Walt Disney once said “laughter is timeless, imagination has no age, and dreams are forever.” Reflecting on this quote after returning home from one of the most unpredictable Elder Vacations to Walt Disney World we have ever done, I realize the power and true depth of it.
Laughter is timeless. This week I had the pleasure to see so much laughter. The pure joy of many Elders as they hugged their favorite Disney character, shopped until they dropped for their loved ones or made new friends. I witnessed the beauty of love in its purest form as Mr. and Mrs. Crisp from Prestonsburg, Kentucky exchanged a kiss in front of Cinderella’s castle. I stood on Main Street USA with hundreds of other spectators in awe of their love and felt so many emotions as they shared a look that only years of understanding and persistence can understand. The Crisps recently celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary and rightfully deserved the spotlight as many stood captivated by the beauty of the moment.
Imagination has no age. One of the most special things about being at Walt Disney World is that we can live in a world that is not our own. It’s the ability to let our imaginations run free and the excitement of chasing after it all at once. While some might argue that Disney is only for the young, I’ve realized over our many trips there with Elders that there are no age limits on our imagination. To tap into a part of ourselves that we have carefully packed away with our childhood is liberating, it’s exciting and it’s contagious! After waiting for almost two hours with a few ladies to see Minnie Mouse, I witnessed their absolute joy when the time finally approached. I saw them straightening their hair and applying their lipstick before they went in to meet what some might call a childhood dream. There were no signs of being tired, no signs of sickness, frailness or anxiety. There were only expressions of joy, love and happiness.
Dreams are forever. I’ve seen so many dreams come true this past week that I couldn’t possibly list them all here. Maybe it was the group from McCreary who ran into Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood while trying to exit the Magic Kingdom on Wednesday night. Anna, who lives at the home, loves Garth Brooks so much and was so excited to just hear him performing that afternoon at the Magic Kingdom, never thought she would actually meet him! But as fate would have it, they ended up on the same path and her dreams really did come true. Or maybe it was the group who came to meet all the characters they could, so they spent their days meeting so many of the princesses! Or maybe it was the group who wanted to see the fireworks display at the castle, something they remember from their youth and only seeing it on tv in the past.
With our 15th Elder Vacation behind us, we’ve learned so much from the Elders we love and serve. We’ve learned that life is best lived in the moment, not taking a single second for granted and the companionship of those who have turned into “family”. Life is all about living and our Elders have shown me how to do that best!
“If you can dream it, you can do it”-Walt Disney
Over 100 Elders and Stakeholders from Signature HealthCare arrived at Walt Disney World on Monday for a week filled with magic, dreams and holiday wishes! For many, this was not only their first time to Walt Disney World but their first time traveling by airplane so the adventure began before they ever departed Kentucky or Tennessee!
When the group stepped off the bus at the Grand Floridian, excitement was in the air! One of the Elders asked me if this is where celebrities stayed because it was so beautiful! Many of the elders were already celebrating new friendships formed while traveling when they arrived. The stage was set for another magical adventure and everyone couldn’t wait to get started!
It wasn’t but a few hours after arrival that some jumped on the monorail system for their first ride and their first view of Cinderella’s castle! The night was young as the group entered the Magic Kingdom for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party! As the parade rounded main street the Elders laughter was full of joy and even glee as the floats came by us! One lady even said “This is a Christmas we will never forget!”. Nothing could be more accurate than those words!
Tuesday brought us Epcot and a “trip around the world” in which the Elders delightedly took part in the food and wine festival! Elders traveled through the world showcase enjoying not only the experience of different foods but also the street performers! The magic was contagious as our Elders took to the streets and met so many people!
Many had requests to meet special Disney characters! From Mickey Mouse to Mary Poppins, those dreams came true one by one! The excitement continued to manifest as the day went on!
Some experienced the joy of Soarin’ Around the World while others delighted in a boat ride around the world showcase. One thing is for sure, everyone did exactly as they wished!
