Falling is a concern of older adults because the repercussions that follow a fall are often serious.  It is important to prepare yourself and your surroundings to reduce the chance of falling.  Many times a fall happens in an individual’s home due to hazards that can be easily fixed.  Take the following checklist around your home to verify that it is hazard-free.  The checklist asks questions about potential hazards and then gives you solutions to fix them.

When you walk through the rooms in your apartment, do you have to walk around any furniture, rugs, shoes, books, boxes, towels, magazines, etc?  Pick up anything that is lying on the floor.  Ask a friend, family member, or maintenance worker to help you move any furniture that is in your line of walking.

Do you have to walk over any wires or cords?  Tape or coil the cords to the wall or have another outlet added to your wall.

Are the items you use frequently on high shelves?  Move the items that you use the most to a lower, more accessible shelf.

Is your bathtub floor slippery?  Place a non-slip rubber mat or self-stick strips on the floor of the bathtub.

Is the path from your bedroom to your bathroom dark?  Put a lamp next to your bed or use a night light.

Do you use small area rugs in your bathroom or kitchen?  Look for rugs with no-slip coatings underneath to minimize the risk of a slip.

The following questions address potential falling hazards about your own body.  Evaluate yourself.

  • Do you participate in regular exercise?  Regular exercise helps improve muscular strength, balance, and coordination, all of which are factors in decreasing falls.
  • Have you been to the eye doctor recently?  Have your vision checked regularly because poor vision can result in a fall.
  • Do you wear shoes inside your apartment?  Rather than wearing slippers or bare feet, wearing supportive shoes inside and outside of the home is the safest option.
  • Do you get up slowly after sitting or lying?  It is important to take your time when standing up from a sitting or lying position.  Move slowly to give your blood time to re-circulate.
  • Do you use the emergency bracelet/pendant and know how it works?  Wear the emergency bracelet/pendant while in your apartment.  Remember that you must press the button for a couple seconds before it alerts Home Care that there is an emergency.  Also know that if you wear the bracelet outside of the apartment and press the button, Home Care will only be alerted that there is help needed in your apartment.  There are watches in both pool areas, the cardio room and the group fitness room.

References:  Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2005). Check for Safety. CDC.gov.  Retrieved September 13, 2013, from http://www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/pubs/english/booklet_Eng_desktop-a pdf.   

By Isabel Pedersen

Joelle and Jerry Hamovit, between them, have the answers to questions many of us would like to ask.  But they are retired!

Jerry, after graduating from Rice and Harvard Law School, practiced law in Houston for five years and in Cleveland for three.  Between those two, he spent three years in the Tax Division of the Department of Justice.  In 1965 and 1966, he worked in the Tax Legislative Counsel’s office at the Department of Treasury, specializing in legislative and policy matters.  From 1967-1988, when he retired to Longboat Key, he was in private practice in Washington.  But do not ask him tax questions.  He is retired!

Joelle’s resume is more complicated.  After their retirement to Sarasota, she worked part-time as a social worker at Sarasota Palms Hospital (a psychiatric facility which is now used by Sarasota Memorial Hospital).  Between 1995 and 2000, she had a private psychotherapy practice here.

From their marriage in 1956 until their three children had grown a bit, Joelle’s life was PTAs and volunteering for political causes and charities.

Her first full-time job, in 1970, was with the Poverty Program in Washington, D.C.  A graduate of Smith College, she earned a master’s degree at the National Catholic School of Social Work in 1975.  Fourteen years at the National Institute of Mental Health as Chief Social Worker in the Human Genetics Laboratory of the Biological Psychiatry Branch ended when they moved here.  Clearly, she could give you trained guidance on your personal problems, but don’t ask.  She is retired!

Both Hamovits are Texans but they have been gone from that state so long that they no longer salute when “The Eyes of Texas are Upon You” is played.  Chevy Chase, Maryland, where they spent 43 years, was their longtime home.  Longboat Key and now Lenox, Massachusetts, have been second homes.

