A groovy 1970s celebration marks 70 years at Westminster Oaks

Residents, team members and local civic leaders marked the occasion in celebration of the organization’s 70 years of serving older adults

TALLAHASSEE, June 7, 2024 – With a groovy 1970s-themed party with tie-dyed shirts and a special celebration by Tallahassee Mayor Pro Tem Curtis Richardson, Westminster Communities of Florida celebrated its 70th anniversary of serving older adults with more than 200 attendees and guests at Westminster Oaks.

The organization, first established as a ministry of the Presbyterian Church (USA) as Presbyterian Homes of the Synod of Florida, began its service when the Life Plan Community today known as Westminster Manor opened in 1961. Westminster Oaks, its fourth community, opened in 1982 and is now the organization’s largest community, set on more than 120 acres with more than 600 residents. Today Westminster Communities of Florida has 23 communities spanning the state of Florida, serving more than 7,000 residents with 2,300 team members.

The party featured a tie-dyed homage to the 1970s in celebration of the organization’s 70th anniversary, including live entertainment with songs from the ’70s, a caricature artist and a photo booth with real strips of printed photos.

Shannon Sauls, Executive Director of Westminster Oaks, thanked the attendees with a word of welcome. “I am very proud of what this community has accomplished and I am thankful that we are all here celebrating our organization’s success,” said Sauls. “Throughout our history, one thing remains constant: Our Mission. It has always been centered around serving older adults, since 1954.”

“We are here today to celebrate a milestone that not many organizations get to celebrate: 70 years,” said Chief Executive Officer Terry Rogers. “We have never slowed down, not for one day since then, growing and serving older adults. We are so proud that we have so many residents here today, and we are happy to have you here at Westminster Oaks.”

Mayor Pro Tem Richardson represented the City of Tallahassee in presenting his remarks of congratulations. “We cherish the relationship that we share with Westminster Oaks in providing services to our seniors. “Now I have just a few brief remarks of congratulations to make.” Richardson said. “Over the past seven decades, Westminster Communities of Florida has remained steadfast in its mission to enhance the lives of its residents. This celebration is not just a reflection of past achievements, but is also a reaffirmation of the values that drive this organization forward.”

Following the ceremony, residents, future residents and team members enjoyed an afternoon of live entertainment, resident art and history exhibits, and even outdoor axe-throwing. Attendees enjoyed a variety of delicious breakfast treats provided by the Westminster Oaks Dining Services team.

Westminster Communities of Florida, the state’s largest not-for-profit provider of active senior living, emphasizes whole-person wellbeing for its older adult residents. With communities in Bradenton, Jacksonville, Lakeland, Orlando, St. Augustine, St. Petersburg, Tallahassee and Winter Park, the organization serves more than 7,000 residents statewide with a lifestyle featuring active living, wellness and lifelong learning.

Trees, Please: Westminster Oaks’ Guide To Celebrating Tallahassee’s Wooded Vistas

Around this time of year, it’s hard not to appreciate the splendor of nature that surrounds us. As balmier spring temperatures settle across the country, nowhere looks quite as lush as the Sunshine State — and Westminster Oaks’ Tallahassee, Florida assisted living facility is a great example of what the state has to offer in terms of natural beauty. As the “Oaks” in our name might suggest, we take our love of foliage pretty seriously here!

Our abundance of tree-lined paths isn’t just beautiful to look at, of course. It boasts several benefits for the environment and for the people who call it “home,” too! Arbor Day may just be one day a year, but we want to celebrate spring, summer, fall, and winter — and then back to spring again! Just read on to see a few of our favorite ways to do that from the comfort of our one-of-a-kind community.

Take A Walk

Walking is widely regarded as one of the best exercises for people of all ages — so if you’re able, consider taking a stroll through Westminster Oaks’ suburban grounds and admiring the lush foliage as you go! According to the University of California: Berkeley’s Greater Good Magazine, studies have shown that spending time near trees comes with a wide array of benefits — from promoting the integrity of your amygdala (the part of your brain that handles stress) to potentially supporting your immune system, cardiovascular health, and much more. There’s an old saying about stopping to smell the flowers — but in our book, it’s just as important to stop and admire the trees, too!

Tree-filled views abound throughout Westminster Oaks, of course — so even if you’re hanging out at our resort-style dining, enjoying a grab-and-go picnic, or soaking in the view from your garden, there’s no shortage of ways to see the trees.

Leave The Work To Us

Fortunately, even with all those trees, you don’t have to put in the work needed to care for them! That’s because Westminster Oaks is a proud maintenance-free community. In other words, we want our residents to enjoy their time to the fullest — through things like connecting with friends, exploring nature, and pursuing hobbies they feel passionate about. Yard work isn’t on the to-do list!

