Laughter Yoga is gaining popularity worldwide because of its many benefits. Studies show that it can reduce pain, boost the immune system, reduce cortisol, increase endorphins, improve blood supply to the organs and increase oxygen to the brain.
So, what is laughter yoga? It is simulated laughter exercises combined with breathing techniques. It was developed in 1995 by Dr. Madan Kataria, a family physician practicing in India. He was looking for a way to reduce stress from living in the over-crowded city of Mumbai. Therefore, he started by creating a laughter club in a public park. The first week everyone enjoyed the humor of the jokes. He then noticed that people were laughing when they saw others laughing; hence, laughter is contagious. Realizing he was on to something, he created simulated laughing techniques combined with breathing exercises. Today there are over 8000 laughter clubs throughout the world.
Laughter yoga can be performed by anyone regardless of age, fitness level or cognitive abilities. If you can laugh, you can participate! It is easy and fun and you feel the positive effects immediately.
Recently, Tanya Gold, M.D. and certified Laughter Yoga instructor, conducted a Laughter Yoga session for 40 people at The Bridges Retirement Community. She had everyone stretching and laughing for nearly 60 minutes. As she explained the many benefits of laughter yoga, she emphasized that choosing to laugh is a tool to add to your medical toolbox.
The Bridges Retirement Community created a 2019 calendar featuring senior citizens “recreating” popular Hollywood movie roles, including costumes, props and backgrounds. Residents aged 73 to 97 years old participated in recreating 12 movie scenes such as Thelma & Louise, Cleopatra, Grease, Sister Act, Rocky, Mary Poppins and Breakfast at Tiffany’s. For these seniors, age is no obstacle to dressing up like famous movie characters!
Frank Danisi, a 96 year-old retired Army veteran who served during WWII and received the Purple Heart, had not worn a tuxedo in over fifty years when he dressed up to play the part of James Bond. “I had never experienced a professional photo shoot, let alone as the 007 character,” quipped Danisi.
At 97 years old, Eileen Williams has traveled much of the world as the wife of a Navy Commander. When asked to dress as the role of the eccentric socialite made famous by Audrey Hepburn in the 1961 movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s, she hesitated for a short time, but later agreed. “While I am not a showy person, I thought, why not! I am very pleased with the photograph and my children are so happy I did it,” said Williams.
A special Premier Party was held on Thursday, November 15th at 6:30 p.m. to unveil the calendar. Residents portraying movie characters walked the red carpet as part of the event. Framed 24” x 36” canvas portraits of each movie, courtesy of Huth & Booth Photography, were on display.
How to Protect Yourself from Cybercrime Presented at The Bridges Assisted Living Community
Cybercrime is the fastest growing area of crime. Learn how to avoid being a victim when you attend “Cybercrime – The Crime of the 21st Century” held on Thursday, November 8th from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Debbie Brown, Consumer Protection Investigator from the Hillsborough County Consumer and Veterans Services, will bring the latest information on consumer fraud trends perpetrated over the Internet. Education and information is considered the first line of defense in the battle to protect consumers from victimization. In addition to a power-packed program, she will provide numerous take-home materials to help you avoid losing your hard earned money to these schemes.
The workshop, held at The Bridges, 11350 Bloomingdale Ave., Riverview, is free to attend and includes lunch. Space is limited. Call Janet at 813.413.8900 to reserve your seat.
A new music program to benefit those with dementia was recently introduced to residents at The Bridges Assisted Living & Memory Care Community in Riverview. For the past two years Kristin Reagin, daughter of Tom and Lynn Reagin of Valrico, has volunteered every Sunday at The Bridges. As Kristin played the piano and sang with the memory care residents she realized the positive affect music had on them.
When it came time to considering a project for her Girl Scout Gold Award, Kristin knew it would involve music and individuals with dementia.
Kristin’s project “Medicine for the Soul,” is based on extensive research conducted on the effects of music on individuals with dementia. “I am extremely passionate about this topic since I know how music can help bring joy to the lives of those with dementia. I also know that music has been scientifically proven to tap into memories that had otherwise been forgotten,” Kristin noted. Kristin’s goal to utilize donated iPods and create genre specific playlists for each iPod came to fruition; she recently presented the program to residents and staff at The Bridges.
The idea was only the first part of Kristin’s project. Next came fundraising, applying for and receiving a grant and collecting used iPods through various drives. With over $750 raised, Kristin provided 9 iPods with headphones, a charging station, a housing container that can be locked, and music from iTunes. The best and most rewarding part was yet to come. “When I placed the headphones on the residents and they began to sing and smile, I saw first hand that my project was working and residents were responding positively.” Donna Steiermann, Executive Director at The Bridges, foresees many benefits for residents. “’Medicine for the Soul” will be a wonderful addition to our community and will improve the quality of our residents’ lives,” she commented.
Residents at The Bridges Assisted Living Community and teenagers with the Brandon Foundation’s Junior Angel program worked side by side recently to make 200 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to feed the homeless. The sandwiches, along with fruit snacks and chips, were bagged and delivered to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Seffner that supports the Hillsborough County Homeless Initiative. “Bringing together the assisted living residents and the Junior Angels was terrific for everyone. It was wonderful to watch them work side by side and help each other make the sandwiches while talking, laughing and getting to know each other,” states Jill Lansky, Chair of the Brandon Foundation Junior Angel Program and mom to Noah who is a Junior Angel. According to assisted living resident Margie Ploor, “Working with these kids for the purpose of feeding the homeless was so rewarding and it warmed my heart.” Both groups are committed to continuing their partnership to support those in need.
