Slow down and take a walk

We see them and do not understand.
We see them and do not recognize.
What used to be their mind.
What used to be my friend,
Gone, left behind.

We see them be on point,
We see them be complete,
Then they disappear in a blink.

At times a glimmer of understanding.
A glance of hope.
Then like a switch we are back to here,
Is there some place you must go?

Hard to leave you here,
Hard to say goodbye,
But I know you are safe.
With EastView at your side.

amasse


It was a Wednesday morning and several of EastView’s Memory Care residents, accompanied by Activities personnel, were returning from a walk around Eastview paths. I said to one of the residents, “Wonderful day for a walk!”

She replied, “Yes, sitting on bench, sun, beautiful.” The sentence was not complete, but the meaning sure was. I had tears in my eyes from understanding her joy at being outside and enjoying the walk and beautiful landscapes within our community. There are many days when I, too, walk around EastView and feel immense joy and piccomfort.

It is so important to remember that even though a person’s mind has changed, he or she is still the same person we married, celebrated, and looked up to. It is often hard to remember and celebrate the finer days and moments when we are faced with difficult behaviors and blank stares. And, it is hard and nearly impossible to feel like you are the same people or the same couple you were before, before memory loss, before Dementia, before Alzheimer’s… before it all started.

But, we can still grasp at moments of joy while on walks, or while listening to music, or while just sitting next to each other on a bench quietly. We can learn to appreciate, in those few moments, who they now are, and be thankful, never forgetting who they were.

Having those you love change is difficult and hard to understand. At Eastview we try to make the best of the present by creating moments filled with opportunities for joy and comfort. For example, our residents mingle with the entire Eastview community, attending events, and participating in our ice cream or strawberry socials!

Come and see our Memory Care Unit come see how we celebrate life and support our families and residents.

Sincerely,

Andrea J. Masse Director of Health Services

For additional memory education and support go to: https://alzfdn.org/

Celebrating Our Staff

The hard work and dedication of our staff makes EastView a vibrant community for all our residents. The Health Services staff caring for our residents in Residential Care and Memory Care; the Dining staff preparing and serving delicious and nutritious food; the Programs staff ensuring that are residents have access to activities and programs; the Facilities staff keeping our property well maintained and looking its best. The staff here at EastView take pride in our community and work diligently to make EastView a great place to live.

Every year, EastView hosts a staff appreciation luncheon to celebrate the work that each and every employee contributes. This year’s luncheon took place on Tuesday, June 20. We were treated to a delicious BBQ chicken lunch catered by Cecil Foster of Bristol. Potato salad, watermelon salad with feta, baked beans, salad, and on and on. And to wash it all down…Will’s Lemonade provided squeezed-to-order refreshment.

New to the party this year, our own Andrea Masse, Director of Health Services, provided rides around the property aboard her own version of a Party Barge – a wagon pulled by 2 Percheron horses, Pinot & Rex.

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While our staff makes Eastview home for our residents, they also help create a dynamic environment in which to work. We are always looking for outstanding individuals who want to make a positive, lasting contribution to our community! For more information on open positions please visit the “Join Our Team” page on our website or submit your resume to greatplacetowork@eastviewmiddlebury.com.

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VT Adaptive Biking Activity Days at EastView

What is Vermont Adaptive? Who are they and what do they do?

Also known as Vermont Adaptive Ski & Pic3Sports, Vermont Adaptive is an organization that promotes independence and dignity through modified sports equipment. Vermont Adaptive is geared toward individuals with physical, cognitive or mental/behavioral impairments. They have a wide range of equipment for activities including biking, tennis, hiking, kayaking, snowboarding, horseback riding and many more!

Ellen Burke, a former resident of EastView who passed in the Fall of 2017, was an extremely caring, active and beautiful woman. Her daughter Maggie, and husband Mike, visited her so often they were part of our EastView family. Mike and Maggie, who works for Vermont Adaptive, donated two days of Adaptive Biking to EastView in memory of Ellen Burke and to give back to EastView. It was a great way to say “Thank you”.

