We serve people through a ministry of love, compassion, and mercy in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ

Adult Siblings and Caring for Aging Parents

Caring for aging parents

Life is a long journey full of changes and challenges. As we age, the changes we face can require specialized care, a possible move to personal care, increased medical treatment, and above all, understanding.

Furthermore, while the physical and medical aspects of aging can be challenging for our parents, it’s important to understand that the impact these changes can have on our family as a whole can be equally challenging.

Indeed, the issues that arise as our parents age can stress and alter existing family dynamics in many ways. This is why it’s so important for you to carefully plan, prepare, and organize everything in advance. The more pre-planning and preparation you do, the stronger your family will be when the time comes to discuss and eventually act upon your parents’ long-term care needs.

Caring for aging parentsAnd yet you may discover that your parents have trouble discussing the need for long-term care, or even a personal care living arrangement. After a lifetime of being independent, many seniors find it difficult to accept that the time has come to ask their children for guidance.

In fact, it can be difficult for you to adjust to this as well. After all, your formative years were shaped through your parents’ help and guidance, and now that role has been reversed. This is a significant adjustment for everyone in the family, which is why it’s so important to nurture and encourage one another, just as your parents did for you at those long-passed Little League games and dance recitals.

To that end, the following strategies can help all the members of your family cope with the changes you’re experiencing:

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Is a Retirement Community Right for You?

retirement community

What do you do when the kids have left the nest and you’re no longer required to work from 9 to 5? It’s a question many seniors struggle to answer, and let’s be honest: There’s only so much time you can dedicate to knitting and crossword puzzles before you get bored. For these reasons and many more, you may want to consider moving into a retirement community.

For starters, moving into a retirement community is a great way to boost your social life. It’s a little like moving back into a college dorm: You can meet new people, build new friendships, and engage in the many activities organized throughout the community. Whether you enjoy golfing, playing music, engaging in discussions about the news or simply taking a stroll through the woods, you will have no trouble finding people who share your interests and will be thrilled to join you.

retirement community

There are also other conveniences to think about. At Allegheny Lutheran Social Ministries, for instance, we offer onsite hair salons, fitness rooms and public lounges for our residents to utilize throughout the day. This is in addition to  worship services, linen and transportation services, and many other features. This is part of the reason that living within a retirement community really is a little like moving into a full-service resort.

Of course, there’s also the health and medical aspects to consider. Our bodies are complex machines that need extra attention as we age. Within a retirement community, you will find plenty of nursing and rehabilitation staff on hand to help you manage your health and respond  to any issues that may arise. In an emergency situation it can be very reassuring to have professional and experienced staff members to rely on.

Furthermore, as your needs change, so too can the level of care you receive. Whether you need help with the small tasks of daily living, or are having increasing difficulty controlling your blood pressure or oxygen levels, the nursing care you receive can be increased to match your changing health status.

All of these details add up to two very important factors:

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Caring and Compassionate Skilled Nursing Care in Blair County

compassionate skilled nursingWhat does the phrase “compassionate care” mean to you? What sorts of images come to mind when you hear words like “skilled nursing” or “retirement community”?

If you’re someone who has recently found yourself in the position of caring for a senior — a parent with worsening dementia, perhaps, or a family member with mobility issues — the issue of genuinely compassionate long-term care is probably something that’s been on your mind quite a lot.

At The Lutheran Home at Hollidaysburg, our skilled nursing care  center in Hollidaysburg, Blair County,  our always residents receive a full screening upon arrival. This way, our staff is aware of potential physical, occupational or speech therapy needs. Screening continues on a regular basis to ensure we catch therapeutic issues as they arise, even if this is well after the initial screening.

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Sweet Seniors Prom at The Lutheran Home at Hollidaysburg

The Lutheran Home at Hollidaysburg hosted an evening prom complete with DJ entertainment, refreshments, and even sparkling cider. Family members and guests joined the celebration. Some senior living residents even had “dates” for the evening.

The prom was wonderful! Some residents shared that they enjoyed attending
special evenings such as this with their spouses in the past and did not think they would have the opportunity to enjoy such an evening again. They loved the dancing!