Plant A Tree

With all of that being said, even if you aren’t planting a tree yourself, you can still do so virtually! The world can always use more trees, and there are several options for those who would like to contribute to the planet’s foliage. For example, the United States Department of Agriculture allows you to make a small donation in order to plant a tree in a beautiful national forest. You can do so just for fun, or in honor of a loved one’s memory or special day. When it comes to gifts, few are more meaningful than that!

Learn About Nature (& Much, Much More)

When you call Westminster Oaks “home,” you have access to one-of-a-kind educational initiatives through Florida State University’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute! We also have a welcoming library and computer center where you can pursue your own proclivities in a comfortable, connected environment. No matter how you learn, our Tallahassee community is a great place to pursue your interest science and plant life, enhancing your appreciation of our abundant trees in the process.

Visit A Local Forest

Want to take your love of trees to new heights — literally? The unique location of Florida’s capital city means you’re never far from a beautiful natural vista, such as Apalachicola National Forest — which just so happens to be the largest in the state. Who knew such a vibrant, teeming center of biodiversity could be found right around the corner from our cozy Tallahassee community?

Independent Living In Tallahassee? Here’s How To Celebrate National Reading Month

A new season means a time to turn the page — both figuratively and literally. That is to say, March is National Reading Month! This is the perfect time to rediscover the joy of reading, explore new genres, or revisit that beloved, well-worn novel that’s been hiding on your shelf.

Fortunately, from the comfort of Westminster Oaks’ state-of-the-art independent living in Tallahassee, there are plenty of fun ways to celebrate your love of reading — this month and beyond. Just read on as we share a few of our favorites!

Love Your Local Library

Do you remember walking into your local library or school media center as a kid? The seemingly never-ending shelves were like passageways to different worlds, satisfying your boundless curiosity — and inspiring you to ask even more questions with every turn of a page. This wonder still applies today! Why not celebrate National Reading Month by visiting Westminster Oaks’ on-site library, or checking out the libraries of the esteemed local universities we’re proud to partner with? Whether you’re just browsing, or are studying up for your Lifelong Learning course, a trip to the library is one of our favorite ways to spend an afternoon.

Join A Book Club… Or Start Your Own

Reading can be enjoyed solo, but it doesn’t have to be! Book clubs provide a great way to get connected with your fellow literature lovers, and can also expose you to new genres and author you might not have considered before. If you don’t know of a good book club, you can even start one yourself! It’s easier than you might think — especially as modern technology facilitates book clubs over video chat, connecting readers from across the state, country, or globe.

Set Up A Cozy Reading Nook

Your Westminster Oaks home is the perfect place to set up a cozy reading nook. This can be virtually any comfortable, well-lit corner of your space — but of course, we especially love the allure of a serene window seat where you can spend hours getting lost in a good book. Just add a comfy seating option and lots of pillows for total relaxation!

Make Reading A Routine

If reading isn’t already part of your daily routine, it might seem daunting to work it in — but quite the contrary! Even 15 minutes (or, say, a chapter) before bed can help you work your way through a great book, relax your mind for nighttime, and develop a powerful habit in the process.

Read & Reflect

If you want another creative hobby, pick up a journal and reflect on your reading! This is a handy way to track your interest in different authors and genres, and invites you to think critically about the themes and ideas you’re consuming — kind of like you might have done as a kid in school! You can even add a visual element with fun, scrapbook-esque collages. Who knew a book report could be so, well, fun?

Attend Local Events

Keen to take your love of reading to the next level? The best thing about this hobby is that it can fully enjoyed from the comfort of home — but if you’d like to mix things up, look for local events like author readings and book fairs that let you tap into the literary community in new ways!

Gift A Meaningful Book

There’s no gift quite as meaningful as a book you want to share with someone you love — especially if you autograph the inside as a special memento! The recipient won’t just to discover what you love about the text, but will also think of you every time they pick up the book in the future as well.

We hope that these ideas help spark your passion for reading — this month and all year long! Fortunately, when you call Westminster Oaks “home,” there’s no shortage of fun ways to connect with fellow literature lovers.

Surprisingly Fun Spring Cleaning Ideas While Assisted Living In Tallahassee, Florida

Springtime means celebrating the change of season by relaxing at the beach, splashing around the pool, and… spring cleaning? No, really! Sure, the seasonal observance may sound like a chore. And perhaps in the past, it was. But from the comfort of your Tallahassee, Florida independent living home, it can take on an entirely new spirit — one that’s all about rediscovery, honoring your past, and celebrating where you are today!

When you call Westminster Oaks “home,” you can enjoy a truly maintenance-free living experience. That means the heavy lifting traditionally associated with spring cleaning — like trimming bushes or re-mulching your front yard — is a thing of the past. Instead, you can focus on the lighter, more fun side of this annual ritual.

Wondering how to do that? Just keep reading as we share a few creative ways to do spring cleaning from your Westminster Oaks abode.