Pic2On Wednesday, May 17th, around 10am, a white van and trailer pulled into the EastView parking lot. Three employees jumped out and started to roll out bicycles, one by one, from the back of the trailer. About 10 bicycles of all shapes, colors and sizes were lined up in the sun. Bikes with one seat, bikes with two seats, bikes with 2 wheels, bikes with 3 wheels and even bikes with 4 wheels rested on the pavement next to a pile of helmets. Fifteen EastView residents came by to check the bikes out, some even took them for a spin. A couple of staff members joined in the fun at various times, to get a hands-on feel for how the bicycles rode. We had one resident take out her very own recumbent bike and strike up a conversation before she pedaled away on a ride into Middlebury. There was a steady flow of residents who participated in the event from 10am- 2pm. Residents pedaled on the paved path around EastView and some even went twice. Most reactions were exclamations like; “I haven’t been on a bike in years!” and “This is wonderful!” Smiles and warm sun touched all that participated.

Vermont Adaptive came back for a second biking activity day on Friday, June 9th, from 10am-2pm. This time they were parked in the front parking lot that leads into the EastView lobby. We had a total of twenty-one residents from EastView participate which was a bigger turnout than the first day. The weather was beautiful and sunny. We had a many people relaxing in the rocking chairs for a majority of the time. Overall, a very successful, memorable couple of days at EastView at Middlebury. We hope to have Vermont Adaptive back in the future either with bicycles again or another outdoor sports activity.

Thank you so much, Vermont Adaptive and  Maggie and Mike!

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Live Fire Safety Training at EastView

We would like to thank David Morrison of Fire ProTec for presenting at our Annual Live Fire Safety Training received by EastView staff members on May 15th.

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David pointed out how fortunate our EastView community is to have an Inn Building with fire protection features such as our sprinkler system, fire/co alarms with monitoring, fire rated doors, Ansel kitchen hoods, fire extinguishers, emergency lighting and our “Defend in Place” construction which provides fire rated apartments and safe spaces throughout the building.

We were also reminded how critical the first few minutes of an emergency are and that how we react during this time can make the difference in saving lives.  We are all empowered to take the following actions during an event to help keep people safe.

Critical actions in any emergency response to fires include:

RACE

Rescue – The first priority is always to protect the safety of people in immediate danger.

Alarm – Pull the nearest fire alarm in any case of fire. It is far better to have the fire department respond and not be needed than not to respond as soon as possible when needed.

Contain – Close all doors and windows to contain the fire and limit its expansion as much as possible. Use fire doors to help protect residents, staff and visitors.

Extinguish –  Extinguish small fires if possible but not at the risk to your safety or the safety of others.

Use of fire extinguishers follows the PASS system:

Pull the pin, unlocking the control lever.

Aim low, point the nozzle or hose at base of the fire.

Squeeze the lever which starts discharge.

Sweep from side to side, continuing this motion until flames disappear.

We wish you a safe and Happy Memorial Day!

Brandon Streicher
Facilities Director

My EastView Experience

Aging and the end-of-life process is hard, both for the individual experiencing it and for his or her family. There is always sadness, doubt, and frustration. For me, however, EastView at Middlebury helped to ease the process and provide much-needed warmth and love.

My mom was 98 yePic1ars old, virtually blind, and confined to a wheelchair when she moved into EastView. I visited my mom at least four days a week for over a year, and, during that time, I got to know and love many of the residents and many of the staff.  I saw first-hand the care and respect that my mom received for who she was.  The staff took the time to understand her, appreciate her sense of humor, her strong vocabulary, and her intelligence.  One by one, they fell in love.  I could tell that they had done the same with all of the other memory care residents.  No matter what time of day or night, when I arrived, I witnessed each and every person being treated with respect and kindness.

