On Monday, April 3rd, the Residents Association Executive Council held its annual meeting in Pilgrim Hall. Over 200 residents attended the meeting, which covered a number of pertinent issues.

Most notably, the association voted to change their by-laws so that the fiscal year of the Residents Association now aligns with the calendar year of the Plymouth Harbor Corporation — operating from January to January, rather than April to April as done since its founding. The Executive Council and Board of Directors reviewed this proposed resolution and unanimously voted to approve it.

Residents were also given a copy of the resolution in early March. To accomplish this transition, all currently serving officers, directors, and committee chairs will extend their terms for the interim period, which will last until the 2018 annual meeting on January 8, 2018.

Other important items discussed include Rev. Dick Sparrow accepting the position as our permanent Chaplain, rather than interim; a resident portal, accessible by computer, will be available later this year; and a new resource has been added to the library, which provides an inside look into the inner workings of each resident committee.

At the end of the meeting, Dr. Duncan Finlay, Chair of the Plymouth Harbor, Inc. Board of Trustees, spoke to the range of expertise and the enthusiasm that the trustees bring to the oversight of the plans and activities of Plymouth Harbor. Congratulations to all on another successful year for the Residents Association!


By: Chris Cooper, Wellness Director

We have all heard the benefits of exercise either from our doctors or in literature. Usually it is in reference to aerobic exercise, such as walking or biking, because of its cardiovascular-enhancing benefit as well as its ability to decrease risk for disease and increase weight loss. It is the go-to prescription for health enhancement at any age.

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society concluded that weekly resistance training sessions not only resulted in strength gains but also significant improvements in cognitive function in older adults who presented with mild cognitive impairment. 1

Simply put, resistance-training exercises are proving to be a powerful tool for enhancing brain function as well as resulting in stronger bones and muscles.

This is not the first study to show the cognitive benefits of exercise. However, this particular study differs in that the researchers set out to determine if the cognitive improvements were a result of enhanced cardiovascular capacity or enhanced muscular strength. Participants performed 2-3 strength training sessions per week along with aerobic exercise and were regularly tested on cognitive ability. At the end of the study, only the persons with enhanced strength gains were associated with improvements in cognition. This illustrates that maintaining/improving muscle strength contributes to brain health as well.

If you are interested in reading this complete study and learning the mechanisms for these gains, please see the reference below:

1) Mavros Y, Gates N, Wilson GC, et al. Mediation of Cognitive Function Improvements by Strength Gains After Resistance Training in Older Adults with Mild Cognitive Impairment: Outcomes of the Study of Mental and Resistance Training. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 2016.


Each year on Earth Day, various events are held across the globe to demonstrate support for environmental protection. At Plymouth Harbor, Earth Day, held last month on April 21st, is a campus-wide celebration of conservation efforts and a reminder to strive to do more each year.

Hosted by the Conservation Committee, the event continues to grow in size and creativity each year, offering vendor stations, giveaways, trivia, informational videos, prizes, and this year, a local produce vendor, Central Market, and a special interactive art installation. As with years past, the Conservation Committee also provided information on Plymouth Harbor’s recycling, water, and electricity conservation efforts.

The art installation (pictured above, right) used materials collected from the Resident Fund Shop and depicted a “love scene gone wrong.” Residents and visitors had the opportunity to vote on what happened, coming up with fun and far-reaching explanations.

Other noteworthy additions this year include a local produce vendor, the offering of Publix reusable shopping bags, and a fashion show and exhibit by the Fund Shop. Additionally, there was increased involvement from resident artists, displaying environmentally-friendly works of art across the room, with a special display from Smith Care Center residents. Visitors had the opportunity to vote on their favorite work of art, with the interactive art installation receiving the No. 1 spot. Winners of the trivia challenge included Susan Mauntel in first place and Alida de Jongh as runner-up. We look forward to next year’s event!

Friday, April 21st from 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. in the Club Room.

The Conservation Committee invites all residents to its annual Earth Day Celebration. We will provide refreshments and, most importantly, interactive, informative, and fun activities! There will be giveaways, trivia, videos, prizes, and, using recycled items from the Fund Shop, there will be a special interactive art installation!

