Chair Dancing. Residents move and groove in their chairs to music from the ’50s and ’60s as Gary Lenza, Wellness Coordinator leads the 60 minute class.

A Typical Day for Residents at Brandon, FL Assisted Living Community

Chair Dancing

Chair Dancing

A Typical Day in the Life of Residents at The Bridges
Assisted Living Community in Brandon, FL

The birds are chirping, the sun is rising and so are residents at The Bridges Assisted Living Community in Brandon, FL. Breakfast is being prepared and the dining room readied for residents to arrive. Servers, familiar with the likes and dislikes of each resident, pour their preferred beverages. For one resident, only cranberry juice will do. For another, it is coffee with cream and two sugars and a glass of orange juice with ice. As residents arrive, they place their order and are promptly served. Will it be bacon and eggs, or yogurt and fruit, or perhaps “the special” of the day?

A group of energetic residents gather in the lobby for the Sunshine Walking Group, led by our wellness

coordinator. After 30 minutes of walking, with occasional breaks for rest, residents relax in the lobby as they watch the colorful fish in the salt water aquarium.

Rex, the therapy dog, arrives to make his rounds visiting with residents. With tail wagging, Rex warmly greets each one as he waits for scratches behind his ears. You can almost guess which residents were previous dog owners by their expression when they see Rex and the other therapy dogs when they visit.

The Bridges’ bus waits out front of the building for residents who will be boarding. The trip to The Colonnade restaurant in Tampa has been scheduled for weeks and interested residents have signed up to go. Before boarding, the group meets in the lobby. Activities Assistants offer red hats for those without one; after all, it is a Red Hat Luncheon.

Later in the day, chair dancing begins with 40 assisted living residents ready to move and groove in their chair to music from the ‘50s and ‘60s. The stretching and dancing is led by our wellness coordinator who energizes the group with his encouragement.

For those with a green thumb, they will be meeting to begin gardening in the gazebo. For sports enthusiasts, Wii bowling is on the agenda.

As the day winds down, residents gather in the dining room. Meeting with friends over dinner is a good way to wrap up the day. But wait, after dinner, there is still karaoke!


Resident Walking group

Sunshine Walking Group


Brain Therapy Through Art at Riverview Assisted Living Community

Riverview Assisted Living Community Uses the Art of
Painting as Brain Therapy
by Donna Steiermann, Executive Director at The Bridges

Having spent the majority of my last 30 years of gainful employment in the Senior Healthcare arena, it is rare that I come across new and exciting programs that add significant quality to the lives of seniors, particularly those suffering from cognitive impairment. Art Without Boundaries is one such program. Art Without Boundaries utilizes the art of painting to help residents with cognitive impairment to find new ways of learning through improved attentiveness and increased coordination, verbal skills, and impulse control. The end result is a truly beautiful work of art.

Craig Todd, a certified Mneme® therapist, is the facilitator of Art Without Boundaries here at The Bridges. Following an initial informational meeting about his program, which was attended by both family members and staff, Craig has been making visits to The Bridges three times monthly working with a number of our residents for the past three years. The end result of Craig’s private 30-minute session with a resident has produced not only a wonderful keepsake for the resident and family, but an experience that compares to little else. Residents look forward to spending quality time engaged in this activity that goes beyond “arts and crafts.” According to Art Without Boundaries literature, “it’s all about the brain.”

For more information about Art Without Boundaries, visit their website at

Craig Todd works with Mary Berry to create her masterpiece.

Painting by Mary Berry