Ecumen Names Two New Business Development Directors

Ecumen has named two new Business Development Directors as the company rapidly expands its housing portfolio.

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Live 2 B Healthy: Custom-Made, Home-Delivered Fitness for Seniors

Greg Springman, certified personal trainer, is greeting everyone by name as he watches his class assemble in a circle, some in wheelchairs or using walkers. They seem eager to be here, except Joe.

“Let’s go, Joe.  Get over here,” Greg coaxes.

“I’m a farm boy,” says Joe. “I don’t have to do this kind of stuff.”

Reluctantly, Joe joins the circle of residents at Ecumen Prairie Lodge in Brooklyn Center, and Greg starts the exercise session with lively banter.

“Did you get all dolled up for me,” Greg asks one of the participants. “That’s a nice perm!”

“I love you,” she replies.

“Who hired you?” Joe grumps.

Ecumen hired the company Greg works for — Live 2 B Healthy, which specializes in fitness for seniors. Certified personal trainers come to senior communities and conduct customized fitness sessions based on the widely varying needs of the clients.

At today’s session most of the 17 people are elderly and frail. All have mobility issues to some degree. And Greg has the instincts for understanding their capabilities and limits.  Tomorrow he may be with a group of highly active seniors at another community, and they will get an entirely different workout.

“OK,” Greg says as he rolls his arms, “Let’s start with arm circles… Now, sit tall and reach up and down.”

A participant whines: “This arm hurts!”

“No problem,” says Greg. “Just use your other one.”

Smiles of determination are forming around the room as the group finds its rhythm. Carolyn looks over at her neighbor and laughs: “I’m getting my exercise and she’s getting dizzy watching me.”

Everyone, including Greg, seems to be having fun, and what’s happening in this circle is inspirational. Otherwise sedentary people are getting exercise three days a week that challenges them in ways they did not think possible. Roger does 10 reps of standing up and sitting down in his wheelchair while the group cheers.  It takes all the strength he has, but he pushes through with a beaming smile, clearly pleased with himself.

Greg heaps praise and makes sure everyone understands how hard Roger is working.

Live 2 B Healthy is all about improving strength, flexibility and balance — and therefore quality of life. Participants in the class will be closely monitored to measure their progress over time.  Katie Keller, the Activity Director at Ecumen Prairie Lodge, says she’s already noticed improvements in mobility since the class began in May. 

She cites the example of a resident who found standing difficult before the sessions started but is now standing on her own and walking better. And another resident who broke her hip and had to be lifted out of bed, now stands up on her own power.

“The change is amazing,” Katie says.  In September, the trainers will officially measure progress from a baseline taken in May.  Katie says she’s confident the results will be impressive.

Live 2 B Healthy Senior Fitness, headquartered in Minnetonka, was started in 2008 by Cory Czepa, a personal trainer who saw firsthand the need for improved senior fitness. When he was in grade school he began volunteering in the nursing home where his grandparents were living and always enjoyed working with seniors. 

After getting a college degree in physical education, he began working as a trainer in a large health club and noticed that few seniors came, and those who did often seemed uncomfortable in that setting.  One night, lying in bed, he had his breakthrough idea: why not take fitness programs to seniors where they live. 

Czepa’s unique marketing proposition is that he hires highly trained certified personal trainers who carefully customize fitness programs — often on the spot — based on client needs.  And as the clients get stronger, the trainers adapt the programs.  “There is no one-size-fits-all program,” he says, “and there’s plenty of one-on-one attention.”

Czepa says research shows that resistance training yields the best results, followed by cardio and balance and toning.  Two weeks into a class, the trainers take baseline measurements of strength, flexibility and balance. Every four months, they measure again, using testing protocols that allow assessments regardless of a person’s limitations.  Almost always, there is improvement.

In fact, there are hundreds of testimonials, Czepa says. Among the benefits people cite: enhanced flexibility and balance, better circulation, lower heart disease and blood pressure, improved sleep, improved cognitive skills, reduced medications, renewed energy and endurance, decreased joint and back pain, more regular bowel functions, declining depression and anxiety and improved day-to-day well-being.

Here’s a typical testimonial from a resident at Ecumen-managed The Harbor at Peace Village:  “Since I’ve been working out with Live 2 B Healthy, my doctor has reduced my dosage on one medication, and taken me off of another. I have less pain, more energy and am physically stronger. I feel much better about myself."