Celebrated each year on April 22nd, Earth Day is a global holiday that serves as a day of education about environmental issues. The brainchild of Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-WI), and inspired by the student anti-Vietnam War protests of the late 1960s, Earth Day was aimed at creating a mass environmental movement.

On April 22, 1970, Senator Nelson launched a “national teach-in on the environment” at universities across the United States. By raising public awareness of pollution, he hoped to bring environmental issues into the national spotlight. An estimated 20 million Americans took to streets, auditoriums, and parks to protest for a healthy, sustainable environment. Thousands of colleges and universities also organized protests, and groups that were fighting oil spills, polluting factories, and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife realized they shared common values.

The first Earth Day accomplished a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, city dwellers and farmers, tycoons and laborers. At the end of the year, the United States Environmental Protection Agency was formed and the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts were passed. By 1990, Earth Day was recognized worldwide.

With the establishment of the Conservation Committee, Plymouth Harbor does its part to contribute to the green movement. The committee promotes conservation of resources within Plymouth Harbor, including recycling, water, and electricity usage (which is tracked and reported regularly), as well as other appropriate conservation measures. The new collection bins on the Ground Floor of the Tower further promote this goal by encouraging donation and re-use of household items. In addition, the committee researches and makes recommendations on how Plymouth Harbor can become more environmentally conscious.


By: Chris Cooper, Wellness Director

Physical activity is a broad term. It refers to movement of the body by using the skeletal muscles that subsequently results in a caloric expenditure that is greater than your resting expenditure. Whether going from sitting to standing, walking, running, lifting, or carrying, all of these activities are considered physical activity. These activities are also referred to as activities of daily living.

Exercise, on the other hand, is a more structured, planned form of physical activity. Examples of exercise might include the following: scheduling ahead of time to go to the Wellness Center and walk on the treadmill for 15 minutes each day, or planning to take the Sit Fit class three times per week.

A person who regularly exercises is likely to be more “physically fit.” This means they are not only able to perform daily tasks with minimal fatigue, but they still have the energy to enjoy other leisure activities, such as socializing and dining with friends and family, or attending an evening event in downtown Sarasota. This type of health-related physical fitness is evident by improved cardiovascular and muscular endurance as well as improved balance and flexibility that enables a person to move with less effort and minimal, if any, assistance.

While all physical activity is beneficial and encouraged for maintaining health, structured exercise will not only maintain, but will help improve your physical fitness so that you may enjoy each day to the fullest.

Source: American College of Sports Medicine. Health-Related and Skill-Related Components of Physical Fitness. 10th ed., Philadelphia, PA, Wolters Kluwer.


By: Chris Valuck, Wellness Director

Are you finding that tasks such as opening jars, turning doorknobs, using a key or even opening a package are becoming increasingly difficult to perform? Then you may benefit from including the following hand-strengthening exercises into your weekly routine to help improve your grip strength and range of motion.

First, let’s talk about the main types of grips you’ll be enhancing. The crush grip is used when holding or closing your hand around an object. The pinch grip is used to hold an object with just your fingertips or pinching something together (i.e. holding a pen). The support grip uses your finger and thumb muscles, allowing you to hold on to things for a long time, such as a dumbbell in an exercise class. Finally, although not a “grip,” a hand extension works the opposing muscles to the flexors to help maintain muscle balance and stability between the two groups. Using simple pieces of equipment, or none at all, you can improve the strength of these important muscles. There are numerous hand exercises, a few are listed below. Let’s begin with exercises that require no equipment.

Fist to Open Fingers
Make a tight fist, then open your hand fully and spread your fingers. Repeat 3-5 times on each hand.

Open Hand Finger Lift
Place your open hand palm down on a flat surface. Begin lifting each finger up off the surface, one at a time. Then, keeping your palm on the surface, lift all fingers at once. Repeat 3-5 times on each hand.

Thumb and Finger Touch
Hold your open hand in front of you and begin touching your thumb with one finger at a time. When you have touched each finger, go in the reverse order on the same hand. Repeat this 3 times, then perform the exercise on the other hand. For an added challenge, try performing the exercise on both hands at the same time. For variety and challenge, you may choose to use equipment for your exercises, such as a small hand exercise ball, a tennis ball (if possible, cut in half so it will be easier to use), and a simple rubber band.

