The courtyards in the Northwest Garden were designed specifically as a welcoming and social area for each neighborhood. The courtyards provide an opportunity for a safe, secure outdoor experience for residents and their family members. Whether a sunny stroll, a social visit, or just to sit and reflect next to the water features, the courtyard gardens provide a wonderful outdoor experience.

The Seaside Courtyard is open to all, and is accessed from the Bridge (pathway from the Lobby to the entrance of the Starr Memory Care Residence). The water feature is a main focal point in the courtyard, with the soothing sounds of water splashing down the tiles, and is surrounded by beautiful plantings and pavers. The seating areas offer conversation spaces under the large four-canopy umbrella. Elegant lighting along the pathways and the seating areas makes way for pleasant visits during the day or night. Other special features include kinetic art that swirls with the wind, and musical instruments that makes beautiful tones when tinged. Going into the busy season and the cooler temperatures, we will see more and more people taking advantage of this beautiful courtyard garden, which was supported by Barry and Phil Starr during our “A Commitment to Memory” capital campaign.

The Lido and Ringling Memory Care neighborhoods each offer their own private courtyards with similar features, including beautifully lush plantings and pavers. The Lido Courtyard, supported by Carol and Morton Siegler, offers a beautiful tiled water feature, the Harp musical instrument, and two kinetic art pieces. The Ringling Courtyard, supported by a gift from the estate of Joan Runge, features a water cauldron with soothing sounds, the Griffin musical instrument, and two ‘Desert Flower’ kinetic art pieces that twirl in the breeze. Both courtyards have teak tables and chairs that are nicely positioned under the canopy umbrella for daytime use, and soft lighting suggests a cozy area for nighttime relaxation. Many life enrichment activities take place in the courtyards.

Future plans for the Lido and Ringling Courtyards include raised gardens for resident participation and soft piped-in music. We look forward to hosting more life enrichment activities and events in the cooler weather this fall and winter.

Plymouth Harbor’s Seaside Assisted Living Residence represents a middle ground for those residents experiencing some daily physical limitations with which they require assistance. The Starr Memory Care Residence is designed to be a safe and secure environment for residents who require constant assistance due to dementia.

Each area is licensed as Assisted Living under the auspices of Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA). Both areas were designed to maximize residential amenities and incorporate beautiful views of our one-of-a-kind setting. The design subtly helps residents with daily needs, whether it is the barrier-free accessibility of the showers or the strategically placed nightlights that act as gentle nighttime reminders.

The Seaside Residence emphasizes large spaces for activity, dining, socializing, exercising, and other programs. Both floors have balconies located on the southwest corner of the Northwest Garden building. The outdoor space is complemented in Seaside with a beautiful courtyard accessible from the bridge.

The Starr Memory Care Residence’s two neighborhoods, Ringling and Lido, emphasize smaller, more intimate spaces. The coziness of the living room, hearth, and fireplace is complemented by a bright and airy kitchen and dining area. Bright lighting and activities are meant to correspond with one’s circadian rhythm and give a sense of belonging and home. Interiors provide a combination of things that are visually appealing, cognitively engaging, and tactiley interesting. Both neighborhoods have easy access to courtyards that we continue to enhance to improve engagement and comfort.

Finally, the program is fostered by staff called Care Partners who have been provided enhanced training on the Postive Approach™ to Care, a program created by Teepa Snow (go to YouTube.com and search Teepa Snow, Positive Approach™ to Care for some wonderful videos of her approach).

In less than a year in operation we are nearing capacity and continuing to improve the environment and programming. Our Assisted Living Facility–both the Seaside and the Starr Memory Care Residences–has significantly improved Plymouth Harbor’s continuum of services available to residents. If you have questions or comments, please contact Brandi Burgess (Ext. 496) or Bert Adams (Ext. 429) for more information.

With the summer months coming to a close and the cooler temperatures arriving, it’s easy to forget that staying hydrated is just as important now as it ever has been. Dehydration can be a catalyst for several life-threatening health issues, and the senior population is among the highest at risk. A study conducted by the National Institutes of Health showed there were significant deficiencies in hydration health literacy among the elderly. With conflicting information surrounding how much water a person should drink, it’s no wonder confusion sets in.

