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Inspiring Wellness Through Active Aging

September 19, 2018

Each September, the VMRC Wellness Center participates in Active Aging Week, a national event hosted by the International Council on Active Aging. The week showcases the capabilities of older adults and celebrates the positivity of aging.  This year’s theme, “Inspiring Wellness” is all about promoting experiences that help seniors discover new possibilities and avenues for inspiration.

Not only do those who participate in wellness programs find inspiration, they inspire others. Melinda Noland, director of the VMRC Wellness Center, says, “Our current members inspire me and those around them each and every day to make exercise, movement and their personal health a priority. They are dedicated, determined and focused. Members speak of the direct benefits of their dedication like energy, strength and range of motion and the indirect benefits such as friends, relationships and change of environment.  They do not take any of the benefits for granted and don’t shy away from the work that needs to be put in to receive the benefit!"

Active Aging Week runs from September 24-29 and includes the following events:

  • Monday, September 24: Gentle Stretch Class, 9:30-10:00 a.m.
  • Monday, September 24: Living Well with Chronic Pain Information Session, 11:00 a.m.
  • Tuesday, September 25: Tai Chi, 10:00 a.m.
  • Wednesday, September 26: Creating Healthy Nutrition Habits, 10:00 a.m.
  • Thursday, September 27: Fall Prevention for Aging Well, 9:30 a.m.
  • Friday, September 28: VolleyBall Pool Party, 11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Active Aging Week would not be possible without the support of our sponsor, Everence. Everence is a faith-based, member-owned, financial services organization supporting the Harrisonburg community.

To learn more about Active Aging Week, visit www.activeagingweek.com

Join the Wellness Center or Refer a Friend:

If you’re not yet a Wellness Center member, September is a great time to join. New members receive a FREE week trial, 50% off their enrollment fee and a FREE t-shirt (while they last). Existing Members who refer a friend are entered into a drawing to win $50 in Downtown Dollars. Downtown Dollars can be used at a number of business and restaurants in Downtown Harrisonburg.

The VMRC Wellness Center is open to community members who are 50+.

Meet VMRC's New Director of Assisted Living, Kristin Trask

August 17, 2018

Kristin Trask recently joined VMRC as the Director of Assisted Living. She brings ample experience and a passion for the senior community to the role. Read on to learn more about Kristin and what she does at VMRC. 

What drew you to VMRC?

I have always wanted to work in a CCRC and had heard many great things about VMRC. My husband’s grandmother was also a resident here for many years in the independent setting. I remember visiting her and hearing her say that some of her best years were while she lived at VMRC.  When I took a long term class in college and we visited a CCRC, I was amazed. It was always my goal to one day work in this type of setting. I always wanted to be a part of something that truly made a difference and I feel that is what we do here at VMRC.

What does a typical day look like in your role?

There are no typical days as an Administrator because sometimes things change from minute to minute! I would say that in this role there is a lot of opportunity to problem solve. My days also usually include a lot of interaction with not only Crestwood residents and staff but all over campus.

What are your top priorities for the next six months in Assisted Living?

My main focus has been to make procedures more consistent throughout Crestwood. I would also like to see Crestwood use more technology based systems such as electronic medication records for staff. I would also like to see technology implemented through the use of iPads for residents as well.

What are you most excited about for the future of VMRC?

I think it is amazing to work somewhere where there is always a clear vision. I am excited to come to work every day because I know that the changes we are making directly impact residents and staff positively.

Now, a fun question. If you weren’t working in this field, what would your dream career be?

I think my dream career would have to be something with event planning! I think I would enjoy every aspect of that. I also enjoy cooking so maybe some type of wedding planner/caterer.

