News

Learn More About Occupational Therapy At Bradenton, FL Independent Living

Throughout April, we celebrated National Occupational Therapy Month — but here at Westminster Manor’s Bradenton, FL independent living community, we’re passionate about this field all year long! We’ve seen firsthand the myriad ways occupational therapy can transform lives, and are proud to offer these services as part of our person-centered care programs.

Just read on to learn more about the power of occupational therapy, and how it can be part of you or your loved one’s enriching experience here at Westminster Manor.

What Is Occupational Therapy?

There are many different types of rehabilitation and therapy you might take part in at Westminster Manor, depending on your needs — from speech therapy to physical therapy and more. So, what exactly is occupational therapy best for?

Occupational therapy is all about helping people’s ability to complete everyday independent tasks — think activities such as eating, grooming, small household chores, and other things that help us function at home. You might have heard this term used by a doctor as part of continuing care due to an injury or ongoing medical condition.

Occupational therapy can also involve using new, specialized devices that help with those tasks. This type of therapy can look different for everyone based on their unique needs, treatment timeline, and other factors. But no matter what your specific situation looks like, you can count on occupational therapy to help you progress toward as independent a lifestyle as possible. That’s something to feel good about!

Why Westminster Manor Is The Ideal Destination For Occupational Therapy Needs

Now that we’ve talked a bit about occupational therapy, you may be wondering what makes Westminster Manor the perfect place to start your program. One of the great things about calling Westminster Manor “home” is that occupational therapy doesn’t have to be a service you attend every week — it can be a seamless part of your everyday life, offered right in the same community you live, laugh, and play in. After all, there’s nothing quite like the peace of mind that comes with having your care team located so close to home. (Then again, if you prefer outpatient services, we provide those as well! Our main focus is helping you take meaningful steps toward the life you want to live — whether you’re a resident at Westminster Manor, or live in the surrounding area).

At Westminster Manor (and our Westminster communities located across the Sunshine State), we proudly operate My W Life wellness program — which is designed to promote overall mind-and-body health. This includes key pillars such as physical, social, and emotional health — and of course, occupational therapy can be a major part of this!

For example, when you use occupational therapy to help you complete day-to-day tasks like getting dressed or putting away laundry, you’re helping achieve a peaceful, independent household. When you keep a clean kitchen or put together a beautiful meal for friends, you’re promoting social connections that make you (and your loved ones!) feel truly fulfilled. As you can see, there’s no shortage of ways that the right occupational therapy can enhance your life beyond the purely physical.

Plus, your occupational therapy program can be done in tandem with other care services you may need (or may already be receiving). That’s another welcome perk of Westminster Manor — our person-first philosophy helps us find services that fit your vibrant, one-of-a-kind life. Not the other way around!

We hope that today’s guide has helped you learn more about occupational therapy, and its role here at Westminster Manor! Please get in touch today to see how our services can support you or your loved one — we’re here to help.

We celebrated 70 years of serving older adults and the founding of Westminster Communities of Florida with a special ceremony in Bradenton

Residents, team members and Bradenton civic leaders mark occasion with special ceremony and outdoor carnival celebration

BRADENTON, April 5, 2024 – With an outdoor carnival and a special proclamation from Bradenton Mayor Gene Brown, Westminster Communities of Florida celebrated its 70th anniversary of serving older adults with roots in the founding of Westminster Manor in 1954.

The organization, first established as a ministry of the Presbyterian Church (USA) as Presbyterian Homes of the Synod of Florida, began its service when the Life Plan Community today known as Westminster Manor opened in 1961. Westminster Communities of Florida today has 23 communities spanning the state of Florida, serving more than 7,000 residents with 2,300 team members.

Terry Carr, Executive Director of Westminster Manor and Westminster Point Pleasant, thanked the attendees at the special ceremony with a word of welcome. “Thank you to all of those who will be celebrating today, and thank you all very much today for being a part of our first 70 years,” Carr said.

“This year will be a special year,” said Chief Executive Officer Terry Rogers in celebration of the anniversary. “I think every year is special here at Westminster, and I am so happy that we are starting our celebration here in Bradenton where it all began.”

Brown brought a commemorative copy of a proclamation congratulating Westminster Communities of Florida for the occasion. “We are still a small town here in Bradenton,” Brown said, “and we wouldn’t have… what the Presbyterian Church saw and started in our community without that sense of pride and longevity.”

The City of Bradenton’s proclamation read, in closing, “Now therefore it be resolved, as the Mayor of the City of Bradenton, I do hereby proclaim April 4, 2024, as Westminster Communities of Florida’s 70th anniversary… and encourage all citizens to congratulate them on 70 years of serving older adults in Bradenton.”

One resident, Patti MacKay, had a personal connection that she shared as part of the presentation: Her mother, Jeanne Oliver, attended the ground-breaking for Westminster Manor and later lived there as a resident. “I’ve shared Mom’s story, and our story. But what I want to end with today is YOUR story,” MacKay said. “Today is just another chapter!”

