Mission Accomplished

By Kara LaFreeda, wellness manager, and Jennifer Grassi, recreation coordinator, Masonic Village at Lafayette Hill

Masonic Village at Lafayette Hill  Senior Games participants with 6abc reporter Lisa Thomas-Laury at the Senior Games.

Masonic Village at Lafayette Hill Senior Games participants with 6abc reporter Lisa Thomas-Laury.

Residents of Masonic Village took first place at the 34th annual Senior Games in Plymouth Meeting. More than just about winning, the Senior Games are a wonderful event which:

  • Gives residents an opportunity to make new friends
  • Fosters camaraderie
  • Promotes physical activity
  • Provides a fun, diversional activity that takes the mind off problems, pain, etc.
  • Creates a sense of anticipation – something to look forward to
  • Offers a topic of conversation and gives the residents something positive to share with their families

We practice as a team two times a week for around six weeks. This provides residents a social opportunity, as well as a physical goal-oriented activity. There are five events (all seated): wheelchair race, bean bag toss, hat/scarf relay, soccer kick, and a ball toss. Most of the events include hand-eye or foot-eye coordination. The ball toss requires memory and quick hand reaction.

Our main goal is for residents to have fun and feel good about themselves when finished. We want them to leave practice feeling they have achieved a goal – maybe they got more bean bags in the box, or their ball toss time was quicker. One thing we always stress at practice is to have fun and laugh! We share many laughs, especially during the hat/scarf relay when the participants have to quickly put the items on/off while being timed in a relay.

The day of the event is a very hectic one for all involved. The event requires numerous staff and the cooperation of many departments to ensure all goes smoothly. Once we are on location, the festivities start with the National Anthem, Pledge of Allegiance, and a short prayer before the games begin.

All participants receive a medal for whatever place they come in for each event. A disc jockey plays music, and Philadelphia Mummers keep us entertained during lunch. At the end, the results are tallied and announced.

The look of success and accomplishment on the faces of our residents really tells the complete story. You could see the sense of pride in their eyes as they wear their medals back home on the bus. After a long day of competing and many weeks of practicing, it is all worth it for those residents – a true team effort for all of us!

View a 6 ABC news story highlighting Masonic Village and other competitors at the Senior Games: http://6abc.com/society/34th-annual-senior-games-in-plymouth-meeting/332745/.

Red Equals Ripe, Right?

appledivaMy favorite costumers were the ones who asked questions and honestly cared about my response. Our employees have a lot of agricultural knowledge, and we love to share that with you.

I believe the most common question I am asked during apple season is if the color of an apple determines how ripe it is. If you think that an apple having more color on it is a sign of ripeness, you are not alone; that is a very common misconception.

The colors on an apple, such as red, orange, yellow, or brown hues, are only an indicator of where an apple sat on its tree. Imagine that the apples on a tree are sunbathing as they ripen. The apples on the outside of the tree, which are exposed to more sunlight, will gain more color. I describe this color to customers as a sun tan. The apples that are on the inner part of branches, which are more shaded from sun rays by the outer apples, will not have quite as much color on them. All of these apples will ripen equally, and we only pick the apples when they are at their peak ripeness, so every apple in your basket will be good to eat.

In fact, even as farmers we cheat to know when apples are ripe. When it is getting close to the estimated harvest date of an apple (determining those dates is a whole different article), Farmer Tad will go out into the orchard each day, take a bite out of the apple to check for flavor, and test its firmness. As an apple ripens, it becomes softer, and so Tad uses a penetrometer to check if the fruit is soft, and therefore ripe. This pen-like apparatus measures the amount of pressure that is necessary to push a hole into the fruit, thus testing how firm the fruit is. He may also use a refractometer, which measures the sugar content.

So, fortunately or unfortunately, the only way to truly know if the fruit you take home is ripe is to trust your farmer. Of course, we have apple samples out all fall and are always more than happy to sample anything you would like to try. The fruit you get at a grocery store? Well, you’re on your own there.

Enjoy your October and the cooling weather.

Best wishes,

~ Mini Tad


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


Finding Relief and Respite

By Vickie Brown, LPN, program director, Adult Daily Living Center, Masonic Village at ElizabethtownADLC

Sara* had a stroke in her mid-50s, a time when both she and her husband were living very full lives. They were working full-time, traveling, spending time with grandchildren, etc. They were unsure how to proceed so they could both continue their fulfilling, enriched lives.

Many families find themselves in the position of providing care for a spouse, parent, or adult child. Caregivers often become overwhelmed while taking care of a loved one and their needs, and frequently overlook their own.

Whether their loved one experiences a stroke, dementia, or any other life-altering condition, people may be uncertain where to turn to ensure their loved one receives high quality care while they continue to work, provide for their family, or take a few hours off from the caregiving role.

Adult day centers and services are designed to help caregivers and their loved ones. While the caregiver gets some much needed time to continue to work, shop for groceries, or get to a scheduled appointment, qualified staff ensures their loved one is safe, comfortable, and cared for in their absence.

At the Masonic Village at Elizabethtown’s Adult Daily Living Center, along with providing personalized care for each individual, such as assistance with personal hygiene, medication administration, and dietary requirements, staff provide a variety of stimulating activities. Clients are invited to participate in goal-oriented activities and programs including card and table games, cognitive groups (reminiscing, trivia), pastoral services, music therapy, cooking groups, creative arts, currents events, and exercise classes.

They may take part in events on Masonic Village’s campus, such as a County Fair held in August and Active Aging Week activities offered the end of September. Outings are planned throughout the year including trips to the library, baseball games, and restaurants for lunch.

Sara now attends the Adult Daily Living Center every weekday where she enjoys outings and spending time with friends. Her husband continues to work full-time, and when they get together for dinner each evening, both eagerly share stories about their day.

Individuals who are looking for respite from the caregiving role or need to continue working, or whose loved one is looking to meet some new friends and continue to be active while receiving supervised care, adult day services may be the help needed to enhance everyone’s lives.

Visit www.AdultDailyLiving.org for more information about Masonic Village’s Adult Daily Living Center or http://nadsa.org for information about other adult day services.

*Name changed to protect client privacy

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. 



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