Best Senior Living Community – Kathy Callnan

Kathy Callnan - CEO at The CedarsPosted by Kathryn Callnan, President and CEO at The Cedars, Southern Maine’s premier retirement community.

I have been reflecting on my thirty-plus years with this wonderful organization. I came to The Cedars as a nurse, and I still believe that the compassion and comfort we offer Maine’s seniors and their families is still our greatest strength.

I am so proud of our rich history, the wide range of living choices we provide as well as the quality of care and service for which we continue to be celebrated today. There is no place in all of Maine like The Cedars. We set the standard in senior living choices.

As a nonprofit, mission-driven organization, we are constantly confronted with the harsh realities of today’s fiscal climate. More and more, we are forced to make difficult choices between our well intentioned aspirations and the rapidly growing costs of maintaining basic services for our seniors as they age.

And so we depend on you, our community, to help us bridge that gap. As we have come to you with plans for innovations in care and investments in wellness, you have provided us the critical resources we need. Most recently, you have stepped up to the challenge of providing a personalized assisted living residence that completes our “circle of care”. The 2008 opening of The Osher Inn achieved a goal we have held for many years — but that could not have been realized without community-wide help.

And so whether you are a senior considering an independent lifestyle at The Atrium or healing at The Sam L. Cohen Rehabilitation Center, or you are struggling with difficult choices facing an aging parent or loved one who may require assisted living at The Osher Inn or services at the Skilled Care Center, The Cedars will always be there for you. I invite you to take a tour of our lovely campus and see for yourself. The Cedars is truly your community.

Nine Winter Safety Tips for Seniors

With the recent winter-like weather, The Cedars has some suggestions to keep seniors safe this winter whether you’re at home or out and about.  

1) If you are driving, be sure to have your tire air pressure, anti-freeze levels, belts and hoses (check for cracks or leaks), checked.  And ask about switching to a thinner grade of engine oil for better performance in the cold. Make sure your windshield wipers work.

2) To help prevent wintertime falls wear shoes with non-skid soles and stay on sidewalks or that have been cleared of snow and ice. Use railings! 

3) More home fires happen during the winter months than any other time of the year mainly due to home heating devices and people age 65 and older are three times more likely to die or be injured in a home fire as those younger. If you haven’t already, install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on every level of the home and check the batteries monthly, changing them at least once a year.

4) If you use a space heater remember to keep objects at least three feet away from the heater, and if you’re looking to by a new space heater get one that automatically shuts off if it tips.

5)  If you haven’t had your flu shot, do it now.  Vaccination against pneumonia is also widely available and recommended.
6) Maintain your diet and a good level of hydration. Drink at least four or five glasses of water every day. 

7) Wear insulated gloves and a hat, since up to 50 percent of body heat escapes through the head. Wrap a scarf around your mouth to help protect your lungs against cold air.  And bring a cell phone when you leave the house. If you fall, it can sometimes be hard to get up. Summon help with your phone.

8) When shoveling, take your time and take frequent breaks. Lift the shovel with your legs rather than your shoulders. If you can’t talk while you’re shoveling, you are probably working too hard and taking unnecessary risks. If you experience pain or discomfort while shoveling snow, stop immediately and go inside and rest. Discuss any symptoms with your doctor.

9) Keep your shovel and salt in your house. The reason you have a shovel and salt is so you don’t have to walk on a slippery sidewalk. If you have to walk through the snow and ice to get to the salt and shovel, it defeats the purpose.



Three Pieces of Holiday Advice from Larry Minnix

LArry Minnix, CEO of Leading Age

Larry Minnix, President and CEO of Leading Age, offers his insight for the holidays.

The holiday season is powerful. It brings the unique mix of strong emotions that we carry throughout our lives, from the great feelings of joy we have in the presence of those near and dear to us—and the sadness we feel when remembering those who have passed on and expectations not fulfilled.

Overlay the frenzies of shopping, cooking, visiting, special religious programs, and you have perhaps the most complex time of year in our lives.

