Author Archives: Alex Rothstein

Protecting Seniors from Pneumonia

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As the days pass and the days get colder, discussions surrounding staying healthy usually focus around trying to prevent the flu. While that’s important, it’s also very important to discuss pneumonia as another infection that is highly common among seniors.

Pneumonia is an infection that inflames the air sacs in one or both lungs. The air sacs may fill with fluid or pus (purulent material), causing cough with phlegm or pus, fever, chills, and difficulty breathing, according to Mayo Clinic.

As a loved one, it’s important to know the causes, symptoms and prevention for pneumonia just in case your family member starts to feel ill.

Causes of Pneumonia: 

According to the American Lung Association, there are more than 30 different causes of pneumonia. It’s important to understand what causes this sickness because that can help to know how to treat it. While there are many causes, it’s typically one of these five reasons as to what causes pneumonia:

  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Mycoplasmas
  • Other infections agents, such as fungi
  • Inhaling various chemical and environmental agents 

Symptoms of Pneumonia:

As a family member or loved one, it’s helpful to know the signs and symptoms of pneumonia so you can be prepared if the time ever comes. While symptoms of pneumonia can be similar to the flu, these symptoms usually last longer.

  • Coughing
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Green or yellow phlegm that comes up while coughing
  • Feeling lethargic

Prevention of Pneumonia:

  • Get the flu shot: The flu is the most common predecessor to pneumonia in elderly people. We recommend that seniors over the age off 65 get a flu shot each year as well as a pneumococcal vaccine that protects against pneumonia bacteria.
  • Wash your hands: It’s important for seniors to keep their hands germ-free by washing them often. If you’re a caregiver, you should be washing them just as much, too.
  • Exercise, rest and practice healthy eating habit: Make sure your loved ones are drinking lots of fluids and avoiding anything that might cause stress and weaken the immune system. They should eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Without proper nutrients, seniors can become malnourished and thus, have a harder time fighting off illness.

Keep in mind that prevention is much better than treatment. Seniors who are hospitalized for pneumonia are at a higher risk for long-term physical and mental problems. Now that you know the causes, symptoms and prevention of pneumonia, you can be prepared if your loved one falls ill. If you think they might have pneumonia, contact their doctor right away.

VPC Appointed Jeff Smith as Vice President of External Relations

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Vista Prairie Communities (VPC), a nonprofit provider of assisted living, independent living, memory care, care suites and respite services in Minnesota, Iowa and Ohio, has appointed Jeff Smith as Vice President of External Relations. As a member of the executive team, he will be responsible for reputation management, government relations and fund development for the 20-year-old organization.

For the past six years Jeff was Communications Director for Volunteers of America, Minnesota and Wisconsin (VOA-MN/WI), a non-profit health and human services organization.

“I couldn’t be more excited to have Jeff join the executive team here at VPC,” said President and CEO Jim Bettendorf. “Jeff’s diverse experience in non-profit and for-profit environments has prepared him well for this challenging new position. Our organization and its mission will benefit from his integrity, skills, and his collaborative approach.”

Prior to VOA-MN/WI Jeff held business development and communications positions at three Twin Cities corporate headquarters — UnitedHealth Group, Carlson and Northwest Airlines. He also served as President of Minnesota News Network when it was owned by Minnesota Public Radio. His undergraduate education in broadcast management is from Indiana University, with post-graduate studies at the University of Notre Dame and the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management. He is a long-time member and has served in numerous lay-leadership roles with Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church in Minneapolis.

Jeff begins his VPC service on January 31, 2019. He can be contacted at

About Vista Prairie Communities

Vista Prairie Communities (VPC) currently owns and operates eight senior living communities that provide compassionate care and joy-filled environments for older adults. Its services include assisted living, independent living, memory care, care suites and respite services in Minnesota, Iowa and Ohio. It is listed at 91on the 2018 LeadingAge Ziegler listing of the nation’s largest 200 not-for-profit multi-site senior living organizations. For more than 20 years VPC has been dedicated to the highest possible quality, striving to provide innovative and relevant services through collaborative partnerships; making a significant difference in the lives of those we are called to serve and their loved ones. We were founded in 1997. For more information, visit

New Year’s Resolutions for Seniors

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First and foremost, all of us at Vista Prairie Communities would like to wish you a happy new year! With the start of the new year, it is common for people to brainstorm resolutions they wish to make in order to change some aspect of their life.