Rubber Band Hand Extensions
Place the rubber band around your fingers and thumb. Keeping your fingers straight, open your hand by spreading your fingers apart; then allow them to close again. Repeat this exercise for 3-5 times on each hand.

Tennis Ball (or Exer-ball) Crush
Place the ball in the palm of your hand, close your hand, and squeeze (crush) the ball for several seconds, release, and repeat a 3-5 times in each hand.

Ball Pinch
Hold the ball with only your fingertips and thumb. Now pinch the ball, hold a few seconds, and release. Repeat this 3-5 times on each hand. You might also try pinching the ball with one finger and thumb at a time. Complete this exercise on both hands.

Master these exercises, and you will see improved hand strength and flexibility. If you are interested in additional hand strengthening exercises, please contact Chris Valuck at Ext 377.


Brain training is thought to go a long way in slowing the aging process. What exactly is brain training? Essentially, it means incorporating mental exercises that focus on the brain’s neuroplasticity (or ability to change and adapt) in your daily lifestyle. A new concept in neuroplasticity is being seen in combining physical and mental exercises to ultimately strengthen brain power over time.

We are able to increase our brain’s neuroplasticity at any time, simply by engaging in new activities and learning new skills. This new concept takes it one step further, combining our physical and mental exercises all at once.

For instance, working on a mind game such as Sudoku helps exercise the brain’s mathematical functions. However, research suggests that long-term benefits in the brain occur when there are multiple movements (Biscontini 2016). So, while you finish your game of Sudoku, consider performing a seated march in place. Another good example is trying to solve a moderately-complex math problem (without any paper) while exercising or walking. If you stop to let yourself think, you’ll notice that it becomes much easier and more comfortable to concentrate. However, this interferes with neuroplasticity training. The key is that any additional movement while performing a mental task is beneficial, no matter how big or small.

The separate benefits of physical and mental exercise on long-term brain health have been well-established. Over the years, we’ve learned more and more that mental stimulation (like crossword puzzles), aerobic exercise, and an active social life altogether contribute to an active brain. By combining neuroplasticity training with physical movement, studies show we can strengthen,
improve, and even change certain regions in the brain (Reynolds 2009). This is because you are training your brain to function in new and different ways while operating simultaneously with your body’s needs.

There are many ways to combine mental and physical exercise in brain training. Understand tasks your mind can accomplish while your body is in motion, and take control of your brain training.

Biscontini, L. (2016, March). Fight Aging With Brain Training. Retrieved January 26, 2017, http://www.ideafit.com/fitness-library/fight-aging-with-brain-training

Reynolds, G. (2009, September 15). Phys Ed: What Sort of Exercise Can Make You Smarter? Retrieved January 26, 2017. http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/16/what-sort-of-exercise-can-make-you-smarter/

picture2-9Originally from Peru, Lucy Guzman came to the United States in 2008. In Peru, Lucy was both a nurse technician and massage therapist; however, her credentials did not transfer along with her move.

“I came here with a lot of dreams and goals to reach,” Lucy says of her move to the U.S. Once here, Lucy set to work, not only to learn how to speak English, but also to earn her certification as a Certified Nursing Assistant. In November 2010, she joined the Smith Care Center (SCC) team as a full-time staff member and has been here ever since.

Lucy moved to Sarasota with the youngest of her two sons, while her oldest still lives in Peru with his family. She always intended to go back to school to receive her license as a massage therapist in the U.S., and in 2014, with the help of a scholarship from the Plymouth Harbor Foundation, she did. On February 20, 2015, Lucy graduated from the Sarasota School of Massage Therapy, and eight days later, she passed her Boards to become a Licensed Massage Therapist. She accomplished all of this while still working full-time in SCC.

Today, Lucy continues her work here as a CNA, works part-time as a Massage Therapist, and also has a massage studio at her home. The Wellness Center offers complimentary chair massages each week, and Lucy is one of two massage therapists, onsite on Wednesdays from 9:30-11:30 a.m.