Fashion Show With A Twist

It never hurts to have a fun excuse to do a fashion show — and a closet clean-up presents exactly that! Invite family over to help you look through old clothes and accessories, and take turns trying on looks from the different decades. From there, you can decide whether to keep your finds or give them to the next generation — because, after all, trends are so cyclical that you’ve probably got some very “in” pieces hiding in the back of your wardrobe right now!

Digitizing Memories

You can also enlist a loved one’s help in digitizing old photo albums, documents, and other keepsakes. This doesn’t require you to get rid of the physical mementos — after all, there’s something special about an old leather scrapbook that’s been passed down through the generations — but it allows you to protect them with an additional layer of safety, and makes it that much easier to share fun memoires with loves ones across the state, country, or globe!

Small, Stylish Changes

Craving a change for the season? You don’t need to completely revamp your living space to enjoy fun, stylish changes! Start slowly by swapping out small accessories or adding in a specific color or motif.

Crafting From Clutter

Old jars can be turned into charming flower vases, sentimental greeting cards can become one-of-a-kind wall art, and your favorite old t-shirts can be sewn into stunning quilts for yourself or a loved one! These are just a few fun ways that traditional “clutter” can take on a new life, if you’re a crafty person.

Culinary Clean-Up

Cookbooks and kitchen items are a common source of clutter — but they also help people gather together! Host a potluck or baking exchange and send your visitors home with different food-themed books and goodies. They’ll appreciate the meaningful memento, and you’ll be glad that your home is a little bit cleaner while still giving new to life to your time-honored recipes!

Show & Tell

Remember how much fun show and tell was as a kid? As you spruce up your surroundings, you’ll probably stumble upon items that come with interesting backstories. It’s the perfect excuse to host a storytelling evening with friends and family, where you share the history and stories behind your treasured finds!

When you rethink what spring cleaning can be, you open yourself — and your home — up to a new era of renewal and rediscovery. And that’s what spring is all about! We hope that these ideas help you get the season off to a fun start at your Westminster Oaks home.

5 Meditation Practices to Calm the Mind and Uplift the Spirit in Tallahassee Assisted Living

Here at Westminster Oaks, we’re all about promoting healthy, active aging for our residents. And over our many years serving Tallahassee seniors, we’ve learned meditation can have incredible benefits for mind, body and soul. From reducing stress to improving sleep, focusing attention to lifting mood, the advantages of regular mindfulness practice almost seem endless!

So we make meditation a central part of life in our assisted living community. We’ve experimented with all sorts of contemplative practices to find those best suited for seniors, landing on a “greatest hits” of our residents’ 5 favorites. These accessible, impactful techniques help our retirement home residents enjoy vitality at any age.

In this blog, we’ll walk through each beloved method, from classic breathwork to innovative walking meditations. We’ll share the specifics on how to meditate for beginners and enthusiasts alike. Consider it your guide to integrating mindfulness seamlessly into your days here at Westminster Oaks. Our hope? That the following practices awaken deep peace and joy available inside us all.

Tune Into Your Breath, Tune Out Anxiety

We pretty much consider breath awareness the foundation of meditation here at Westminster Oaks. It’s simple, straightforward and offers incredible physiological and emotional benefits for seniors. By gently bringing attention to the rhythms of inhaling and exhaling, we calm our nervous system, lower blood pressure, stabilize mood and gain laser mental focus.

It’s the perfect antidote to anxiety and stress. And in the fast pace of today’s world, couldn’t we all use a little more chill?

Here’s how our residents practice daily:

Find a comfortable seat, settling into a posture that’s upright but not stiff. Allow your eyelids to gently close and relax any frowning muscles in your face. Now bring attention to the subtle sensations of breathing. Feel the gentle rise and fall of your chest and belly without manipulating your breath in any way. Thoughts will come and go like passing clouds. Note them briefly, then redirect your attention back to your breath.

Aim for 5-10 minutes once or twice per day. Easy as that! With regular practice, you’ll soon find yourself more centered, focused and flooded with inner peace.

Harness the Power of Mantras

Repeating a meaningful word or phrase over and over is such a simple, powerful way to short-circuit anxiety and overthinking. By giving our bustling minds something positive to chew on, mantra meditation leads to all sorts of great outcomes for seniors.

Science suggests that vocalizing in this way can reduce blood pressure, lift mood and sharpen cognitive skills. On top of those perks, we find chanting mantras incredibly soothing and comforting during stressful times. The repetitive practice keeps our worrying minds occupied with an uplifting message rather than an anxious one.

You can experiment with classic mantras like “Om” or create one with personal meaning. The right option generally uplifts, centers and produces a calming vibration through the body. Once you’ve selected your mantra, find a quiet spot to sit erect but relaxed. Seal your lips and repeat the phrase in your mind, focusing only on the mantra. When thoughts inevitably distract you, return ever-so-gently back to your chosen words.

For most fruitful results, mantra meditation guides recommend 15-20 minutes twice per day. But start slow with 5-10 minutes once a day – the benefits will amaze you!