Prior to moving to EastView, my mom had been living in my home with me, who was her caregiver around the clock.  However, a change in her circumstances had made it clear that I would be unable to continue caring for her myself.  I needed to find an alternative. When I toured EastView, I knew almost immediately that it was the perfect place for my mom.  The staff was friendly and happy, and the memory care and residential care residents were welcoming, content, and engaged.

When it became clear that my mom was passing away after a year at EastView, the number of people who came to her room to say goodbye was a true testament to the quality of her care.  Many staff members came by, including dining staff, caregivers, and management. Most were in tears.  My mom was not conscious, but they sat with her, thanked her for coming into their lives and for the influence that she’d had on them and told her how much she had meant to them.  They were also truly present for me aPic2nd my family; we had no idea when my mom was going to pass, but hospitality carts were provided, sleeping arrangements made, and I received numerous hugs and sincere support from everyone who I saw.  It was beautiful and moving beyond words.

It was the love, respect, and care that my mom received from everyone around her at EastView—caregivers, staff, management, and other residents—that made me apply for the job of Director of Sales & Marketing.  I loved everything about EastView, and I knew I could stand behind it one hundred percent.  I love working here!

Cari Burkard
Director of Sales & Marketing

Health and Wellness Fair!

We are getting pumped for our first ever Addison County Health and Wellness Fair, THIS SATURDAY!!!  We’ve got over 20 local vendors who are all striving to help people get (and stay) healthy, including Backyard Bootcamp, Rev Fitness, Vermont Sun, Vermont Spine Works, Porter Women’s Health, Juice Amour, Middlebury Foods, Waterfalls Day Spa, holistic healers, and many more!  We’ll have raffles every hour, and fitness classes for all ages every 30 minutes.

What’s for the kids, you ask??

A BOUNCY HOUSE!  Face Painting!  Popcorn!  Firetruck and Ambulance tours!  Music and dancing provided by Papa Grey Beard!  We’ve got it all!!  

It’s sure to be a fantastic event for the whole family, so please stop by and see us THIS SATURDAY, from 10am-2pm, at EastView–just beyond Porter Hospital.

Beating the summer heat.

Are you staying hydrated during these hot days?  At 90 degrees, most of us are at risk for heat stroke if given enough time in the sun.  Seniors need to be even more careful.  Many medications actually put people at greater risk for heat stroke; heart medication and blood pressure medication can interfere with the body’s ability to cool off in these warm summer months.

In order to cool down, our heart rate increases to bring blood closer to our skin.  From there, wind, sweat, and evaporation remove heat from the body.  Heart and blood pressure medications interfere with that process, making it more difficult for the body  to regulate it’s temperature.  This can turn into a dangerous situation for anyone–and seniors are even more at risk.  Seniors are more likely to have chronic health conditions that change the body’s response to heat, and may be on medications that contribute to dehydration.  In fact, some studies have found that 40% of heat-related fatalities in the U.S. were among people over the age of 65.

There are several things you can do to help protect yourself, and your loved ones this summer.  For starters, STAY HYDRATED!  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say, “But I hate water!”  Fine–that’s okay–drink something else, then!  Juice, seltzer water, herbal tea…anything nonalcoholic!  You will never be able to beat the heat if you don’t replace all the fluid your body is losing throughout the day.

Check in on your neighbors, parents, and grandparents.  Make sure they’re staying safe, and watch them for signs of confusion, weakness, or sickness.

Monitor your (and their) activity level.  Even a simple walk in the shade in this kind of heat can be too much for someone.  Make sure you and your loved one are dressed appropriately.  Wear light colored clothing and ensure that sweaters and long pants are saved for the nice, cool air conditioner.

Stay indoors during the mid-day hours.  If you’re taking mom to a BBQ, or out to run some errands, do so before 10am or after 6pm when the air will be cooler and the sun less intense.