So how much water should you drink each day? It’s a simple question with no easy answer. Your individual water needs depend on many factors, including your health, how active you are, and where you live. No single formula fits everyone, but knowing more about your body’s need for fluids will help you estimate how much water to drink each day.

Every day you lose water through your breath, perspiration, urine, and bowel movements. This water must be replenished to keep your body functioning properly. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that the daily fluid need for a healthy adult living in a temperate climate is about 15.5 cups for men and about 11.5 cups for women. About 20 percent of daily fluid intake usually comes from food and the rest from drinks (Mayo Clinic).

Living in Florida’s tropical climate, the need for water increases due to high temperatures that cause the body to sweat more and breathe heavier. Additional factors to take into consideration include exercise and overall health. It’s important to drink water before, during, and after a workout. If exercise is intense and lasts more than an hour, a sports drink can replace minerals in your blood (electrolytes) lost through sweat. Your body loses fluids when you have a fever, vomiting or diarrhea, bladder infections, and urinary tract stones. The Plymouth Harbor Wellness Center offers residents free, reusable water bottles – come get yours!

The National Institutes of Health found that the aging process alters important physiological control systems associated with thirst and satiety, making it less-likely that someone over the age of 65 will feel the strong urge of being thirsty. When you don’t have enough fluid in your body, your mouth is one of the first places symptoms start to show up. A dry, sticky mouth is a tell-tale sign of dehydration. Another easy place to look – the toilet! The darker a person’s urine, the more highly concentrated the waste is, and that’s a sign that there isn’t enough water in the body. A severe, throbbing headache is often another sign of dehydration. Headaches caused by a lack of fluid can happen throughout the brain – the front, the top, the back – and are often aggravated by bending over, standing up or exerting yourself (Bethesda Health).

If you rarely feel thirsty and your urine is colorless or light yellow, your fluid intake is probably adequate. If not, start now! Drinking a refreshing glass of water after reading this article is a great way to begin. Cheers!

Located in the East Garden Garage, the Resident Fund Shop is Plymouth Harbor’s own internal thrift store, sustained by resident and staff donations, where you can find almost anything at “ridiculously low prices,” said Barbara Kelly, chair of the Resident Fund Shop Committee. Shoppers can find anything from glassware to appliances to designer clothing by brands such as Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein.

“It’s like any good thrift store; you have to come in often to see what there is, and sometimes you get lucky,” Barbara said.

New donations are dropped off almost every day at the front door of the Shop. Most of what is donated is kept to be sold, and any discarded items are donated to local stores such as Goodwill, Resurrection House, and the Salvation Army. They also gift items to Plymouth Harbor departments if something arrives that would be especially useful.

The past year has been extremely profitable, mainly due to the turning over of so many apartments after the Northwest Garden Building opened. Furniture makes up about 25% of the income and is sold through an auction process.

The proceeds are used to support a variety of projects around Plymouth Harbor. Most notably, the Fund Shop has donated $30,000 to the construction of Pilgrim Hall, helped reconstruct the kayak shed, funded the Library, donated to the scholarship fund, and helped a staff member’s family who lost their home in a fire.

“One of our values is supporting the staff and helping in any way that we can,” said Connie Sanders, the previous head of the committee.

Residents often come to browse and mingle, but the Fund Shop’s customers are predominately staff. “We have lots of regulars,” Barbara said. Over time, the Resident Fund Shop Committee has learned who likes what and will often call a staff member if something they might like shows up.

The committee, which is part of the Residents Association, consists of 14 members, some of whom have worked at the Fund Shop for 15 years. Most members work three-hour shifts, and there are also some volunteers from outside the committee who come in to help. After being in business for over 50 years, it has become a well-oiled machine. “It’s just a matter of keeping the Shop in order and moving things along, but we also do a lot of laughing,” Barbara said. “Having fun is at the top of our list.”

The Fund Shop is open Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and Fridays from 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Donations are always welcome!

Your board ensures you are doing the right things; your staff ensures you are doing things right.

This is something I heard many years ago and have always remembered and agreed with. Luckily, our Foundation Board of Trustees does an excellent job of determining the right things for the Foundation to be doing.