Sweep Away Aches with Body Scans

It’s no secret that aging bodies sometimes introduce new aches or pains. Chronic discomfort can easily dampen our spirits and prevent us from fully participating in life. So here at Westminster Oaks, we equip residents with tools to mitigate physical suffering and tune into our bodily needs. Our secret weapon? The powerfully soothing body scan!

Body scans involve slowly sweeping your attention from head to toe, observing sensations in different regions without judging them as good or bad. It’s a way to tune into messages from your physical form and gently release built-up tension in muscles. Regular practice leaves us more attuned to early warning signs while alleviating nagging back pain, arthritis and neuropathy.

Want to give it a go? Follow these step-by-step instructions:

Find a quiet space to lie down or sit upright comfortably. Close your eyes, taking a few deep breaths. Bring attention to the crown of your head, noticing any sensations present. After a few slow breaths, shift focus to your forehead. Slowly progress across your whole face: eyes, jaw, neck. Scan downward through your shoulders, arms, chest and torso. Make your way down the legs all the way through the feet. The whole process takes 10-20 minutes.

Remember not to tense up or try to change what you experience. The goal is simply to observe with compassion. Over time, this builds body awareness and incredible physical relaxation. Regular body scans can work wonders if you suffer from pain, tension or uneasy sensations.

Envision Your Happy Place

In progressive senior living communities like Westminster Oaks, life stays fast-paced with a wide variety of stimulating activities. While we wouldn’t trade our jam-packed schedules for anything, all that excitement can occasionally leave residents feeling drained or overstimulated.

That’s why we make time for guided mental vacations each day through visualization meditation! This refreshing practice ushers your mind away from reality into imaginative scenes specially crafted to relax and restore you. Studies confirm visualization reduces anxiety, blood pressure and inflammation in older adults while enhancing mood and sleep.

Our residents’ favorite guided journey? Transporting to a personal sanctuary, perhaps located beside the ocean, a trickling stream or flowering meadow. This special place exists only in your mind, filled with sights, textures, sounds and scents to delight your senses. Every detail engages your imagination, drawing you into profound serenity.

We recommend start with a short 5-10 minute visualization once or twice a day. Over time, build up to 15-20 minutes in your special sanctuary. Don’t be surprised if you find real-world stresses melting away after regular visits! For extra relaxation, try a 30-minute body scan followed immediately by visualization.

Walk Your Way to Mindfulness & Wellbeing

We all know physical activity keeps our bodies spry and nimble into old age. And living at Westminster Oaks, you better believe we stay active with walking, strength training and balance classes! But there’s a special kind of walking we always make time for – walking meditation.

As the name suggests, this is meditation in motion. By tuning into sensory details involved with slowly, mindfully moving from place to place, walking meditation unclutters the mind and settles frayed nerves. Staying completely aware during movement teaches us to anchor in the present, key for aging folks dealing with memory challenges. We find integrating walking meditation into our days leaves us sharper, calmer and more upbeat.

Interested to try this moving mindfulness practice? Follow these steps:

Stand comfortably still, closing your eyes. Bring all your attention simply to the physical sensations present in your body. After a few slow deep breaths, open your eyes and begin strolling a short distance slowly. Keep the pace quarter speed, focusing intently on each micro-movement made to shift your weight fully from foot to foot. Tune into sounds, physical sensations and environment details as you walk with complete awareness for 5-15 minutes. If thoughts distract your attention, gently return focus to sensory aspects of moving mindfully through space.

When it comes to aging vibrantly, we firmly believe the journey counts as much as the destination. By integrating meditation into everyday living here at Westminster Oaks, our residents relish each moment while working toward healthier, happier futures. We’d love to welcome you into our compassionate community soon to begin your own contemplative journey!

The Benefits of Lifelong Learning at Westminster Oaks

At Westminster Oaks, learning never stops. We believe in the importance of continuous growth, exploration and mental stimulation at every age. That is why cultivating an inquisitive spirit is a central component of our exclusive My W Life wellbeing program. Challenging your mind is one of the eight dimensions we focus on to foster fulfillment and vibrancy. 

We encourage our residents to keep expanding their awareness by providing a rich curriculum of educational courses, outings, lectures and more. There are always opportunities to gain fresh knowledge, insights and skills with us. Westminster Oaks aims to challenge your mind with creative ideas and activities daily.

One way we make lifelong learning accessible is through our innovative partnership with Florida State University’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. This affiliation gives our residents access to a myriad of university-level noncredit courses taught by distinguished professors across diverse disciplines. Here are just a few engaging course examples:

French Baroque and Rococo Architecture – Discover the fanciful architectural expressions that defined the reigns of Louis XIV, Louis XV and Louis XVI. This class will cover not just seminal buildings but also allied arts like ornate painting, sculpture and furniture design that had lasting impacts on European aesthetic sensibilities.

World War II in Europe – Take an in-depth look at how the last four years of the war played out after the 1941 German attack on Russia and US entry. Follow the key strategic movements and personalities that shaped events in Europe through VE Day. Gain new appreciation for the scale and complexity of operations.