One additional delight to the team members was finding out that they had fulfilled a lifelong dream for one resident who had always wanted to attend a prom. She never had until this evening. The smiles in the photos below tell the story of how the residents felt about their prom.

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Using Talents to Give Back

Using Talents to Give Back: Independent Living Retirement Communities

Lucille Crocheting

As ALSM team members we are very grateful for the wonderful opportunities we have to get to know the residents who reside in our retirement communities. That is an aspect of most team members days that they will tell you brings them the most joy. Getting to know the people that we serve, the lives that ALSM touches. We recently had the opportunity to spend time with a few ALSM residents who enjoy filling their days with handmade gifts of love that they donate to make others lives better

Caring for the Youngest and Most in Need

Mrs. Lucille Lilly is an 88 year-old resident of the Hillcrest apartments on the Hickory Commons campus. She welcomed us to spend time with her as she was knitting beautiful baby blankets. We are glad we visited with her that morning because the finished blankets were picked up later that day, destined to be given to local newborns in need. Mrs. Lilly donates blankets each year to Birthright and Catholic Charities.

We also learned that knitting is not her only passion: Lucille is a licensed amateur radio operator. She and her husband were very active and enjoyed communication “over the horizon” via short wave radio. What an interesting lady!

As we visited, Lucille shared why she makes and donates her quilts. “You don’t always just do for yourself. I like to help other people. We need to broaden our horizons and give of ourselves.” Lucille certainly reaches out and touches the lives of many
little ones.

Prayer Quilts Sewn and Given With Love

Using Talents to Give Back: Continuing Care Retirement CommunityMarilyn Shaw and Mary Hardy have happily set themselves up in one of a quilting room at The Oaks at Pleasant Gap, our continuing care retirement community. There they assemble prayer quilts. Marilyn was a member of a prayer quilting club in San Francisco. When she moved to her new home in The Oaks (her 52nd move!), she brought with her a template for constructing the quilts, materials for making them, and a poem that she had written to express how much they mean to her. The ladies construct each quilt and attach strings to the quilt. They then ask other residents, team members, and guests at The Oaks to say a prayer and tie a knot in the strings on the quilt.

The ladies construct each quilt and attach strings to the quilt. They then ask other residents, team members, and guests at The Oaks to say a prayer and tie a knot in the strings on the quilt.

The day we visited the quilt room, they were finishing a prayer quilt for a fellow resident at The Oaks, one whose health was failing. When they presented him with his quilt, it came with prayers that had been offered for him from residents and team members of The Oaks. Even a few of us visitors were able to be a part of this special ministry. What a wonderful, comforting gift, full of love, this gentleman received! He has not been their only recipient. The ladies have donated quilts and prayers for both the older adults and children in the ALSM Generations Together program in Altoona. The participants were thrilled to receive these gifts and were happy to take such a treasure home with them.

The quilts not only brighten someone’s day but they brighten their soul.

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I’m so confused…

Senior Living Retirement CommunityBy Danni Hale Pettit, Administrator, The Lutheran Home at Hollidaysburg

“I’m so confused” is a common phrase that is uttered daily. Perhaps more accurately, it is uttered every minute when adult children are now faced with ‘To Dos’ of caring for aging parents.  The pendulum has now swung and the child is caring for, or making arrangements for care of, their parent.  What emerges when it comes time to think about long-term placement is the feeling of a loudly-ticking clock being drowned in an ocean of overwhelming emotions, questions and decisions.

It is common to second-guess your decisions and experience fears, general confusion and guilt. Please keep in mind that everyone before you has experienced similar feelings when making such arrangements and that there are helpers — perhaps beacons — to guide you on this uncertain path.

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Loving an Aging Parent

As if any year could become more challenging, 1997 did. My husband of 22 years died suddenly of a heart attack at age 50, and my stepfather also died, leaving me to take my 80 year old mother to live with me.

My mother lived in Alexandria, VA, because my stepfather was retired military and had multiple health issues. Living in that area enabled easy access to medical care. When he passed away, my mother was alone, and since I am an only child I was responsible to care for her.