Rest.  Rest, rest, rest!  Make sure you and your loved one are laying low on these hot days, and taking the time to put those feet up.  (That will help with the swelling in your ankles, too!).  Dreaming of an afternoon nap?  Take one!  Save the wild moments for later on in the evening…

Finally, know the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.  Need a reminder? Symptoms can include the following:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Paleness
  • Muscle Cramps
  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fainting
  • Skin: may be cool and moist
  • Pulse rate: fast and weak
  • Breathing: fast and shallow

If not managed appropriately, these symptoms can quickly progress to these…..

  • An extremely high body temperature (above 103°F)
  • Red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating)
  • Rapid, strong pulse
  • Throbbing headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea

THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU CAN DO IN EITHER OF THESE SITUATIONS IS TO GET MEDICAL ATTENTION AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Heat stroke is a very dangerous medical condition and can cause death if it is not treated. 

So please, take good care of yourself and your loved ones during these hot days of summer!  And when it feels completely unbearable and you don’t think you can take one more second of the heat, just remember: THERE ARE ONLY 172 DAYS UNTIL…….

Nahhhh….I can’t say it!  Just enjoy the summer and drink up!

Cheers!

Lauren

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

My grandmother used to make world famous grilled cheese sandwiches.  She would use white Wonder bread, and slather the sides with real butter.  In between those pieces of bread would be orange slices of cheese…the kind that came in singles and I would get to peel the plastic off of them and would always eat a slice or two as I waited for my sandwich.  And then she would create magic.  I don’t know how she did it–patience, perhaps.  I tend to cook things on my stove at really high temperatures because I hate to wait.  My grilled cheese sandwiches never look like hers did–with crispy edges and gooey cheese pouring out of the two triangles she would serve me…I almost feel like I’m sitting at her kitchen table right now waiting for one.  And she’d serve it was a glass of cranberry juice mixed with ginger ale.  It was heaven.

That piece of heaven was ripped away from me in one fell swoop, one day at her condo in Manchester.  I had moved in with gram when we learned that she had Alzheimer’s disease, with the hopes of being able to keep her in her own home for as long as possible.  This one afternoon, she asked if I wanted a grilled cheese sandwich and I immediately went from a 23-year-old hipster to a 5-year-old on Christmas morning, anxiously awaiting her new Barbie doll sports car.  I threw myself into the kitchen chair and waited, anticipating the sweet, creamy, crispy treat that was about to come my way.  But what was placed in front of me was not a sweet, creamy, crispy grilled cheese sandwich.   My gram’s world famous sandwich was burnt to a crisp.

This was a defining moment in her illness for me.  It was around this time that I started to feel overwhelmed…like I couldn’t handle the depth of her illness…like I needed to get out.  And I loved my sweet little gram so much–it was hard to think that I couldn’t just “suck it up” and help out.  I hated myself for this for a long time–hated that I gave up and moved out…but I started to realize that I wasn’t a terrible person for not being able to manage the emotions of losing someone I loved to dementia.  It wasn’t just that I couldn’t clean up after her, or give her medications on time, or help her back to bed when she got out in the middle of the night.  I couldn’t be there to watch her decline and deteriorate.  My heart couldn’t handle the every day reminders that I was losing her.

I still struggle with this…especially now that she’s gone.  I still wish I had been able to hang in and give her more of my time.  Maybe it was all part of the plan because watching her go through the long term care system brought me into nursing, and pushed me to make it better for others going through this.  It’s hard–it’s a hard decision to make when it comes time to place your loved one in the care of someone else.  I think we are often of the mindset that we want to do it, because no one will be able to do it better than us.  And we push ourselves to the max to do everything we can for everyone else…but we forget about our own self.  I wanted to be that person so badly for my gram, and for my family…but in the end it was too hard, and it hurt too much.