Are You My Mummy? – This introduction to the scientific field of paleopathology teaches how analysis of remains can reveal the common injuries and illnesses ancient humans endured, and what they tell us about how our ancestors lived. It’s a fascinating look at the realities of health in antiquity.

These represent just a sample of over 300 engaging courses offered across dozens of topics. This program allows our residents to delve into subjects captivating to them and connect classroom lessons to personal experiences. Learning alongside fellow residents with shared curiosities also forges rewarding friendships.

Cognitive Health Benefits

Enriching the mind isn’t just stimulating – it also strengthens the brain and enhances cognition. Research shows that ongoing learning and mental challenges can help minimize age-related declines.

When we exercise our minds by acquiring new information and skills, we bolster crucial functions like:

– Memory – Storing and retrieving new data builds neural pathways. Review and repetition of what we learn reinforces recall ability.

– Concentration – Listening to lectures and absorbing unfamiliar material improves our focused attention span.

– Speed of Information Processing – Learning new things well into old age keeps our processing sharp.

– Visuospatial Skills – Interpreting graphs, artwork or diagrams activates visual intelligence.

– Logical Reasoning – Grasping complex concepts involves critical analysis and problem solving.

– Multitasking – Learning often requires us to synthesize information from multiple sources simultaneously.

Regularly using our brains in these ways preserves acuity and mental agility. Continuing education can even reduce risks of Alzheimer’s and dementia. It’s truly the adage “use it or lose it” when it comes to our cognitive resources. Proactively enriching our minds pays dividends as we age.

Social and Emotional Gains

In addition to making us mentally sharper, lifelong learning also delivers social and emotional benefits. The collaborative nature of education creates valuable connections and feelings of fulfillment.

Specifically, learning with others enables our residents to:

– Form friendships with classmates who have shared interests. Group learning facilitates camaraderie.

– Have thought-provoking discussions about lesson topics that are enriching.

– Feel a sense of community through cooperating productively with peers.

– Gain confidence through encouragement and growth in courses.

– Share their accumulated wisdom and life experiences with younger students.

– Make new acquaintances through conversations during field trips or social mixing breaks.

As humans, we are wired to crave social bonds, rapport and support. Combining personal growth with relationship building heightens the rewards of lifelong learning exponentially.

Self-Actualization Through Learning 

In addition to keeping our brains sharp and facilitating connections, continuous learning also promotes self-actualization. No matter our age, focusing on self-improvement and expanding horizons brings deep fulfillment.

For Westminster Oaks residents, educational offerings impart:

– A sense of purpose from acquiring expertise. Mastery in subjects grants confidence.

– Opportunities to express creativity through arts learning. Crafting and performance taps innovation.

– Exposure to diverse cultures, philosophies and epochs that expand worldviews.

– Chances to explore faith traditions, values and morality.

– Motivation to keep achieving goals and greater well-roundedness.

Truly, wisdom and personal expansion have no limits when pursued with an open and curious frame of mind. Our community of lifelong learners finds enrichment, understanding and growth through our programs.

Modeling Lifelong Curiosity

At Westminster Oaks, we believe nurturing curiosity and engaging the mind is important at every age. Our community models that learning is lifelong. We continually expose residents to new ideas, cultures and perspectives to foster growth.

The quest for knowledge lights a spark within the human spirit. As we embrace learning’s joys, discovery leads to expanded worldviews. We hope you are inspired to feed your inner scholar and join us in the lifelong learning journey. Please contact Westminster Oaks to learn more about our community and educational offerings. The riches of wisdom await!

‘God put us here for a reason’: Serving the residents during Hurricane Idalia is part of our Mission

When a hurricane or tropical storm threatens Florida, like Hurricane Idalia this week, team members at Westminster Communities of Florida have a top priority: Ensuring the safety and well-being of the residents we serve. Our Mission is to serve from the heart and inspire older adults to enjoy happy, healthy and purposeful lives.

What impact has Hurricane Idalia had? Some of our dedicated team members are living out our Mission, today, by evacuating with residents or sheltering at their communities through the storm. Regardless of their normal jobs, their principal responsibility right now is to provide for the residents’ needs.

Today we caught up with five of these team members to learn about their experiences, why they chose to stay at their community or evacuate with residents, and what is inspiring them to stay hard at work during a storm.

Jackie Walker Ellison, Cook, Westminster Shores, temporarily at Westminster Winter Park

In St. Petersburg, Westminster Shores was forced to relocate residents out of the path of the storm. Jackie Walker Ellison always knew she would be with the residents, from the moment she first heard. “The residents said to me, ‘Jackie, are you coming with us? I know we’ll be OK if you come with us.’ So I had no doubt,” Ellison said. “I knew for sure I would be evacuating, I called my husband and my mother and I told them, ‘I’m going with my residents, I’ll see you whenever.’ ”

The group of 24 residents was accompanied by Ellison to Westminster Winter Park, where they’re enjoying the hospitality of the residents and team members there. The Westminster Shores team is occupied with providing for the needs of the residents during Hurricane Idalia. “I think it brings everyone together as a team,” she said.

