Activities: A Pivotal Aspect of Life Enrichment

Mixing ingredients for monkey bread

Whether you love the cold and wait with anticipation for the first snowfall, or you want to fast-forward straight to spring, winter poses problems for many people. Mood changes during the winter months are common, and those living at Dominion Senior Living experience them, too.

According to Life Enrichment Director Bonnie Parton, the residents at Dominion Senior Living of Sevierville go outdoors every day in the summer. Plenty of walks are taken, flowers are cared for, and rocking chairs are occupied. Once the cold air arrives, the activities must be moved indoors. Bonnie plans many fun things to keep the residents active and busy. “The morning routine never changes” says Bonnie, “and this provides stability, but the afternoon is a little more flexible and random.”

Working on a new oil painting

As we saw in our last blog post, arts and crafts time is important to the residents at Dominion. Not only does this designated time act as a way to keep busy, but is a time to care for the mental, social, physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the residents. First of all, craft time is good for the residents’ mental health. As a memory care facility, Dominion Senior Living of Sevierville gears almost every activity to be intellectually beneficial. Each game played or craft made will stimulate the resident’s senses and utilize the movement of their hands. One such project involves making dolls for missionaries to take to orphans in South Africa.

These activities are also beneficial to the residents’ social needs. Before each event, Bonnie knocks on every door and encourages, but doesn’t force, him or her to join in the fun. By doing this, downtime is minimized, which helps with reducing the winter blues, and it establishes their individual sense of purpose. The craft time allows them all to sit together, talk if they want, and participate in a group setting.

Each resident also receives the emotional and spiritual health they need by choosing to be a part of games and arts & crafts. Due to Bonnie’s creativity, the residents are often eager to participate and try new things.

Making clothes for charity

There are a few elements that change from week to week, but the calendar of activities always stays full. Mondays are time for arts and crafts, whether it is making decorative crosses, fabric coasters, birdhouses, or Pepsi bottle lions. Tuesdays are set aside for oil painting, which Bonnie leads step by step. On Wednesdays, the ladies get pampered with a special manicure in which they get to choose their own nail polish color. Thursday’s activity is a favorite of many because residents get to cook—and eat!—a special treat they make. Among the treats they’ve prepared are unleavened bread, banana splits, peanut butter balls, pizza, and different kinds of cookies. Fridays are special as well because everyone gets to gather around the piano and listen to Executive Director Pam Morgan sing. The residents have their own hymn books and can sing along if they wish.

Staying indoors during the winter can be hard. Cabin fever affects seniors just like it does anyone else. But thanks to a lively and engaging schedule, residents at Dominion Senior Living of Sevierville enjoy excellent care for every element of their health—even while remaining indoors.

Preparing for a Scary Good Time

For many people, Halloween is an enjoyable holiday with creative costumes, spooky decorations, and tons of candy. It is customary for children to go around their neighborhoods, knock on doors, and ask for a sweet treat, and many adults love indulging the kids in this tradition. Still yet, this unique holiday may present problems or fears for some, including senior adults. Dominion Senior Living turns what could be a fearful time into an exciting day.

As our Sevierville location states on its main page, Dominion is “committed to providing a secure environment that promotes dignity and maintains physical and emotional health and stability through the engagement of meaningful life enrichment programs.” Part of that programming includes a weekly arts and crafts project that residents spend a portion of each day on.

At Sevierville, this week has been notably special. Bonnie Parton, the Life Enrichment Director, usually plans the project, but the residents took the initiative in choosing their Halloween costumes. Because they wanted to make their own, they gave her their ideas about what they wanted to wear. She then went to local stores to pick up all the necessary materials—everything down to the blood red nail polish.

The Halloween party is scheduled for Friday afternoon, although, as Bonnie points out, “They want to put their costumes on in the morning. They’ve been talking about this all week long.” After lunch on Friday, she’ll help them with their makeup and outfits. Then everyone will party in their costumes, enjoy refreshments, play games, and win prizes.

The atmosphere is rich with excitement and anticipation, not unlike a high school before an elaborate gala. Bonnie is both proud of and pleased with the residents’ participation. “With other parties, I do the work for them and I arrange the entertainment. But this party, I’ve let them do it all. It really is about them and how they made their own costumes.”

No matter what creepy creature is flying or howling outside this Halloween, the residents at Dominion Senior Living of Sevierville will be celebrating in security and peace. You can bet there will be nothing boring about their way of living or partying!

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The Beauty of Age and the Secret of Style

seniors_and_fashion__resized_4566323491If you search “beauty” on the internet, the main results you will see have to do with skin care, cosmetics, youthful appearance, hair products and, of course, beauty pageants. People all over the globe carve out thousands of dollars from their paychecks every year just to look beautiful. Today, our society continues to harp that in order to be someone of importance, or be noticed, you must exhibit certain elements of beauty. And the younger you look, the more appealing you are.

Contrary to popular belief, studies are showing that senior adults are actually more content with their looks. In a recent survey conducted by Gallup, “66 per cent of Americans aged 65 and over ‘agree’ or ‘strongly agree’ that they always feel good about their appearance.” In contrast, “only 54 per cent of those aged 35 to 64 feel great about their looks.” Gallup suggests that senior adults have a different sense of style than youth in America today, and yet they are satisfied when they look in the mirror. Could it be that “as people age, a different set of societal expectations and appearance standards lead to a renewed sense of confidence”?