Attendees also enjoyed congratulatory remarks from Jacki Dezelski from the Manatee Chamber of Commerce, who celebrated the organization’s 350 team members in Bradenton; Sharon Barhorst from Bradenton Kiwanis; and Ruth Anne Rood representing the Bradenton Tropical Palms, a neighbor of Westminster Manor.

Following the ceremony at Westminster Manor in the morning, residents, team members, and civic members attended an outdoor carnival in the afternoon at Westminster Point Pleasant. The afternoon featured highlights like a “Jeopardy!”-style game with trivia about Westminster, a photo slideshow highlighting the last 70 years of history, and live outdoor entertainment by The Boomers, a local music act.

Senior Chaplain Dino Silvestrini opened the afternoon’s event with a special invocation, which closed with: “Today, we pray for the next chapter of our story. May our commitment to serve from the heart remain unshakeable. May our innovations continue to break barriers… May our legacy echo through generations, a testament to Your grace and our commitment to inspiring older adults to enjoy happy, healthy and purposeful lives.”

Westminster Communities of Florida, the state’s largest not-for-profit provider of active senior living, emphasizes whole-person wellbeing for its older adult residents. With communities in Bradenton, Jacksonville, Lakeland, Orlando, St. Augustine, St. Petersburg, Tallahassee and Winter Park, the organization serves more than 7,000 residents statewide with a lifestyle featuring active living, wellness and lifelong learning.

5 Big Benefits Of Butterfly Watching At Your Bradenton, FL Independent Living Facility

There’s nothing quite like taking a spring walk, enjoying the balmy breeze off the Gulf of Mexico, when it catches your eye: a vibrant butterfly, flapping its delicate wings as it dances from petal to petal.

We’ve all had the pleasure of happening upon a beautiful butterfly in motion. But this doesn’t have to be just a passing, blink-and-you-miss-it delight — it can be a meaningful addition to your rotation of outdoor activities here at Westminster Manor, the top destination for independent and assisted living in Bradenton, Florida.

Our grounds are actually home to a beautiful butterfly garden, so you never have to travel far from home to immerse yourself in nature — whether you’re enjoying a walk with friends, or crave a moment of peaceful reflection. And of course, you can also spot butterflies throughout all your outdoor adventures in and around Bradenton.

Just read on as we share a few of the biggest benefits of butterfly watching from your Westminster Manor home!

Increased Mindfulness

One of the biggest benefits of butterfly watching is the mindfulness that goes along with it. In our fast-paced world, taking the time to observe these creatures gently flit from flower to flower offers a rare moment of tranquility — a chance to meditate, if only for a moment, on the natural beauty right in front of you.

Nature’s Classroom

Watching butterflies is also an educational adventure, delivering lessons in biology, ecology, and conservation. Each encounter with a butterfly is an opportunity to learn about its life cycle, habitat, and the role it plays in the ecosystem. This knowledge not only deepens our appreciation for these creatures but also highlights the importance of protecting their natural environments. Engaging with nature in this way can spark a lifelong passion for conservation and environmental stewardship.

Physical Health…

The pursuit of butterflies often leads enthusiasts into the great outdoors, encouraging physical activity. Whether it’s a gentle stroll or lively hike, the physical benefits of being active in nature abound. Regular physical activity, especially in green spaces, has been linked to improved cardiovascular health, weight management, and increased energy levels. Plus, the vitamin D from sunlight exposure is a bonus for your immune system.

The air in green spaces is often fresher and cleaner, too, thanks to the abundance of plants and trees which act as natural air purifiers. The simple act of taking deep breaths of fresh air can also reduce stress levels and promote a sense of calm.

… & Mental Health, Too

Speaking of which, research has consistently shown that spending time in green spaces can significantly reduce stress, anxiety, and feelings of depression. Natural settings have a calming effect on the mind, helping to lower blood pressure and cortisol: a hormone associated with stress.

Time spent in these environments has also been linked to improved attention, memory, and creativity — giving you a restorative backdrop that allows your mind to relax, refresh, and recharge. This mental reset not only boosts mood, but can also spark creativity and problem-solving abilities.

Flutter With Friends

Green spaces also have a handy way of bringing us together. The more time you spend outdoors admiring local wildlife — even the tiny, six-legged kind — the closer you are to the rest of your community, giving you the chance to get to know your neighbors or befriend likeminded butterfly watchers.

Wondering how to get started? Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Research Local Species: Learn about the butterfly species native to this slice of the Sunshine State, so you know where (and when) to look for them on your outings.
  • Gear Up: Though not 100% necessary for butterfly watching fun, good pair of binoculars, a field guide to butterflies, and a camera can take your experience to the next level.
  • Log Your Adventure: Feeling creative? Keep a journal of your butterfly sightings — noting the species, location, and behavior observed.

In no time, you’ll be able to identify all the beautiful butterflies you come across in and around Westminster Manor — and have fun doing it!

