Hurricane Harvey survivor declares ‘I am blessed’ after Parkway Place rallies around his family

senior smiling after hurricane harvey

In late August 2017, Hurricane Harvey made landfall across southeast Texas, leaving a trail of damage, loss and destruction in its wake. For several days following the storm, flooding overtook much of the area, forcing many to abandon their homes and possessions.

Daniel Madison, a utility worker at Buckner Parkway Place, was one victim of Harvey’s wrath. With only the clothes on his back, his wife and a small bag, Madison found refuge somewhere most would never think to look: his place of employment.

“My wife and I stayed at Parkway Place for two months until we got back on our feet,” he said. “Everyone did what they could to make things easier for us and make us comfortable. I was blessed.”

The senior living community’s hospitality toward Madison was simply an added benefit. His motivation to be there, however, was not to seek his own comfort. It was to serve others.

“We were short-staffed. I was just trying to get over there to help and do what I could,” Daniel said. “I knew we were needed.”

Touched by the selflessness of staff members like Daniel, the Parkway Place community decided to act. They wanted to find a way to give back to the people who had given so generously of themselves during such difficult circumstances. Aaron Mendoza, a member of Parkway Place since 2009, worked with a few others to organize a fundraising effort.

“These employees go all-out to serve us, so we felt that it was our time to help them,” Aaron said.

The task was large and proved to be more challenging than expected.

“We had to have a lot of discussions about when to give the money, how much to ask for and where to deposit it. I was a believer that we needed to do it as quickly as we could. These people needed help now, not later,” Aaron said.

With determination and a little bit of problem-solving, everything came together. The members of Parkway Place raised over $20,000 to aid staff members who had lost everything to the storm.

“I’ve always felt, all my life, that it’s better to give than to receive. I try to help people wherever I can,” Aaron said.

A year later, Daniel and his wife, recipients of the fund, have a new apartment close to Parkway Place and are doing better than ever. Though the trials of Harvey will not be soon forgotten, the love and servant-heartedness shown among members and employees at Parkway Place is more powerful than any hurricane.

“Parkway Place members are like God’s helpers. Without them, I wouldn’t be sitting here right now. They took me in and they never looked back,” Daniel said.

Written by Caitlin Heffley, content editor for Buckner Retirement Services.

Beaumont couple finds new hope at Buckner Calder Woods after Hurricane Harvey

senior couple

Living in Southeast Texas for over 60 years, Ronnie and Sherry Adams thought they had seen it all. Hurricanes were no surprise, and the couple had become accustomed to preparing for them. So when Hurricane Harvey hit in late August 2017, the couple didn’t expect anything out of the ordinary.

“We thought we’d just put things up high enough that everything would be alright, and it wasn’t,” Sherry said. “The water came within a foot of our ceiling.”

Former volunteer firefighters, Ronnie and Sherry were skilled at handling stressful, and sometimes disastrous, situations, but nothing could have prepared them for this kind of devastation.

“All of my children and grandchildren came to help us. My grandson said, ‘Granny, you have got to leave now or you’re not going to be able to get out,” Sherry recalled.

After they evacuated, the couple was forced to wait five days for the water to recede before they could get back into their home. They braced themselves for the worst.

“All my stuff was ruined … I washed a few clothes and glassware, but Ronnie didn’t save anything,” Sherry said. “I had some things that meant a lot to me. I wanted to save them. Finally, my son told me ‘You’ve got to turn it loose.’”

Sherry remembers repeatedly asking God “Why?” One evening, however, as she surveyed her damaged belongings, she received a distinct feeling of hope.

“I found my mother and daddy’s picture. Then I turned around and there was the most beautiful full moon you’ve ever seen. God was telling me everything was alright,” she said.

After living in temporary accommodations for several weeks, Sherry and Ronnie knew they had to find a permanent home. That’s when they came to Buckner Calder Woods in Beaumont. They toured the senior living community’s new independent living apartments and immediately were sold.

“We came here and fell in love with it. Everybody was so friendly. This was going to be our home. We never looked anywhere else,” Sherry said.

A year later, Sherry and Ronnie are active members of the Calder Woods community, where they regularly participate in community activities and have gotten to know several other members. Sherry is even a community ambassador now and volunteers to help keep the campus beautiful.

