Lighting, Mobility and More

Though annoyed to receive regular AARP mailing, I’m thrilled to receive a senior price break at the theater. We all are growing older. Regularly, I read articles on the aging of America. I’m a Baby Boomer. Thus, like many of the generation who are caring or arranging care for their mothers (mine is 92 years old) and fathers, we still have to manage our own health services as well as those of a spouse or children.

On a personal note, I’ve noticed how much more light I want when sitting down to read, balance the checkbook or do any close-up work. My husband, like most people over the age of 50, has begun reaching for the readers as he works his newspaper puzzles. Retailers responded to this demographicneed by marketing eye glass frames as a fashion accessory and offering large inventories of fun and colorful options.

As a result of my own need for light, I’ve paid attention to the placement of lighting fixtures and windows as I visited assisted living communities. Many apartments and even homes, don’t have ceiling light fixtures except in the kitchen and bath areas. Stillwater Senior Living addressed those considerations by installing lights in their shower stall, the bathroom ceiling and multi-bulb fixtures over the sinks. Additionally there are ceiling fixtures in the living room, hall, kitchens, bedroom and closets. I found brightly lit hallways that are extra wide to accommodate residents with walkers, wheelchairs and visitors. The ample benches and wide wooden railings provide reassure those who are walking for exercise or therapy.

Also in our Mom’s apartment, we found anti-glare tint had been added to the living room window to reduce glare in the room, on the tv screen and on Mom’s eyeglasses. The patio door has an enclosed blind which allows Residents to adjust daylight according to their wishes.

Like many seniors with eye or mobility problems, mom is extremely cautious about stair steps, street curbs or any change in grade that could impact her mobility. Stillwater’s single story construction means all are ground floor apartments with walk-out patios.These connect to the paved sidewalk around the exterior perimeter. It makes it easy to walk a ¼ mile outside as part of an exercise regimen.

Staying healthy, mobile, happy and engaged is a worthwhile goal for us at any age.

Seniors Beat Winter Doldrums

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With the holiday lights and decorations packed away and the calendar showing more open spaces, winter seems to have taken hold. Truly, I love living in a climate that has four seasons. However, post-holiday, there’s nothing like a roaring fire and taking up something new to keep one’s spirits lifted.

We, as humans, mimic nature, tending to burrow inside, crave warm beverages and prefer hot meals, and maybe become more sedentary. Unlike seniors still living in their own homes, the changing weather or dropping temperatures no longer dictate how the Residents of Stillwater Senior Living can enjoy the day. Stillwater’s Coffee bar makes it easy to grab a hot chocolate, latte or coffee. Our menu offers hot meals when you want it. Stillwater’s antidote to winter is to pump up its calendar. Beyond the regularchair yoga, music therapy, walking and book club, devotions and engaging performances, there new experiences to welcome this New Year!

You may have seen our Facebook page w photos of the Resident’s penguin cookies, which was small salute to the wintery weather and a quite tasty afternoon treat!

Stillwater’s welcoming fire literally warms my heart and body when I visit mom. Likewise, I’m thrilled to find hermaking clay pens with other Residents. The time flew by filled with bright colors, shared creativity and was a totally new experience for manyResidents. Possibly the only clay my mom had ever touched was outdoors as she and my day laid out vegetable and flower gardens at their home. Tess, who planned the activity, made some extras for those Residents who missed the activity. It was the topic of conversation as Residents proudly showed off their creations. Many of our staff worked alongside creating their own which you can easily spot as they do their work.

Despite the rise of computer, tablet, and phone keyboards, most seniors still rely on the proven, reliable writing tool to address greeting cards, sign checks and play crossword or seek and find puzzles. All are activities that fill up time and are so beneficial to one’s mental acuity.

Take a look at our snazzy new pens, it may have you reaching for the clay, too!

Holidays = Family Gatherings

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Family gatherings amidst the holiday plans gets more challenging. As the family expands through marriages and offspring, the decisions on date, time, place and menu come into play.

This year I decided to make it easy. We are meeting at mom’s new residence, Stillwater Senior Living. We’ll use the Activity Room, leaving the dining room and Fireside Lounge for those residents who are staying around – not headed to a relative’s home. With Chef Bret and his kitchen crew preparing our meal, my sisters and I will have more time to visit, play cards, learn a new game and reminisce with Mom instead of busily attending to those details. But since no family get-together is compete without the sharing of food, we’ll share our respective overabundance of sweets that always surface in our homes this time of year. Don’t forget the camera…we’ve got to record the gathering.