Celebrating National Nutrition Month As Part Of Assisted Living In Bradenton, FL

There’s a lot to love about March: the official arrival of spring, the beginning of later sunsets thanks to Daylight Saving Time, and — for our foodie friends — National Nutrition Month! This yearly holiday is the perfect time to celebrate wholesome, feel-good foods and the role they play in powering our lives.

Here in Florida, especially, we’re fortunate enough to have access to fresh produce all year long. Of course, embracing nutritious eating isn’t just about health. It’s a journey of fun, taste, and discovery too!

At Westminster Manor’s assisted living in Bradenton, FL, nutrition is a crucial pillar of our multi-dimensional “My W Life” wellness program. Whether you’re having breakfast, lunch, or dinner at our restaurant-style dining, or learning from the experts at our Health Resource Center, it’s easy to find ways to take your nutrition to the next level when you call Westminster Manor “home.”

Good nutrition is a must at any age. But as we grow, it takes on an even bigger role — serving as a cornerstone of vitality, strength, and mental acuity so we can be our best selves.

As always, you’ll want to consult with your medical team for nutrition guidelines that are specific to you. But in honor of National Nutrition Month, here are a few handy rules of thumb that might be able to help you get started on a nutritious (and delicious) journey this spring.

For starters, here are some of the ways nutrition keeps you operating at your best:

Immune Function: A diet rich in fruits, veggies, and lean protein can boost the immune system.

Mental Wellbeing: Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon and walnuts, can support brain health.

Digestive Health: High-fiber foods, such as whole grains and leafy greens, help your digestive system run its best.

Strong Bones: Calcium and vitamin D are essential for maintaining bone density and preventing osteoporosis.

Wondering how to live more nutritiously? There are lots of easy places to start, including:

Checking Out A Farmers Market

One of the most enjoyable ways to incorporate nutrition into your life is by visiting local farmers markets. These markets are treasure troves of fresh, seasonal produce that pack a punch in terms of flavor and nutrients.

Each visit, buy a piece of produce you’ve never tried before. This can be a fun way to discover new favorites and add variety to your diet, without it really feeling like “work.” Depending on the event, you may even be able to chat with a local farmer and learn from the firsthand knowledge about the produce they’re selling!

Cooking With Loved Ones

Cooking doesn’t have to be a solo task. Make it a social event by involving friends, family, or neighbors. Hosting potlucks, for example, can be a great way to share recipes, learn new cooking techniques, and enjoy nutritious meals together. Or, leave the work to us and keep a standing dinner appointment with your Westminster Manor neighbors! Either way, we bet you’ll find that nutritious eating is even more fun with a friend by your side.

Tech Time

A beloved cookbook or handwritten recipe card from a loved one is always going to be a special treasure worth using in your kitchen. But there are also handy online options that you can use to supplement your nutrition journey — from grocery apps to engaging cooking tutorials (perfect for those who prefer to see a meal come to life, rather than read about it line by line).

Following Food Fads

Food trends are always coming and going — so while you probably have your tried-and-true classics, it’s rewarding to find new “superfoods,” too! This spring, have some fun experimenting with different herbs and seasonings to expand your palate in a meaningful way.

Presentation Points

They say you eat with your eyes and your stomach — and, well, we couldn’t agree more. The visual aspect of food can take your dining experience to the next level, making you more likely to turn for nutritious goodies in the future. Plus, “eating the rainbow” is a great way to get nutrients that are associated with different food hues.

Staying Hydrated

H2O plays a powerful role in a healthy, well-fueled body! If you want to mix things up, try infusing water with fresh-cut fruit for a sweet, refreshing touch.

We hope that these ideas help you celebrate National Nutrition Month — and bring these delicious takeaways with you throughout the year, too!

Sarasota Assisted Living’s Spice of Life: 3 Ways to Explore International Cuisine in Florida

Here at Westminster Manor, we know our residents have adventurous palates. Many of us have traveled the world and experienced exotic cuisines firsthand. Now, as active seniors living in beautiful Bradenton, Florida, we continue seeking multicultural food experiences right here in our backyard.

Sarasota and the surrounding Gulf Coast region host vibrant international communities, flavors, and traditions. With balmy weather ideal for being out and about year-round, every day presents new culinary adventures. As a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) emphasizing dynamic senior living, we encourage our residents to explore local ethnic cuisine through food festivals, cooking clubs, restaurants outings, and more.

Join us on a moveable feast as we spice up life in Sarasota assisted living with international food!

  1. Identifying Popular Cuisine in Florida

Having attracted immigrants from the Caribbean, South America and beyond, Florida serves up intoxicating multinational cuisine. Assisted living residents can try mouthwatering specialties without even leaving the Sunshine State.

Cuban food leads the palate parade with tangy, garlicky, slow-roasted meats like lechón asado (roast pork) and ropa vieja (shredded flank steak). Add black beans, rice, fried plantains and a mojito to complete an authentic Nuevo Cubano meal. Cuban Bread, a local favorite, provides the perfect vehicle for Cuba’s iconic sandwiches.