“Our kids told us, ‘get out and do something. Don’t just sit around – get involved.’ That’s what we did,” Sherry said.

Though memories of the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey still cause pain from time to time, the couple likes to remind themselves that the past is behind them, and better days are ahead.

“We’ve had several full moons lately, and I think about that time. It reminds me that God says everything is going to be ok,” Sherry said.

Written by Caitlin Heffley, content editor for Buckner Retirement Services.

Ventana by Buckner reaches construction milestone

Ventana by Buckner

Ventana by Buckner, a $140 million luxury high-rise community for seniors in North Dallas, marked the project’s halfway point with a topping out ceremony.

The milestone included the raising of a ceremonial beam and tree to the top of the north tower. Speakers included Charlie Wilson, senior vice president for Buckner Retirement Services; Rick Pruett, executive director of Ventana by Buckner; and Albert Reyes, president/CEO of Buckner International. The trio thanked workers with general contractor Whiting-Turner, who began construction on June 12, 2017.

“We are extremely grateful to every single person who has labored to bring Ventana by Buckner to its midway milestone in only 13 months,” said Pruett. “The high quality of work put into the construction process is representative of the high-quality of life Ventana will provide its residents with luxurious features and amenities and excellent health and wellness services.”

Ventana by Buckner is Dallas’ first and only luxury high-rise Life Care community. Its adjacent 12-story towers will house 189 independent apartment homes, including one-, two- and three-bedroom options and ranging from 800 to 1,900 square feet. Ventana includes the full continuum of care for senior adults, with assisted living, nursing care, memory care and a rehabilitation component.

The community will also include underground parking, multiple dining venues and lounges, spacious common areas, modern wellness and fitness centers, heated indoor pool, salon and spa, movie theater, rooftop garden, multiple patios and more.

Ventana was designed by Dallas award-winning architect David Dillard and his firm, D2 Architecture. It will open to its first residents by mid-2019.

Buckner opened its first retirement community in 1954. Ventana by Buckner will be its sixth retirement care property in Texas.

For more information about Ventana by Buckner, visit VentanaByBuckner.com.

San Angelo seniors kick off summer with Pinewood Derby

Residents at Baptist Retirement Community recently kicked off the summer with cars, ice cream and childhood memories.

Residents came together for fun that included a pinewood derby race and homemade ice cream contest. Smiles and laughter filled the room as the experience reminded people of their youth.

“Many of our residents did Boy Scouts when they were younger and painted their own pinewood derby cars,” Baptist Retirement Marketing Director Erin Kelly told KSAN. “So we wanted to bring back some of those memories that they had.”

The celebration is one of many activities throughout the year at Baptist Retirement, a beautifully landscaped 100-acre Life Plan Community serving seniors throughout the Concho Valley. Baptist Retirement offers independent living, skilled or long-term nursing, memory care assisted living, personal assistance program and  outpatient therapy.

Residents have access to on-site amenities such as a pharmacy, health clinic, chapel, beauty salons, a restaurant and fitness centers. BRC opened “The Crest,” spring 2016, a memory care assisted living home on campus. The Crest, Sagecrest Alzheimer’s Care Center and the Green House® Homes at Sagecrest are designed to further enhance the continuum of care for those living with memory care impairment. Baptist Retirement Community offers more senior living and life-enriching options than anywhere else in the area.

Ventana by Buckner changing Dallas skyline

Once, it was just a dream to create the pre-eminent senior living community in Dallas. With each passing hour, that dream moves closer to becoming reality.

Each day, Ventana by Buckner climbs a little higher as it takes its place in the Dallas skyline. Already, the structure stands out along Central Expressway. It’s newly installed windows glisten in the sunlight. It stands as a beacon of a bright future for future residents.

“This growth is exciting!” said Charlie Wilson, senior vice president of Buckner Retirement Services. “We take our calling to serve seniors seriously and do whatever we can to sere them with excellence.”

Ventana is proud to offer its residents a comprehensive range of hospitality services and a maintenance-free lifestyle, along with a full complement of recreational, culinary and wellness opportunities. Looking for a five-star senior living experience? Look no further than Ventana.

From our pristine fitness center to our sparkling community pool, amenities here will set a new standard in senior living. Services at Ventana are comprehensive, providing each resident with the peace of mind that comes with knowing their every need has been anticipated and addressed.