Live2BHealthy is now an approved program by Silver Sneakers so their members can now go to Ecumen communities offering Live 2 B Healthy programs and participate. Live 2 B Healthy is currently providing exercise programs in the following Ecumen sites:

‒       Ecumen Pathstone Living in Mankato

‒       Ecumen Lakeview Commons in Maplewood

‒       Ecumen Prairie Lodge in Brooklyn Center

‒       Ecumen Evergreens of Fargo

‒       Ecumen of Litchfield

‒       Ecumen Oaks in Hutchinson

‒       Ecumen-managed Pelican Valley Health Center in Pelican Rapids

‒       Ecumen-managed The Harbor at Peace Village in Norwood Young America

Ecumen Scenic Shores in Two Harbors plans to start classes in September.

Meanwhile, back at Ecumen Prairie Lodge, Greg is taking his class through their paces.

“March with those legs and move your arms…. Flap like a bird… Pretend you’re boxers and punch, punch punch… Now twist and stick your tongue out at your neighbor! And now for your favorite one…clapping.  This means we’re done.  Good job all around!”

World's Oldest Twin Brothers Offer Advice on Wine, Women and Living Long

Belgians Pieter and Paulus Langerock have been best friends for 102 years. The twin brothers, born on July 8 1913, have been inseparable since birth and rarely spend time apart, and even share the same room at their retirement home outside the Belgian town of Ghent. 

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Ecumen Prairie Lodge Celebrates Its 10th Anniversary with a Big Splash

Splashing sounds filled the warm summer night as Ecumen Prairie Lodge in Brooklyn Center celebrated its 10th anniversary last Thursday, June 25, with an open house for the community.

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Two Supercentenarians Believed to be the Last with Birthdates in 1800s

Learn more about Susannah Mushatt Jones and Emma Morano, who are the last two living people with a birthdate in the 1800s.

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On National Nursing Assistant’s Day: Meet Bev Jacobs at Ecumen Prairie Lodge and Her Chorus of Admirers

Beverly Jacobs, a Resident Assistant at Ecumen Prairie Lodge, is sitting at a table off in a corner, probably wishing she had never agreed to this interview.  She’s a person who loves giving attention to others — but not so much drawing attention to herself.

She sees a balloon volleyball game starting across the room and escapes from the table to get in the middle of it.

The occasion for the interview is National Nursing Assistants Day — a day to honor the caregivers who do the real boots-on-the-ground work in healthcare.  They are the infantry of caregiving, and most anyone in senior care will tell you it’s one of the hardest jobs on the planet. The job is meeting the daily needs of older adults in assisted living or nursing homes — whatever those needs may be.

Bev has been doing this for an unusually long time.  It’s the only job she’s ever had. She watched the building go up in Brooklyn Center 18 years ago and has been working here ever since.

Back at the table, the interviewer asks her: Is the job as hard as people say?

“It’s not hard if you love what you’re doing,” Bev says with a blinding smile. “Making people happy, caring for them, meeting their needs… I love that.”

How does she go about her job?

“I listen first,” Bev says. “I hear what their needs are, and I just try to fulfill them. If I don’t know how to do that, I find somebody who can.”

She feels appreciated, she says, in so many little ways every day, like when the residents anonymously leave candy for her at the nurse’s station.  “I can usually guess who it’s from,” she says, “by the type of candy they leave.”

As she’s talking, a curious but hesitant crowd begins to gather.  One by one, the residents ease over in their wheelchairs and walkers until a half dozen have assembled. “What’s going on with Bev?” a resident pointedly asks.

The interviewer explains that June 11 is National Nursing Assistants Day. Ecumen would like to honor its Nursing Assistants, he says, and Bev has been singled out for an interview because she is a fine representative of her profession.

Spontaneously, the group bursts into applause. Several residents come over with big hugs. 

What do they think of Bev?

In unison they exclaim: “We LOVE her!”

What do you like about her?  One by one, they shout:

“She treats everybody like they’re special.”

“She’s efficient.”

“She knows her job.”

“She’s patient.”

“She’s fun.”

“She really cares about us.”

As the chorus of praise fades, a resident offers this wisdom: “It’s like she’s our mother — just younger than us.”

They all agree that Bev is like family. They say when she takes a few days off work, they miss her dearly and the halls of Prairie Lodge echo with the refrain: “Bev does it this way!”