Ellison has worked at Westminster Shores for 29 years, and “I love my residents. I wouldn’t have been here so long if I didn’t love this place and my residents. God put us here for a reason,” she said. “Right now, the residents are happy, we’ve been watching movies and playing games, and everything is going smoothly.”

Michele McCann, Assisted Living Activities Coordinator, Westminster Palms, sheltering in place

“I choose to be with the residents during the most emotional time, like a hurricane, because that’s my quality as a caregiver,” said Michele McCann, Assisted Living Activities Coordinator at Westminster Palms. “Challenging times like this bring out the best in people, and I get to see it and share it.”

McCann was sheltering in place at the community in St. Petersburg, along with residents from Westminster Palms and residents from Westminster Point Pleasant in Bradenton. She has lived in Florida for more than 7 years, and has experienced three hurricanes in St. Petersburg so far. McCann said she feels that the way the team bonds, whether through an evacuation or sheltering in place, makes the team stronger. “We are going to come out better on the other side of this! We always do. We are so lucky that we are here, in our home, together, instead of relocating like so many had to. I have come to feel like this is my home, too.”

Carlos Santiago, Maintenance Engineer, Westminster Point Pleasant and Tiffany Mestre, Administrative Assistant, Community Support Services, temporarily at Legacy Pointe at UCF

A group of residents from Westminster Point Pleasant were also with Maintenance Engineer Carlos Santiago and Tiffany Mestre, an administrative assistant at our Community Support Services office in Orlando. The residents had evacuated from Bradenton due to the risk of storm surge and flooding, and were enjoying the hospitality of Legacy Pointe at UCF.

Santiago, the maintenance engineer, said that he had been through the worst in 2017 when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico. “We were there with no power for 60 days, and we weren’t able to do anything,” he said. By comparison, he felt that everything was under control and being well maintained for the residents through both of his hurricane experiences as a Westminster team member.

“This job is personal for me,” Santiago said. “The residents are my family and I want to make sure that they are well taken care of.” In 2022, Santiago was recognized as Westminster Point Pleasant’s Team Member of the Year for his dedicated service to the residents. He said it was his honor to serve the residents.

Evacuating with the residents is just another extension of his commitment to the community, Santiago said. “This is my second time evacuating with the residents, and it doesn’t matter how many more. I will always volunteer to be there for them. We are here for each other and for the residents.”

Countless storms had also affected Mestre, a Florida native. But she had never had an experience like today’s. “It’s wonderful to help the residents and hear about their interests and stories. This is a great way to see how the residents live,” Mestre said. “I am getting to know what a day in the life of a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) and an ADON (Assistant Director of Nursing) are like. It has opened my eyes. Bless their souls for doing all of this.”

The effects of the storm had been mild in Orlando, but Mestre said that nevertheless, she and the residents felt more secure and had been brought closer together by the experience – and the residents were thankful for the security. “This has really brought our Mission to life for me in a way I had not experienced it,” said Mestre.

For Santiago, part of living in a hurricane zone meant more practice – and that he had found that the team is getting stronger through the experience. “The more we do this together, the more we become comfortable with each other, and the better organized we become. When you send a group of people together for one purpose and for our Mission, we get the opportunity to grow together and learn from each other,” said Santiago.

Beth Szabo, Services Coordinator, Riverside Presbyterian Apartments, sheltering in place

Another part of the Westminster Mission is to serve residents with low to moderate incomes, in our affordable Rental Retirement Communities. Beth Szabo, services coordinator at Riverside Presbyterian Apartments, was sheltering in place at the community to ensure that the residents were well cared for throughout the potential effects of the storm in Jacksonville.

“I’ve lived in Jacksonville since 1976, so I have lost count of how many hurricanes I’ve been through now. In 2004 they were coming so frequently we all said, ‘I’m over it, just let it go,’ ” said Szabo. “We have had to evacuate a few times over the years, like for Hurricane Matthew in 2016. But we did not have to this time.”

For Szabo, serving during a hurricane is a natural extension of her choice to work at the community, because the residents are like her extended family. “I have a heart for seniors, and the residents here mean a lot to me,” she said. “If something happens then I want to be here to help them.”

Szabo added that she feels safer riding out a storm at Riverside Presbyterian Apartments than at home. “Here at the community, I know that we have a great team looking out for everyone. We’re very small but we support each other.”

A facet of our Mission

While a hurricane is unexpected, serving the residents and supporting their fellow team members wherever we are and however we can is just another facet of the Mission of Westminster Communities of Florida: We serve from the heart and inspire older adults to enjoy happy, healthy and purposeful lives.