As the tired group made its way back to the resort, everyone agreed that “dreams really do come true”.
Picasso once said that “the purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls”. I’ve always known that the impact of the arts in our communities could influence well-being while becoming a springboard for the creativity that lies within each of us.
The Elders at Rockcastle Health and Rehabilitation recently embarked on a new journey into the performance arts. Kelsey Adams, Quality of Life Director, shares their story below:
To honor the men and women who lived and served during World War II our Elders and Stakeholders joined forces to create “The Greatest Generation” a WWII Play. The planning and preparation started well before our opening night on September 29th. We held meetings regularly to write the script, create props and design our costumes! The first night of our live performance was held in our home’s dining room with several family members and Elders in attendance. The second night the show went on the road as we were able to perform our original script at the Rockcastle County High School auditorium. It was really during this performance that our very talented actors enjoyed the experience of performing in a real theatre setting. Our play was a huge success and we have made plans to do both a Thanksgiving and Christmas Play.
I can’t imagine the excitement the Elders must have had in showcasing their talents in this way. The mere act of creating something truly does wash the dust away from our souls! Programs that engage Elders in the world around them are meaningful to them and demonstrate the growth and creativity that dwells within each of us as individuals. Igniting creativity in others unlocks a door of potential that never closes and unleashes a new power that can change the views of those around us. Our Elders at Rockcastle Health and Rehabilitation are changing the way others perceive aging and the role of creativity in the aging process.
I saw this quote once, “Memories are timeless treasures of the heart.” Reflecting back on the day in Virginia Beach, it was nothing short of memorable. Waking up this morning, I looked out on the beach at sunrise and there were some of our Elders enjoying the beauty of God’s creations. Tired yes, but yet so excited to start the day.
After breakfast, everyone had their own plans for our “free day!” Treasures were captured as many walked the entire length of the boardwalk searching for the perfect souvenir or gift to return home with. More treasures were found as some jumped on the local trolley to tour the city and visit the aquarium!
Some Elders couldn’t wait to relax on the beach this morning. Many got their feet in the ocean for the first time and marveled at how beautiful it really was. Priceless treasures were revealed with the strengthening of relationships as we got to know each better. Laughter filled the air as an Elder buried Nancy in the sand.
Day soon became evening and it was time to board The Spirit of Norfolk for our dinner cruise. The view was beautiful but the camaraderie was the most treasured part. Once the dance floor opened, our Elders jumped in to teach the other passengers some new moves. Etwell finally found a gentleman who offered her a dance. The other passengers were sparked to life by our beautiful Elders, teaching them to take advantage of every moment.
We’ve discovered our greatest treasures to be the memories we’ve created together this week. The spark of companionship that drives out loneliness and welcomes joy to the lives of our Elders has been evident everywhere we turn. These moments are truly timeless and will be tucked away in the depths of our hearts that we can take out often, remember with fondness and then place back. Memories that we’ve placed there with love as we move forward in life.
C.S. Lewis said “You are never too old to set a new path or dream a new dream.” We are learning that this week as 60 Elders and Stakeholders from Signature Hometown homes in Kentucky and Tennessee are visiting Virginia Beach on our 14th Elder Vacation.
The Elders all arrived to the resort with their eyes full of hope and their heads full of dreams. Fran’s dream has always been to see the ocean. I won’t likely forget the sweet tears of joy she shed as she slipped her shoes off to feel her toes in the sand for the very first time.
Yesterday we started the day by climbing aboard our tour bus to take a quick driving tour of Virginia Beach to learn the local history. We enjoyed touring the Cape Henry lighthouses along the way. Roberta, one of our Elders had lived in the area previously and she enjoyed some time as our tour guide, telling us everything we needed to know.
When our bus pulled up to the Military Aviation Museum, our Elders were especially excited. Like always, we were given the “star” treatment and pulled all the way back to the hangar where the planes were out practicing flights for their weekend show. We were treated to lunch in the hangar with the WWII planes and a fun talk by Rosie The Riveter!