“Chair Yoga” is a popular activity with residents at The Bridges Assisted Living Community and it offers many benefits. As we age, our muscle strength begins to decline and we become less flexible. According to Nathan LeBrasseur, a researcher who directs the Muscle Performance and Physical Function Laboratory and the Healthy Aging and Independent Living Initiative at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, “Most people will lose approximately 30% of muscle mass over their lifetime, and as much as 50% by the time they reach their 80s or 90s.” Participating regularly in a chair yoga class can greatly enhance one’s flexibility and range of motion through physical poses that stretch and strengthen muscles and lubricate joints. A study, published in the May 2012 issue of the “Journal of Gerontological Nursing,” found that seniors with osteoarthritis experienced improved physical functioning and reduced stiffness after completing an eight-week chair yoga program.
In addition to the physical benefits yoga provides, there are other benefits including stress management and social interaction. Yoga of any kind includes breathing exercises, which has been shown to reduce stress and improve one’s mental clarity. Feeling calmer and less stressed gives way to more happiness and contentment. For those participating in a group setting, socialization and interaction with others leads to an overall sense of well-being.
Gardening at The Bridges Assisted Living Community has become a favorite pastime for many residents who are enjoying “the fruits of their labor” in numerous ways. Their gardening efforts reduce stress and anxiety and improve their cognitive abilities. As it turns out, gardening tends to make one happier and healthier!
For older adults, gardening can help increase flexibility, hand strength, and eye-hand coordination. Donna Wang, assistant professor of social work at Long Island University published a study on the benefits of gardening for older adults in the Journal of Housing for the Elderly. According to Wang, in addition to the benefits listed above, gardening can be a new learning opportunity, which stimulates cognitive functioning.
In a community setting, such as The Bridges Assisted Living community, gardening provides the opportunity for social interaction and group participation among assisted living residents. It is well known that staying socially active can help maintain one’s physical and emotional well-being. Four handicapped-accessible raised planters, filled with herbs and plants that attract butterflies, allow our residents to actively partake in gardening. Chef Clyde gladly adds the herbs to the meals he prepares. The butterfly-attracting plants are growing and butterflies are feeding on the plants’ nectar.
Residents participate in gardening activities several times throughout the month. It is a rewarding and therapeutic experience for all ages.
The Bridges Assisted Living Community in Riverview recently hosted a spectacular bridal affair which included a presentation by Leigh Anne Brown called “Portrait of a Bride.” Featured was a collection of 22 vintage wedding dresses ranging from the 1800’s to present day. Leigh Anne captured everyone’s attention as she chronicled the evolution of women and brides over the years.
Held in the Bridge’s Clubhouse, residents and guests were delighted with the wedding-like atmosphere complete with decorated chandeliers and chairs, floral arrangements, wedding music and three specially decorated wedding cakes from the 1940’s, 1970’s and 2016.
A Bridal Fashion Show followed the presentation as staff members, as well as daughters and granddaughters of residents, modeled wedding dresses that belonged to residents, family and staff. It was a rare occasion for some to see their wedding dress being modeled after the many years that have passed. Marie Portner, daughter of a resident, commented, “It was a heartwarming moment to see a Bridge’s employee model my wedding dress that had been tucked away for 36 years. It brought back memories of a very special day in my life.”
In lieu of wedding gifts, guests were asked to support ECHO (Emergency Care Help Organization) by bringing a wedding gift that they chose from the “Gift Registry.”
Singing provides many benefits for the elderly. Ongoing research has shown that regular singing can lift your spirits, increase your immunity and provide a workout for your brain and your lungs. These benefits are significant for those experiencing mild to moderate dementia.
The Bridges Assisted Living community offers residents the opportunity to sing numerous times a month as part of their scheduled Activity Program. Residents partake in karaoke, sing-a-longs, church services, and, most recently, The Bridges Choir. Under the direction of Wellness Coordinator, Gary Lenza, residents join voices and sing music from their era. The Bridges Choir has experienced steady growth with more residents joining each month. From the smiles on their faces, it is apparent that our singers are experiencing joy as they sing.
According to a study conducted at McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and published in Trends in Cognitive Science, April 2013, evidence found that the benefits of singing “significantly improved psychological health and well-being through the engagement of neurochemical systems responsible for reward, motivation, pleasure, stress/arousal, immunity and social affiliation.”
Philosopher and psychologist William James understood the benefits of singing when he said, “I don’t sing because I’m happy, I’m happy because I sing.”
Protecting the privacy of residents at The Bridges is not done merely out of courtesy and respect. It is the law. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services enacted the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act in 1996(“HIPAA”). The Privacy Rule, as part of “HIPAA”, addresses the use and discloser of individuals’ health information – called protected health information, as well as standards for individuals to understand and control how their health information is used.
The major goal of the Privacy Rule is to assure that individuals’ health information is properly protected while allowing the flow of health information needed to provide and promote high quality health care and to protect the public’s health and well being.
Having shared the technical components of “HIPAA”, what is most important is that we as staff, residents, and family members respect the importance of what the Privacy Rule is all about- protecting the health information of each of our residents. Although we would like to share details regarding the clinical status of a resident, unfortunately we are often unable to do so.
For more information about the Privacy Rule, visit the website of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at www.hhs.gov