The volunteer activities of this pair have been time-consuming.  Jerry served on the Planning and Zoning Board of Longboat Key, helped found Pierian Spring Academy and served on their board, was a mediator for Florida’s 12th Judicial Circuit, and tutored in math at Booker Middle School.  Joelle’s volunteer work in Sarasota has predominantly been for the Jewish Family and Children’s Services.

Their hobbies of reading, civic affairs and, for her, needlepoint, are about what might be expected of super-busy people.  As for raising three children and now five grandchildren, well, how did they work that in?

You will enjoy talking to the Hamovits—even if you ask no tax questions.

By Don Wallace

The scene:  a parlor in a Portland, Maine, church.  It is a Sunday evening in the early 1950’s; the pastor is opening a social meeting of a group of young people in their late teens and early twenties.  As they sit in a quiet circle, the pastor starts the proceedings by stating that formal introductions are probably unnecessary since they doubtless know one another by now.  However, one young man raises his hand, points across the room and says, “I don’t know that girl in the red dress,” which was the way the lives of Walter Mattson and Geraldine Horsman became entwined.

It turned out that they had gone to the same high school in Portland, Walt having arrived in town for his senior year after a much-traveled youth.  Along the way he had shown an obsessive interest in newspapers and the printing business, delivering papers, working as a printer’s devil (one step below an apprentice) at his uncle’s weekly newspapers in Pittsburgh during the summer vacations and, after arriving in Portland, had landed a job at a commercial printing plant, with time out for active duty in the Marines during the Korean war.  Once out of the service, and after he and Gerry had married, he attended college while working full-time nights as a linotype operator at the Portland Press Herald and she worked as a legal secretary with the lead lawyer in the largest firm in Portland.

After he graduated, they moved to Pittsburgh, where Walt worked as advertising manager of two weekly newspapers while attending Carnegie Mellon University at night and Gerry worked for a lawyer in the city.  After that, they packed their bags and moved to Boston where Walt became assistant production manager at the Herald Traveler and attended Northeastern University at night where he earned an electrical engineering degree to go with his business/accounting degree.  For extra money, Gerry typed theses and papers for Harvard Law School students.  Then in 1960 came the big break: a job as assistant production manager of the New York Times.  From then, the promotions came in quick succession until, in 1979, Walt was named president of the New York Times Company.

All this time, when she wasn’t busy packing and unpacking, Gerry was involved with their growing family, working as a school teacher and as a legal secretary—until they settled in Stamford, Connecticut, and eventually built a home complete with a tennis court and swimming pool.  When the children were a little older, Gerry finished her work on a BA at the Stamford branch of the University of Connecticut.

Their introduction to Sarasota came in 1982, when Walt was involved in negotiating the purchase of the Sarasota Herald Tribune on behalf of the Times.  In 1983 they bought a condo on Longboat Key, where they spent half of the year until Walt retired in 1993.  The Mattson’s are the parents of three children, Stephen, William and Carol and have 11 grandchildren.

(A personal note: as a Times reader for some 65 years, I approached this biography with considerable trepidation, but found Walt and Gerry to be gracious, informal, plain-spoken and totally approachable.  And so will you. – author, Don Wallace)

While the body requires a small amount of sodium in the diet to control blood pressure and blood volume, most people consume many times the sodium needed.  People with certain medical conditions such as high blood pressure, kidney disease and heart problems, can benefit from a diet that is low in sodium.  In addition to directly reducing blood pressure, a lower sodium intake may also enhance the effectiveness of blood pressure medications and other non-drug treatments, such as weight loss.  Reducing sodium can also help to prevent the collection of fluid in the lower legs or abdomen.  A lower sodium intake has also been associated with other health benefits, including a reduced risk of dying from a stroke, reversal of heart enlargement, and a reduced risk of kidney stones and osteoporosis.

The terminology associated with salt reduction can be confusing. “Sodium free” means that there is a tiny amount of sodium in each serving. “Very low sodium” has 35 mg. or less in each serving. “Reduced sodium” means that the usual level of sodium is reduced by 25 percent.  And “Light or lite in sodium” means that the usual level of sodium is reduced by 50 percent.