It hurt when I got frustrated with her…or when she became upset with me.  It hurt when I couldn’t redirect her…or when I couldn’t cheer her up.  When we finally got her into a place that specialized in memory care, I was able to sit with her at the piano again, and sing songs together.  My mom and I could take her out for meals, and we could laugh together.  Our time together became so much more meaningful, and seeing her was a joy…something that I looked forward to again.  I’ll never forget the day I left, and she was no longer able to speak, but she looked at my face, and rubbed my cheek, and stared into my eyes for what seemed like minutes…smiling.  When I turned around, my mother and I had tears streaming down our cheeks.  That woman was something amazing.

I’m forever thankful that I had that time with her, in her home, spending our evenings drinking wine and watching game shows.  I helped put her to bed, make her breakfast, helped her feed the ducks and squirrels…and there were so many hours where she would sit on the couch and listen to me bang away at the piano, or the guitar that she had given me.  I was never any good…but she loved every minute of it…and that’s what I’ll remember.

And I’m forever thankful to the wonderful place where she eventually ended up.  They made her smile, helped her walk, and gave my family and I the peace of mind that we so desperately needed.  We wanted her to be as safe, and as well-cared for as she could be, and that put my life onto  a path I never would have guessed.  Making the decision to allow someone else to care for your loved one is one of the hardest decisions you might make.  I firmly believe that it was what was best for my gram and I…it helped us to feel like I was her granddaughter again, and that was a relationship that was so important to both of us.

So my plea is this: don’t ever feel that you’re wrong for thinking you can’t do it all…or that you need more help.  Don’t ever feel like a failure if it all becomes too hard.  It is hard.  Taking care of someone with dementia can at times be almost impossible.  It’s a disease…and illness…and it takes a village.  There are people who can help; whether it’s respite, companion care, or just someone who can sit with you and help you navigate the system.  There is support for caregivers, and support for those with dementia…and there are places that specialize in memory care and quality of life.  You’re not alone in the battle, and there are people who understand more than you know.  So go ahead and lean on them…that’s what we’re here for.

Warmly,
Lauren

Rita

(Above: me and my sweet Rita at Shady Glen, our favorite lunch spot.)

http://www.alz.org/care/

https://www.alz.org/care/alzheimers-dementia-support-groups.asp

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/caregivers/in-depth/alzheimers/art-20048212

 

 

a’chromatherapy

When we opened our Namaste Room, my friend Sara Daly called me for a tour.  Sara co-owns Waterfalls Day Spa in Middlebury, and I was excited to get her input on our new spa-like room.  I was not expecting the proposal that I received at the end of our tour: Sara had recently begun the patenting process for their new  a’chromatherapy™ program, and she wanted to bring it to EastView.

Our Namaste Room is a place for relaxation for people with advanced dementia.  It’s a room filled with recliners and fish tanks, soft lighting and music, snacks and blankets.  People can go in any time they’d like to rest, have their nails done, and get a massage.  It’s a high-touch environment meant to stimulate the senses, and when the doors close behind them, the person is met with gentle smells and sounds of nature that invite them to close their eyes and relax.

The Waterfalls Day Spa a’chromatherapy™ program is a “unique sensory journey” that utilizes the combined power of aroma, color, and guided meditation to create an overall sense of well-being and balance.  This special combination of sensory stimulation is the perfect addition to our Room, and has proven to be an incredible tool for stress relief and relaxation with our residents and staff.

With the addition of the Namaste Room and a’chromatherapy™ program, we are seeing a reduction in stress and anxiety levels in our memory care neighborhood.  Dementia can be a noisy and confusing disease, but something magical happens when we bring someone into our Room, tuck them into a recliner, close the doors, and start a meditation.  We have seen a reduction in the use of pain medications, and psychotropic medications that are used to treat the behavioral symptoms of dementia.  Our specially designed environment has helped us have better success with distraction and redirection when residents are upset.  Often times, when we show someone the meditation pictures, they are able to stop focusing on their pain or fear, and instead begin to remember times they were in the forest, at the beach, or watching a sunset.