The way Bev does it comes through loud and clear.

From the heart.

Ecumen Prairie Lodge Voted “Best Assisted Living”

Ecumen Prairie Lodge in Brooklyn Center, Minn., was voted “Best Assisted Living” community in the Sun Post newspaper’s Readers Choice Awards.

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Top 5 Most-Popular Blog Posts - December 15

Did you miss last week's most-read Changing Aging blog posts? Ecumen's online visitors found these articles most interesting:

NPR Story Highlights Ecumen Awakenings Approach to Dementia Care
Ecumen Awakenings once again received national attention for its innovative approach to dementia care. National Public Radio (NPR) aired a three-part series on the dangers of medicating elderly dementia patients with antipsychotic drugs. The third segment - titled "This Nursing Home Calms Troubling Behavior Without Risky Drugs" - focused entirely on Ecumen Awakenings as an example of a better way to care for those with Alzheimer's. Read more...

Top 10 Gifts for Seniors: Ecumen Staff Offers Advice
Because the following was one of our most popular posts last holiday season, it's here for a return engagement. We recently polled staff at several Ecumen communities for their advice on holiday gift-giving for seniors, particularly those who are in assisted living or care centers. Here are the top ten suggestions... Read more...

Ecumen Nurse Maria Reyes' Personal "Awakenings" and Triumph Over Adversity
Ecumen Quality Improvement Nurse Maria Reyes learned valuable lessons taking care of her grandmother as a young teenager in Puerto Rico - lessons that still guide her today as she teaches other professionals about honoring and empowering the seniors in their care. Read more...

Ecumen Employee Gabbi Langan: "I Love Every Single Day"
Outside the main office at Ecumen Prairie Lodge in Brooklyn Center, several people are trying to load a large television set into a small car. One of them is Gabbi Langan, who is the new manager in charge of Prairie Lodge. It's an insight into her management style. Gabbi is a hands-on problem-solver, and no problem is too big or too small. Read more...

Home for the Holidays: Red Flags That Aging Parents Need Help
It's not at all unusual for adult children to come home for the holidays and see signs their aging parents are in declining health - a messy house, unopened mail, unwashed clothes. It's also not unusual that the first response is one of panic. The Star Tribune offers some advice from experts on what to do if you see things that concern you... Read more...

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Ecumen Employee Gabbi Langan: “I Love Every Single Day”

Gabbi Langan, one of Ecumen's youngest managers, is an enthusiatic problem-solver with a passion for working with seniors.

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Top 5 Most-Read Blog Posts - December 8

Did you miss last week's most popular Changing Aging blog posts? Ecumen's online visitors found these articles most interesting:

Scouts Build a Labyrinth Garden for Ecumen Detroit Lakes
As a child, Brandon Christen often visited Ecumen Detroit Lakes, where his mother worked and where two of his grandparents received services. It made an impression. Recently, when Brandon was searching for a meaningful project to complete his requirement to become an Eagle Scout, he thought of Ecumen Detroit Lakes and asked about the possibilities. Read more...

Grand Village Residents Help With Nation's Capitol Christmas Tree Decorations
Residents of Ecumen-managed Grand Village of Grand Rapids, Minn., joined people from across Minnesota to handcraft thousands of ornaments for the nation's Capitol Christmas Tree, which was lit Tuesday night. Read more...

The Life-and-Death Experience of Ecumen Board Member Kris Linner
"There's no way to explain that feeling of life leaving," says the Rev. Kris Linner, who has spent the last 15 years doing hospice work, ministering to hundreds of people as the spirit leaves the body. How can she do this? It's a probing question she gets all the time, and this is her mystical answer... Read more...

Ecumen Awarded LeadingAge Innovation Grant to Test Dementia Care Light Therapy
Ecumen has been awarded a $29,800 LeadingAge Innovations Fund grant to integrate light therapy into memory care units for adults with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias (ADRD). Read more...

Ecumen Centennial House R.I.S.E. Program Helps 91-Year-Old Resident Walk Again After Fall
Gene Wood, 91, took a life-changing fall seven years ago that put him in a wheelchair. He worried that he might never walk again. His injuries were so debilitating that he needed some assistance and moved into an assisted living community. Initially, he could do little more than move from his bed to his wheelchair. Read more...

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