About Kristin:

Kristin grew up in the Staunton area and attended Mary Baldwin College where she was recruited to play on the volleyball team. Initially planning to be a nurse, she found that MBC did not offer a nursing program at the time and majored in the Healthcare Administration program instead. During this time, she realized that her true passion was working with the senior population. Kristin was hired by American Retirement Homes shortly after graduation where she was given many opportunities to grow within the company. Starting as Administrator, she was promoted after 2.5 years to a Corporate Administrator and began overseeing 6 assisted living communities throughout Virginia. In addition, she helped train new administrators and assisted them in obtaining their licensure. After 5 years with American Retirement Homes, Kristin accepted a position as an Administrator with Birch Gardens Assisted Living in Fishersville and worked there for 4.5 years before coming to VMRC.

Kristin is married and has a 3 year old son named Easton. In her free time, she enjoys being outdoors with her family watching her husband and son play golf and hiking with their dogs.

Welcome to VMRC, Kristin! We are happy to have you!




Understand, Prevent and Treat Dizziness

July 12, 2018

At some point in our lives, most of us will experience dizziness. Such episodes can last for varying durations and have many different acute or chronic causes. But being dizzy is not a normal part of aging and can quickly become a safety issue, especially among older adults who are more prone to accidental injury and death when they fall. Dizziness may also indicate a range of underlying problems, so it’s important to seek a correct medical diagnosis and treatment.

What is Dizziness?

The term dizziness can mean different things to different people. Dr. Jonathan D. Shenk, Founder of Valley Family & Elder Care, defines the symptoms of dizziness below. Sufferers may experience one or more symptoms:

  • Vertigo
  • Feeling faint
  • Unsteadiness
  • Room spinning
  • Loss of balance
  • Visual disturbances
  • Sick to stomach
  • Heart palpitations
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Low blood pressure

Many people are confused about the terms dizziness and vertigo. “Vertigo is the feeling that you or the environment around you is moving when it’s not,” says Dr. Shenk. “It’s a sensation of movement when you’re not actually moving. It can be a feeling of swaying, rocking, spinning or tilting. It’s a symptom of dizziness and not a diagnosis in itself.”

What to do if you feel dizzy

“If you experience vertigo specifically or dizziness generally, stop moving and focus your gaze on something,” suggests Rosemary Good, Physical Therapist for Vertigo and Dizziness at VMRC. “If you are standing, hold on to something, then sit down or lie down so that you reduce your risk of falling while the episode is occuring.” Moving slowly when changing positions also helps minimize symptoms of dizziness because it allows your blood pressure to adjust more gradually. If you experience chronic dizziness, consider consistently using assistive devices to reduce the risk of falling, and be sure to get checked by your physician.

Causes of dizziness

Dizziness can be caused by something as simple and straightforward to fix as dehydration or as serious as a defective heart valve. Other causes are an arrhythmia, hyperventilation, orthostatic hypotension, stress tension fatigue, vasovagal syndrome, vestibular dysfunction, inner ear infection, Meniere’s disease, cervical spinal issues, stroke, tumor and disruption of blood flow. Dizziness is a common side effect of many medications or combinations of medications.

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (or BPPV) is the most common cause of vertigo. It comes in sudden, brief spells, but fortunately is not life-threatening. It’s triggered by certain head positions or movements, but can commonly be addressed through physical therapy.

Your inner ear is always sending messages to your brain about the position of your head and neck in space, telling you where you are in relation to the earth. The vestibular system in each of your ears is about the size of a dime and is composed of three semicircular canals connected to the utricle and the saccule in the center. The movement of calcium carbonate crystals in the utricle and saccule detects linear acceleration, and movement of the fluid in the semicircular canals detects angular and rotational movement. But sometimes the calcium crystals migrate away from the normal position and float into the semicircular canals, sending inaccurate info that does not match the other ear, thus causing BPPV.


Dizziness frequently can be treated by physical therapy and head maneuvers. Reduced stress, healthier eating and staying hydrated are other ways to reduce or cure some causes of dizziness.