The nearby fishing waters yield an abundance of fresh seafood tailor-made for ceviche, a zesty Latin American specialty mixing raw fish or shellfish with citrus and chilies. Some Sarasota restaurants put a Floribbean spin on ceviche by incorporating mango, pineapple or coconut milk.

Attending Food Festivals Year-Round

Florida’s endless food festivals let assisted living residents sample a wide spectrum of cultural cuisine in one place. These lively events bring international chefs, restaurants, markets and musicians together to showcase national foods and associated arts.

At the ever-popular Greek Glendi festival, zigzag through the food booths collecting heaping plates of gyro meat, spanakopita, dolmas, Greek salad and baklava. Then work off the calories dancing to live music!

For more exotic choices like curried goat, oxtail stew or Jamaican jerk chicken, visit the annual Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival. Inhale the aromas of spices and sizzle of barbeque grills while reggae bands play.

If you’re seeking something unique, the annual Sarasota Medieval Fair whisks you back to olde England with giant turkey legs, meat pies, fish ‘n chips, and mead. Costumed musicians, jesters and knights entertain faire-goers.

Most food festivals run during peak visitor season between January and April, but some operate year-round. So assisted living gourmands need never endure a dull palate!

Meeting Friends to Swap Recipes

Fellow foodies make the best friends. At Westminster Manor, new friendships often form around shared cooking interests and recipes from native cultures. You might even find potlucks, bake sales, recipe exchanges and informal cookouts ideal for swapping kitchen stories.

For home cooks seeking new culinary challenges, nothing beats learning recipes firsthand from native-born assisting living friends. Those longing for a taste of Italy can get tips on perfecting marinara sauce, handmade pastas and other staples from our Italian American residents.

Likewise our Cuban friends gladly share treasured family recipes for picadillo, ropa vieja, maduros and more. Cooking these dishes together strengthens bonds while expanding your international repertoire.

You might even consider bringing a friend to enjoy local cooking demonstrations and classes. Chefs from Sarasota’s eclectic restaurant scene may visit the area to showcase cooking techniques and signature dishes from their homeland. Seeing authentic preparation methods — especially for unfamiliar ingredients — helps de-mystify ethnic cuisine.

As active seniors in assisted living, we relish all avenues leading to more flavorful food and meaningful connections.

Trying Local Restaurants and Group Outings

For carefree culinary adventures, nothing beats dining out in good company. Sarasota County has over 800 eateries ranging from everyday cafés to upscale establishments specializing in global gastronomy. Many restaurants lie within easy reach of Westminster Manor.

Assisted living group excursions to nearby ethnic restaurants let us experience the joy of breaking bread together. Sharing a meal often leads to sharing stories and laughter, strengthening connections new and old.

Westminster residents frequently enjoy outings to St. Armands Circle, a jewel of Sarasota dining. At this Mediterranean-style shopping district, walking along the palm-dotted promenades under swaying lanterns makes for great exercise and people watching, too!

For more adventure, don’t miss taking trips to historical Ybor City, Tampa’s Latin Quarter. Founded by Cuban and Spanish immigrants in the 1880s, Ybor City feels like walking into Old Havana.  Between the authentic cuisine, hand-rolled cigars and eclectic architecture, residents find endless fascination.

As Florida’s reputation as a retirement mecca grows yearly, Westminster Manor attracts active seniors from across the U.S. and abroad. This makes for exciting culinary diversity right onsite. New residents often introduce hometown recipes and Initiate ethnic potlucks, expanding all our palates.

Every day, Sarasota’s multicultural assisted living community spices life with zest, joy and meaning. ¡Buen provecho!

At Westminster Manor, exploring Florida’s rich international cuisine never gets dull. From lively local festivals to cooking with foodie friends, our campus stays abuzz with tempting aromas and flavors from around the globe. Culinary day trips as a group let us break bread together while supporting Sarasota’s diverse restaurant scene.

As a continuing care retirement community, Westminster Manor emphasizes whole-person wellness through life’s transitions. Our worship services, fitness classes, social hours and community service activities further connect residents from all backgrounds.

Want to spice up senior living? Contact Westminster Manor in Bradenton to learn more or schedule a tour. Our welcoming staff looks forward to sharing vibrant flavors and fellowship with you!

Staying Sharp: Brain Health Activities for Seniors

As we age, it becomes increasingly important to take proactive steps to maintain and enhance our cognitive abilities. The old adage of “use it or lose it” really does apply when it comes to our brains. The good news is that engaging in intellectually stimulating activities can help boost memory, concentration, problem-solving skills and more. At our Westminster Manor senior living community, we make brain health a priority and offer a range of programs and resources to keep our residents’ minds active and alert. 

In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the many ways seniors can stay sharp by incorporating brain-stimulating activities into their daily routines.