Be sure to learn all about how you can make a Westminster community your home to live or to work – find a community near you or follow us on Facebook and on LinkedIn!

Navigating the Transition: A Guide for Adult Children Seeking Care for Aging Parents

We know that taking on the role of finding the right living situation for your aging parents can feel like trying to solve a puzzle with a hundred pieces. But we’re here to help you put those pieces together for the picture of a beautiful tomorrow.

Let’s take a closer look at Westminster Oaks in Tallahassee, Florida. This community has a full spectrum of care; from independent living to skilled nursing, we’ve designed our programs for seniors to truly feel at home. As adult children take on the role of helping to determine care for their aging parents, it becomes imperative to find the right living situation to fit their loved ones’ unique needs and preferences.

Figuring Out the Right Fit

First thing’s first: understanding what different types of senior living mean. Independent living? It’s all about active seniors having their perfect living setup without worrying about mowing the lawn. Assisted living offers a helping hand with daily needs like meals and medications, while skilled nursing is there for those who need medical care 24/7. Westminster Oaks offers all these options, so it’s more about what suits your loved one best.

Discussing Finances

Next up is the financial side of things. How much does it cost? What are the payment options offered? Westminster Oaks offers different payment plans such as entrance fee plans and monthly plans, so there is something to fit everyone’s budget. A robust financial assessment will help identify the best strategy for your family and ensure that your parents can age in comfort without financial stress.

One payment plan Westminster Oaks offers is the entrance fee plan. Think of it like a one-time, upfront cost that guarantees your parents’ residence and care in the community. This is a common model for many Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs). The fee can depend on the size and type of the living accommodation your parents choose, and some or all of it might be refundable. Alongside the entrance fee, there’s usually a monthly service fee. This covers ongoing services like meals, housekeeping, transportation, and access to amenities and activities. The cost can vary based on the level of care your parents require. Remember, the goal is to make sure your parents can enjoy their golden years without financial worry.

Navigating the Emotional Side

When we talk about moving into senior living, it’s much more than just a physical move – it’s a significant lifestyle change, and that can bring up a few emotions with it. On one hand, your parents might feel excited about stepping into a new chapter of their lives. They’ll no longer have to worry about house chores or maintenance – those are taken care of at Westminster Oaks. Plus, the prospect of becoming part of a vibrant community can be a thrilling prospect. There’s a world of new social interactions, activities, and hobbies waiting for them to explore.

This is where the compassionate and experienced staff at Westminster Oaks steps in. They understand these mixed feelings and have helped many seniors navigate this emotional journey. They take the time to get to know each resident, understand their concerns, and make the transition as smooth as possible.

Quality of Care: Top of the List

The quality of care provided is a critical factor in choosing a senior living community. You want to know your parents are in good hands. Westminster Oaks prides itself in providing exceptional care that is personalized to each resident, whether they’re living independently, require assistance, or need skilled nursing.

In an independent living scenario, staff members are always on hand to provide help if needed, while still ensuring that residents can lead an active and independent lifestyle. In an assisted living setting, care can encompass help with day-to-day activities like bathing, dressing, meal preparation, and medication management. For those in need of skilled nursing care, Westminster Oaks provides round-the-clock medical attention and therapeutic services.

In short, the Westminster Oaks approach to care aims to provide peace of mind for you and a high-quality life for your parents. You can rest easy knowing they’re not just looked after, but they are truly cared for.

Living the Life at Westminster Oaks

Let’s not forget the fun stuff! Westminster Oaks had a heap of amenities to choose from. Starting with the fitness center, packed with all the equipment your parents might need to stay in shape, or if they just want to meet new people with the chance of possibly starting a fitness group. You aren’t just limited to the fitness center though; we also offer a pool where you can do laps or just cool off, the pool offers relaxation or exercise. For those who enjoy reading, our library is a real treat, it’s a quiet comfortable space where you can lose yourself in a good book or even join a book club. It’s one of the examples of Westminster Oaks lifelong learning opportunities.

And let’s not forget the social activities! These can range from organized events like game nights and craft sessions to informal gatherings among residents. There’s always something going on, making it easy for your parents to make friends and stay socially engaged. If you want to explore downtown Tallahassee, residents are a short trip away from all the attractions our city has to offer from museums and art galleries to shopping centers and restaurants.

How you can stay in touch with family and friends after moving to a senior living community

Are you considering a move to a senior living community but worried about how you’ll keep in touch with family and friends? You’re not alone. Many future residents have the same concerns.

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to stay connected and keep in touch with the people you care about. From FaceTime to card nights to private dining parties, residents have plenty of options to stay connected with their loved ones.

In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the best ways to keep in touch with family and friends after moving to a senior living community.

Enjoy a video call to have a virtual visit with family or friends whenever you like

A virtual visit can help maintain ties even when residents and their friends are separated by thousands of miles. Modern technology for video calling like FaceTime makes visiting easier than ever. Video calls allow residents to enjoy a face-to-face conversation with family or friends anywhere in the world, from the comfort of their living room. No expensive travel required!

