Category Archives: Aging Resources

Always a Teacher

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Aggie Skelton - resize

Aggie may have retired many years ago as an elementary school educator but that hasn’t slowed her life-long purpose to teach and to learn. Now 92, she’s pictured here behind an enormous photo of her late husband Clarence as they disembarked from a travel adventure.

On her dining table in her Vista Prairie studio apartment is Aggie’s latest Spanish vocabulary lesson, courtesy of Eddie, the River Heights maintenance manager. She reciprocates with an English phrase to broaden Eddie’s command of the language.

Aggie recounts her years teaching at Highland Elementary School in St. Paul. One year she was asked to teach a whole class of first graders from another school that had suffered a fire and was in a disadvantaged part of town.  

“I worked so hard with those kids and it really paid off,” she remembers. “At the end of the year, they had more than 60 schools in the St. Paul area and my kids made the top. I was so proud of those kids and they were from families with nothing, but they worked hard.” 

Aggie gave up her 35-year teaching career to care for Clarence when he became ill. After he passed away, Aggie went back to teaching on a voluntary basis. She eventually sold her condo about two years ago and moved into River Heights, where she had previously volunteered.  

Vista Prairie at River Heights is a warm and welcoming community in a quiet residential neighborhood in South St Paul. River Heights has the feel of being home, offering assisted living in 44 cozy studio, one- and two-bedroom senior apartments, as well as 16 memory care suites.

Generations

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Goldfinch Grandparents Day

Four generations were routine last week for Vista Prairie at Goldfinch Estates, in Fairmont, MN. That’s resident Rose Banks on the left, holding her great granddaughter, Plum, with granddaughter Kate smiling beside them.

They were among 30 family members who participated in the first ever Grandparents Day – a chance to honor the love and legacy represented in more than 100 Goldfinch residents. Rose is 103 and has called Goldfinch home for nearly nine years.

“It was a wonderful day; so many family members coming in and enjoying the day with their grandparents,” says Lead Care Coordinator Lori Cummins. “The smiles on all of the faces tell us how important this day was, so we will make this an annual event.”

Memory care resident Leona Lehman took the family tree honors, with five generations present.

Want to learn more about Goldfinch Estates? Call Mary Larson at 507-235-9405, ext. 10.

Live 2 B Healthy

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Florence and Mary Lou for web

Florence and Mary Lou are two of the early adopters, joining an exercise program started July 1 at Vista Prairie’s Windmill Ponds community in Alexandria. It’s one of the latest locations for Live 2 B Healthy – where a certified instructor brings vitality to seniors, three days a week.

“I’ve always exercised,” says Florence who is 90, but she says this program is more comprehensive. “They go all over your whole body, your arms and your legs and your shoulders.” The innovative program starts with a professional assessment, uses low-impact resistance bands rather than weights, and includes regular progress checks.

Ten to fifteen participants are already program regulars and benefiting in general wellness. “The residents have worked hard their whole lives,” reflects program founder Cory Czepa. “We believe it’s now time for them to enjoy life. Working side by side with each and every resident, Live 2 B Healthy® helps improve balance, coordination, flexibility, muscularity, stamina. As the body becomes healthier the spirit can soar.”

Mary Lou, 87, signed up with the encouragement of her daughter who is an RN. “She was so happy when they started this new program,” Mary Lou recounts. “She said that’s just what you need.”

The program is free to Windmill Ponds residents, but plans are to share the program with the community, starting in September.

“We’re inviting the public to join us at Windmill Ponds to participate, for a small monthly fee,” said Windmill Ponds Executive Director Chris Carter. Even before that, community members are invited to stop by and check it out. Dates and times for sessions are posted in the Windmill Ponds newsletter — and on the Live 2 B Healthy website.

Mary Lou sums it all up, “Once we’re through with a session, I can feel my muscles have had a workout.”

Freedom

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Ginna-Calvin-promotes-Trio-Bike-at-Copperleaf

A trishaw bike is a three-wheeled vehicle for two passengers, pedaled from behind.  Ginna Calvin, left, is the Staff Development Nurse at Vista Prairie’s Copperleaf Community in Willmar, MN. The picture within the picture shows Ginna giving a ride to residents Barb and Thea on a loaned trishaw bike. At a recent Copperleaf open house, Ginna was enthusiastically raising funds for Copperleaf to get its very own “Cycling Without Age” trishaw.  Why?  Freedom.

“We want our residents to experience, again, the freedom of being on a bike, like when they were kids,” Ginna explains. “Copperleaf is just across the road from a trail system that serves Destination Playground and Robbins Island Park. It’s Willmar’s central park and connects to one of the largest fully accessible recreational areas in the country.”

You’re invited to help make Copperleaf’s dream a reality! Please click here to contribute to the cause at Copperleaf. Designate your gift to “Cycling Without Age.”

We appreciate Ginna’s dedicated service and that of Staff Development Nurses in most Vista Prairie communities.  They work with residents to complete health assessments, provide employee orientation and training, conduct on-going education to existing staff, and offer great bike rides!

Compassion and Joy Without Walls

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Hands

Sorta like getting a sample at the ice cream shop, to learn if you like a flavor before you order two scoops. Wouldn’t it be great if you or a loved-one could do that with assisted living? Now you can, in two of our Minnesota communities.

Garnette Gardens in Redwood Falls and Monarch Meadows in North Mankato are piloting an innovative new service providing a low-cost preview of life as a resident. In both communities the service goes under the name “Senior Social Club.”

“We wanted to give folks a taste of what it might be like to live with us,” said Sales and Community Marketing Manager Colleen Marcus from Garnette Gardens.

Click on the two links above for details. Here are some of the common features in the two communities:

  • Transportation two days each week
  • A monthly meal plan with up to 10 meals per month
  • Participation in scheduled events at the community
  • Monthly home check-ins from a senior service professional
  • Seasonal “Wellness Gift Basket” for program participant

“The aging population is at risk for social isolation or loneliness,” says Monarch Meadows Executive Director Rachael Evers. “This is our way to provide an active and engaged lifestyle to those who are a part of our greater community.”

Interested?  Learn more online or on the communities’ Facebook pages or call (507) 644-8500 in Redwood Falls or (507) 344-0059 in North Mankato.

The service is the brainchild of Redwood Falls Executive Director Natalie Seehausen. “We know the decision to move from a long-time home is overwhelming and emotional,” Natalie reflects. “As we heard over and over … ‘I am just not ready.’ These programs will cultivate relationships with other residents that will change the decision from a NEED to move, to a WANT to move.”