The Benefits of Brain Training 

Research has shown cognitive and memory training can benefit older adults in a variety of ways. Some key advantages include:

– Boosting focus, concentration and attention span

– Strengthening short-term memory and recall  

– Improving processing speed and coordination

– Enhancing problem-solving abilities and mental flexibility

– Delaying cognitive decline associated with aging and dementia

– Improving overall mental acuity and perception 

– Increasing self-confidence and sense of control over one’s mind

Along with bolstering cognitive skills, engaging activities also provide an opportunity for meaningful social engagement and interaction. The social element helps make training fun rather than isolating or boring.

Activities to Build Your Thinking Skills

The good news is that there are endless engaging ways we can “exercise” our brain on a daily basis. Here are some suggested activities to incorporate:

Games

– Crossword puzzles

– Sudoku and other number games

– Word searches

– Jigsaw puzzles 

– Strategy games like chess, checkers, bridge, or mahjong

– Trivia games on a range of topics

– Playing card games that involve counting or sequencing

– Video games and online brain training games

These types of games flex mental muscles in different ways – from memory recall to visual-spatial reasoning. Try mixing it up to target varied skills.

Learning

– Take a class at a local college or community center 

– Join or start a book club focused on challenging literature

– Learn a new language 

– Study an unfamiliar subject that always interested you

– Attend lectures on topics outside your expertise

– Learn to play a musical instrument

– Enroll in an online course

Lifelong learning exposes our brains to new ideas and information which strengthens cognitive function. Share what you’re learning with others to reinforce lessons.

Creative and Analytical Activities

– Write stories, poems or memoirs

– Paint, draw, sculpt or engage in other visual arts 

– Craft projects like quilting, knitting, sewing, scrapbooking

– Work on jigsaw or 3D puzzles

– Play “brain training” computer games

– Do math puzzles like Sudoku and numbered crosswords

– Memorize poems or speeches

– Learn a choreographed dance or complex exercise routine

– Follow a new recipe with several steps

Activities like these engage multiple regions of the brain as you utilize language, creativity, visualization, sequencing and logic skills.

Everyday Habits

– Have engaging conversations with others.

– Listen to informative podcasts and lectures.

– Read books, magazines and newspapers daily.

– Write lists and notes by hand instead of digitally.

– Play brain games like Scrabble or do crosswords with a friend.  

– Follow current events and discuss them.

– Do activities and hobbies that involve multiple senses.

– Walk or exercise regularly to increase blood flow.

– Get enough sleep to allow full brain restoration.

– Eat a balanced, nutritious diet with brain-healthy foods.

Weave these types of activities into your routine to keep your brain challenged daily.

Memory-Boosting Activities

– Repeating names and information out loud 

– Methodically retracing your steps to remember locations of objects

– Associating people’s names with characteristics to aid recall  

– Creating acronyms and mnemonic devices 

– Recalling main themes after finishing a book or movie

– Doing mental arithmetic without digital assistance

Targeted memory-strengthening exercises will improve recall and help fight normal age-related memory loss. 

Cognitive Training Programs at Westminster Manor

At Westminster Manor, we incorporate a variety of engaging evidence-based cognitive training activities into our lifestyle calendar. Some examples include:

Brain Aerobics – Facilitated by a neuropsychologist, these interactive sessions target skills like memory, language and attention through exercises and group discussions.

Current Events Group – Residents meet weekly to discuss the latest news events and debate implications, exercising critical thinking and reasoning abilities.

Creative Writing – Our writing coach leads sessions to craft poetry, memoirs and fiction pieces, flexing literary skills.

Guest Lecture Series – Local professors and experts share knowledge on topics like astronomy, history and art.

Spanish Lessons – Weekly lessons teach conversational Spanish and immerse residents in language acquisition. 

Music Appreciation – Our music therapist explores different musical genres and instruments. Residents recall melodies and identify instruments by sound.  

Brain Health Resources at Westminster Manor

Protecting your cognitive abilities as you age is vitally important to maintaining independence and quality of life. We encourage people of all ages to take steps to boost brain health. The wide variety of engaging activities available means you can choose options aligned with your unique interests and abilities. 

At Westminster Manor, it is our privilege to support residents’ mental vitality and provide resources to stay cognitively active. Please reach out to learn more about our brain health programs tailored to older adults. We look forward to welcoming you into our community of active, empowered seniors pursuing lifelong learning and growth.

‘God put us here for a reason’: Serving the residents during Hurricane Idalia is part of our Mission

When a hurricane or tropical storm threatens Florida, like Hurricane Idalia this week, team members at Westminster Communities of Florida have a top priority: Ensuring the safety and well-being of the residents we serve. Our Mission is to serve from the heart and inspire older adults to enjoy happy, healthy and purposeful lives.

What impact has Hurricane Idalia had? Some of our dedicated team members are living out our Mission, today, by evacuating with residents or sheltering at their communities through the storm. Regardless of their normal jobs, their principal responsibility right now is to provide for the residents’ needs.

Today we caught up with five of these team members to learn about their experiences, why they chose to stay at their community or evacuate with residents, and what is inspiring them to stay hard at work during a storm.