One of massage therapy’s obvious benefits is relaxation, but it also offers improved range of motion, flexibility and circulation, and decreased stress and anxiety. Lucy adds that her background in nursing helps her a great deal in the field of massage, knowing the ins and outs of the nervous system and the different muscle groups, and using that knowledge to maximize both the experience and health benefit for her clients.

“Lucky me,” Lucy says. “I have a job that I love and I have massage — something else I get to do because I love it, and I love helping people.”

To learn more, stop by the Wellness Center on Wednesday mornings, or find Lucy’s information in the Wellness Center’s Preferred Professionals Brochure.


picture19Originally from Mexico, Manny Flores came to the United States in 1991, at the age of 13. He has been an employee with Plymouth Harbor for more than 12 years now. Initially starting as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), Manny became a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) one month after joining the nursing team in the Smith Care Center (SCC).

Last year, Manny found an unexpected interest in massage therapy after his wife was experiencing back pain. She tried several different treatments to help ease the pain, but massage therapy was the only one that provided her relief. For this reason, it piqued a curiosity in Manny. “Massage therapy was like a new world for me,” he says. “As a nurse, it showed me a new way of looking at how to help people.”

As a result, Manny began a one-year course at the Sarasota School of Massage Therapy, attending night classes while working full-time. He graduated in December 2015  and is now working as a licensed massage therapist, in addition to his full-time job as an LPN in SCC. Manny offers complimentary chair massages in the Wellness Center each week, on alternating Tuesdays and Wednesdays, from 9:30-11:30 a.m.

“Massage therapy is a different approach that offers many benefits,” Manny says. “Working in the Wellness Center allows me to help different residents and get to know their stories.”

One of massage therapy’s obvious benefits is relaxation, but it offers so much more than that. Not only can it help by relaxing muscle aches and pains, but it can improve range of motion, flexibility, and circulation, and decrease stress and anxiety. 

In addition to his work at Plymouth Harbor, Manny operates his own massage therapy business, Healing Touch, offering in-home massage services. Outside of work, Manny enjoys soccer and working out. To learn more, stop by the Wellness Center on Tuesday mornings, or find Manny’s information in the Wellness Center’s Preferred Professionals Brochure.


leverone-head-shot-lo-res-3Barbara Leverone has worked as a private practice Feldenkrais Method® instructor in Sarasota since 1996, and has been teaching at Plymouth Harbor for close to two years now.

Ironically, Barbara’s first-ever job was here at Plymouth Harbor in the Dining Services Department. A mother of two, a son and daughter, Barbara’s son followed in her footsteps and held his first job in the Smith Care Center kitchen. Today, he works as a chef in Miami.

Barbara holds a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling from the University of South Florida and received an associate’s degree from the University of Florida. In 1994, Barbara earned her 800-hour course certification as an instructor in the Feldenkrais Method. She was first introduced to the technique in Los Angeles in the 1970s while seeking treatments to help rehabilitate from injuries she sustained as a professional dancer.

The Feldenkrais Method is a form of somatic education that uses gentle, exploratory movements to help recognize unwanted habitual patterns and explore other options that can lead to improved function and flexibility. Other benefits include increased ease and range of motion, improved coordination, and a rediscovered ability of graceful, effective movement. “Through this technique, we train ourselves to become more aware and seek better options to perform certain tasks,” Barbara says. “It’s something we can use in all aspects of our lives — from decision-making to problem-solving to our emotional well-being.”

After discovering this technique, Barbara moved from California back to Sarasota and began teaching “Movement for Actors” at the Asolo Conservatory. She was there for 10 years, teaching dance and enhanced movement techniques. In 1996, she began her own practice teaching the Feldenkrais Method and now teaches at Plymouth Harbor once per month. Barbara also instructs both private and group sessions at other local organizations. Her areas of focus include babies and caregivers, active seniors, performing artists, fitness and sports professionals, and those in rehabilitation from a variety of orthopedic, neurological, and chronic pain conditions.

“I enjoy working with seniors, and Plymouth Harbor in particular because they are eager to learn and maintain a healthy lifestyle,” she says. “They understand that this doesn’t happen overnight and that it’s a process and lifestyle change.” To learn more about Barbara and the Feldenkrais Method, visit www.srqfeldenkrais.com, or stop by her October class on Thursday, October 27th, 2:00-3:00 p.m.