The museum staff asked Cordell and Harry, two of our Veterans, to sign the Living History boards at the museum. It was exciting for them to share with us their time in the services and that opened up the afternoon to so many stories and memories!
In the evening we took a tour of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, which the Elders were amazed by. They couldn’t imagine the tunnel was built underwater and that we were driving underwater! We arrived tothe Chesapeake Grille for a special dinner on the water.
Walking on the pier last night, watching our Elders so full of joy and happiness made my own heart soar. I was reminded by a Henry David Thoreau quote, “Dreams are the touchstones of our characters.” In that moment, I saw all their dreams starting to take flight with them!
Stay tuned to see where our newly spread wings take us next!
We don’t live for days, we live for moments. The moments that fill our lives with sweetness, love and joy. Those are the moments we aren’t likely to forget-the ones that take our breath away. The 2016 Atlanta Elder Vacation has been filled with too many life changing moments to ever count but I wanted to share a few that stood out to me this week:
It was the moment that the Elders arrived full of joy and excitement, wondering what this adventure would hold for them.
It was the moment that Skip showed up to the Braves game in his new Braves helmet, so excited to meet new friends and make memories along the way.
It was the glee in two Elder’s eyes as their families surprised them with visits during the trip!
It was the pride in our Elder’s face’s as they proved to the world what they were capable of doing!
It was the passion of Mr Curtis as he shared every Braves statistic with us.
It was the moment that our Stakeholders realized anything was possible in this revolution.
It was the insistence of Mr Charlie on purchasing an item everywhere so he could “prove” he really came.
It was in the laughter of everyone as it floated through the air and intrigued others around us.
It was the overwhelming moment that Maria realized 75 people were singing Happy Birthday to her.
It was the spontaneity of dancing after dinner and not caring about who was watching.
It was the love of friendship and the familiarity of being with family even though everyone just met a few days ago.
These are only a few moments that were captured from this week in Atlanta but there were so many more. From the awe of visiting the Georgia Aquarium to the fun of tasting Coca-Cola from around the world, every second was beautiful. For all of us it’s a beautiful promise of tomorrow that captures our hearts and teaches us that we have yet so much life to live. As this Elder vacation comes to a close tomorrow, we are reminded to live fully in the moments that life hands us as they are truly what’s important.
“Never allow the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game”-Babe Ruth
Such a powerful quote to share as our first Signature Hometown Vacation kicks off in Atlanta this week. 75 Elders and Stakeholders traveled to Atlanta, Georgia yesterday to begin a fun few days of exploring the city.
As the Elders arrived, we began to hear their stories and their plans for the week! Many of them are so excited about the promises of a major league baseball game or even seeing the seals at the aquarium! No matter what it was, everyone had an idea of what their vacation would be like this week! After everyone got settled in their room it was time to head out to the Braves game! Excitement was in the air as everyone boarded the buses to travel to Turner Field.
Curtis, an Elder living at Signature HealthCare at Courtyard, eyes lit up when speaking of his beloved Atlanta Braves. He shared with me the history of the team along with every statistic for the past several years. One thing was clear, he loves the Braves and couldn’t wait to see them play!
Then we got to meet Jimmy, an Elder living at Mallard Bay, who was overjoyed to be at his first Major League baseball game! He wanted to go shopping to have “proof” that he had actually been to a game!
The game was packed with joy for the Elders. As I looked around at them, they had smiles of contentment on their faces! They were wrapped up in life’s special moments, whether it be trying to get on the “jumbotron” or enjoying the taste of a ball park hot dog.
We never know the joy we can bring to our Elders unless we try. It’s all about getting up and swinging the bat, hoping for a victory! The Elder vacations are simply about living life, enjoying the moment and being renewed in every sense. I would say the first day was a home run, but stay tuned to watch the joy unfold for our Elders this week in Atlanta!