Jackie Walker Ellison, Cook, Westminster Shores, temporarily at Westminster Winter Park

In St. Petersburg, Westminster Shores was forced to relocate residents out of the path of the storm. Jackie Walker Ellison always knew she would be with the residents, from the moment she first heard. “The residents said to me, ‘Jackie, are you coming with us? I know we’ll be OK if you come with us.’ So I had no doubt,” Ellison said. “I knew for sure I would be evacuating, I called my husband and my mother and I told them, ‘I’m going with my residents, I’ll see you whenever.’ ”

The group of 24 residents was accompanied by Ellison to Westminster Winter Park, where they’re enjoying the hospitality of the residents and team members there. The Westminster Shores team is occupied with providing for the needs of the residents during Hurricane Idalia. “I think it brings everyone together as a team,” she said.

Ellison has worked at Westminster Shores for 29 years, and “I love my residents. I wouldn’t have been here so long if I didn’t love this place and my residents. God put us here for a reason,” she said. “Right now, the residents are happy, we’ve been watching movies and playing games, and everything is going smoothly.”

Michele McCann, Assisted Living Activities Coordinator, Westminster Palms, sheltering in place

“I choose to be with the residents during the most emotional time, like a hurricane, because that’s my quality as a caregiver,” said Michele McCann, Assisted Living Activities Coordinator at Westminster Palms. “Challenging times like this bring out the best in people, and I get to see it and share it.”

McCann was sheltering in place at the community in St. Petersburg, along with residents from Westminster Palms and residents from Westminster Point Pleasant in Bradenton. She has lived in Florida for more than 7 years, and has experienced three hurricanes in St. Petersburg so far. McCann said she feels that the way the team bonds, whether through an evacuation or sheltering in place, makes the team stronger. “We are going to come out better on the other side of this! We always do. We are so lucky that we are here, in our home, together, instead of relocating like so many had to. I have come to feel like this is my home, too.”

Carlos Santiago, Maintenance Engineer, Westminster Point Pleasant and Tiffany Mestre, Administrative Assistant, Community Support Services, temporarily at Legacy Pointe at UCF

A group of residents from Westminster Point Pleasant were also with Maintenance Engineer Carlos Santiago and Tiffany Mestre, an administrative assistant at our Community Support Services office in Orlando. The residents had evacuated from Bradenton due to the risk of storm surge and flooding, and were enjoying the hospitality of Legacy Pointe at UCF.

Santiago, the maintenance engineer, said that he had been through the worst in 2017 when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico. “We were there with no power for 60 days, and we weren’t able to do anything,” he said. By comparison, he felt that everything was under control and being well maintained for the residents through both of his hurricane experiences as a Westminster team member.

“This job is personal for me,” Santiago said. “The residents are my family and I want to make sure that they are well taken care of.” In 2022, Santiago was recognized as Westminster Point Pleasant’s Team Member of the Year for his dedicated service to the residents. He said it was his honor to serve the residents.

Evacuating with the residents is just another extension of his commitment to the community, Santiago said. “This is my second time evacuating with the residents, and it doesn’t matter how many more. I will always volunteer to be there for them. We are here for each other and for the residents.”

Countless storms had also affected Mestre, a Florida native. But she had never had an experience like today’s. “It’s wonderful to help the residents and hear about their interests and stories. This is a great way to see how the residents live,” Mestre said. “I am getting to know what a day in the life of a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) and an ADON (Assistant Director of Nursing) are like. It has opened my eyes. Bless their souls for doing all of this.”

The effects of the storm had been mild in Orlando, but Mestre said that nevertheless, she and the residents felt more secure and had been brought closer together by the experience – and the residents were thankful for the security. “This has really brought our Mission to life for me in a way I had not experienced it,” said Mestre.

For Santiago, part of living in a hurricane zone meant more practice – and that he had found that the team is getting stronger through the experience. “The more we do this together, the more we become comfortable with each other, and the better organized we become. When you send a group of people together for one purpose and for our Mission, we get the opportunity to grow together and learn from each other,” said Santiago.

Beth Szabo, Services Coordinator, Riverside Presbyterian Apartments, sheltering in place

Another part of the Westminster Mission is to serve residents with low to moderate incomes, in our affordable Rental Retirement Communities. Beth Szabo, services coordinator at Riverside Presbyterian Apartments, was sheltering in place at the community to ensure that the residents were well cared for throughout the potential effects of the storm in Jacksonville.

“I’ve lived in Jacksonville since 1976, so I have lost count of how many hurricanes I’ve been through now. In 2004 they were coming so frequently we all said, ‘I’m over it, just let it go,’ ” said Szabo. “We have had to evacuate a few times over the years, like for Hurricane Matthew in 2016. But we did not have to this time.”

For Szabo, serving during a hurricane is a natural extension of her choice to work at the community, because the residents are like her extended family. “I have a heart for seniors, and the residents here mean a lot to me,” she said. “If something happens then I want to be here to help them.”

Szabo added that she feels safer riding out a storm at Riverside Presbyterian Apartments than at home. “Here at the community, I know that we have a great team looking out for everyone. We’re very small but we support each other.”

