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A Special Sweetness on Valentine’s Day

February 28, 2018

On Valentine’s Day at The Saybrook at Haddam, you may have seen a joyful group of Safe Harbor Memory Care residents traveling throughout the community making special deliveries of hand-made chocolate hearts.  This happy bunch had worked for several days making and wrapping the candies, tying them up in pretty bows, and placing them in baskets, ready for personal deliveries to all employees.  And when Valentine’s Day came, residents put on their most festive hats and set about the community, delivering candies and plenty of smiles!

Residents visited each office and department handing out candies at every turn.  They stopped to see (pictured here) Executive Director Jeff Williams, Receptionist Melissa Vicchito, Maintenance Director Barry Osalza, Food Services Cook Dan Reynolds, as well as other team members. Everyone enjoyed this wonderful surprise and appreciated the gesture of thanks.

Karen Bloomquist, recreation assistant at Safe Harbor, organized the project as a service-oriented activity that tapped into the residents’ lifelong love of cooking and making things.  Karen melted the chocolate in the microwave and helped residents spoon the chocolate into heart-shaped molds.  They placed lollipop sticks in the molds before putting them into the freezer to set.  Once ready, residents removed the candies from the molds, placed them in plastic bags, and tied on a red ribbon.  Karen said this fun project gave them purpose and joy – and challenged their cognitive and fine motor skills in an engaging way.

“This project made residents feel so good,” Karen said.  “It really empowered them to be able to make these treats and express thanks to our hard-working and wonderful staff.”

Kathy Hallett, director of Safe Harbor, agreed.  “We strive to make all engagement opportunities meaningful and purposeful,” she said.  “Many of our residents were active volunteers in their communities before moving to memory care. Doing a service project like this is reminiscent of activities from their past.”

According to experienced dementia caregivers, meaningful activities for memory care patients are crucial to improved quality of life.  Additionally, the Alzheimer’s Association says that these types of familiar and meaningful activities help dementia residents reinforce their individuality. In addition to giving residents a chance to be creative and serve others, these projects allow everyone to enjoy success in the moment – without being concerned of the outcome.

The Saybrook at Haddam endorses this, which is why the team carefully plans daily activities that appeal to each resident, are engaging and do-able, and tap into former strengths or skills.  Residents really thrive in the moments when they are working on these projects, which is the primary goal of daily life at Safe Harbor.

This also is why our Valentine’s Day candy project was so much fun – and residents were able to spread a special kind of sweetness to all!

For a private tour of The Saybrook at Haddam or its Safe Harbor memory care neighborhood, please fill out the form below or contact David Downey at 860-345-3779.

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Does Religion Matter in Retirement?

February 14, 2018

Did you know “religiousness” in the United States increases with age and that 92 percent of Americans say they believe in God?  This information, compiled by Gallup Polls, is a reminder that religion matters, especially during retirement years. At The Saybrook at Haddam, residents regularly take part in activities and events that express and celebrate their faith and spirituality.  In our opinion, this is a very important way to create a “family” environment and allow residents to enjoy a meaningful life.

For these reasons, we host regular Bible study events and discussions, which have become popular among residents.  We appreciate local pastors who volunteer their time to come to The Saybrook at Haddam each week to lead these discussions, answer questions, play religious music, and provide other forms of fellowship.  We also welcome the local priests who visit each week to give Communion, and rabbis who join us for Jewish studies and celebrations. Additionally, we are happy residents make good use of our van which travels to nearby houses of worship for weekly services.

Our community celebrates religious-inspired holidays and traditions such as Easter, Passover, Mardi Gras and St. Valentine’s Day with decorations, holiday movies and entertainment, and even trips to themed events. Many activities are organized at the suggestion of residents who want to share a tradition or memory with the rest of the community. Of course, our kitchen staff embraces each holiday by creating menus that highlight the different foods, desserts, and drinks that are associated with those special times of year.

Some of our activities – such as Tai Chi, meditation, and even hand-drumming – may not be considered “religious,” but they do have their roots in religion.  While we may look at these simply as healthy ways to promote wellness in seniors, they were, at one point, more closely tied with prayer, community and spirituality. Additionally, our “Books with Joan” activity often will include selections that have spiritual or religious connections.

We were interested, although not surprised, to learn of recent research that illustrates how religion literally affects senior’s overall well-being.  One survey by The Journal of Gerontology found that people who prayed or meditated coped better with illness and lived longer than those who did not. A study funded by the National Institutes of Health found that those who prayed daily were 40 percent less likely to have high blood pressure. Finally, a Dartmouth Medical School study showed that patients with strong religious beliefs were three times more likely to recover from elective heart surgery.

We also appreciate that our community is open and welcoming to residents who may describe themselves as “non-religious.”  These residents, like everyone at The Saybrook at Haddam, enjoy tremendous benefits from our diverse range of social, educational and cultural events and outings that keep their minds and bodies active.  Their friendship and involvement are important parts of what makes our community thrive.

For a private tour of The Saybrook at Haddam or its Safe Harbor memory care neighborhood, please fill out the form below or contact David Downey at 860-345-3779.

Request Information or Schedule a Tour

We’re happy to answer any questions you have and provide additional information about The Saybrook at Haddam.

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