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Residents Move Into New Woodland Park Homes

December 5, 2017

Fifty-five VMRC residents will soon finish moving into newly constructed Woodland Park homes. Five additional homes and a community center have been built in the existing Woodland Park community, which is designed for individuals who need long-term care and want to live in a more residential home setting.

Each new home is approximately 6,800 square feet and provides living space for 11 residents. The homes complete the second phase of Woodland Park which originally opened in January 2013 with three homes. In total, VMRC now has the capacity to care for 85 residents in Woodland Park – a neighborhood of residences with private rooms and baths, a hearth den, sunroom and open kitchen. The houses feature front porches and courtyards for access to the outdoors.

“Their design is about improving quality of life and focuses on residents, their interests and pursuits to enjoy meaningful life – which is what we all want,” said Jonathan Hamilton, vice president for Supportive Living.

Woodland Park homes are licensed as nursing homes and staffed by certified nursing assistants who have additional training in CPR, first aid, house operations, culinary skills and safe food handling. A clinical support team of nurses, social workers, activities coordinators, therapists, nutritionists and a physician provide care in the homes to residents.

Woodland Park homes are named for the original members of the Virginia Mennonite Home corporate board from 1951: M.C. Showalter, Joseph A. Brunk, John W. Harman, Oscar Wenger, A.F. Burkholder, Harvey E. Yoder and Roy G. Wenger. An eighth house was named for the fourth president of Eastern Mennonite University and his philosophical contributions to aging services.

“We selected ‘Mumaw’ as the final house name after Dr. John R. Mumaw, a man who brought to this area from Denmark the concept of ‘normalization’ which means people want to age in an environment that mirrors as closely as possible patterns and conditions of everyday life,” said Judith Trumbo, president and CEO of VMRC.

The newly constructed Cline Community Center in Woodland Park offers space for social gatherings, private family events and VMRC campus functions. It is named for the family of Ralph and Anne Cline and their leadership and involvement in philanthropy and volunteerism in the Harrisonburg-Rockingham County community for decades.

Stay Healthy, Active this Winter

November 27, 2017

Illness is more common as the weather gets colder, but just because it’s winter doesn’t mean that you have to get sick. We offer eight suggestions to keep you healthy in mind, body and soul.

Exercise

“Some people view exercise as a bad thing - something they have to do. Why not change your perspective?,” said Christine Schmidt, fitness manager at VMRC’s Wellness Center. “Remember when you were young and you couldn’t sit still and loved to move around and go play outside? As an adult, figure out what you enjoy so that you get hooked and want to do it.”

You can boost your immune system with exercise. Activities as simple as walking, cleaning your house, doing yard work and taking the stairs count as exercise.

The American Medical Journal considers “somewhat active” people to be those who take 7,500 steps per day and “active” people those who take 10,000 steps per day. An average person takes about 2,000 steps in a mile. The equivalent of walking three to five miles per day may seem like a lot, but those steps add up more quickly than you’d think - you can use a simple pedometer to keep track.

If you’re exercising outside this winter, considering doing so when it’s daylight so that you get the added benefit of Vitamin D. To be more comfortable, dress in layers - adding and removing them as you heat up and cool down so that you don’t get sweaty, wet and then cold.

Get Motivation From Others

“Incorporate your family and friends in your activities. Rake leaves with others, visit the local ice rink with your grandchildren or recruit your neighbor for a walk around your neighborhood,” said Christine.

Joining a Wellness Center like the one at VMRC gives you options to keep moving no matter what the weather, whether you prefer to exercise alone, with a partner or in organized group fitness classes.

“Couples who play together stay together,” said Christine, “but you don’t have to have a significant other to exercise. You could recruit a friend to be your workout buddy and hold you accountable when your motivation wanes, or sign up for a group class.”

Stay Connected

Fight seasonal depression by staying connected with old friends and family and cultivating new friends. Don’t let yourself get too isolated.

“Person to person interaction is very healthy,” said Christine. “Don’t underestimate the power of a hug or even just holding someone’s hand. That said, you can still stay connected over long distances. Learn to use technology like phones and computers to communicate remotely when you can’t be in the same place at the same time.”

Stay Hydrated

Many people don’t drink enough water when it’s cold. They’re simply less likely to feel thirsty. Yet hydration is key, even in the winter.