I’ve had the pleasure to watch Riverview Healthcare Center transform from a institution to a true home over the past four years. Their journey has been one of the most inspiring stories to share over and over again. Even when frost sets in, their determination to do the impossible pushes them forward to another level.
Phillip Ramey, Director of Spirituality shared this beautiful story today about the latest developments at Riverview.
Our culture change journey here at Riverview has been much like a golf game. Sometimes the course has been very challenging. Sometimes you think things are going great and other times you may feel like your game is not exactly up to par. Today however, we hit a hole-in-one on our culture change journey.
As we’ve journeyed from becoming an Eden Alternative Registered Home to accomplishing Milestone 2 and pressing toward Milestone 3, there’s been many noticeable transformations that have taken place. We’ve transformed individuals by educating them. In doing so, we’ve seen people not only have a change of mind but also a change of heart. We’ve also transformed organizationally. Everyone is a partner together in care here, and person directed care is what we believe in when it come to the elders and their well-being. Along with all this, there’s been some pretty noticeable physical transformations as well. Our Mugg-Z Café continues to grow in popularity and has become a daily lunch destination for many people in our surrounding area. We’ve had lots of enjoyment out of our Riverview Theatre that is not “like” a real movie theatre, it is a real movie theatre. Our Fred Harris Memorial Library, Riverview Chapel, Neighborhood Post Offices, Riverview Barber Shop & Boutique can been seen as you stroll through the neighborhoods of our Riverview community, and we can’t forget our Riverview Restaurant & Grille that provides a real restaurant experience for the Elders.
Today marked the grand opening for another wonderful addition to our Riverview community, as we officially opened the Riverview Country Club. Now the elders can enjoy the beautiful scenery that surround them and enjoy a relaxing nine hole game of miniature golf. A special ribbon cutting ceremony was held and the elders hit the links to sink a few birdies. A cold “Arnold Palmer” and cookies was served under the gazebo connected to this new golf course.
It was certainly a wonderful day and memorable mile marker on our culture change journey. Just another reminder that no matter how much of a slump you may feel that you’re in, keep on swinging because you never know when you’ll land your next hole-in-one on your journey to culture change!-Phillip Ramey, Director of Spirituality
Phillip is correct, our culture change journey depends on us. We have to lay the groundwork by showing up to play! In order for our great visions to come true, we have to go swing the club! I can’t wait to see what Riverview “swings” at next!
There’s nothing more moving than seeing a Veteran being honored for service to this county. The feeling of joy and pride that must swell up within them upon the very mention of the service he or she provided for all us, I’m sure can be very moving. Recently, J.W. Southerland, an Elder living at Signature HealthCare of Greeneville, was honored with the opportunity to take a “Honor Flight” to Washington D.C. out of Knoxville. Norma Hollifield, Quality of Life Director, recounts his story below:
It all started in 2004 when the finishing touches were being put on the National World War II Memorial in Washington D.C. It was at this time that a Physician’s Assistant living in Ohio began to question his patients to see if they would like to go visit it. Earl Morse, in this job saw these patients month after month, knowing that their dream of seeing this new memorial would probably fade away. In most cases they lacked funds for air travel or stamina for such a long car trip. Morse was also a retired Air Force Captain and pilot and he began to offer flights for Veterans to see the memorials there. Soon he recruited other pilots and the Honor Air organization came into being.
On April 13th, 2016 a Korean War Veteran by the name of J.W. Southerland, living at SHC Greeneville was chosen to participate in the Honor Air flight from Knoxville, TN to Washington D.C. He had faithfully served his country with the U.S Air Force during the Korean War.
The day began with a special commencement ceremony and then a small prayer. It was time to make our way to where we would board the plane. As we walked there were military men and women standing on both sides of the aisle saluting all the Veterans. That moment really set the mood for the emotional journey we were embarking on that day.
It was during the flight that J.W. shared some fascinating stories of the Security Krypto Unit and his responsibilities. He shared stories and made remarks the entire day. As we toured the Korean War Veterans Memorial he shared with me that the coats weren’t as warm as portrayed on the statues here! We visited all of the war memorials, Arlington Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. We also were moved by the changing of the guard. J.W. had the honor to meet Veterans from all ranks and services.
