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All over the country people are surely rejoicing at the arrival of spring. Warmer weather, beautiful blooms, and sunny days are great reasons to celebrate. Residents of Charlotee, North Carolina have added reason to celebrate though with a treasured community resource in their midst— the UNC Botanical Gardens. It’s easy to enjoy the best of spring with the Botanical Gardens right in your own back yard.

April 17th and 18th the Gardens are hosing a Spring Plant Sale. There’s something for everyone from shrubs and tropicals to houseplants and even carnivorous varieties! Attend the preview April 16th from noon-4PM to see what they have available and get a membership if you aren’t already part of the Botanical Garden family. There’s so many reasons to snag some of these gorgeous greens. Studies have shown that gardening is an excellent activity for seniors that not only provides gentle exercise that helps strength and balance, but that it can have a positive impact on memory and mental health, too. There’s just something so wonderful about burying your hands in the dirt and making something grow.

The Botanical Gardens also have volunteer opportunities, in case you really get carried away with your green thumbs. They have regular events, too, in everything from learning about the unique soil in our Piedmont region of North Carolina to photography workshops. Each event is a great way to meet new people, make friends, and learn something new. They have also offered classes in the past on birds you might see in your yard, history of botany, or how a garden can inspire you to journal. 

Of course, you don’t have to wait for an event to enjoy the rich health benefits and fun the Gardens offer. The gardens are open seven days a week during daylight hours and the Greenhouse seven days a week at set hours. If you enjoy going for regular walks as part of your fitness regimen or to have a fun activity to share with friends and family while you catch up the Gardens are a great place to do it. Going for a walk each day is so much more fun when there’s variety in the view— and there’s always something new to see at the Gardens, especially at this time of year when everything is blossoming and blooming.

There’s so many more ways to celebrate spring in Charlotte though, if gardens aren’t your thing. Charlotte’s Polish community loves to share Dyngus Day with the whole city in an event hosted by the Red Fez Shrine Club. You get to spend a beautiful day on the lake, try Polish food, and enjoy the music of the Polka All Stars and accordion player Bob Wilusz! That’s April 6th. There’s also the Spring Auto Fair April 9th-12th at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. May 1st through 3rd the Vinyards of Swan Creek hosts a Spring Herb Celebration featuring foods prepared with each vineyard’s signature herb and wine pairings. In addition to enjoying food and drink you’ll get a 4-inch potted herb from each vineyard.

There’s always so much to do in Charlotte, but especially in the spring time when everyone is eager to break through that cabin fever and get back to the hustle and bustle of warm weather life. We can’t wait to see how you enjoy yourself!

 

One of the most precious gifts you can give your loved ones are your stories. For younger generations, you are often their only link to decades past, family members they never got to meet, and exciting moments in history. If you enjoyed revisiting the 1960s and 70s through our photos of Charlotte, North Carolina last month, you know first hand how exciting your own memories might be for those you love. 

 

Not only can you collect your stories by scrapbooking, writing them down, or recording them on tape, you can also pass down your wisdom and experience. A special gift for a new mother in your family might be a photo album with images of other mothers and babies together from each generation of the family, along with pieces of advice a new mommy might find helpful, or memories of what other babies in your family were like. 

 

You could do something similar with wedding photos and advice for newlyweds as they start their lives together, or a first day of school book for little ones who would love to know their parents and grandparents. Each generation can add their own photos perspective to the album as its handed down, creating a special record of some of life’s most momentous occasions.

 

You might try memoir or life writing, too, as a way to share your reminiscences. Write in small sketches of 5-10 minutes on specific topics, such as a favorite holiday, the first job, a memorable world event. Or you might find a book on the topic or some inspiring examples at a used bookstore like The Last Word on Harris Boulevard, The Book Rack on Johnston Road, or Julia’s Cafe and Books on Wendover.

 

No matter how you approach recording your memories, it will have untold benefits, from boosting your own capacity to remember to providing your friends and family with a new understanding of who you are and what adventures you’ve had.