Although it is difficult to abruptly cut back on the amount of sodium in the diet, most people find that they do not miss sodium if they cut back gradually. Salt is an acquired taste and taste buds can be retrained in less than two to three weeks!

Many residents, at the recommendation of their physician, or simply as a personal commitment to healthier eating, have made a conscious choice to lower their sodium consumption.  To support their efforts and provide health, delicious meals without sacrificing flavor, Plymouth Harbor’s culinary team uses fresh herbs, spice blends, citrus and flavored vinegars as tasty alternatives to the salt shaker.

In addition, we are happy to accommodate residents’ special requests. When you see a salt shaker icon next to an item on the Mayflower menu, it means that this item is available “salt-free.”  You’ll find this icon next to many entrees and side dishes.  To order salt-free, just check the “salt-free entrée” or “salt-free side dish” line on your menu.  When you specify “salt free”, you can be assured that absolutely no salt was added during the preparation of your selection.

Bon Appetit!

With Plymouth Harbor located just on the other side of the lovely arching bridge from downtown Sarasota, nothing could be more convenient than a short drive to any number of distinctive downtown dining locales and then a evening at the theatre or opera within a couple blocks walking distance.

Florida Studio Theatre, known simply as FST, is hardly a block from the bay and is a favorite of many Plymouth Harbor residents.  On Thursday, October 17, 2013, the Acting Apprentices of FST are coming right here to perform in Pilgrim Hall at 7:45 pm.  It’s an even more convenient evening’s pastime after a fine dinner prepared by Chef Rene in the Mayflower Dining Room.

2012-13 Acting Apprentices

FST’s “Moments of Discovery” offers an array of theatrical forms including  monologues, poems, scenes, and even award-winning plays from FST’s renowned Write-a-Play program which every year recognizes and celebrates young playwrights.  The performers this evening are all actors participating in the Florida Studio Theatre Acting Apprentice Program.

The purpose of the Acting Apprentice program is to help bridge the gap between academic theatre and the professional world and to provide additional training and experience to those individuals who are serious about careers as professional actors.  The program offers practical and educational training in a professional theatre environment and includes classes, workshops, rehearsals and performances such as the one we will enjoy here at Plymouth Harbor.

About Florida Studio Theatre

Florida Studio Theatre (FST) is Sarasota’s contemporary theatre, located in the heart of downtown. It has been in operation in Sarasota since 1973. The Florida Studio Theatre campus is a village of theatres – the historic Keating and Gompertz Theatres, and the Parisian-style Goldstein and John C. Court Cabarets. Near the Sarasota bayfront, FST brings an energy and vitality to the downtown area. Each theatre is small in size and large in impact – providing an intimate and engaging setting for high-quality, professional performances. Hip and historical, entertaining and challenging, we are the theatre where the street meets the elite, where everyone is welcome to come and engage in the art of theatre.

During its history, FST has grown into a theatre with a budget of over $4 million and 25,000 subscribers a year, more than any theatre its size in the country.

FST has modeled itself on the strength of creating the best in contemporary theatre at an affordable price. Overall, FST serves over 160,000 attendees per year through its major programs: the Mainstage Series, the Cabaret Series, Stage III, WRITE A PLAY, Education, and New Play Development.

Plymouth Harbor has been delighting in the semi-annual performances of its resident professional classical pianist, Ted Rehl.  Another concert is open to the public this Thursday, October 18 at 4 pm. Ted has prepared a delicious sounding program titled, “Picturesque Russia,” featuring the music of the great Russian composers Sergei Prokofiev, Sergei Rachmaninoff, and Modest Mussorgsky.

Having said that he now practices and performs the music that he wants to perform and particularly enjoys,  Ted has selected a Prelude by Prokofiev, which sounds enticing.  There will also be a total of four more Preludes by Rachmaninoff, including his most famous two, the C sharp minor and the G minor Preludes.

The highlight of the program will be the multi-media experience of Modest Mussorgsky’s  Pictures at an Exhibition. Ted will perform the original version for solo piano, while images of watercolors which inspired Mussorgsky to compose this colorful music in the first place.  Many of us are familiar with the orchestral arrangement of this music by Maurice Ravel that is played by orchestras all over the world.