Learn more at ventanabybuckner.com.

Austin seniors celebrate National Fitness Month

National Physical Fitness and Sports Month

May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, and residents at Buckner Villas are as active as ever thanks to wellness director Julia Tavasoli.

Tavasoli leads the Austin senior living community in nontraditional, but popular, exercise classes such as Aqua Fit and Better Balance. Dozens of residents attend each class, including Jim Sadler, 94, and his wife Ann, 88.

“The classes offered here at Buckner Villas are unique because they keep each resident’s fitness level in mind and offer morning and afternoon classes to fit into our schedules,” said Sadler. “Plus, the classes are so enjoyable that sometimes we forget it’s a workout!”

Aqua Fit is a challenging aquatic class which includes cardio, strength and agility, while Better Balance is an aerobics class incorporating specialized fitness equipment, coordination, drills and balance poses to improve core and leg strength. Though designed specifically for seniors, these fitness classes aren’t for the faint of heart. Residents perform exercises found at most local gym classes, including frog jumps, jumping jacks, weight lifting, push-ups and cardio intervals.

“We want residents to find a class that brings them joy, and so far, that’s exactly what we’ve seen,” said Tavasoli. “It’s rewarding for me to see them benefit from the classes both physically and mentally, especially because these group classes add an element of socialization and accountability.”

Buckner Villas recently completed a $29.8 million expansion which allows the community to serve up to 138 additional seniors. Aqua Fit and Better Balance are part of the growing number of classes held in the wellness center at the senior living community.

Tavasoli consistently incorporates new classes to provide well-rounded fitness options. Studies show that working out regularly as you age reduces the risk for developing dementia, decreases the risk of stroke or heart attack, creates better bone density and gives seniors more confidence and independence.

How seniors can prepare for hurricane season

seniors and hurricane season

In 2017, Hurricane Harvey took Texas by surprise.

This year, we want you to be prepared. Here are six easy ways senior adults and their families can prepare for hurricane season.

1. Know your neighbors.

It’s a good idea to have people close by who can check on you in the event of an emergency. If you know their schedule and they know yours, each of you can be aware of when to look out for each other.

2. Keep hurricane-specific emergency numbers easily accessible.

Store emergency phone numbers in an easy-to-find place on your cell phone. If you don’t use a cell phone, put those phone numbers on a brightly colored piece of paper. Laminate the paper so you can still use it in a flood. Good phone numbers to have handy include the Coast Guard, neighbors and your local senior living community.

3. Create an emergency kit.

Having an emergency kit ready to go makes even small emergencies like losing power easier to handle with peace of mind. Emergency kit must-haves include flashlights, first aid materials and water bottles.

4. Pack an overnight bag.

Keep a bag packed with overnight essentials in case you need to relocate quickly. Be sure to include a list of any medications you use and copies of personal identification.

5. Sign up for emergency alert systems.

Most cities have emergency alert systems designed specifically for seniors. Make sure you’re signed up for these weather alert phone calls because they’ll be your first source of regular information.

6. Have a plan.

No one wants to think “worst case scenario,” but when it comes to the unpredictability of hurricanes, the best thing you can do is have a plan. Know in advance who you’ll call and where you’ll go. Have multiple contingency plans just in case.

Ultimately, the best way to be prepared for a hurricane is to join a senior living community.

There, any homeowner maintenance necessary for hurricane preparation is already covered by the 24-hour maintenance staff. Should a hurricane or tropical storm come, leadership teams are in communication with Coast Guard every few hours. Residents, meanwhile, still enjoy three full meals a day and experience little to no interruptions to daily life.

As one resident at Calder Woods in Beaumont said, “The Lord helped me find Calder Woods just in time. Harvey flooded my home in Bridge City one month after I moved to Calder Woods. I’m so grateful God brought me here when he did.”

For a complete look at what it’s like to weather a hurricane at a Buckner senior living community, read this account from Parkway Place and see how one Houstonian found hope at the senior living community.

A day in the life of a senior living nurse

Angela Britain

Meet Angela Britain, a certified nurse assistant (CNA) at Buckner Westminster Place! Angela serves as a “shahbazim,” a unique position within the Green House® Homes concept that incorporates home-like  tasks such as cooking and cleaning into the traditional CNA role. Check out a day in her life for a closer look behind the scenes of Buckner Retirement Services.