The a’chromatherapy™ program has been a hit with our staff, as well.  The guided meditations have been used before staff meetings and before shifts.  Employees are calmer and feel more comfortable speaking openly with coworkers and supervisors, and work together to problem solve and negotiate.  Employees are able to use the meditations during their breaks, or any time throughout their day if they are feeling stressed or upset.  It is essential that staff provide a calm environment for people with dementia, and the addition of these two programs gives everyone the opportunity to find some calmness and peace in their day.

I feel really good about having these tools in our pocket to help combat the symptoms of dementia.  We’re able to provide our residents with holistic treatments that help them feel more in control and more at peace.  Our staff experience less burnout when they are able to break away from their day to day tasks and provide people with soothing treatments, experiencing first–and secondhand–the benefits of the Namaste Room. I’m so thankful that Sara had the idea to bring a’chromatherapy™ into our world, as it has helped improve the quality of life for all of us at EastView.

 

achromatherapy

 

Happiness is…

Where does happiness come from?  They say it comes from within (who the heck is “they,” anyway?) …and I partially believe that.  We need to “stay positive”–see the glass as “half full”–love ourselves–share our love with others–and if we do all of that, we should be happy.  Right?  Well what if we’re not?  What if life has dealt so many blows that we can’t find that happiness anymore?  Or that the chemical structure of our brain changes so it becomes almost impossible for us to be happy organically…then what?

I think of our culture today and how mindful we are about exercise, pesticides, brain health…and how advanced modern medicine has become.  It’s remarkable to see people living, and living well, into their 80’s, 90’s and 100’s.  This shift has led to a few different thought processes that I hear on a pretty regular basis.  The first is, “I hope I can live that long!”  We see people who are active and enjoying life, and we want that for ourselves.  Another group of people may feel slightly ambivalent and will take what comes, not really reaching for it, but not fighting against age, either.

What I hear most often is not either of those two intentions.  Most frequently I hear, “I hope I don’t live that long.”

I can only speak about the situations that I have encountered, and this is by no means meant to be a generalization.  But if we are to be honest about life at 80, 90 or 100, we have to think about loss.  How much has a centenarian lost in their life?  Friends, family, independence?  Perhaps mobility or the capability of making ones own decisions?  These losses can be detrimental to one’s spirit–to their soul.  The inability to decide when to eat lunch, or when to shower, can make it or break it for some.  And when someone has encountered so much loss, is it fair to wonder why they’re not happy?  Or to judge them because of it?

I hope that I am someone who can take life as it comes, and find the lemonade with all the lemons.  But even the best of us reach a point where we’d rather just lay down and rest after being knocked down more times than we can handle.

Erik Erickson’s 8th stage of Psychosocial Development is Integrity vs. Despair.  It is in this stage in life where Erickson claims someone reevaluates their life…looking back over successes and accomplishments.  If they are satisfied with all they have done, they feel integrity.  If they are not satisfied…if they feel that they did not leave their mark or accomplish their goals…they feel a sense of despair.  I absolutely agree with Erickson, as I have seen this many times.  This despair is heart-breaking for family and friends to see, and it is challenging to manage for all involved.

What can we do?  How can we help our loved ones struggling with depression or hopelessness?  I think it’s about understanding and empathy.  It’s about allowing the person to talk about their feelings, and asking them the hard questions.  Think about carrying a log up a mountain.  You want to do it by yourself–you want to show others that you can. But how relieved are you when someone comes up next to you and carries the other side?  By giving someone the opportunity to express their true feelings about life, you’re helping them to carry the burden.  By really hearing them when they express that this life is not acceptable to them anymore, as opposed to quickly responding with “Oh don’t say that!”– which tends to be our gut reaction–this empathy opens the pathway for more honest communication.  And only then can you truly realize how you can help someone be happy.

I know we’re not always going to make everyone happy, and this type of conversation might not happen overnight.  But we need to keep trying, and talking, and remembering that everyone is different and has different needs and wishes.  There may be times when nothing we can do can make someone smile…but we should go down trying.

Warmly,

Lauren