Friday, 30 January 2015 14:01

Memories of Charlotte

Founded in 1768, Charlotte, North Carolina has seen a lot. So has each generation that’s lived here, with the many exciting changes the city has gone through, from textile hub to national financial center and hot spot for motorsports. Just looking at old photos can get you reminiscing about your time in Charlotte, whether it was for a brief visit or your whole child or young adulthood. We’ve picked four iconic Charlotte places or views that might get you started on a trip down memory lane:

charlotte nc in the sixtiesThe Oriental Cafe was one of Charlotte’s most beloved and enduring restaurants, in business from the 1920s through the 1980s. Charlotte residents fondly remember the Lobster Cantonese and the chow mein. At its peak, the Oriental had multiple locations in Charlotte. If reminiscing about the Oriental gives you a yen for Chinese, try the Peruasian Restaurant or Jade Dragon.

The Charlotte Coliseum opened in 1956 and ever since generations have been able to enjoy a fantastic array of concerts and sporting events. Bo Didley was the first performer to grace the stage and a number of legendary artists followed, including Judy Garland, Johnny Cash, Elton John, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Bruce Springsteen, and, of course, Elvis Presley, King of Rock n Roll.

The Savoy Theater opened in 1936 as the Royal Theater, and was an important fixture in the African American community, centered in the prominent Charlotte neighborhood of Brooklyn. It closed in 1963, but many Charlotte natives may remember this being one of their favorite places to spend leisure time.

charlotte nc skyline 1966The 1966 Charlotte skyline shows the beginning of the banking boom with the North Carolina National Bank Building and Cutter Building high rises in downtown. It’s exciting to see how much Charlotte has changed in the past fifty years!

Written by Meghan O'Dea

There are so many fun diversions that get put aside over the years as responsibilities take over. Fortunately there’s no time like the present to try something new, or rekindle an old favorite hobby. You’re never too old to reclaim the enthusiasm and curiosity you had as a child and to truly relish how you spend your time.

Here are five ideas for how you can get the most out of your senior years:

1)    Take on a new perspective. Painting is not only relaxing creative outlet, it can help you see the world in a whole new way. Whether it’s a watercolor class or trying your hand at an oil painting workshop, you might enjoy capturing moments big and small and communicating something special about how you see the world.

2)    Go for a walk! A daily walking route is a fun way to get low impact exercise. It’s also neat to see how the landscape and landmarks change day to day, and to spend time conversing with a friend or simply checking in with yourself.

3)    Pick up a fun new game. Whether it’s something a crowd can play like gin or poker something you can arrange tournament style like chess or checkers, or games that test your smarts like Scrabble or Trivial Pursuit, playing a card or board game regularly will help keep your mind fit and are a great way to spend time with friends and family.

4)    Get involved with a religious or spiritual organization. Not only do you get to explore your faith, you’ll build a new social circle and have a chance to attend all kinds of events from fundraisers to church suppers. Plus the routine of attending services is a good way to create a structure and routine, which might be pleasant in retirement.

5)    Writing letters is a wonderful way to stay in touch. There are more options than ever for stationary these days, as many craftspeople have rediscovered the art of letterpress and illustration. Or you could simply pull out some notebook paper and write a good long letter to your loved ones. It’s a more personal way of connecting with those who are far away than email or social media, and your correspondence could be a great keepsake to revisit later.

 

Written by Meghan O’Dea

Friday, 28 November 2014 10:46

Charlotte Seniors Holiday Shopping Tips

charlotte nc seniors shopping

The Holidays are in the air, and it is time to once again for Charlotte Seniors to consider what to give loved ones for Christmas. To “lend some method to the holiday madness”, experts from the Healthy Aging Partnership offer a few suggestions on shopping for family and friends.

Give Experiences Rather than Things

Time is precious. As a gift, it can take the form of a coupon book for special activities together or passes to local attractions. The Carolinas Aviation Museum at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport displays more than 50 static aircraft and is home to the “Miracle on the Hudson” exhibit. It offers a senior discount, is wheelchair accessible and has picnic tables. Grandchildren might enjoy a day at Discovery Place or find the Mint Museum of Craft + Design stimulating. Other great experiences are taking a youngster who enjoys sports to a Carolina Panthers or Charlotte Bobcats game or a visit to the NASCAR Hall of Fame or North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame in Mooresville.