6:45 a.m.: Arrive at work

I work the morning shift, which is good because I’m a morning person. We get there at 6:45, and at that point all the residents are still sleeping. Green Houses are designed to have a smaller staff to resident ratio, so we only have two shahbazims per shift and 10 residents total.

Shift change

The first thing we do is a shift change with the night shift. During these meetings we get all the information from the overnight team regarding anything that may have happened, any resident who didn’t sleep well or anyone was ill. These are important meetings because they tell us how to plan the day.

Breakfast prep

Once shift change is complete, we’re getting ready for breakfast. We want the table to be set and all the food to be ready so we can begin serving residents as soon as they’re up.

Rounds

Next, we’re going room to room to say good morning and help residents with their routines like shaving and showering. This is my favorite part of the day! I enjoy getting to tell them I love them, and they bless me with some of the sweetest things they say.

Breakfast                                                                                                                                                  

Green Houses are designed to have a family atmosphere, so during mealtimes we sit at the table and eat with the residents. If you were caring for your grandparents, you’d of course help them with the daily tasks they need to do, but you’d also help them cook and spend quality time with them. That’s what we do here too.

Lunch prep and activities

As soon as we’re finished with breakfast, we’re cleaning up dishes and beginning preparations for lunch.  It’s a juggling act. You’re cooking, cleaning and tending to the residents’ needs all at the same time.

While we try to maintain some sort of normal schedule for the residents, we also have to be able to acclimate to changes very quickly. We’re in constant communication with other nursing staff so that if we notice any changes in behavior or mood we can address those needs as well.

In between breakfast and lunch we’re also moving the residents around so they’re not in the same place all the time. The activity director will also come in and lead life enrichment activities for the residents.

Lunch

Before we know it, we’re setting everyone back up at the table for lunch. One of the biggest blessings of working at a faith-based senior living provider like Buckner is that every day a resident prays over the meal. It’s such a sweet time! Family members also often join us for lunch. Some residents do eat in their rooms, so we work to accommodate those needs as well.

Cleanup

Then we start the process all over again of doing dishes, cleaning up and getting residents back to their rooms for an afternoon nap. During nap, we’ll look at the menu for the next day and see if there’s anything we need to do for prep. We’ll also do charting for the day and see if there’s anything we need to do for the next shift.

2:45: Final shift change

We’re relieved at 2:45, and at this point we do another shift change to keep the chain of communication going between nurses. Together we all work hard to let residents know they’re special, they’re still a blessing to others and they still have purpose.

I never would have picked nursing for myself, but now I know I was made for this. The Lord showed me he could open my heart to something unexpected, and he’s made this work so fulfilling.

Faith Focus: Seeing what you didn’t before

senior citizen banquet

Last week, Buckner Senior Living and Cooper Aerobics announced a collaboration that will bring Cooper experts to the Ventana by Buckner campus in Dallas. In the process of the day, I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Kenneth Cooper and learn more about what sets him apart.

Fifty years ago, Cooper wrote Aerobics, which introduced the world to the benefits of aerobic workouts. Prior to the book, many people were discouraged to exercise after the age of 40 as experts believed it would shorten a person’s lifespan.

When Cooper’s book not only contradicted the contemporary thought, but put forward the notion that regular exercise would actually prolong health and lives, he was called a crackpot. Potential patients were steered away from him. But he stuck it out and his theories have proven true.

He’s revolutionized what it means to be healthy as we age. He’s even proving it day after day personally, having run more than 38,000 miles at the age of 87. His concepts have helped popularize the notion of each person needing to walk 10,000 steps daily. He trained a World Cup team. He has promoted healthy living around the globe.

And all that has led people to live far different lives than they once believed possible.

That struck me as extremely similar to what we do through Buckner Family Pathways and Family Hope Centers: Change individual’s and families’ perceptions of themselves and empower them to live lives they didn’t think possible.

Like Cooper’s efforts, the work of changing someone’s long-held beliefs is difficult. But just like the good doctor, we have examples we can point to where lives have been transformed. Single parents who have graduated from college. Families that are strong and raising amazing young people. Cycles of poverty that have been broken.

The impossible is possible – even in your life.

Do you believe it?

Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. –Matthew 17:20

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