I can’t prove it, but it is my impression that many residents lived for the holidays so they could see family one last time and say goodbye. Those without family (or worse: without family that was willing to visit) were the saddest.

At any rate, there always seemed to be an inordinate number of deaths after the holidays. So, how do we all not only cope with these complexities, but create a great memorable experience that our residents and their family will remember as one of the best holiday seasons ever?

Based on my almost 40 years of working with the seniors, and based on my experience with a wonderfully dysfunctional family growing up, here are 3 pieces of advice:

Give and Receive

I always went to visit my late, great Uncle George at Christmas. He lived in a rural nursing home that was the atmosphere of the anti-green house, anti-Eden Alternative. Uncle George came from the depressing, even dark, side of my family, though he was one of the exceptions. A generous, funny man who always treated others kindly.

I did not want to go see him in that nursing home. In fact, I always tried to avoid it. My young boys did not want to go either, but we went.

Uncle George was glad to see me, making me feel all the more guilty for wanting to avoid what he represented. I gave him a gift, and he lit up! He unsteadily rose from his chair and said, “And I’ve got something for you! You still like barbecue?”

“Of Course,” I said.

He reached into his chest of drawers and pulled out a carefully wrapped BBQ sandwich and proudly presented it. “Here, I knew you did!” he said. “I have been saving this for you. I knew you’d come to see me.”

A loss for words.

But he needed to give me something he thought I’d like. The sandwich seemed far more important than what I’d brought him…even if I had to bury the rotten bbq before it spread something contagious.

Nothing brings us out of the closet of isolation like giving and receiving.

Laugh and Cry

The journalist E. W. Howe once said, “If you don’t learn to laugh at trouble, you won’t have anything to laugh at when you’re old.”

If I ever write a book about my career in this field, it will be titled, “Whether to Laugh or to Cry.” I have a theory that two of the most cleansing things any of us can do to relieve stress is have a good belly laugh or a deep sobbing cry.

Both come from the deepest parts of our bodies and souls. Afterward, you feel better. This time of the year creates the personal chemistry for both.

Early in my career, I was on an educational panel with the late Ted Koff, of Arizona State University gerontology fame, and a psychoanalyst from New York, whose name I don’t recall.

The psychoanalyst told a then AAHA audience the story of an elderly male patient who was suicidal. Older men have the highest suicide rate per capita of any group in our society. They are especially vulnerable this time of year.

He said the man was at a critical juncture in treatment: had he decided to live or die? At 2 a.m., the doctor’s phone rang. It was the old man laughing heartily! The doctor asked what’s going on, of course.

The man replied, “Doc, I decided to kill myself. My family is out of town for the weekend. I filled the bath tub with hot water and got out a razor. They say that’s a relatively painless way to die. I stepped into the tub and realized I felt the call of nature and stepped out to sit on the toilet. All of a sudden, I cracked up laughing: If I am ready to kill myself, why did I stop to have a bowel movement? Isn’t that hilarious? I think I’ll live.”

And so he did.

I asked a seniors group at a large church if they ever experienced “laugh or cry” events. A man responded that when his mother died, the entire family quietly stood around her bed watching her slip away. She opened her eyes, grinned, and her last words were, “A watched pot never boils.” The family cracked up, then tears later.

Make opportunities for yourself and others to laugh and to cry.

Don’t Let “I Love You” Go Unsaid

My last piece of advice: Don’t let “I Love You” go unsaid. I’ll never forget John. He joined a support group I led for many years for relatives of the elderly. John is a lawyer. Nice guy, but buttoned-down type. He came to see me with a problem.

“I think my mother is dying of cancer,” he said.

“What makes you think so?” I asked.

“She’s in the hospital,” he continued. “Her doctor is an oncologist. And he seems to be recommending some kind of chemotherapy.”

“Have you asked her?” I asked. Seemed like a logical question.