What makes Stillwater a great option for us this year is that it is mom’s home with the services of assisted living. So if she gets tired or needs something from her apartment, we’re right there. It’s accessible, familiar, and free for family use . The community prides itself on having several inviting spots to gather families. It even has a toy area, uniquely Stillwater. Though our youngest family members will not join us this year due to cross-country move. Other grandchildren have schedule conflicts with spousal family events. Still, for the 18 who can be together, it will be wonderful! The community-wide Wi-Fi will make it easy to skype or video-chat with those who are absent.

We continue my mom’s family tradition of gathering on Sunday between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Though gratefully we won’t require renting a hall for 70+ relatives. Just the memory of it makes me smile. Oh the secrets and new toys we shared among our cousins of the same age. Then there was a group of uncles who played poker back in the corner. Invariably, we joined in a few rounds of Christmas carols and holiday hymns.

Gotta run…Cookies don’t bake themselves.

May your holidays be filled with family and fun!

December is always special!

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December has been a special month here at Stillwater Senior Living! From beginning to end we have been enjoying the Christmas Season with a variety of in house Activities and social gatherings! In addition to all of this, we took a trip to enjoy a special dinner at Ravanelli’s and then a dazzling night of light displays at Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville, IL. Wow, did this night of lights warm our hearts!

We hosted a Christmas a day of celebrating with over 90 Preschoolers from 2 area Preschools! Each child had the opportunity to enjoy muffins, fruit and milk with Santa, sit on his lap and share their Christmas wish list with him and then end with a visit to our live Reindeer in our Courtyard! The excitement here at Stillwater that day was enough to fuel Santa’s sleigh halfway around the world! Our Residents truly enjoyed seeing all the youngsters display this excitement and many of our Residents visited with Santa themselves! A handful of our Residents even chose to go outdoors and get a picture with our live Reindeer and see the baby goats all dressed in their Christmas sweaters too!

In December, Stillwater also hosted a Christmas Brunch on a Saturday morning for our Residents and their families to enjoy a morning meal together in this most hectic season. So many times in the hustle and bustle of preparing for Christmas, we all forget to pause and gaze into the eyes of those who mean the most to us. Even an hour or two spent together with the ones most dear to us, can propel us on through the most difficult of days. Believing this to be true for most all families, Stillwater desired to provide and opportunity for our Residents and their families to enjoy a few hours of simple FUN together! We had a cookie decorating station where many made their own creations to either eat or share with a loved one. Santa visited once again, and posed with many for pictures near the crackling fireplace and beautiful Christmas tree! We ended our Saturday morning in style with a game show led by Big Papa G where many danced and sang aloud to add to our festivities. Prizes were awarded and all left with a big smile on their face! Time shared and memories made together is the best gift of all here on this side of Heaven!

May each of you reading this have a heart filled with joy and peace as we celebrate the most blessed season and begin A New Year ahead in 2016!!

Listening Hearts

Listening Hearts – It’s just one phrase in Stillwater’s mission statement, yet last week I found comfort in how profoundly true it was!

When I arrived Wednesday morning to visit my mom, I hadn’t been there in a few days. It’s cold and flu season and many healthcare sites have posted signs recommending one not visit if one is not well.  I didn’t want to take any chances visiting her (or her fellow residents) at the assisted living community since I hadn’t been feeling 100%.

At Mom’s apartment I found laundry, freshly done and ready to put away and her morning newspaper lay opened but unread. Her pendant was dangling from the towel rack. Grabbing it, I was met at the door by mom and the physical therapist. Her startled look was quickly replaced by a pleased smile.

As she rested in her chair, we conversed. I perused her mail, sifted through her read papers, assuring I gathered anything of importance. There were Christmas cards and letters she was happy to show me. some regular monthly notices. One required follow-up. I punched in the number provided only to be greeted by an automated menu that did not offer the option of speaking to a live person. With my frustration building, I put it aside, deciding to handle it from my house, where I kept my mom’s financial records.

Caregiving encompasses the individual medical and physical needs but also financial and property management. While the responsibilities can be divided among family members, there’s always overlap.

