Category Archives: From Growing to Golden

“From Growing to Golden” encourages people of all ages to expand their horizons. Knowledge is the foundation for growth in every stage of life. Learn something new, share it with others and see where it takes you!

Who Will Go For Us?

By Col. Donna Hershey, MSN CRNP NHA, director of personal care and outpatient services, Masonic Village at Elizabethtown

Col. Hershey is also assigned to the 807th Medical Command, based in Salt Lake City, which manages all the Army Reserve deployable field medical units in the upper midwest to Ohio and west to California

Veterans Day.  What does it represent … a day off work, the availability of some good sale promotions, or a time of reflection and recognition of those brothers and sisters in arms who serve, past and present?

I will always place the mission first

Col. Donna Hershey during last year's Massing of the Colors opening ceremony

Col. Donna Hershey during last year’s Massing of the Colors opening ceremony

I will never accept defeat

I will never quit

I will never leave a fallen comrade

I am an American Soldier

These are the Army Values that those who serve follow. The “Massing of the Colors” flag display brings this in clear focus to me as I recognize what each one of the flags represents: a life given in service to one’s country.  I remember growing up hearing the words of JFK, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Military service is one way of demonstrating what one can do for one’s country, and while it is not as common as it once was, it is humbling when military service and sacrifice are remembered in such a visible way.

The addition of the Eternal Flame in Masonic Village at Elizabethtown’s Veterans Grove is yet another recognition of the sacrifice of fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, brothers and sisters across many generations. Unlike other conflicts and wars, the flags placed on the hillside are from a new military generation … the all-volunteer military force or as it has been referred to recently, “the 1%.”

As fewer and fewer Americans decide (or are able) to wear the uniform of military service, it is comforting to know there are those when the question is asked, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” that the answer is, “Here am I. Send Me!” (Isaiah 6:8).

Happy Veterans Day.

A memorial to each soldier who has died in combat since 9/11, the “Massing of the Colors,” and its nearly 7,000 American flags, was on display Nov. 3 – 12 in the Masonic Village at Elizabethtown’s Veterans Grove. The National Sojourners – Harrisburg Chapter No. 76 created the “Massing of the Colors” memorial in 2004 and has displayed the flags at Masonic Village since 2011. Volunteers from Masonic Village, the Sojourners and the community help to set up the thousands of American flags and dozens of Pennsylvania flags representing soldiers from the Keystone state.

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:

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 for more information about Masonic Village’s Adult Daily Living Center or 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.



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.

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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