Over the first six years since the Foundation’s inception, some of the major successes include:

    Establishing the employee scholarships – as of 2018, we have awarded 53 scholarships for a total of $96,200.
    Assisting employees through hardship challenges – over $20,000 has been awarded.

    Funding the renovation of the Wellness Center – opened in September of 2014, now over 150 residents participate in more than 17 weekly offerings.

    Funding the rejuvenation of Pilgrim Hall – programs increased from 60 to 90 in the first year after opening.

    Funding the Educational Leadership and Inspirational Programming for the Starr Memory Care Residence – programs are continuing to be established, and education is constant and ongoing.

    Welcoming 48 members to the MacNeil Society with an estimated $4.2 million in deferred gifts – ensuring a continued flow of funds throughout the years as our donors support Foundation efforts through their estate plans.

Building on the success of the first six years, we recently completed our Strategic Plan for the Foundation, which continues to align with the initiatives of Plymouth Harbor. Our four major initiatives of the Foundation include:

    Providing gift revenue for ongoing program funding at Plymouth Harbor.

    Identifying and establishing gift revenue for emerging trends and technologies in our service area.

    Strengthening and widening our donor base.

    Continuing to build a knowledgeable and engaged Foundation board.

Indeed, our Foundation Board of Trustees ensures we are doing the right things to further programs and projects that require funding beyond what operations can support. Our donors ensure we can fund those programs and projects. Our staff ensures we are doing things right to move those initiatives forward.

We are a balanced team of individuals, here to improve the lives of our residents. We hope you will all join us in our mission.

-Becky Pazkowski

An avid and adventurous reader, Susan Eckert will be bringing her great love for books with her as this year’s new coordinator of the Plymouth Harbor Book Club. When Charleen Sessions, the previous coordinator, retired from the position, Susan volunteered herself for the job in hopes of inspiring others to find the same joys in reading, learning, and conversing as she has.

Plymouth Harbor’s Book Club is “resident inspired and resident led,” Susan said. For about one hour on the first Friday of each month from October to May, a resident gives a presentation on a book of their choosing and leads a discussion. Occasionally, the presenters also bring guests or props; past presentations have featured exercise equipment, rowing coaches, and even livestock. “The books we use span a wide variety of topics, and our presenters bring great knowledge and wisdom to the discussions,” Susan said. “I am indebted to them for all of the time and energy it takes to prepare.”

Susan made a conscious decision to recruit new presenters who will bring fresh perspectives and voices to the discussions. Some presenters are new residents, others are familiar faces, but all have an inspiring or intriguing book they want to share.

Getting your hands on the books is easy. You can go to the Plymouth Harbor Library, a Sarasota County Library, or even ask Maryanne Shorin in Resident Programming to order you an individual copy and put it on your tab. The Library of Congress also offers the National Library Service (NLS) for the visually impaired through which they will send you a “talking book” at no cost along with a user-friendly listening device. Maryanne Shorin (Ext. 252) can help you access this service if you are interested.

This year, Susan has compiled the list of books to be discussed in advance. She hopes this will encourage more people to read the books ahead of time, although you do not have to read the book in order to attend. “You can come having read the book, or you can come without having read it and walk away inspired to, or you can just look at the list,” Susan said. “There is value in all levels of involvement.”

Plymouth Harbor Book Club Programming:

October 5 – The Undertaking: Life Studies From the Dismal Trade by Thomas Lynch, presented by Sue Elliott

November 2 – She’s Not There – A Life In Two Genders by Jennifer Boylan, presented by Marcella Schuyler

December 7 – A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, presented by Margo Light

January 4 – The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family by Annette Gordon-Reed, presented by Sallie VanArsdale

February 1 – Margery Stoneman Douglas: Voice of the River by Margery Stoneman Douglas, presented by Tom Bulthuis

March 1 – The Wind In My Hair: My Fight For Freedom In Modern Iran by Masih Alinejad, presented by Catha Abrahams

April 5 – Our Souls At Night by Kent Haruf, presented by Marita Marsh

May 3 – Circe by Madeline Miller, presented by Sue Johnson

2018 brought a new Director of Wellness to Plymouth Harbor and continued growth and outreach of the Wellness department. One outreach in particular that has been gaining a lot of momentum is the implementation of weekly exercise classes in the Seaside Assisted Living and Starr Memory Care residences. Plymouth Harbor’s health & fitness specialist Elizabeth Goldsmith has developed two key classes aimed at encouraging residents to move more – both their bodies and their brains!