A facet of our Mission

While a hurricane is unexpected, serving the residents and supporting their fellow team members wherever we are and however we can is just another facet of the Mission of Westminster Communities of Florida: We serve from the heart and inspire older adults to enjoy happy, healthy and purposeful lives.

Be sure to learn all about how you can make a Westminster community your home to live or to work – find a community near you or follow us on Facebook and on LinkedIn!

A Must-Have Q&A Guide When Checking Out a Continuing Care Retirement Community

Picking the right Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC), like our very own Westminster Manor here in sunny Bradenton, Florida, can feel like a pretty big deal. Whether you’re looking for yourself or you’re on the hunt for your loved one’s perfect community fit, you need to find a place that feels just right. With so many choices, it can be a bit overwhelming. But don’t worry, we’re here with a list of key questions you should ask when touring potential spots. This way, you’ll know you’ve found the right place to be.

What Types of Care Are Offered?

The most important thing to know is what levels of care are on the table. Most CCRCs will provide a range of care options, starting from independent living (for those who are self-sufficient) all the way up to assisted living and skilled nursing (for residents who need a bit more help or specialized care). The main goal is to make sure that no matter what curveballs life throws at your or your loved ones, the right kind of care is always right within reach.

And while you’re at it, remember to inquire about temporary care options. This could be something like respite care, which offers short-term relief for primary caregivers, or short-term rehab for those recovering from surgery, an injury, or an illness. Take your time to understand each specific level of care – understanding these details will ensure you or your loved ones always know what care they have when they need it.

What About Costs?

Next up is talking about money. Different CCRCs have different financial commitments. You could find anything from an all-inclusive contract to a pay-as-you-go method. So, ask about the initial fee, the monthly charges, and what exactly you get for your investment. Here at Westminster Manor, the fees cover pretty much everything you need – maintenance, utilities, delicious meals, and healthcare services. The goal is to make sure you can focus on enjoying life without hidden costs popping up.

It’s important when you’re touring to ask about all the little and big costs. Ask about the initial entrance fee and what it includes. Then make sure to ask about the monthly charges that will occur, if they set in stone, or if they change based on the level of care received. And, of course, the most important question is what exactly you’re getting for your money.

What’s Life Like Here?

Now, onwards to the fun stuff. Your retirement community should be a place where you can really enjoy life – not just a healthcare provider. What amenities do they have? Any fun activities or clubs to join where you can meet people? Is there a buzzing social calendar packed with everything from bingo nights to movie marathons? A swimming pool for hot sunny days? It’s important to find a place where you can relax and live your life in the sun!

Here at Westminster Manor, we’re all about the fun. We’re talking delicious meals prepared by skilled chefs (imagine enjoying a five-star dining experience without even leaving your community!), a social calendar that’s chock-full of exciting events, and all sorts of clubs and groups that cater to a wide range of interests. With us, there’s always something happening, promising a life far from the mundane!

Who Will Be Looking After Me?

Let’s move onto another major player in the CCRC world – the staff. You see, they’re not just employees; they’re the heartbeat of any top-notch CCRC. They’re the friendly faces you’ll see every day, and the helping hands you’ll rely on.

So, when you’re doing the rounds, don’t forget to ask about the crew who’ll be looking after you or your loved ones. What kind of qualifications do they have? Are they certified in their roles, be it nursing, catering, or facility maintenance? And what about their training – how are they prepped to provide the highest level of care? It’s also smart to get a feel for the staff-to-resident ratio. A good balance ensures everyone gets the attention they need.

And, of course, don’t skip out on finding out about the medical team. Are there doctors in-house or on-call? Is there a registered nurse always on duty, ready to spring into action when needed? These medical pros are super important, especially in a CCRC where residents may have varying healthcare needs.

How Do Moves Between Care Levels Work?

Finally, you need to know what happens if you need to move up in your levels of care. Life can be unpredictable sometimes, and it’s crucial to know how the CCRC manages these changes. Who makes the call when it’s time for a resident to transition from independent living to assisted living or even to skilled nursing? Is it a group decision involving the resident, family, and healthcare professionals?

And here’s another big factor – does moving up a level mean the costs increase? Will the fees change, or are these potential increases already covered in your initial agreement? Some places might have a fixed rate, while others might charge additional fees for increased levels of care.

Wrapping It Up

Picking a CCRC is a major decision, and you need to think it through carefully. But, armed with these essential questions, you’ll know exactly what to look out for. We’re always here at Westminster Manor, ready to chat and answer any other questions you might have. With our amazing range of services, fun lifestyle, and dedicated team, we think we’re a pretty great example of what a CCRC should be. Remember, this isn’t just about finding somewhere to live; it’s about finding a community to call home.

How you can stay in touch with family and friends after moving to a senior living community

Are you considering a move to a senior living community but worried about how you’ll keep in touch with family and friends? You’re not alone. Many future residents have the same concerns.

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to stay connected and keep in touch with the people you care about. From FaceTime to card nights to private dining parties, residents have plenty of options to stay connected with their loved ones.