If your doctor prescribes physical therapy, your therapist will ask you about your dizziness episodes and what triggers them. You may be subject to balance tests, gait tests and coordination tests such as blood pressure checks in different positions and tracking your eye movements. Your therapist may treat you with habituation exercises known as Cawthorne-Cooksey; teach you self-repositioning techniques; suggest strengthening, postural, proprioception and range of motion exercises; or direct you to do balance and vestibular training with eyes open and closed while on variable surfaces.

Practicing simple activities such as walking with head turns, walking at variable speeds, walking while reading, walking around obstacles, navigating inclines and steps and walking in low light or with eyes closed can also have a positive effect on reducing the frequency of episodes of dizziness.

Meet VMRC's New Sous Chef, Parks Dekle

June 26, 2018

Parks Dekle joined VMRC in April 2018 as Sous Chef and brings a great amount of knowledge and passion for cuisine to the VMRC dining team. Read on to learn more about Parks and his role at VMRC.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born and raised in Augusta County. I learned to cook from my parents at an early age and discovered I had a passion for cuisine. I am mostly self-taught and have worked in a couple of different restaurants, and as the deli manager at Friendly City Food Coop in downtown Harrisonburg. I love fusion style food, but also love cooking authentic dishes with a creative twist on them. In my down time, I love to experiment with different ingredients and try recipes in new and inventive ways. When I’m not in the kitchen, I spend my time mostly creating art either on my computer, tablet or with good old-fashioned pencil and paper. I am currently a student studying Graphic Design with hopes to pursue that career in the future.

What does a typical day look like for you as a Sous Chef?

A typical day as Sous Chef here at VMRC starts with my morning meeting with the kitchen staff to communicate any concerns or questions the kitchen may have about the day’s menu as well as any catering needs. You’ll see me out in the Café several times checking in and communicating any needs to the kitchen staff. I oversee food production for Park Place which means residents can catch me down in the kitchen or dining room checking on lunch service there. I also oversee food production and presentation for Park Gables for dinner service as well as monitoring Catering to make sure both have everything on their menus in a timely fashion.

How do you see The Farm at Willow Run changing the dining experience here at VMRC?

Having worked at a local co-op here in town, I dealt directly with small and large local vendors and gained insight into how important local business is. I think The Farm at Willow Run is a major asset for VMRC, seeing as we are able to have a steady influx of great, local produce that, yes, saves us money when purchasing ingredients, but also gives us access to healthy ingredients for the residents. I plan on working closely with Tom in the future to grow some various crops that will give us an excellent variety in flavor and nutrition for residents here at VMRC.

Parks Dekle, Sous Chef

What drew you to VMRC and what excites you most about being here?

After years of mediocre jobs and experiences with food service, I decided it was time to look for a position with a company with values. I definitely think that I have found that place. I have been treated with so much respect in my short time here and have enjoyed every day that I am here. The dining staff is full of people from all walks of life and each person has their own skill set that I can’t wait to hone and make a big difference for the residents, we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for them.

A fun one now…What’s your favorite vacation spot?

I love to travel and see new places and experience new and exciting things. One of my favorite places to visit has definitely been San Francisco, California. Seeing the diversity in the people and food was one of the best experiences for me to date. I also enjoy spending time at the Outer Banks in North Carolina where my family and I have been going every summer since I have been born. The relaxed atmosphere by the beach is truly refreshing and the food is outstanding every time.

15th Annual Juried Art Exhibition Draws Artists from Across the Country

June 8, 2018

Art and art appreciation have a strong presence at VMRC, with the annual Juried Art Exhibition being a shining example. Now in its 15th year, the Exhibit showcases original watercolors, oil paintings, photographs and sculpture from artists across the United States. Over the course of the Exhibit’s history, 44 states and the District of Columbia have been represented with just Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, North and South Dakota missing from the list. The Exhibit is currently on display in the Park Gables Gallery and will run through June 29.

Anne Pauley, Director of the Exhibit for more than a decade, leads the planning committee comprised entirely of VMRC residents. With more than 555 entries submitted from 201 artists across 20 states, it is no small task. A mathematician by trade, Pauley says, “I don’t come from an art background, so I had a lot to learn, but the artists needed someone like me who can help organize.”