“The cold makes us shiver, and we use a lot of calories when we shiver and to keep ourselves warm. Cold will also dry out our skin,” said Christine. “Watch for signs of dehydration like cracked skin or lips, and drink plenty of fluids during and after exercise.”

Make Good Food Choices

Be mindful of what you eat, adopting a balanced and healthy diet. Eat the right amount so that you’re not over- or under-eating. Your body needs fuel and energy to maintain a normal metabolism and immune system.

“We all enjoy sweet foods, but are you consuming enough vegetables and fruit?” said Christine. “Too many desserts and alcoholic beverages can spike your blood sugar response and make you feel hungry.”

Get Plenty Of Rest

Get enough sleep so that you feel rested when you wake each day. If you’re tired and stressed, you’re at higher risk of catching a cold. This is because when your body is putting all it’s energy into staying awake or worrying after a poor night’s sleep, less energy is going into keeping your immune system strong.

Practice Good Hygiene Habits

Mom was right: regular hand washing will help prevent the spread of germs so you’ll be less likely to get sick. In between hand washings, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth or any open sores.

Cultivate Gratitude

Studies have shown that our health is not just about what we do or what we eat. It’s also about how we think. Cultivate gratitude to generate positive emotions and energy. Do simple things like say ‘thank you,’ and you’ll feel better.

How to Prevent Falls

October 26, 2017

Falls are the number one cause of injuries and deaths among older Americans according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Over 800,000 patients per year are hospitalized at an average per fall cost of $30,000, mostly commonly due to broken hips and head injuries. Older adults and their caregivers can be proactive to reduce the risk of falling by taking the following steps.

Improve Your Environment

“Look around and evaluate your surroundings at home and other places you frequent. Eliminate trip hazards by cleaning up floor clutter and carefully routing cords,” said Heather Yoder, VMRC Wellness Center Program Manager. “Throw rugs, for example, are a big problem and often trip people.”

Good lighting is also important both during the day and at night. Using brighter bulbs and strategically adding a few night lights can dramatically improve visibility, especially when getting up to go to the bathroom at night.

“Stairs and bathrooms are high fall areas,” said Yoder. “Install good handrails along all of your stairs. You can even put them on both sides - they don’t always just have to be along one side. In the bathroom, add grab bars around and in the shower and toilet to reduce risk of falling in what tend to be wetter, more slippery conditions.”

Check Your Vision, Hearing and Medications

When you can’t see well, your balance is compromised. If you’re having trouble with your vision, don’t wait until it’s time for your regular exam to get help. Call your eye doctor and get checked for cataracts, glaucoma and other conditions which can affect your balance.

“Likewise, hearing is an important way we process information, and the inner ear’s vestibular system plays a role in balance,” said Yoder. “When you can’t hear well, you may not be able to hear where other people are, and you may be more easily startled and fall down.” Your regular medical doctor can check whether you have extra wax buildup in your ear or recommend further hearing testing and treatment as appropriate.

Dizziness is a common side effect of some medications, but even if you don’t see it listed your your medications’ labels, consult with your doctor or pharmacist. Sometimes dizziness isn’t caused by any single drug, but is the result of the interaction of two or more drugs.

Wear Proper Footwear

Wear shoes that fit your feet well. Shoes with laces may fit better and more snugly than slip-on shoes. Non-skid, grippy, rubber tread will also give you better traction, as will choosing shoes with low or no heels.

Exercise

“As you get older, if you don’t use it, you lose it,” said Yoder. “Pick a type of exercise that you enjoy and which doesn’t cause you pain. Tai Chi, for example, has been proven to keep older adults stronger and more flexible because it gets them on their feet and gives them practice shifting their balance. Yoga is also a good way to increase muscular strength and improve balance. Or try walking, lifting weights or dancing.”

Not sure how to get started exercising? Visit VMRC’s Wellness Center where you can consult with a physical therapist or personal trainer who can not only help you identify what exercises are best for you, but also teach you how to do them. The Wellness Center also offers regular group classes on improving balance.

Ask For Help

“People with balance issues sometimes mistakenly think that they will be safer if they stay home,” said Yoder, “but then you become less active and weaker over time, and your risk of falling actually increases. Yes, you might have to plan ahead or be more creative about how you can get out and about, but it’s worth it.”

If you want to continue doing what you enjoy doing, you may eventually need help. Be assertive in asking your family and friends for assistance. For example, get someone to go with you shopping instead of going on your own. Or ask someone to help you with tasks like hanging pictures or going up on ladders.

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