“Morning Warmup” is held in the Starr Memory Care Lido Neighborhood on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for 15 minutes. Memory Care residents can join Elizabeth for a class that incorporates gentle range of motion exercises and light aerobic activity followed by relaxing stretches. This class is held in the Life Enrichment Center which allows for an atmosphere that reduces overstimulation and outside distractions. The class helps provide movement to all joints and muscles in a soothing manner.

“Body Moves” is a 30 minute class held in the Assisted Living Activity Center on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This class incorporates gentle range of motion movements, light aerobic activity, muscular strength and endurance, coordination, and flexibility. A variety of easy-to-use equipment is provided. “Body Moves” is appropriate for any resident who would like a supportive, soothing, and safe environment for exercise.

In addition to these classes, two new SciFit StepOneTM exercise machines were installed in the Activity Center. These machines specifically target the aging adult by providing a smooth, total-body functional movement featuring low starting resistance, direct wheelchair access, adjustable arm length and handle angle, and customizable programs to help users reach their activity goals. Having these strategically placed in the Activity Center gives residents the ability to exercise right in their own neighborhood.

Regular exercise has been proven to help slow the progression of some dementia related disease and help individuals improve mobility, relieve stiff muscles and joints, and maintain much of their independence. Creating accessible programming allows more of our residents to benefit from all that the wellness program has to offer, and ensures they are able to age in a healthy, active, and safe manner.

You may have heard the term circadian rhythm, but do you know what it means and how it affects us? Circadian rhythm is defined as the physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a 24-hour cycle, responding primarily to light and darkness in our environment. It is driven by the body’s biological clock and controls our sleep/wake cycle.

Exposure to natural and artificial light is vital to control our circadian rhythm. Studies show that you need to be exposed to at least 30 minutes of morning light to set your rhythm, followed by a gradual progression of light throughout the day with a natural color pattern.

As we age, we become more at risk for circadian rhythm disorders and vision disorders such as cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration, which affects our eyes’ ability to take in light from our environment. Dementia further affects vision by decreasing depth, motion, and color perception. A brain with dementia takes longer to process the environment, which may lead to visual hallucinations. Maximizing exposure to light and the natural day-to-night progression becomes extremely important.

Our Starr Memory Care Residence was specifically designed to support proper circadian rhythms. Large windows let morning light flood into the neighborhoods, and easily accessible courtyards ensure our residents receive exposure to natural sunlight. Lighting features in the common spaces are on a dimmable program, allowing the inside artificial light to mimic the progression of natural light throughout the day.

Similarly, each neighborhood has a reflection room, a relaxing space that offers aromatherapy, a comfortable massage chair, and a tunable light that changes colors to mimic the natural color pattern associated with the day-to-night light cycle. The cycle starts with bright blue morning light, which increases serotonin levels, and gradually warms and progresses to a warm orange evening tone, which increases melatonin levels. We can manually control this light to support a resident that is having difficulty with his or her sleep/wake cycle.

Most important are the programming features we use to support healthy circadian rhythms in our residents. Our 24-hour cycle notes peak times for physical activity, concentration, and creativity, and we arrange our flexible activity schedule according to this cycle.

There have been many studies over the years about how a disorder in our rhythm affects those with dementia, but the importance of supporting proper circadian rhythms was only formally recognized in 2017. A team of scientists was honored with the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for their study indicating that a chronic misalignment between our lifestyle and our rhythm, as dictated by our inner timekeeper, is associated with increased risk of various diseases.

Health Services staff members Joe Devore and Judy Sarnowski teamed up with THW, the design firm for the Northwest Garden, to present at the annual LeadingAge Florida Convention in Orlando this summer. The topic was designing with light to support the circadian rhythm. The focus was the design and programming features of our very own Starr Memory Care Residence.

If you would like to learn more, the presentation from LeadingAge 2018 is available in the Family Conference and Resource Center located on the second floor in the administrative wing of the Northwest Garden.