“No,” John replied, “You see, we never discuss these kinds of personal issues in my family. Growing up we talked politics, religion, economics, but nothing personal. When I graduated from college, I was granted a postgraduate year in England. My father died a few days after I returned. He had cancer, and no one told me. I asked my mother why not and she said that she and my father didn’t want to bother me with it. So, he died and I never got to tell him goodbye or that I loved him. I am determined that the same thing will not happen with my mother. So, I want help in learning how to talk with my mother about very personal things.”

In the ensuing days, John literally practiced saying “I love you Mother” and “Do you have cancer?” and “My wife and I want to know about your treatment so we can support you.”

This was a whole new language of communication for John. His mother died a few months later, but not without him saying “I love you.”

When people we love die, there are two major feelings that most of us have: remorse and regret. Remorse is the feeling of loss and sadness. There is a purity about it that conjures within us a long-lasting warmth because of the good things our loved ones leave with us when they pass on. We cry…and we laugh.

Regrets, on the other hand, leave us feeling conflicted, guilty, and sometimes at odds with other relatives that spills over on to subsequent generations.

Telling people we care about that we love them should be the final words of every conversation, especially over the holidays. Not saying it can leave knots in our stomachs instead of just lumps in our throats.

Holiday time together is a great occasion for making amends where possible, telling people what they mean to you, and tell them that that you love them—just in case those are the last words you’ll ever get to say to them.

Doing so will inevitably mean that future holidays, when loved ones are gone, will be filled with giving and receiving, laughing and crying, and ending on a relationship chord that will resound beautifully for generations…because the kids are watching all this for future reference.

Happy and peaceful holidays

Gift Ideas for Residents in Senior Living Communities

The holiday season is here and I have found in my family that finding the right gift for loved ones living in a Skilled Care Center is a challenge.  Here are ideas that are some of the most thoughtful gifts you can give: 

1)      Scrapbook –  a book of photos with labels of family names, events, dates, etc. is a wonderful gift for your loved one.  Staff love to look through scrapbooks with our residents.  It is a pleasure to get to know our residents better and a fun reminiscing activity for residents to share their lives with us.

2)      Personalize – a pretty comforter that is machine washable is a nice gift to personalize and brighten your loved one’s room.  Framing a family photo or creating a shadow box that reminds your loved one of home, a special event or vacation is a wonderful gift.  If your loved one enjoys sharing his or her sense of humor a colorful pair of fuzzy socks, a bright fabric flower to attach to a wheelchair, or a humorous tee-shirt to spark a conversation.  Residents with unique items get a lot of laughs which help break the ice and can make for a better sense of community. 

3)      Organize the closet – give your loved one the gift of better access to the items they need.  Remove out of season items, damaged clothing, and other miscellaneous items that clutter the space.  You will then have a good stock of what clothing items they have and may need more of.

4)      Pampering – set aside some time to do your loved ones nails or makeup or give him or her a hand massage.  Or make an appointment at our Spa for him or her to receive these services.  Better yet, make an appointment for the two of you together at the spa and enjoy the pampering together. 

Holiday Shopping at The Cedars

Gift certifcates to The Salon and Day Spa at The Cedars are a great idea for the holidays. 

Call 207-221-7100 for more information or to purchase today!

Independent Living Checklist: 3 Things to Look For – Social and Recreational

Independent Living Checklist: 3 Things to Look For – Social and Recreational 

Tea and Tour December 2011

This post is the second of a five part Independent Living Checklist, featuring items to look when visiting senior living communities.  This post highlights the social and recreational aspect of retirement living.  We find so many seniors are not only looking for the peace of mind and ease that a full-continuum community offers, but many also want the neighbors and friends that accompany this lifestyle.  When visiting independent living and retirement communities, keep these points in mind: 

1. What kinds of groups and individual recreation are offered?  Who schedules them?

            All senior living communities are made up of individuals with an extensive history of hobbies and interests – and the events and programs should reflect this richness and variety.  The Lifestyles Coordinator should meet routinely with members to help design the calendar and drive specific programming.  In response to several members at The Atrium at The Cedars who enjoy yoga and tai chi, we now have weekly classes facilitated by local teachers.  Another example was in response to our small colony of artists here at The Atrium, where we created a studio for individual use, and now host classes and programs for our members.  Does the community respond to their members and does the calendar offer opportunities to complement your own interests? 