A new documentary seems to point to that conclusion. Advanced Style, showcasing senior adults and their unique sense of fashion, is now playing in select cities in the United States. Ari Seth Cohen, the creator of this documentary, as well as of the Advanced Style blog, spends most of his time roaming the streets of New York City in search of older ladies and gentlemen that are completely confident in their own look. Cohen believes that the older generation has it right: “personal style advances with age.” Seniors are at a stage in life where they don’t have to worry about impressing others. As a result, they feel the freedom to wear what they want.

Maybe it is the societal expectations that change as one ages, or maybe it’s the beauty found within that continues to grow and flourish, which leads to outward self-confidence. Whatever the case, we don’t have to be young or hip to exhibit the beauty that God has given each of us. Beauty is not skin deep, but soul deep.

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Staff Profile: Pam Morgan

Pam MorganHere at Dominion Senior Living, we love our staff, and occasionally we like to include a question and answer piece on one staff member to help you get to know them better. This week we will hear from Pam Morgan, the Executive Director at Dominion Senior Living of Sevierville.

What did you do before coming to Dominion Senior Living?

I have been a nurse since 1971 and throughout my career I have specialized in the care of senior adults. Since moving to Tennessee I have worked in the assisted living industry, in which I feel like I found my niche because it combines all my previous work experiences into something I really enjoy doing.

What brought you to DSL?

I wanted to work with Dominion because it was privately owned, seeks to honor God, and is close to where I live in Sevierville. Previously I have worked for large, publicly traded assisted living companies, and I wanted a change.

What do you do for fun?

I enjoy spending time with my family—especially my five grandchildren and great granddaughter. Every time I get a chance, I love going to the mountains. I also enjoy working in my flower garden, reading, and playing the piano.

What is a little-known fact or something interesting about you?

My Father is a retired minister, my grandfather was a minister, and an uncle and both of my brothers are ministers—so of course I have to behave. Ha!

What is your favorite meal?

Food! I really like the variety of foods in the Smokey Mountains and love good ole southern cookin’!

What is your favorite quote?

My children have heard me say many times, “This too shall pass.” I actually have lots of favorite scriptures and love how the Bible is still relevant today.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and what would you do?

I enjoy traveling. I prefer staying in the country and exploring places I haven’t been, but I would love to go out west again.

Who is the person you most admire?

Mother Teresa, who said, “There is joy in transcending self to serve others.” She was famous but remained very humble.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

I’m personally proud of raising four daughters, all of whom are helping others in service-related fields. Career-wise, I started a home care and saw it grow over ten years to where we were one of the largest women-owned businesses in Indianapolis, Indiana. We had private duty, Medicare, we bought a building in which we started an adult day care, wellness programs, pharmacy, and a home health aide training program with around 180 employees.

What is your fondest childhood memory?

The family trips we took every year.

What are you daily duties at Dominion?

The objectives are to oversee the planning, direction, and implementation of all programs and policies of the company; and to ensure the efficient and effective administration and execution of all facility business. I view it as being on call 24 hours a day with the responsibility of making sure my residents are happy, safe, and well cared for, and making sure the families are satisfied because it is very difficult for them to trust someone else with the care of their loved one. I also feel a responsibility to ensure the employees like their work and feel valued. As an example of 24-hour-a-day responsibility, recently I was called at 3:30am when the fire alarms malfunctioned, and I was at the building in 15 minutes. I love my job most days and would not choose to do anything else!

What is the best part about working at Dominion Senior Living?

I have so enjoyed starting at ground level here in Sevierville at Dominion Senior Living. It’s like birthing a child. I had the privilege of putting a team together that I enjoy working with. I share the vision Dominion Senior Living has of honoring God through service to seniors, as that has been my life calling. There is no greater satisfaction than helping others and making a difference.

National Assisted Living Week: “The Magic of Music”


Last week, Dominion Senior Living celebrated National Assisted Living Week. It was a time filled with entertainment, fun, and a chance for family and friends to visit and see what life is like for the residents. Every year since 1995, the National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL) comes up with a great theme to give seniors something extra fun to look forward to. This year’s theme was “The Magic of Music.”

According to the NCAL, “The transformational effect of music continues as individuals age and can provide joy, comfort and in some cases, memories long ago experienced.” This past week, residents got to participate in a variety of activities: making musical instruments, dressing in their favorite 1950s attire, and attending a sock hop.


Official proclamation for Dominion Senior Living

One day in particular was meaningful for the residents and staff at Dominion. On Wednesday, September 10, Tennessee State Representative Dale Carr stopped by to give a proclamation for National Assisted Living Week. In keeping with this year’s theme, Mr. Carr joined several of the residents in singing a few hymns before he spoke. He then read the proclamation, which praised Dominion for its “extraordinary professionalism” and “outstanding record of high quality care.”

Representative Carr shared how much Dominion Senior Living at Sevierville meant to him personally, seeing as how he has family members who live here. When asked what sets Dominion apart from other senior living centers, he answered that it was “its friendliness, attention to detail, and willingness to conform to basic needs.” He also noted that all its services are supervised and handled onsite.

The proclamation ceremony only lasted a couple of minutes, and Mr. Carr spent most of his time visiting and talking with the residents. He appreciates this year’s theme of music because “it helps with reminiscing and keeps the residents more alert.” The event wrapped up with a resident playing selections on the dining hall piano.

You could consider National Assisted Living Week a success because of the reading of the proclamation, or because of the uniqueness of the sock hop and other events. You might consider it a success because of the smiles on the faces of residents who know they live in an extraordinary and outstanding community. Or maybe this year’s “Magic of Music” week was a success simply because Dominion Senior Living always strives to hit the right note!

photo credit: Tekke via photopin cc