Personalize

Handmade gifts not only solve the “what to buy” dilemma for seniors with limited finances, they can also transform ordinary objects into fun reminders that family will enjoy for years to come. It can be as simple as a craft made at a Regency activity or perhaps a book that you want to share so a family member can enjoy it as much as you have. A photo album or scrapbook becomes priceless with time passing.

Be Appropriate When Giving

Says the Healthy Aging Partnership: “A modest gift given out of love is more meaningful than a big-ticket item given out of pressure or the desire to impress. Consider the child’s age and read labels for safety hazards. You’ll want to check with parents to make sure they approve of a gift or hadn’t planned on giving (the child) the same thing.”

When in Doubt, Cash or Gift Cards Work Fine

It seems counter-intuitive (if we want to see our gift warmly received) to suggest that we simply give someone money to buy something, but it is not necessarily a sign that we are uninterested in playing detective or haven’t put thought into what someone might like. Especially with teenage grandchildren, gift cards to their favorite stores and money are appreciated more than clothes or things they might need more than they want.

Perhaps the most valuable thing we give our families at Christmas is tradition. Rituals like playing games, watching certain movies, cooking certain dishes, etc., become the things that grandchildren fondly remember and carry on to their own families when they grow up.

From all of us at Regency, have a Merry Christmas!

talk-about-charlotte-nc-assisted-livingEventually, all families have “the talk” with an aging elder about options, including assisted living. While it may be a fairly common conversation, that doesn’t make it any more comfortable to sit down and have it.

It is best to have the talk when there’s no urgency so the parent does not feel forced out of his or her home. A grown child might best approach the topic by planting the seed, bringing the topic of assisted living up in terms of wanting to know the elder’s inevitable wishes so they can be honored, according to Gail Samaha, an elder advisor with GMS Associates.

If there is a need to relocate sooner – perhaps to accommodate a diagnosis or Parkinson’s or dementia – it is important to highlight the positives, be emphatic and speak in a calm, pleasant voice. The senior needs to know that it is important to his or her family that feelings matter. 

It’s a conversation that can be non-threatening, and the senior may actually become eager to make the move once seeing Regency Retirement Village of Charlotte with his or her own eyes. Aside from the peace of mind gained from living in a secure building with experienced professionals attending to residents’ comfort and needs, there’s the spacious accommodations, new friendships to be made and lots of activities to make life here fulfilling.

Assisted Living promotes independence and dignity, which may be far from the misconceptions that someone starts out with about retirement living. Regency offers our Heritage Memory Care Unit, which means that if the resident’s health declines over time, their life won’t be disrupted a second time down the road.

To arrange a tour of Regency Retirement Village, call us at (704) 542-9449 or fill out the form to the right and someone will respond to you with answers to your questions. For information on moving in, see this page of information: http://www.regencyretirement.net/charlotte-elderly-care-resources/retirement-community-move-in-info

If your grandkids don’t visit nearly as often as you’d like, you can explore new ways of interacting with them in our increasingly mobile society. 

Face-to-face, hands-on encounters are always preferable to ones happening via a cell phone or computer screen, but seniors have to grab on to whatever is offered if they want to compete with the distractions of a constant stream of information and entertainment at the fingertips of their grandchildren. 

Here are 5 ways you can use tech to stay more relevant in the lives of grandkids:

TEXTING

Texts are a great way to put out quick bursts of information and share photos on-the-go. If you struggle with the tiny keyboards on smartphones, use the voice-to-text dictation feature and speak clearly/slowly, making sure the phone has not mistakenly replaced your words with what it thinks is the correct spelling.

EMAIL

Use Email for times when you have more to say than you can convey in a simple text message. Brevity is key. The longer, more detailed conversation you want to have can flow from a back-and-forth dialogue this opens in follow-up responses. Email’s also great for sending photos or other files. These days, you don’t even have to own a computer to send and receive email – just a mobile phone. 