Residents can use FaceTime or video chat services like Skype, Google Hangouts and Zoom to stay in touch with those who matter most. Grandparents can share stories with grandchildren who live far away or have regular catch-ups with distant relatives. Video calling also makes it possible for to host a virtual event, like a game night or movie watch party.

Enjoy a card or board game night and mix the “old” and “new” friends

With many social connections in their current neighborhoods, the prospect of moving to a senior living community can be daunting for many older adults. Fortunately, there are plenty of in-person social opportunities at senior living communities — some of them more informal than others.
Many senior living communities have groups of residents who enjoy a night of card games or board games. Play poker, Clue, Settlers of Catan or whatever you prefer, and enjoy having social opportunities and good friends at your fingertips.

These social events offer a reason for residents to invite their friends and family members over for a night of fun and laughter. It also provides an informal setting for guests to meet other residents and engage in meaningful conversations.

For older adults who want to make sure they stay connected to their friends, one surefire way to make things more fun is to invite their “old” friends to meet the “new” at a game night. It can make for a memorable evening filled with laughter and good company — all while bonding deeper relationships with fellow residents at the same time.

Host a dinner party and let someone else do all the work

Dining is an important part of life at a senior living community. But a special event may call for having a few friends over for dinner, and who wants to do all the cooking and dishes?

That’s why many senior living communities offer residents a variety of catered dining options, to invite guests over for a special dinner party. A special menu developed with the Dining department makes it simple and convenient to plan an event. Enjoy a luxurious meal without lifting a finger!

Inviting friends and family over to experience their community is also great to help those who may be considering making the move themselves. Guests get an up-close look at the lifestyle offered at their friend’s new home. Private dining options allow potential new residents to get an idea of what life would be like for them.

From poker nights to private dinners, there are plenty of ways for residents of senior living communities to keep in touch with family and friends. To learn all about how additional socialization opportunities abound at a Westminster community, find the community that suits you today on our Web site!

6 Assisted Living Myths Debunked

Assisted living facilities help many seniors receive the care they need while maintaining their quality of life. With an estimated 1.5 million seniors in assisted living homes throughout the United States, these facilities have become a popular way to care for loved ones as they age.

Unfortunately, there are many myths about assisted living that can scare those who are researching facilities. Understanding which claims are misconceptions helps seniors and their loved ones make informed choices.

Common Myths About Assisted Living in Tallahassee

Are you concerned about your parent moving into assisted living? To ease your worries, take a look at some of the biggest myths and misconceptions about assisted living facilities.

Myth 1: Residents Lose All Independence

A big misconception about assisted living facilities is that residents will lose all of their independence while living in one. While assisted living facilities are designed to help residents with daily needs and medical care, seniors maintain a level of independence. 

Residents have their own rooms and can spend the day doing what they please. They can enjoy hobbies, group activities, and more while in assisted living. 

Myth 2: They Resemble Institutions

One of the darker myths about assisted living homes is that they resemble institutions. Many people fear that their parents will feel suppressed and confined. In reality, assisted living in Tallahassee allows residents to feel comfortable and at home. 

Rooms are designed in a way that helps residents feel safe and comfortable. Residents are able to spend time with others, have frequent visitors, and participate in a wide range of activities

Myth 3: There Is No Socialization

A common misconception about assisted living is that the residents are completely isolated. You may be worried that your parent, friend, or family member will be secluded in their room. 

The truth is that many social activities are provided in assisted living homes. Things like games, movie nights, and more are offered as opportunities for residents to interact and socialize with their peers.

Myth 4: Residents Are Completely Sedentary

Before your loved one moves into an assisted living community, you may worry that they will become sedentary and no longer lead an active life. This could not be further from the truth. The staff members who provide care for residents understand that a sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of physical and mental health concerns. For this reason, residents are encouraged to stay active and participate in various activities.

Myth 5: They Are Too Expensive

While there are certainly assisted living homes that are on the expensive side, there are many affordable options as well. Tallahassee, Florida, assisted living homes include affordable options that provide residents with skilled nursing care and recreational programs. These facilities can meet all of your loved one’s needs without costing an exorbitant price.

Myth 6: There Isn’t Proper Medical Care

A common concern about assisted living facilities is that they do not provide adequate medical care. Most residents who are in assisted living have chronic or progressive medical concerns, such as heart disease, diabetes, and cognitive decline. 

Giving these seniors proper medical care is essential for maintaining their health. This is why assisted living homes have on-site medical care with a team of skilled nursing professionals. Residents get daily medical care and assistance with medications and other needs. 

Your Loved One’s Assisted Living Facility Experience

If your parent, friend, or family member is moving into assisted living, rest assured that they will receive high-quality care. When you choose the right community, your senior loved one will be able to interact with their peers, maintain an active lifestyle, and have their medical needs met.

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