“This type of thing has been done various other places around the world, but to my knowledge it has never been done in Sarasota,” says Ted.

The musical material of Pictures at an Exhibition are based on drawings and watercolors by artist and architect Viktor Hartmann produced mostly during the artist’s travels abroad. Locales include Poland, France and Italy; the final movement depicts an architectural design for the capital city of Ukraine. Today most of the pictures from the Hartmann exhibit are lost, making it impossible to be sure in many cases which Hartmann works Mussorgsky had in mind. Yet musicologists over the years have pieced together the puzzle and the images you will see are based on their best research.

Mussorgsky links the suite’s movements in a way that depicts the viewer’s own progress through the exhibition. Two “Promenade” movements stand as portals to the suite’s main sections. Their regular pace and irregular meter depicts the act of walking. Three untitled interludes present shorter statements of this theme, varying the mood, color and key in each to suggest reflection on a work just seen or anticipation of a new work glimpsed. A turn is taken in the work at the “Catacombae” when the Promenade theme stops functioning as merely a linking device and becomes, in “Cum mortuis”, an integral element of the movement itself. The theme reaches its height of grandeur in the suite’s finale, The Bogatyr Gates.

“The Pictures was one of the pieces I enjoyed playing during my teaching career,” shares Ted. “I am amazed that it seems easier to play now than it was in my first life!”

Pianist at Plymouth Harbor senior communityAlluding to his first life, Ted means his career as a professional musician and educator and the long hiatus between his official retirement and the re-emergence of his performing life after he moved to Plymouth Harbor.  An earlier post, Life, Love and the Right Piano, tells the story of Fran and Ted Rehl’s life of music together.

Everyone is welcome to attend this concert in Pilgrim Hall, as seating allows.  If you’d like, you can even purchase a CD Ted recorded earlier in the year.  Proceeds of CD sales benefit the Plymouth Harbor Foundation.

Begun in 1966 as a dream of Rev. Dr. John Whitney MacNeil, former senior minister of the First Congregational United Church of Christ of Sarasota, who envisioned a progressive, interfaith, residential community for retired clergy and teachers, Plymouth Harbor today attracts vibrant residents, both nationally and internationally.  Most of these residents, over the years, have made significant contributions to the arts, culture, and education, helping to establish Sarasota as a vibrant and coveted community in which to live and retire.

Today, Plymouth Harbor, a non-profit organization, has become one of the premier continuing care retirement communities in the United States, offering services from independent to assisted living, skilled nursing, long-term care, and short-term rehabilitation, all on one campus.  Essential to its success and outstanding reputation are the nearly 200 employees who deliver care and compassionate services to more than 265 residents daily.

That spirit of caring is also the driving force behind philanthropy at Plymouth Harbor. Over the decades, members of the resident population, their families, employees, and philanthropists in the broader community have voluntarily donated more than $12,000,000 to perpetuate its mission.  Contributions of time, talent, and financial resources are made, believing that service to and support of other people is a worthy lifelong value.

Formalizing the Foundation

In an effort to further ensure appropriate stewardship, develop and implement fundraising strategies that support the most positive aging experience possible, and to provide funding for innovative programs and services for seniors in the region, the Plymouth Harbor Foundation was formalized in 2012.  Their culture of philanthropy is built on three pillars of value – benevolence, fellowship, and a zest for life – and three funds were established for these purposes.

Resident Assistance

True to their founding value of benevolence, resident assistance supports those who have outlived their financial resources, due to unforeseen circumstances, and require support for basic living expenses and medical care.

Employee Assistance

Creating an outstanding living environment depends, in no small part, upon successfully recruiting, retaining, and developing the highest quality work force possible.  This fund supports employees who are experiencing financial hardships or who wish to advance their education.

Zest For Life

This programmatic and capital fund supports innovations and enhancements that improve and preserve the vibrant quality of life for current and future residents.

