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 www.artwithoutboundaries.org

Craig Todd works with Mary Berry to create her masterpiece.

Painting by Mary Berry


Chef at Assisted Living in Riverview FL Shares Shrimp Recipe

Chef at The Bridges Assisted Living community in Brandon FL shares a tasty, summer-time recipe.

Shrimp appetizerGrilled Spicy Shrimp with Sweet Slaw Appetizer                                              Chef Clyde Dorsett

For the slaw, mix together:

¼ ounces mayo
¼ ounces rice wine vinegar
1 tsp. chopped garlic
1 tsp. chopped ginger
1 tsp. canola oil
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 jicama matchstick cut
1 red bell pepper matchstick cut
1 yellow bell pepper matchstick cut
1 daikon radish matchstick cut 1 bunch cilantro finely chopped
1 bunch green onion thinly sliced

For the shrimp: Toss 21-25 peeled & deveined shrimp with:

Drizzle of vegetable oil
¼ tsp. paprika
¼ tsp. parsley
¼ tsp. chopped garlic
¼ tsp. chili sauce
¼ tsp. basil
Salt & pepper to taste

Grill shrimp until half-way cooked. Place shrimp in oven at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Serve with slaw.

The Bridges Assisted Living Part of Eagle Scout Project

The Bridges Assisted Living Community Recipient of Eagle Scout Project

The Bridges Assisted Living Community has been the extremely proud recipients of an Eagle Scout project involving the installation of a beautiful new flagpole in the front of our building. Alan Wolfe, the grandson of residents Florence and Dick Soens, is a freshman at Bloomingdale High School and Eagle Scout candidate. As is the case with all Eagle Scout service projects Alan was charged with the planning, fundraising, and completion of the flagpole project. And as all can now see upon entering the community, Alan did a wonderful job. And with solar powered light we will be able to enjoy seeing the American and Florida State flags waving throughout the day and night.

A special dedication was held on Memorial Day that included not only an opportunity to celebrate with Alan and his troop the completion of the flagpole project, but also allowed us the opportunity to acknowledge our resident veterans and their families; a truly special occasion indeed. Special guest and flag historian Robert St. John shared the of military branch flags, in addition to the history of the American flag. Resident veterans were photographed beside the military branch flag for which they served.

Many thanks to Alan for allowing The Bridges to take part in his very special accomplishment as he completes his journey to the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest rank in Boy Scouts. As such he exemplifies an individual that has upheld the Scout Oath and Law, demonstrated leadership and has provided service to his community.

Boy Scouts Troop help with Eagle Scout flag pole project.

Boy Scouts Troop help with Eagle Scout flag pole project.

Resident and veteran Larry Nanns and his wife Jean pose in front of the American and military flags.

Resident and veteran Larry Nanns and his wife Jean.

Veteran Dick Winslow stands proudly before the American flag.

Veteran Dick Winslow stands proudly before the American flag.

Senior Living Residents Benefit from Socialization

Coffee Club Offers Senior Living Residents
Opportunity to Socialize

A twice weekly Coffee Club provides an opportunity for residents at The Bridges Senior Living community in Brandon to gather and socialize over morning coffee and muffins. Activities Assistant, Christie Dyer, leads the group discussion. Topics range from current events to a “show & tell” format. A recent Coffee Club had attendees imagining and sharing their ideas of what various tools could be used for instead of for their intended purpose. This “game” generates interesting dialogue among the residents.

For some residents, it is the reminiscing and storytelling during Coffee Club that they enjoy the most. For others, it’s the socializing and comradery that keep them coming back. Whatever the reason for attending, the importance of regular and consistent socialization can be found in study after study. The Rush University Medical Center team discovered during their research project that elderly people with the highest levels of social activity showed much lower levels of cognitive decline than those who socialized infrequently.

At The Bridges Assisted Living, there are many opportunities to socialize with fellow residents. Our Calendar of Activities can be found by clicking https://bridgesretirement.com/calendar/.

Assisted living residents enjoy socializing during Coffee Club.

Assisted living residents enjoy socializing during Coffee Club.

Elderly Need to Stay Hydrated

The Importance of Staying Hydrated in the Elderly

Dehydration is the most common fluid and electrolyte concern for the elderly. Dehydration can cause urinary tract infections, medications toxicity, impaired cognition, increased falls, constipation, and acute confusion.

Early warning signs of dehydration are: dry skin, dizziness, fatigue, dark colored urine, headaches, dry mouth or nose, thirst and cramping. Many times older seniors can become so dehydrated that the classical signs may be misleading or absent. This situation may lead to hospitalization.

The body’s water amount can decrease by 6 liters in adults between the ages of 20 and 80 years old. With this loss the body is much more susceptible to dehydration. It is important to encourage elderly individuals to drink small amounts throughout the day. A recommended amount is five (8 ounce) glasses of water daily.

Drinking water helps maintain the function of kidneys and bodily fluids, helps energize muscles and keeps skin looking good.

Assisted Living Residents Walk For Health

Assisted Living Residents Walk for Health

The “Sunshine Walking Group” is a regularly scheduled activity that is part of The Bridges Assisted Living community’s newly implemented “Your Bridge to Wellness” program. Several times a week, assisted living resident gather in the first floor lobby as they eagerly await the start of the group walk led by Gary Lenza, the wellness program coordinator. Residents begin single file or side-by-side and walk at a pace that is comfortable for them. Gary encourages our seniors to take short breaks and drink water to remain hydrated. So, why do these folks who are 65 years of age and older commit to a walking group? They realize that the benefits of walking on a regular basis will positively affect their overall health.

If you want to stay healthy and mobile well into old age, start walking today—even if you’ve already edged into “old age.” That’s the conclusion of a report from the Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders (LIFE) trial, published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The trial included more than 1,600 men and women between the ages of 70 and 89. None exercised regularly, and all were relatively frail. Half were randomly assigned to an exercise program that included daily walking plus strength and balance exercises. The other half took part in education workshops on healthy aging that included some gentle stretching routines.

After 2½ years, the volunteers in the exercise group were 28% less likely to have become disabled (defined by the inability to walk about 400 yards without help) compared to those in the education group. They were also 18% less likely to have had any episode of physical disability.

The improvements, while promising, probably don’t capture the real benefit of exercise. That’s because some of the people in the workshops, who learned how exercise can lead to healthier aging, became more physically active on their own. If none of the workshop and stretch people exercised, the results of the structured program would have been more impressive. For more information about this study, visit http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/walking-exercise-helps-seniors-stay-mobile-independent-201405287173

Assisted Living Residents Walking Group

Riverview Assisted Living Appreciates Its Volunteers

Volunteers Add Value to Assisted Living Community in Riverview

At The Bridges Assisted Living community in Riverview, we have numerous volunteers with varying backgrounds who bring their talent, enthusiasm and heart to their volunteer jobs. During Volunteer Appreciation Week, The Bridges held a special brunch to celebrate and honor our special volunteers.

Music fills the room when musicians, such as Julian and Noah, play the piano several times a month. When PAWS for Friendship arrives, residents are eager to pet and hold the therapy dogs. For volunteers, like Terri and Karen, who work in the activities department, they are kept busy with Wii bowling, chair yoga, bingo, crafts, and special events. Volunteers from various churches give their time to pray with residents either individually or in a group.

There is no shortage of opportunities for volunteer involvement. Our residents enjoy, appreciate and look forward to spending time with our special volunteers.

Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart. – Elizabeth Andrew