SKYPE OR FACETIME

Spend 10 minutes making silly faces with your granddaughter or reading a picture book to your grandson. Video conferencing is an enormous improvement over mere phone calls, especially when the little ones can't yet carry on a conversation. 

SOCIAL MEDIA

People today love sharing their lives on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, and other platforms. Get a sense of what’s going on in their life as the channel broadcasts their written thoughts, their photos, even what music they are listening to. Several Regency facilities have Facebook Pages that allow family to see what activities are going on.

CLOUD SHARING

Sharing photos in private online galleries with select people is a way to passively connect with family, even if you aren’t directly exchanging back and forth messages that often.

Getting beyond one’s comfort zone and exploring new ways of communicating can be a terrific way for Charlotte seniors to make and keep the connections that matter most. 

Photo Credit: xopherlance via Compfight cc

Friday, 29 August 2014 12:46

Charlotte: A Great Place for Seniors!

cxnRegency Retirement Village Charlotte offers seniors a variety of activities meant to enrich their lives. You’re likely to find residents relaxing while creating arts and crafts, playing board games, enjoying a social gathering, or perhaps participating in a church service.

There’s plenty of facility-based activities with opportunities to be social, but Regency Senior Living is located in Charlotte, offering the warmth of small town living with easy access to all that the city has to offer. Our residents have opportunities to participate in outings to movies, musicals or even a local sporting event.

Some great possible outings in this area include:

Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord: NASCAR is huge in Charlotte, and the speedway hosts a variety of auto-themed events, including different types of motorsports racing and car shows.

Carolinas Aviation Museum: Featuring exhibits with aircraft from war and peacetime. Learn about commercial aviation and see military aircraft, including fighter jets and helicopters.

The Charlotte Knights (a Triple-A baseball team affiliated with the Chicago White Sox): They play at BB&T Ballpark on South Mint Street.

Bechtler Museum of Modern Art: It brims with works by Miró, Giacometti, Calder, Warhol and a wealth of other 20th century notables. The previously private collection of the Bechtler family of Zurich, Switzerland was, until now, mostly unseen by an American audience. Accumulated over 70 years, the collection features mid-20th-century modernism.

Billy Graham Library: Visit the Graham Family Homeplace, the Graham Brothers Dairy and Ruth’s Attic Bookstore.

Biltmore: This stunning 8,000-acre estate is nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It includes gardens, Antler Hill Village, featuring the Winery, The Biltmore Legacy, Village Green, and Farm – plus shopping and dining.

Blumenthal Performing Arts Center: Site for a wide variety of performances, from musicals and programs for the grandkids. You may see Paula Deen Live, the Charlotte Classic Jazz Festival, standup comedians, or ballet depending on when you visit.

Bank of America Stadium: Watch Cam Newton lead the Carolina Panthers in the 73,778-sea stadium. A renovation project during the 2014 offseason incorporated state-of-the-art technology into the fan experience.

Charlotte Ballet (formerly the North Carolina Dance Theatre): Programs include The Nutcracker, Peter Pan, and Dangerous Liaisons. This is a world class repertory dance ensemble.

Charlotte Museum of History: It captures and shares the stories of the Charlotte region from settlement forward through exhibits and programs. The museum collects, preserves, researches, and interprets regional artifacts, including the oldest surviving house in Mecklenburg County, the 1774 Hezekiah Alexander Homesite.

Charlotte Nature Museum: Home to all kinds of reptiles —snakes, turtles, lizards and even an alligator. Visitors may walk among free-flying butterflies, observe live animals, buzz around with insects or hang out in the natural world.

These are just a few of the attractions that make Charlotte a great place to live!

Thursday, 31 July 2014 17:12

Coming to Grips with Alzheimer's Disease

cxnThere are some common misconceptions about Alzheimer’s disease, a condition that kills one in every 3 seniors who dies each year, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

For example, it is possible to get it while young, although most cases do affect persons 60 or older. And everyone knows about the “senior moments”, but it also involves changes in sensitivity to light and depth perception.

Alzheimer’s patients can have good days and bad ones.

