Help With Aging Parents: Six Ways to Make the Most of Visits – Part I

Mother and daugher visitingBy Melanie Desjardins, Manager of Care Coordination at The Cedars

Personal visits can make a big difference for loved ones who live at The Cedars.  Although our Life Enrichment Department offers several activities, arriving with a planned activity can make your visit more pleasant and meaningful for both you and your loved one. Here are five creative things to do while visiting:

  1. Bring photos of family and friends from days gone by and/or recent photos of their house or hometown.
  2. Help your loved one write letters or send cards to people.
  3. Together, start to create a photo album, framed photograph collection or a poster to hang in their room.
  4. Cook your favorite family meal together in our Life Enrichment kitchen.
  5. Create a life story to frame for all staff to see.  Write about the great life of your loved one!
  6. Play word and trivia games to keep your loved one’s mind alert.


Fall Festival at The Cedars

Please join us on Thursday November 18 from 8AM until 3PM for our Annual Fall Festival where you’ll find baked goods and delicious snacks, raffles to local businesses, crafts made by our staff, residents and volunteers and much more!


Best Retirement Living: New Friends

Harriet Bogdonoff

Eileen Balladur

Staying active and engaged with family and friends is so important to healthy aging. But during a long Maine winter, it can be difficult to get out of our homes and into the community. It is harder to try new things and make new friends when sidewalks need shoveling or roads are icy. And if you are living alone, it can be harder still. Many of our single members believe living at The Atrium has truly changed their lives for the better.

Eileen Balladur is one of them. “Before my husband passed away, we usually socialized at home with family. The Atrium gave me the courage to get out of my comfort zone and try new things. I love everything about being here,” she says.

Nervous about making friends if you move to The Atrium alone? Don’t be. The Atrium has an Ambassador program for new members. Eileen remembers how much her own Ambassador, Janet Silver, helped her feel at home. “Janet lives right across the hall. She greeted me every day, took me to activities and introduced me to other members. It made me feel so welcome and included.”

Harriet Bogdonoff agrees. “Everyone here is so friendly. I love the nightly social hour, when everyone brings a favorite wine to the study before dinner.”

Eileen also loves sharing meals with others again. “I like coming down to the beautiful dining room every evening and enjoying a wonderful dinner with my friends,” she adds. “There’s only one dining room, and no assigned seating. Everything is done for us. We just enjoy each other’s company. It is the highlight of my day.”

Harriet also appreciates the additional free time life at The Atrium provides, and all the different ways there are to fill it. “I chair the Lifestyle Committee,” she says. “We bring musical performances and educational speakers right to The Atrium. I’m taking classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and learning Tai Chi. It is so easy to get into Portland for cultural events or to try a new restaurant.” And Eileen spends so much time on yoga and water aerobics, she might have to drop Tai Chi!

And both women love spending time at The Atrium with their families, just as they used to at home. Our members can invite their family to our Seder, play with the grandkids in our pool or reserve the private dining room for a catered birthday dinner – the possibilities are endless. “My daughter and her husband live nearby,” says Harriet. “We go to every First Friday Art Walk in Portland and travel every year. This fall, we’re going to Prague!” Eileen’s daughter loves her cozy apartment at The Atrium, too.

The Atrium is small enough that you feel part of the community right away. “The size is perfect,” says Eileen. “You can be alone, or spend time with others.”

Best Retirement Living – Oktoberfest at The Atrium

This past Tuesday evening, the members at The Atrium enjoyed an authentic Oktoberfest celebration where chef Heath Pollard served specialties of the season that included sauerbraten, beef rouladen, spatzel and a variety of German ales.  Please enjoy this recipe from our kitchen for s’chee, otherwise known as shredded-cabbage soup.