Making a Difference

We hope you will consider making a gift to advance a positive aging experience at Plymouth Harbor.  Your future is worth supporting.

Members of Girl Scout Troop #121 & Boy Scout Troop #895 copy

Boy Scout Troop #895 and Girl Scouts from Troop #121 in Sarasota recently provided community service at Plymouth Harbor as part of a project that was partially funded by the Bay Partners Grant Program to restore a natural ecosystem on a portion of the campus.  The scouts spent a full day spreading mulch and watering plants that had recently been replaced.

“Community projects like this are an excellent example of what Dr. MacNeil had in mind when he envisioned Plymouth Harbor,” said Harry Hobson, President and CEO of Plymouth Harbor.  “Individuals of all ages coming together to support a positive living environment.  Isn’t that what “community” is all about?”


By Becky Pazkowski

Last month I wrote about Rath and Hartner’s book Well Being: The Five Essential Elements.  The authors  studied 23,000 people and found that there are five broad categories of well being that are essential to a thriving life: career, social, financial, physical and community wellbeing.  What  they found to be the single biggest threat to our own wellbeing is ourselves.  They go on to discuss items in each of the five categories that tend to be essential to a thriving wellbeing, and within our control.

In the chapter on Community Wellbeing (the sense of engagement you have with the area where you live) they suggest that thriving community wellbeing is about what we do to give back to our community.  They go on to explain that giving back is what may distinguish an exceptional life from a good one.

Philanthropy takes many forms . . . time, talent, treasure.  Time is perhaps the most valuable gift one can give.  Volunteerism, for many of us, was our first experience with giving.  We may have gotten started through our church group, scouts, school, or with our family.  Giving of one’s time is fulfilling, especially when you know that the time you have volunteered has served as a special purpose and helped someone.

Volunteering at Plymouth Harbor

For several young adults in Sarasota, the gift of time has played a valuable role in life at Plymouth Harbor.  Students from local high schools have been volunteering on Saturday mornings since June of this year to staff eTEAM clinics, where residents receive assistance using electronic devices such as cell phones, tablets, computers, etc.

Jeannette and Charles Gehrie, who have received assistance with their cell phones, commented that they have felt the students are patient and knowledgeable.  “They are delightful young adults and they have helped us immensely in using our cell phones more fully and with more ease.”

Marty Buenneke, who has been working mostly with Marinna Okawa from Pine View High School, says, “Marinna has been helping me with email on my computer.  She is very well qualified and has a lovely personality.”

Jim Underwood, who has received assistance from several of the students, comments, “These students are very interesting and dedicated to helping us.  I thought they would be more shy, but they are very outgoing.”

Florence and George Heitler comment:  “The eTEAM was a great idea and truly is a wonderful help to those of us born before the electronic revolution.  Whoever thought of it deserves credit, but members of the eTEAM deserve our sincere thanks.  They are truly life savers for our problems (which seem so simple to them!).  They are kind, non-judgmental, and seem happy to help.  Please tell the e-TEAM how much we appreciate them.”

Sixty-four residents have received instruction from our eTEAM members, who have volunteered over 90 hours since June.  Students receive credit for community service through their high schools, where a minimum of 75 hours are required for graduation in Sarasota County.

Other members of the eTEAM, current and past, include Tamera Miller, Lexi Hart, Angelo Buenano, Grace Seymore, and Evan Pazkowski.  In addition, thank you to the adult volunteers who have helped me facilitate the clinics each week.

We are very grateful to these bright, energetic, and knowledgeable students who have chosen Plymouth Harbor for their volunteerism.  They have certainly answered a need here, thus contributing to something bigger than themselves.  If you wonder if they find enjoyment from volunteering, David Yaegers commented, “I enjoy my visits at Plymouth Harbor because the residents are such interesting people.  I’ve met an inventor, a world-renowned photographer, and a woman who told me all about the times when she lived in New York City.  I’m teaching them how to use technology, but they’re teaching me so much, too!”

Regardless of whether you need help from the eTEAM or not, please feel free to stop by to the Resident Business Office some Saturday morning to meet the team and thank them for their valuable gifts of time.