It’s easy to make general resolutions—eat healthier, exercise more—but sometimes those resolutions don’t last very long. This year, try making specific resolutions in order to help make them stick!

Explore the three specific resolutions for seniors below and see which ones fit you best!

Instead of: Eat Healthier :: Try: Eat More Greens

While telling yourself you should eat healthier this year is an important resolution, making your promise to eat more greens is a bit more specific but still gets the same point across. This way, you can live a healthier lifestyle but have a specific example of how to do this. Incorporating more greens in your life will provide you with an abundance of nutrient-packed foods, help your heart and fight diabetes. Exploring other options to eat healthier like focusing your meals on incorporating superfoods is also a good idea.

Read More: Food for Thought: Superfoods

Instead of: Exercise Your Brain :: Try: Play a Brain Game Everyday

This year, try starting your morning with a brain game to get your mind going at the beginning of the day. There are many health benefits as to why seniors should exercise their brain each and every day including improving mental health, memory and helping prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Read More: 5 Daily Exercises to Promote Brain Health

Instead of: Exercise More :: Try: Walk 3 Times a Week

Stay on track of your exercise resolutions and accomplish your goals with a specific mission. Test out different ways you want to exercise or, maybe instead of walking, you like to swim. Update your resolution to whichever exercise you enjoy the most or a new exercise you want to try. Being active has been proven to reduce heart disease, blood pressure and stress.

Read More: How Seniors Stay Happy and Healthy

While all resolutions are important, making specific resolutions will help you stick to your goals and stay healthy. Remember, feel free to adjust any of these ideas to fit your lifestyle better.

We wish you all love, friendship and laughter in the new year. Welcome to 2019!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! 

First and foremost, we would like to wish all of you a Merry Christmas from all of us at Vista Prairie Communities.

Throughout the holiday time, we want our residents to be as happy and healthy as they can be! We love to celebrate this lovely time with the ones we love most—you!

Take a look at a few highlights from our communities and their Christmas festivities below:

Goldfinch Estates Senior Living Community:

Thank you to Ellen and the Profinium Bank Top of the Hill Club for another wonderful Christmas Party at Goldfinch Estates. The entertainment by “Heart Song” was amazing. We look forward to this fun filled day every year! Also to our very own Activities and Culinary departments for all your hard work and good food we thank you.


Fieldcrest Assisted Living Community:

Santa came to visit our residents at Fieldcrest! We celebrated the holidays with a Christmas Program that involved family members and talented performers to help make it successful. Our residents have been busy this Christmastime making popcorn balls, snowflakes and more! 


River Heights Assisted Living Community:

Our residents enjoyed helping us decorate our tree for the holidays. Plus, we held a Christmas celebration with a meal to share with friends, family and loved ones. It was a great time!

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Copperleaf Senior Living Community:

The residents at Copperleaf enjoyed a lovely visit from Santa himself and Mrs. Claus. In addition, our residents enjoyed an evening taking in the lights at the Celebrate the Light of the World—a light display at Robbins Island in Willmar.  

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Garnette Gardens Senior Living Community:

From sing-a-longs to Holly and Jingles, our residents at Garnette Gardens are having the best time celebrating the Christmas spirit.

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Windmill Ponds Senior Living Community:

Holiday festivities are in full-force at Windmill Ponds! We had crafts where our residents made their own ornaments. A Christmas Tea was enjoyed and we were thrilled to have the Alexandria High School Carolers stop by and share their beautiful gift of music!   

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Monarch Meadows Senior Living Community:

Celebrating Christmas would be nothing without a few Christmas songs. We heard the incredibly talented students from Concordia Classical Academy put on a beautiful concert and enjoyed every second of it! Plus, we sent off letters to Santa and Chef Barry provided some comic relief!

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Important Conversations to Have with Your Senior Parents Over the Holidays

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The holidays are times for friends and family to gather around and spend some quality time together. While some family members have seen each other just a few days ago, many relatives haven’t seen each other in weeks or months.

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