Life with Perfect Harmony

How music benefits health and happiness in those who are aging and their caregivers

Masonic Village resident Elaine Lukens and Ann Dinsmore, music therapy supervisor

Masonic Village resident Elaine Lukens and Ann Dinsmore, music therapy supervisor

by Megan Leitzell, public relations intern

Whether it is heard on the radio, as background in a film or performed live, music can encourage positive feelings, tell a story and even promote better health. Although it is good for all ages, music can particularly help keep an aging brain and body healthy.

The powerful field of music therapy uses music interventions to accomplish individualized goals while building therapeutic relationships. Exposure to music therapy can keep the brain healthy and exercised, giving the benefits of better memory, mental sharpness and even happiness, according to the American Music Therapy Association.

“Music provides very specific therapeutic benefits for older adults, supported by growing research in the areas of Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia,” Ann Dinsmore, music therapy supervisor at Masonic Village at Elizabethtown, said. “Music acts as a motivator; it stimulates and relaxes, and it triggers many memories. When other functions have failed people, music still provides an outlet for expression.”

First established in collaboration with Elizabethtown College and with a resident donation, the Masonic Village Music Therapy Department recently celebrated its 15th anniversary. The five certified music therapists in the department work closely with students and volunteers of all ages to promote wellness for residents each day through the therapeutic use of music. Home caregivers can also use music therapeutically.

Dinsmore suggests the following ways that caregivers can use music to benefit their loved ones:

  • Find and play music that will bring back positive memories for them, taking into consideration their preferences, which are usually established between the ages of 15 and 30, and their life experiences.
  • Active music making through playing with instruments, household objects or anything that makes an interesting sound can open a new avenue for creativity.
  • Singing, humming or chanting along with music can help with relaxation and breathing.
  • Conducting with arms, fingers or a “baton” while following the beat of the music engages and increases the oxygen level to the brain.
  • Use musical dynamics, such as music with soft tones, constant harmonies or music with nature sounds to encourage relaxation and deep breathing meditation.
  • Use music for stretching and exercising, such as dancing, foot tapping and arm movements. Change tempos based on moods, tolerance and energy levels when you begin, and be sure to create “warm up” and “cool down” exercises before and after each session.
  • It is never too late to learn or relearn an instrument or singing technique. Keep the brain active by uncovering a vocal score or sitting down at a keyboard to practice and learn music again, or for the first time.

The incorporation of music therapy techniques provides benefits for the caregiver as well as the recipient.  The caregiver can enjoy relaxation while sharing common experiences and creativity with loved ones.

The Power of a Flu Vaccine

By Kelly Weaver, assistant executive director, Masonic Village at Lafayette Hill476226765

So, who believes in the power of the flu shot?  Some are staunch supporters who believe receiving a flu shot wards off the virus, while others feel it is a bunch of hogwash – who is right?

A little homework on my part revealed some interesting statistics drawn from Masonic Village at Lafayette Hill’s health care center:

  • In the winter of 2010-2011, approximately 50% of our staff were immunized, and we experienced two flu outbreaks amongst residents.
  • The following winter, 2011-2012, we again had a 50% staff immunization rate, but there were no flu outbreaks (few cases were observed across the entire country, according to the Centers for Disease Control).
  • The winter of 2012-2013, we experienced one flu outbreak. The staff immunization rate again was about 50%.

This past winter, 2013-2014, Masonic Villages mandated flu shots for employees, and our immunization rate was 97%. We are proud to say there were no flu outbreaks in the health care center! Each year, we were successful in achieving a very high resident immunization rate (close to 100%, less the handful of folks with allergies, etc.), so that figure has remained somewhat constant. The staff immunization rate, however, was significantly different this past year than it had been prior, and despite the many reports that our neighboring facilities were experiencing flu outbreaks, we remained healthy!

Any new believers?

Flu season typically starts in October. Whether you work in a health care setting or plan to visit any hospitals or long-term care communities in the near future, it’s time to consider getting a flu shot. Even if you feel healthy and do your best to prevent the spread of germs, there is a chance you could catch the virus and not realize it. Symptoms may not appear for up to 48 hours, at which point you’ll already be contagious. A minor inconvenience for the receiver, a flu shot may greatly benefit those who are more vulnerable.



Life Lessons from a Fruit Farmer’s Granddaughter – Part 2

Leah and great-grandfatherI’m very thankful for the years that I spent seeing my grandparents on a regular basis, and I don’t see them near enough anymore due to my time being occupied with school. I appreciate the lessons they have taught me that have helped shape me into the person I am today.