On the return flight home, the Honor Air crew re-enacted their version of “mail call” for the Veterans on board. This time quickly became emotional as each Veteran was given mail from family members, friends and even strangers! J.W. read his letter from Tyler, a 6th grade student at Karnes Elementary School who took time to write to thank J.W. for his service and sacrifice. Tyler invited J.W. to be his pen pal, which brought tears to his eyes. A quick tap on my shoulder was the Veteran behind me who wanted to share his mail with me. He was a Navy Veteran who was holding a picture of himself in Guam in 1945. With tears in his eyes, he said he was stationed there and his daughter had sent it to him as a reminder. I felt both blessed and emotional to be given such a wonderful opportunity to share this experience with them.
When we landed in Knoxville, there were so many to welcome us! The sounds of drums roared in the air while men, women and children lined the walkways! There were many from different branches of the service there to welcome our heroes home! They shook each Veteran’s hand as they came by. J.W. couldn’t believe all of this was for them! There were tears and smiles everywhere as we approached the end of the walkway. There were familiar faces waiting for us too! There stood J.W.’s family and friends along with Cammie to welcome us back.
It was truly an honor to have been a part of this experience with JW. I will be forever thankful to Signature Healthcare for their encouragement to the Quality of Life directors to fulfill an elders dream. A special thank you to Honor Air of Knoxville for have given J.W. and I the opportunity to participate in their 20th Anniversary flight to Washington, DC.
Norma Hollifield, ,QOL Director at SHC Greeneville
I imagine this was a beautiful thing to behold. It must have been so meaningful to J.W. to take this trip. It’s opportunities like this that give Elders a way to showcase their rich history and wisdom. I’m sure the flight was full of beautiful stories of days gone by that only those who were there would ever understand. These are the moments that make life special, the little nuggets we hold on to forever that shape who we will become tomorrow! Congratulations J.W. on making the Honor Air Flight!
What’s better than college basketball in March? Not much unless you are an Elder living at Westmoreland Care and Rehabilitation in Westmoreland, Tn! This year the home launched their own version of March Madness with a complete basketball tournament! Quality of Life Director, Danny Ray shares their story below.
We started the game by introducing players from each team. Chaplain David Spears sang the National Anthem and everyone else sang along with him! The game consisted of three six-minute quarters that was followed by a fourth quarter skills competition. It was a 3-on-3 wheelchair basketball game. Teams received points by both making and blocking shots. The game was neck and neck throughout!
The skills competition gave each Elder an opportunity to score points for their team. The skills competition had three different skills, lasting one minute each for each team. We started the competition with a “Give and Go Contest” this skill involved two players passing the ball to each other and one player shooting a shot to try and score for their team. The three-point competition had one elder from each team attempting to make as many three-point shots as possible in a minute. The last skill competition was a dribbling contest. Players received one point for each successful dribble they made in one minute. Michael Stone, an Elder living in the home, shared “I love the idea of the skills competition. It really gives each of us a chance to score and help our teams.”
While all players scored points for their team and were able to contribute to the game, an MVP was declared! Kathy Jernigan became the MVP of our first March Madness event! She played a great game overall but her best contribution to the team came during the “Dribbling Contest”. Kathy surprised everyone in the room when the dribbled 110 times for a minute straight without losing the ball. She scored 110 points for her team in 1 minute! Kathy said with a huge smile on her face, “I knew if I was chosen to dribble the ball that I could do great with it. I told myself I could do it for one minute and I did!”
There are so many good things that can happen from a simple competition as this. Events like this promote overall health by encouraging Elders to get MOVING instead of spending their day in stationary positions! This is also a wonderful way to help Elders regain self confidence. Too many times, we see Elders lacking confidence in their abilities but encouraging them to try new things helps generate a sense of pride that is often lost!