When a doctor diagnoses Alzheimer’s, the person living with it often feels a combination of relief to finally have answers, anger at what life has thrown at them, denial about change, fear and depression about what lies ahead, and a sense of isolation in which no one understands what they are going through.

The emotions can feel overwhelming for everyone involved, but it is important to remember that they are not alone. There are a number of support groups, information online (see below) and resources to preserve quality of life while making the necessary adjustments.

It is critical for someone in the early stages of the disease to make legal and financial plans with a person they can trust while they are still able to participate in making decisions to ensure that others know their wishes, and know what to do.

Changes in thinking may reduce one’s ability to make appropriate decisions about self-care and day-to-day needs as the disease progresses. Difficulty managing personal hygiene or household tasks can lead to unsafe living conditions. Someone in that situation needs to plan ahead for how they will address basic needs, including housing, meals and physical care.

One option available to people in Charlotte is Regency Retirement Village’s Heritage Memory Care Unit.

With monthly rent to Heritage, residents take care of several challenges created by Alzheimer’s. They live in spacious studio apartments with private bathrooms, an enclosed courtyard, and numerous amenities, yet it is also a secure unit with a 24-hour emergency response system monitored by on-site staff.

All utilities are paid. There are smoke detectors and a fire sprinkler system. Plus, daily housekeeping service, meals and snacks throughout the day, scheduled transportation to medical appointment and activities, and assistance with the activities of daily living, including bathing, dressing, walking, grooming and medication management.

Additionally, Heritage is conveniently located off I-485 next to Carolina Medical Center at Pineville and close to physician's offices. Regency even has a beauty and barber shop.

Regency works hand-in-hand with the local Alzheimer’s Association to assist in continued education of our staff, hosting support groups for our families, and educating people in the Chattanooga area.

The association is organizing the 2014 Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Charlotte on Sept. 27 at Symphony Park. The event raises money to help advance Alzheimer’s support, care and research. To donate and/or participate, visit http://act.alz.org/site/TR/Walk2014/NC-WesternCarolina?fr_id=5251&pg=entry or volunteer with Jacob Wilkins at (765) 544-0631.

To learn more about Memory Care at Regency Senior Living, visit http://regencyretirement.net/charlotte-retirement-living-services/charlotte-memory-care-retirement-facility or call (704) 542-9449. 

Further reading:

Alzheimer's Association: http://www.alz.org/

The Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral Center: http://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers

Alzheimer's Reading Room: http://www.alzheimersreadingroom.com/

The New York Times "New Old Age" Blog: http://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com/

Photo Credit: Môsieur J. [version 9.1] via Compfight cc

Monday, 30 June 2014 17:16

Laughter Heals Charlotte Seniors

Want to know a fun, free and easy way to instantly feel better?

Laugh!

Not only does having a sense of humor feel good and make life more fun – it can also do wonders for the mind, spirit and body of Charlotte seniors.

Laughing at a movie or TV show provides a physical emotional release that restores a sense of balance that leaves us feeling cleansed afterward.

Our bodies naturally have antibodies to attack disease, and humor increases the number of them working for us, as well as their effectiveness, resulting in a stronger immune system.  The human body also produces several stress hormones like adrenaline, cortisol and epinephrine, which laughing meets head on with the triggered release of endorphins. These chemicals not only make us feel good. They also temporarily relieve aches and pains.

Laughter is a distraction that pulls us away from stress, anger, resentment, disappointments, and so forth. It can also keep us grounded in ways that gives us an entirely new perspective on our world. Things that caused worry and angst yesterday can melt into a relaxed state if our mind is pulled into a more positive place.

Most of the things we worry about never even materialize, so humor can make us more playful and creative rather than anxious, angry or sad. When we are relaxed, the tension in our muscles gives way and blood vessels flow more effectively, reducing the dangers of heart attacks.

The unfortunate thing is most people do not laugh nearly enough, but we can often manufacture a state of laughter by smiling, which tends to attract others, which creates opportunities to laugh while participating in fun activities like miniature golfing or bowling.

Trying watching a funny movie on TV and see if your chuckles do not cause you to feel noticeably better.

Photo Credit: porschelinn via Compfight cc

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