  1. Pappy and Dad can operate a tractor to stack apple bins faster and with more precision than I can stack a deck of cards, but Dad still says his grandfather was better than either of them.
  2. Leaves also work as toilet paper. Just, remember, no leaves of three…
  3. Four-wheel drive is a last resort. Pappy can get most things out of the snow or mud without it.
  4. Playing baseball with apples makes you very sticky and very happy.
  5. Growing up is not squirming when MawMaw wants to kiss you goodbye on the cheek, and not wiping it off until you’re out the front door.
  6. “If there’s time to lean, there’s time to clean.”
  7. Never pass an ice cream stand without trying the product. Ice cream without nuts is simply unacceptable to Pappy.
  8. Always lend a helping hand.  If a friend or neighbor asks for help, Pappy’s only question is “what time do you want to start?”
  9. Skipping stones and catching minnows are skills everyone must learn. At the end of the day you have to put the minnows back. Pappy doesn’t agree that they would make great pets.
  10. Stop and smell the roses.  Take time to enjoy the trees, woodland animals, babbling brooks, snow covered fields and sunsets.

- “Mini Tad”

Visit the store for a harvest schedule, or check us out on Facebook for the most up-to-date harvest information.

Life Lessons from a Fruit Farmer’s Granddaughter – Part 1

Leah and grandfather

While coming up with this second list, my Pappy and MawMaw (Farmer Tad’s parents) were on my mind quite a bit. Growing up I spent every weekend with them on their farm in Adams County, so many of my life lessons also came from them. Pappy was a fruit farmer for his whole life. (He still is – don’t let him tell you he’s retired. That man couldn’t stay out of an orchard if his life depended on it.) He, along with his brothers and father (my great-grandfather), ran a huge fruit farm in Adams County until it was sold a few years ago.

I have many fond memories of sledding, snowmobiling, gardening, walking, and playing in the creek with Pappy. That poor man must have played the role of patient while I played the role of doctor for 5 hours a day, but never once said no (though he did become a comatose patient every 15 minutes or so). Maybe he should get free medical care from me when I’m out of medical school?

That being said, this list, while not only comprised of his lessons, is dedicated to my MawMaw and Pappy. 

  1. There is a trick to eating raspberries. To some of you this may be known, but if you are tired of getting seeds stuck in your teeth fear no longer! The trick is to press the raspberry between your tongue and the roof of your mouth, then swallow – no chewing necessary. You’re welcome.
  2. Pappy didn’t understand why everyone wanted me in a dress so badly when I was little. I know I’m a girl, but I grew up inspecting bugs, playing in the mud and riding on tractors. Just let me wear my pants and t-shirts.
  3. Work laundry always stays separate from nice laundry. Creek outfits are to be worn only in the creek.
  4. I dread the second that my Pappy pulls into the parking lot of a Tractor Supply store. I’ll talk to you in three hours.
  5. Oh, tell me you did not just walk through the house wearing your muddy boots…
  6. While not wise advice, farmers are always trying to get in a few more minutes of work before the storm comes. I think the farmer rule is to keep working in the storm until lightning hits a fence post next to you.
  7. You know it was a good day playing with Pappy if MawMaw hoses you down before you’re allowed in the house. Even better yet, you might get to take a bath in the kiddy pool in the yard.
  8. Five gallon buckets are worth more than gold around the farm, especially if they have a handle on them.
  9. A pocket knife is a necessity and can be used for ANYTHING. Screwdriver, prybar, splinter remover and even occasionally to cut something.
  10. Near Pappy’s house in northern Adams County, you wave at everyone you pass. You’re either related to them or they know your grandparents or someone in your family.

-“Mini Tad”

Visit the store for a harvest schedule, or check us out on Facebook for the most up-to-date harvest information.

The Dirt Behind Detoxing

By Hilary Gillette, Penn State University dietetic intern, Masonic Village at Elizabethtownjuice

Juice cleanses, lavender and Epsom salt baths, detox teas, and Jillian Michaels’ “detox water” – our society has turned into one which heavily emphasizes detoxing our bodies.

Detoxing is defined as removing a poisonous or harmful substance from the human body. It was historically used to describe the rehabilitation process for drug and alcohol users. “Detox” has more recently expanded into usage for other “toxins” we are exposed to daily. We eat, breathe, clean the house, drive, take medications, and use beauty products, all which expose us to these toxins.

There are thousands of detox products on the market, ranging from teas and supplement capsules to pads that attach to your feet to “pull” toxins out. Hundreds of books are published on detoxing, including recipes and daily menus to follow.

 Juicy Details

Detox methods have been around for many years, although a relatively new concept earning publicity is “juice cleansing,” in which a juicing machine extracts juice from fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Juice cleansers aim to rest their digestive systems and streamline energy into using the abundant nutrients found in fruit and vegetable juices to flood their body, forcing toxins out.