As Mom went to off to lunch, I’m heading out to run errands. The owner greets me with the usual “ How are you and your mom doing?” Feeling poorly, stressed, frustrated from the earlier attempt to handle business and overwhelmed with the holidays approaching, I began to speak. She calmly guides me to a chair and listens without interrupting as I pour out my concerns. She nods, gives an encouraging squeeze to my arm and tells me I’ll be in her thoughts and prayers. I thank her, and with a lighter heart, and take care of those errands.

Upon my return, I find mom participating in a group activity. Nearby is another Resident’s adult daughter whom I’ve come to know. With a little wave, I join her. After my inquiry, she starts telling me of her challenges. Listening hearts – I listen, acknowledge similar events and listen some more.  She apologizes for unburdening. I reassure her that I too had been experiencing a similar melt-down earlier in the day. She thanks me profusely.

I feel grateful to have given comfort after having received it earlier myself. We have built camaraderie of caring around the residents and their family members. It’s like a new neighborhood, where we may not always know their full names, but we greet each other, inquire about health and maintain an open attitude with listening hearts.

Vivian Helm

Thankful for time together

We are very Thankful for time together at Thanksgiving. Stillwater Senior Living is known for it’s outstanding meals and friendly, courteous staff but I have to say that our Chefs went above and beyond for our Thanksgiving Feast!

On Sunday, November 22nd, we treated our Residents and their family members to a delicious meal and great live entertainment with the amazing Don Rush Falkner. Don sang many songs from days gone by and toes were tapping like nobody’s business!

Many of our guests asked for his contact info in order that they may also book him for their own upcoming Christmas Parties. So … I would say that is a very high compliment to Don! Music is healing and calming to the soul and Don proved just that with his wonderful display of talent.

We are very Thankful that our guests brought donations to be given to our local food bank, the Glen-Ed Pantry. Donations totaled 185 lbs. of food and $145.00 in cash donations! More important that all the food and the collections was the Family time together for each of these awesome Residents! It warmed my heart to see so many smiles and hear all the beautiful words spoken as families greeted one another with hugs of genuine love and thankfulness of just being together for the day at Stillwater Senior Living!

We are now even more excited, more thankful and looking forward to our upcoming Christmas Brunch, Family Pictures, Cookie Decorating and lively entertainment next Saturday. The Holiday Season is extra special when you reside at Stillwater Senior Living!

Debbie Morris
Life Enrichment Coordinator

Our Mission
Embracing generations through listening hearts, compassionate care and purposeful activities modeled in Christ’s love.

Mom’s New Picture

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My Mom’s new picture. Mom trained as a nurse right after WWII. Her first job was helping moms bring their babies into the world. I’ve always loved the pictures showing her in a crisp white uniform and nurse’s cap.She looked young, professional and so vibrant.

Of course, I treasure more recent pictures because of the memories they generate – the family gatherings at Christmas, celebrations for birthdays, graduations or weddings. We also have several portraits with my dad taken for their church directory.

Recently she was tickled to show me a picture taken at Stillwater Senior Living of her sporting a bright blue fuzzy hat that “matched perfectly with her outfit”. It was taken as part of a Mad Hatter Tea Party that celebrated National Mad Hatter Day. It’s one of many activities that the fill the senior living community’s activity calendar along with chair yoga, live performances by musicians and entertainers, faith gatherings, food demonstrations and more.

She looked beautiful and happy! Her natural smile is what caught me. She was having fun. Though her legendary memory is not as strong as it once was, this photo caught the essence of how much fun seniors can have in a community living setting. It’s my new favorite picture of mom because it shows her enjoying her life now. That single event brighten her day and it happened while family members were working. It also sparked a conversation about what she had been doing between our visits.

And this is among the reasons we moved her. More activities, better food, larger apartment furnished with treasures and photos from her life. Yes, she has therapy and that’s tiring. Some days are better than others, but whether I show up at 9 in the morning or even 8 at night, I find comfort in the staff who are there to assist her 24 hours a day. It’s a trusting partnership we have — caring for our mom. Their ages and faces are diverse, but their goals are in sync with ours, the family… to ensure care, comfort with a dash of fun are hers as she ages.

From one resident’s family to the family at Stillwater Senior Living … THANK YOU for everything you have done and continue to do for our Mom’s and thereby, for us!

Vivian Helm

Celebrating Veteran's Day!