In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the best ways to keep in touch with family and friends after moving to a senior living community.

Enjoy a video call to have a virtual visit with family or friends whenever you like

A virtual visit can help maintain ties even when residents and their friends are separated by thousands of miles. Modern technology for video calling like FaceTime makes visiting easier than ever. Video calls allow residents to enjoy a face-to-face conversation with family or friends anywhere in the world, from the comfort of their living room. No expensive travel required!

Residents can use FaceTime or video chat services like Skype, Google Hangouts and Zoom to stay in touch with those who matter most. Grandparents can share stories with grandchildren who live far away or have regular catch-ups with distant relatives. Video calling also makes it possible for to host a virtual event, like a game night or movie watch party.

Enjoy a card or board game night and mix the “old” and “new” friends

With many social connections in their current neighborhoods, the prospect of moving to a senior living community can be daunting for many older adults. Fortunately, there are plenty of in-person social opportunities at senior living communities — some of them more informal than others.
Many senior living communities have groups of residents who enjoy a night of card games or board games. Play poker, Clue, Settlers of Catan or whatever you prefer, and enjoy having social opportunities and good friends at your fingertips.

These social events offer a reason for residents to invite their friends and family members over for a night of fun and laughter. It also provides an informal setting for guests to meet other residents and engage in meaningful conversations.

For older adults who want to make sure they stay connected to their friends, one surefire way to make things more fun is to invite their “old” friends to meet the “new” at a game night. It can make for a memorable evening filled with laughter and good company — all while bonding deeper relationships with fellow residents at the same time.

Host a dinner party and let someone else do all the work

Dining is an important part of life at a senior living community. But a special event may call for having a few friends over for dinner, and who wants to do all the cooking and dishes?

That’s why many senior living communities offer residents a variety of catered dining options, to invite guests over for a special dinner party. A special menu developed with the Dining department makes it simple and convenient to plan an event. Enjoy a luxurious meal without lifting a finger!

Inviting friends and family over to experience their community is also great to help those who may be considering making the move themselves. Guests get an up-close look at the lifestyle offered at their friend’s new home. Private dining options allow potential new residents to get an idea of what life would be like for them.

From poker nights to private dinners, there are plenty of ways for residents of senior living communities to keep in touch with family and friends. To learn all about how additional socialization opportunities abound at a Westminster community, find the community that suits you today on our Web site!

5 Reasons Why Southwest Florida is the Best Place to Retire in an Assisted Living Community

Many seniors face the difficult decision of where to spend their golden years. While there are many factors to consider, including cost of living and healthcare, one place stands out as an ideal location for seniors looking for an assisted living community: Southwest Florida.

Here are five reasons why Southwest Florida, with its beautiful beaches and vibrant cultural scene, is the best place to retire in an assisted living community.

Beautiful Beaches

Southwest Florida is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the country. Anna Maria Island, located just a short drive from Bradenton, is known for its pristine white sand beaches and clear blue water. Longboat Key, another nearby island, is a popular destination for beachgoers and water sports enthusiasts. Whether you enjoy sunbathing, swimming, or simply taking a leisurely stroll along the beach, Southwest Florida has something for everyone.

Mild Climate

One of the most appealing aspects of living in Southwest Florida is its mild climate. While the rest of the country may be dealing with snow and freezing temperatures during the winter months, residents of Southwest Florida can enjoy warm, sunny days year-round. This makes it an ideal place for seniors who want to escape harsh winter weather and enjoy a more relaxed, outdoor-oriented lifestyle.

Arts and Culture

The Sarasota area is known for its thriving arts and cultural scene. The Ringling Museum of Art, for example, features a stunning collection of art and artifacts from around the world, while the Sarasota Opera offers world-class performances throughout the year. With a wide range of museums, galleries, and cultural events, there is always something new and exciting to discover in Southwest Florida.

Excellent Healthcare

One of the most important considerations for seniors when choosing a retirement destination is access to quality healthcare. Fortunately, Southwest Florida is home to some of the best hospitals and medical facilities in the country. Residents of Westminster Manor in Bradenton, for example, have access to a range of healthcare services right on campus, including skilled nursing care with The Health Center at Westminster Manor and rehabilitation services.

Active Lifestyle

With its warm climate and abundance of outdoor activities, Southwest Florida is the perfect place for seniors who want to stay active and engaged. There are endless opportunities to stay active and healthy – including fitness classes available to residents. Plus, with a vibrant social scene and plenty of opportunities for volunteer work and community involvement, seniors in Southwest Florida can enjoy a fulfilling and enriching retirement experience.

Discover an Amazing Assisted Living Community in Bradenton

In conclusion, Westminster Manor in Bradenton, Florida is the perfect assisted living community for seniors looking to retire in Southwest Florida. With beautiful beaches, a mild climate, thriving arts and cultural scene, excellent healthcare, and endless opportunities for an active lifestyle, an exciting retirement experience is right around the corner. Visit the Westminster Manor website to learn more or schedule a tour today!

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