2. Does the community schedule trips or to events off premises?

            Many residents of independent living communities continue to drive, even though the community may offer transportation.  The advantage of participating in planned excursions is that not only are the details taken care of for you (tickets or tables reserved, tours scheduled) but also you have a small group of friends to enjoy the fun with you.  The Atrium offers weekly excursions to local restaurants, the symphony, theater, senior college, as well as the more routine trips to shopping and personal appointments.  How often are these outings scheduled and are they of interest to you? 

3. Does the schedule of events incorporate the various aspects of wellness?

            Wellness is a key aspect of the culture at The Cedars – assuring we meet the social, intellectual, vocational, physical, spiritual, and emotional needs of our residents/ members and staff is important to us.  Does the community offer spiritual and religious services?  Are there not only social events but also opportunities to broaden your horizons and grow, such as through lectures and classes?  Is the fitness area and accompanying instruction enough to maintain or challenge your strength and flexibility?  Are there plenty of opportunities to gather with the community in large groups or small, when you want to? 

If you have any questions about these points or living at The Atrium at The Cedars, call us today at 207-221-7100 and ask for Kelly Prucnal.



Independent Living: Senior Retirement Living

Mel and Fran Stone

Mel and Fran have been married for over 60 years.


by Mel Stone

In early 2009, we asked Mel Stone, who lives at the Atrium at The Cedars, about the success of his long marriage with Fran Stone. Here’s how he replied:

As Fran and I enter our 66th year of wedlock (is this something like gridlock?), we note more folks imagine us as experts on how to stay married that long. Or, more to the point how to stay happily married that long.

Marriage counselors tell us that the two leading causes of marital friction are money and sex, but not necessarily because of a super abundance of either or both.

I think the simple formula lies in the matter of controversy, or, rather, in avoiding it!

Experience has taught that if one finds oneself involved in controversy with a marriage partner, don’t try to win. For in marital controversy winning a battle usually means losing the war!

In our marriage there was one controversy of long standing, that of whether the toilet paper should unroll over the top or from the bottom of the roll. My position was that it was easier to use when unrolled over the top. My partner always took the position that toilet tissue should unroll from the bottom of the roll.

Ultimately I seemed to have prevailed, because, after months of my replacing new rolls to unroll from the top, I noticed one day when friend Fran had replaced a roll that it unrolled from the top.

She never said another word about it nor did I.

So that’s the basic secret to a long and happy marriage.  Unroll with the punches!

See What Makes Us Shine!

Holiday Tea and Tour

Thursday, Devember 1, 2011 from 2-4PM

The Atrium at The Cedars

RSVP to 207-221-7100

Meet Contessa, Pet Therapy Expert!

Contessa, Top Dog at The Cedars
Best Senior Living – Contessa
Posted by Contessa, Pet Therapy Provider

My name is Contessa. I am a six year old West Highland Terrier and I live at The Cedars.

Actually, I don’t live there, but I am there every day and I have a bed there. My “mom” is President and CEO Kathy Callnan and she brings me to work with her every day!

Sometimes I take naps in her office while she’s having meetings, but usually she wakes me up and tells me to “Go to work, Tessa!” So I do.

My work is being a therapy dog. I visit with residents in the Hoffman Center every week. Sometimes I hear about their grandchildren or their own dogs and sometimes I just get my ears scratched. I like that a lot.

My other job is helping my friends Kim Doyon and Janine Fifield run the Life Enrichment program. Sometimes Kim will read the newspapers to us and sometimes we bake cookies. We do art projects and arrange flowers and have concerts. One of my favorite singers is Jim who also works at the front desk. We have a really good time.

I’m also the resident greeter and watchdog. It’s a busy life!