S’chee – 12 servings

2 medium onions, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons of butter

2 cans of condensed beef broth

2 soup cans of water

1 small head of green cabbage, coarsely shredded (5 cups)

2 carrots, sliced

2 medium potatoes, cubed

1 stalk celery (with leaves) sliced

2 tomatoes, cut up

1 teaspoon salt

   Freshly ground pepper

   Dairy sour cream

   Dillweed or parsley

Cook and stir onions in butter in Dutch oven until tender.  Add beef broth, water, cabbage, carrots, potatoes and celery. Heat to boiling; reduce heat.  Cover and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.  Stir in tomatoes, salt and pepper.  Simmer uncovered about 10 minutes.  Top each serving with sour cream; garnish with dill.

Healthy Senior Living: It’s Time for your Flu Shot

An important message from Cedars Director of Nursing Susan Dionne-Jones:

Susan Dionne-Jones, DIrector of Nursing at The Cedars“It’s the beginning of flu season here in the Northeast and seniors can be especially vulnerable to this annual sickness. This virus-borne illness, characterized by fever or chills, cough, sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, aching (including headaches) and tiredness, is unpleasant at least and can be life threatening.

“Elderly people, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk for serious flu complications. The best prevention is an annual vaccination.

“According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, ‘people 65 years and older will have two flu shots available to choose from – a regular dose flu vaccine and a new flu vaccine designed for people 65 and older with a higher dose. The high dose vaccine is associated with a stronger immune response to vaccination. However, whether the stronger immune response results in greater protection against influenza illness in older adults is not yet known.’  The CDC and its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices have not expressed a preference for either vaccine.


 “Also important are common-sense preventions such as covering your mouth when you cough, washing your hands frequentlyand thoroughly, and staying away from those who are already ill. Here at The Cedars, we offer our patients, residents, members and staff an annual flu shot each fall (this year we used the stronger 65+ version). Shots are also generally available at local pharmacies, supermarkets and hospitals, and they are usually covered by Medicare. Be sure to check with your doctor first to see if there is any reason you should not get vaccinated, but if s/he gives you a thumbs up, get it done. It could be a life saver!”

Above, Susan Dionne-Jones RN, Director of Nursing at The Cedars

For more information about this year’s flu season, visit The Center for Disease Control and Prevention .

Best Retirement Living: Socializing As We Age

Friend of The Cedars, Deb Bergeron, Life Coach and President of Ocean of Possibilities, has presented to The Cedars over the years and shares her thoughts on the importance of socializing as we age.  Enjoy Deb’s 10 Tips to Building Strong Connections. 

“No matter what age you are, or what your circumstances might be, you are special, and you still have something unique to offer. Your life, because of who you are, has meaning.”

~ Barbara de Angelis

1. Nourish your social relationships. Nourish relationships with siblings and cousins your own age; they’re most likely to stay with you through time and can remind you of your younger self. But don’t confine yourself to your own age group. Look for younger friends as well—yes, children, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren count, too. 

2. Learn for the love of it! Taking classes and attending lecture series can help improve your social connections and keep your mind stimulated. Join with more than 1400 like-minded Portland area adult learners who are members of the Osher Learning Institute at the University of Maine. Book clubs are another great way to expand your mind and your feelings of connectedness. 

3. Exercise is the best anti-aging elixir there is, and it’s also a great way to make friends. Mall-walking groups are everywhere nowadays. Even the neighborhood gym is a social gathering place. Seniors often comprise the biggest group of exercisers at suburban workout facilities, especially in the late morning and early afternoon. 

4. Share your common interests. Common interests are what bring us together in relationships and they make our relationships have strong ties that hold us together. Not only does it make you feel connected on a deeper level but it’s also fun to do things that you love with another person.

5. Volunteer. Find some local groups that need your help. Volunteering is a great way to contribute to your community and enrich your life and the lives of others. You can make a difference!

6. Demonstrate your caring. People know we care about them through our words and deeds. We need to demonstrate our appreciation and affection. Small gestures such as an unexpected phone call or a kind note or baking a cake can carry just as much weight as big ones. Tell the people you love and care about how you feel. We all like to hear that our efforts are noticed and valued. 