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Stillwater Senior Living knows how to honor Veteran’s with style and joyfully celebrate Veteran’s Day! Flags adorned our entry way, social areas, as well as our property outdoors. Our Veteran’s Day’s Activities began with our Veteran’s sharing their stories in our Fireside Lounge. We passed our Karaoke microphone around so we all could benefit from the volume and fully hear each others stories and thoughts. Some of the stories from our Residents made us laugh out loud and another one brought us to tears. We heard from not only our Veterans, but also from each of the Widows of Veterans who now call Stillwater Senior Living their home.

Following our delicious Veteran’s Day lunch of barbecued brisket, baked beans, potato salad, and corn on the cob. We gathered once again to listen to Patriotic Music brought to us by our guest Lynn Wellman. He included many of our old favorite songs in his playlist as well. The entire hour I could hear a variety of voices as each of our Residents sang along to Lynn’s magical fingers that played the keyboards in the most eloquent way! We served star shaped cookies with Red, White, and Blue icing to all who desired one. I would say that these cookies were a hit, because we had only 5 left from our huge tray after our Happy Hour had ended!

The Stillwater Bus was also all decked out for this special Veteran’s Day! Vinyl banners were on each side of our bus bearing the name of each of our Veterans and the branch of military in which they had honorably served! From the beginning to the very end of our day, we enjoyed celebrating this most special day together. We eagerly look forward to appreciating and celebrating each day of our veteran’s lives here at Stillwater Senior Living!

God bless our Veterans!

Fall is officially here

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Fall is officially here now that we have hosted our Stillwater Senior Living Fall Festival! Our kickoff was the Antique Auto Display at 10 am and what a tremendous display it was! Many Residents enjoyed getting their picture by and even sitting inside some of the cars and trucks which brought back great memories of days gone by!

Don the Magician had everyone in awe as he entertained the crowd with his quick slip of the hand tricks and optical illusions that left many sitting there in amazement! His show had something for everyone and was quite a treat for all who attended.

Meanwhile under the big tent in our courtyard, music was flowing freely from the Waterloo German Band. Great tunes and funny jokes left all of us tapping our toes and laughing aloud. A few of the folks even did the polka to these popular songs!

The meal of brats, sauerkraut, German potato salad, lettuce salad, chips, Bavarian creme rolls and a variety of German beer left all full, satisfied and happy!

Big Papa G entertained all of us after lunch with a hilarious game show in our dining room. There was great audience participation with the games, dancing and wearing silly hats and props. Prizes were given out for all who participated in the show plus a couple of extra door prizes for attendees who registered in our drawing earlier in the day.

I would call our very first Fall Festival a great success. I’m certain that all who attended left with their bellies full and a smile on their face from a day well spent here at Stillwater Senior Living!! We estimate that we hosted over 135 people from the area and our own beloved Residents! Who knew that so much fun could be packed into one day!?

Debbie Morris

Assisted living is a blast here at Stillwater Senior Living!!

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Just look at a few of activities during the past few weeks.It is always a good day when it includes a homemade cinnamon roll! Chef Bret explained each step as he created these amazing treats for us to enjoy with a cup of coffee and tea. Still warm from the oven, we devoured them. Smiles dotted each and every face along with some sticky icing! Another day we focused on healthy living aspects of exercise and proper diet during a talk with Dr. Paul Hoover. (we did not have him here on the same day as the Cinnamon Roll treat!) He shared insights on the value of keeping our mind and bodies active through a variety of ways.


Noodle Ball is among our residents’ favorite games! Basically, we use swim noodles to keep a balloon afloat. It’s great exercise but we often don’t realize it because we’re laughing so much. Our swim noodle champs were exceeded past records and attained magic number of 100 hits. WOW, a new record! Have you met Stella Stillwater our entry into the Village of Glen Carbon’s Scarecrow contest? She’s on display at Glen Carbon City Hall through Sunday. It’s our first time in the competition, so we don’t know how we will do… but it was a lot of fun for the residents and staff to create her. We are planning a “joy ride” to see the display.


October is a busy one for for us! Hope you can join us for the Fall Festival on Friday, October 9th. Beginning at 10 am we’ll enjoy an Antique Car display in our front parking lot, followed by an amazing show from Don the Magician. The Waterloo German Band will entertain during lunch of Brats, German Potato Salad and a variety of other treats too! The festivities wind up with entertainer Big Papa G and his interactive game. Everyone is welcome to join us and see for yourself how vibrant living is defined at Stillwater Senior Living.