When she came to Pennsylvania, she had limited mobility and had every intention of isolating herself in the house. Her response to any possibility of attending the senior daily living center was, “I’m not going there with old ladies.” Of course, she was one herself. Mentioning to my mother that she was an old lady was not well received. Finally, I suggested trying the experience for two days. If she found it unpleasant, she never had to return. Mom went and thoroughly enjoyed the program, especially the interaction with the children from Growing Years Early Learning Center. What a relief for me to know she was in a secure environment with organized, stimulating activities among people her age, and with children.

ALSM’s senior daily living programs are a real solution for seniors who live alone or with family members and who need a safe setting in which to socialize and participate in programs that stimulate cognitive and physical fitness. My mother was able to stay with me for several years until she suffered a stroke–which is a story for a future blog.

Senior daily living centers located in Altoona, State College, and Somerset County are an example of how ALSM touches the lives of seniors each day.

For more information, contact Sally Lenz at 814.696.4503.

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Donations From The Heart

“To serve people through a ministry of love, compassion and mercy in the Name of our Lord, Jesus Christ,” Allegheny Lutheran Social Ministries (ALSM) and our team members give generously to support our communities. In 2013, our team’s support and donations totaled more than $13,000 with 850 hours of volunteer time.

You may ask, “What are some of the efforts in which ALSM is involved? Why would ALSM participate in community programs when ALSM is already a set of community programs and already seeks charitable care funds to carry out its own mission?”

ALSM is involved in charitable efforts because we are part of the communities in which we are located. We believe it is important to “love and serve our neighbors” and be responsible citizens. We also believe that participating in these opportunities makes our communities better places –places that respond to the needs of people. Our mission is to serve people.

Some examples of programs in which ALSM Is involved include:

The American Cancer Society & Joyce Murtha Breast Cancer Care Center


Our team members have given generously of their time and money toward cancer centers, Relay for Life, the Making Strides against Breast Cancer walk, and the Free to Breathe Lung Cancer awareness program. Team members have joined these efforts to show support for their fellow team members who have faced a cancer or friends and family who have fought or are fighting the battle against cancer.  Over $5,000 was raised to support these programs.

The American Heart Association

ALSM sees firsthand the results of heart disease as residents are rehabilitating from a stroke or cardiac episode. We believe in supporting efforts to raise awareness and research dollars to aid in reducing heart-associated illnesses and death. Some of the initiatives sponsored by the American Heart Association that ALSM has sponsored include Derby Days and Heart Smart Day.

Walk to End Alzheimer’s, State College and Johnstown

Alzheimer's Walk Sept 14 2013 4

One in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia. It is the 6th leading cause of death. ALSM serves older adults in our senior communities, home care, and day programs. Every day our team members care for individuals with forms of dementia. We know how devastating the disease is and have organized fundraisers to help increase awareness of this dreaded disease.

St. Jude Children’s Hospital Trike-a-Thon

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Children have the biggest hearts. It warms our hearts to see little ones from the Growing Years Early Learning Center strap on their helmets and climb on their trikes to raise money for sick children. What a wonderful lesson that fun activity is teaching them. Last year our children raised and donated $500.00 to St. Jude Children’s Hospital.

Helping Those Less Fortunate

In an economy where employment is often hard to find, where people have lost jobs or faced a reduction in hours, ALSM team members show our appreciation and gratitude for the gifts that we have by helping families, children, and animals in need. Every ALSM program participates in food drives. We also support a program where warm winter clothing is provided to children in need. Funds were raised and walkers participated in the Crop Walk in our area. The money raised was donated to local food banks. Donations were collected to aid the Mending Hearts Animal Rescue in caring for homeless animals.

Honoring Those Who Serve

Participants at ALSM’s Generations Together Program in Altoona (children from Growing Years Early Learning Center, participants of the Senior Daily Living Center, and The Lutheran Home at Hollidaysburg and team members of these locations) wrote Christmas cards and letters to American soldiers. Donated items for care packages were sent as well. The letters from veterans who are our residents to current military personnel thanking them and relating to their experiences was a wonderful way for veterans to share a part of their personal story.

We live, love, and give back to the communities where we serve. We invite you to consider donating your time and talent, either in your community or by serving with us at one of ALSM’s programs. And remember, we are all called to love and serve our neighbors. Please visit the “Donate Now” section of our website to learn more or call the Advancement Office at 814.696.4560.

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