 “We issue a call to artists on four different websites and to individual prospects with whom we have corresponded over the past five years.  Many artists hear about our exhibit by word of mouth as well,” says Pauley. All works submitted to the Exhibit must have been made within the past two years. Three jurors – all from academic communities in Virginia – review digital images of the submissions. They receive a ballot scoresheet on which they rate each item as ‘definitely’, ‘maybe’, or ‘not this year’. Out of the first round, more than half of the show’s works are selected. The second round of review, in which the jurors work collaboratively discussing the strengths and weaknesses of each piece, follows until all the spots are decided. Of the more than 500 works submitted, 89 pieces make up the final selections for this year’s exhibit.

As with anything else, the Exhibit has evolved over time. A new element incorporated this year includes organizing the works into three divisions: Drawing/Painting/Printmaking, Photography/Digital Art, and 3-D/Multimedia/Other. No predetermined quotas were established, however, for either works selected or awards given. Both are selected on merit.  

More than just bragging rights are on the line: 10 awards are given to outstanding works of art as well as a People’s Choice Award and new for 2018, Juror’s Choice Award. The Juror’s Choice is a new award this year that allows each juror to select a favorite that speaks to him/her on an emotional level as opposed to the intellectual selection for the collaborative awards.

All three jurors meet at the show to select one Best in Show winner, who receives a $1,000 prize. Four Excellence Award winners get $500 each, and Five Honorable Mentions earn $250 each.

The Juried Art Exhibition is open daily from 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. through June 29.

Arthritis Pain? Take it to the Pool.The Benefits of Warm Water Therapy

May 23, 2018

The month of May is recognized as National Arthritis Awareness Month. According to The Arthritis Foundation, Arthritis is the number one cause of disability in the country with more than 50 million Americans affected by the disease. The term “arthritis” is not a single condition, but rather a way to collectively describe joint pain or disease. There are more than 100 types of arthritis, with Osteoarthritis (degenerative arthritis) being the most common.  With stats like this, it’s safe to say the majority of us know someone who is or will be affected by this disease, but what can be done about it?

There are many options available when it comes to the treatment of Arthritis, from medications to surgery to alternative therapies. Warm Water Therapy is one such alternative therapy that has been around for centuries with good reason – it works!

According to Director of the National Aquatics and Sports Medicine Institute at Washington State University, Bruce E. Becker, MD, “The research shows our ancestors got it right. It makes you feel better. It makes the joints looser. It reduces pain and it seems to have a somewhat prolonged effect that goes beyond the period of immersion.” Numerous studies have shown that participants who completed a warm water exercise program two or three times per week reported as much as a 40 percent decrease in pain. Plus, they reported feeling an emotional boost and sleeping better.


A class in session at the VMRC Wellness Center warm water pool

The VMRC Wellness Center is home to a warm water senior Olympic-size pool. Many residents and community members take advantage of the pool and the relief it provides. Resident Pat Kelley shares her story of using the warm water pool at VMRC.

“In 2008, I had a mini-stroke. I was hospitalized for three days and during that time, developed an infection of the blood that led to Rheumatoid Arthritis. I had always enjoyed the pool at VMRC but with this new diagnosis, it became a new source of treatment. I took the morning Arthritis Water Aerobics class that was offered at the time and truly believe without the warm water pool, I would not have recovered as I did. The warm water allows the joints to loosen up enough to move them. I would encourage anyone who is suffering to get in the water and work those joints and limbs! My arthritis is now in remission and I truly believe it is because of the warm water pool.”

VMRC’s warm water senior Olympic-size pool is located in the Wellness Center and is open to residents and anyone in the community who is 50 or older. To learn more, visit www.wellness.vmrc.org




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“The response from the VMRC community of staff and residents has been quite welcoming.  We've enjoyed meeting friends old and new which has been very enriching.”

- New VMRC Resident, 2018