Juice cleanses, however, result in a void of valuable nutrition. Calorie intake is low, and there is minimal fiber and little to no fat or protein. Juice cleansers often experience flu-like symptoms or achy muscles, which detox creators claim results from toxins leaving the body. Registered dietitians (RDs) explain it as a simple lack of energy and nutrients. The lack of calories going in causes a sense of hunger, leading to junk food cravings like pizza or ice cream (those aren’t detox foods, right?). Long-term juice cleanses also impact your wallet. The amount of produce needed to complete a juice cleanse adds up quickly, not counting the cost of a juicer.

 Smooth Operator

Try blending fruits and vegetables in a blender so you get the juice plus all the fiber removed in juicing. This will help you feel full longer and allows you to incorporate protein and fat into smoothies to balance your diet. Blending should be done as an addition to a balanced diet, not a replacement for extended amounts of time.

The body is a natural detoxing machine. Your kidneys, liver, intestines, lungs, skin, lymph, and blood will do the detox work for you by sorting good nutrients from harmful chemicals and absorbing only what is best for your body. Some toxins may sneak in, but your body knows how to fight them off.

So what can you do to help? Keep your body healthy! Provide it with great nutrition and drink plenty of water. Get sufficient sleep and exercise, and reduce stress. A detox drink will not hurt every now and then, but keeping your detox organs healthy is the best form of detox you can possibly do.

The Wonderful Watermelon

Frequently asked questions about one of th76449.TIFe summer’s brightest fruits:

What makes a “seedless” watermelon seedless?  

Seedless watermelons, which have been grown for over 50 years, are not created through genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as many think, but rather by breeding a diploid chromosomal watermelon with a tetraploid chromosomal watermelon. This is just a bunch of biology jargon that simply means when a male watermelon’s pollen is combined with a female watermelon’s seeds, the resulting offspring is sterile and therefore will not have seeds.


Why are the cracked pieces of watermelon sweeter?

The cracked pieces of a cut watermelon are sweeter because sugar molecules are more concentrated surrounding these cracks. So, no, you didn’t imagine that!


How can you tell if a watermelon is ripe?

The best way to choose a ripe watermelon is to turn over the melon and look at the bottom. This slightly flat section where the watermelon laid on the ground while growing should be a cream or yellow color.


Visit the store for a harvest schedule, or check us out on Facebook for the most up-to-date harvest information.

A Cultural Journey – Eden Alternative®

By Rev. Tim Reichard, director of pastoral care, Masonic Village at SewickleySturgeon Health Care Center

The director team at the Masonic Village at Sewickley started the Eden Alternative® journey in 2008, when we met to prepare for the cultural changes to come, and were certified as an Eden facility in 2010. Implementing the Eden Alternative® has brought significant changes in how we provide care to residents and families.

Empowering Staff and Residents

Eden isn’t something that’s “once and done.” It inspires the daily life of how care is provided in the community. It influences all aspects of resident care, from food service to nursing care, from spiritual care to activities, from facility management to human resources. It has united all the departments together with a shared focus of providing the highest quality of care and addresses the three plagues that affect aging residents in long-term care facilities: boredom, helplessness, and loneliness.

Residents provide input into the care they receive through resident council meeting. Activities include: daily neighborhood programs; outings to theater, baseball, dining, fishing, and bowling; music therapy; weekly Catholic Mass and Protestant worship; pet therapy; and more. Food service provides residents with 18 menu choices, à la carte breakfast and flexible dining schedules. Eden culture change also has significantly impacted how medical care is delivered. There are multiple bathing options (shower, spa, etc.), medication serveries in rooms, permanent staff assignments that help build relationships, and electronic medical records documentation, just to name a few.

Eden is about paying attention to the little things that are important to residents. We recently purchased iPads so residents can have “face-time” with their families. One resident was able to speak with her son and his family in Singapore, and it was the first time she’s ever seen several of her grandchildren. It’s also about relationships. One of the housekeepers knew a resident was in the process of dying and came in on her off hours to sit with the resident.

The New Sturgeon Health Care Center – Eden by Design

Recently, we completed a major renovation of the Sturgeon Health Care Center, doubling the square footage without increasing the number of beds. The care center is divided into eight neighborhoods, each having their own care bases, lounge, and dining areas. Sixteen residents comprise a neighborhood.  This renovation has made the center more “home-like” with beautiful exterior surroundings and internal areas that are aesthetically pleasing. All of the rooms are private; however, shared-private rooms only share a bathroom. Residents can decorate their room to suit their tastes.

(Check out the summer issue of the Village Voice for more information about the new Sturgeon Health Care Center.)

We are excited about the changes that have come with implementing the Eden Alternative® philosophy of care and are committed to providing even better care as our Mission of Love continues.


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