7. Join some clubs and organizations. Join some clubs and organizations that involve younger people and not just seniors. Be friendly and approachable, and keep an open mind. It’s never too late to try new things and meet new people! 

8. Make the first step. Don’t wait for other people to call you. Reach out to an old friend or acquaintance. See if there are opportunities to reconnect. Think of how you’d feel if an old friend reached out to you. 

9. Share your stories. With old age comes a lifetime of experience. Pass along your favorite moments so future generations can remember you for who you are and what you’ve done. They may even learn a thing or two! 

10. Embrace new technology. Email and computers have made staying connected easier. By learning the basics of technology you can keep in touch with your friends, sons, daughters, and grandchildren. The younger generations today post pictures online and communicate electronically everyday. It’s a great way to sty in touch. 

“Ah, how it feels! The hands of an old friend.”

~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Active Senior Living: Wellness at The Cedars

We’ve had a special guest at The Cedars for the past several days, John Rude, president of Age Dynamics based in Eugene, Oregon.  John as been discussing wellness for everyone in our community – and is creating a great deal of excitement in the process.  He has an extensive history of developing health and fitness programs for seniors in the US and Europe.  With master’s degrees in gerontology and business, he spent many years in disease management, and then in the early nineties shifted his focus towards prevention, growth and development.  John has spent time talking with The Cedars staff, members, residents and community to emphasize the following theme: 

 Regardless of our age, we have the capacity to grow, develop, modify and change

John makes the point that we need to feel empowered in order to maintain our autonomy – and maintaining our autonomy becomes more important as we age.  John goes on to say that our western culture emphasizes the importance of physical function and that all other aspects of our wellness – our social, intellectual, emotional, spiritual, environmental and vocational wellbeing – thrive when our physical functioning is in good working condition. 

 When we are not well physically, we tend to get depressed, question our spirituality, become less involved socially, etc.  When we are able to maintain our autonomy, we tend to have more positive experiences in life.  Senior living communities like The Cedars are focused on empowering our residents, members and employees to participate in fun and varied strength and flexibility training – as little as twice per week – in addition to educational and inspirational seminars. As people age, strength becomes more important than any other exercise, because if we’re not strong, then we don’t bounce back as easily.

 “This is not just about doing – it’s about thinking differently,” explains John.  And thinking differently leads to empowerment.  Couldn’t we all use a little more of that?

For more information about wellness programs at The Cedars, please call our Lifestyle Coordinator and wellness specialist, Sharon Leddy-Smart at 207-221-7100.



Best Senior Living Community: Angie Hunt

Angie Hunt, Exec. Dir. at The Cedars
Best Senior Living Community — Angie Hunt
Posted by Angela Hunt, RPT, MS, Executive Director, The Cedars

Just the other day, at the 9th Annual Cedars Auxiliary Golf Tournament, an elderly gentleman came up to me and said, “You probably don’t remember me, but you treated me and my wife at the Sam L. Cohen Rehabilitation Center. Your staff was so kind and compassionate and we are both doing so much better because of the great care we received. Thank you so much for what you do!”
My name is Angela Hunt and I am Executive Director at The Cedars. I oversee the daily operations of the Hoffman Center, home of the Sam L. Cohen Rehabilitation Center (39-bed short-stay rehabilitation) and the Skilled Care Center (63 long-term care beds). I also oversee 30 assisted living apartments at The Osher Inn.
You might think that this is a tremendous responsibility, but working with competent and professional staff certainly helps. I love my job so much that I have been at The Cedars for a total of 12 years.
Most people who know me might say that I am always looking to develop and improve our programming for seniors. I like the challenges that the field of healthcare provides me. But, the real reason I do what I do is because of the relationships fostered with patients, residents, family members and staff.
Artist Flavia Weedn once said, “Some people come into our lives and quickly go, some stay for awhile, leave footprints on our hearts and we are never the same.” I am very blessed that working at The Cedars gives me the opportunity to not only to leave but also to receive many footprints. And that’s the reason I do what I do!