Assessing Your Needs: Choosing the Right Senior Living Community

Choosing a Senior Living CommunityAging brings a variety of changes to our lives. We may find ourselves slowing down, and everyday tasks that used to be simple are now becoming more of a hassle to complete. Many seniors start to realize that downsizing their current home and moving to a senior living community is the best option to continue to thrive and enjoy life. However, with so many options and levels of care available today, it’s important to take some time to assess your current needs, as well as what your needs may be in the future, before determining what community is right for your healthcare requirements.

What Level of Senior Care is Right for You? An Assessment Checklist

Ensure a happy, fulfilling home environment as you age by planning for your future housing needs. Every senior is different, and therefore, just because your neighbor is moving to an assisted living community, this doesn’t mean it’s the right choice for you. The key to choosing a senior living community that is suitable for you is to match your housing with your current lifestyle and health. Remember, it’s normal to feel somewhat frustrated as you become less independent than you have been in previous years, but keeping your mind open to new possibilities is essential to improving your overall quality of life.

Some of the things to consider as you’re assessing your needs include:

  • Physical capabilities. Aging brings physical changes to our bodies, as muscle strength, endurance and flexibility tend to decrease in our later years. These changes can make it difficult to maintain the home and yard, or even affect your mobility to move easily throughout the house.
  • Mental health. Some seniors face mental health issues like depression or loneliness, which can lead to becoming disinterested in life or doing some of the activities you used to enjoy.
  • Social and emotional needs. As you age, you may notice changes in your support systems and social networks. The loss of a spouse or friends passing away can take a toll on you emotionally, and without social opportunities to keep you engaged in the world around you, you may find yourself socially isolated. Plus, it might become more difficult to drive, so you are missing opportunities to get out of the house and spend time with loved ones.
  • Activities of daily living. Perhaps you’ve fallen ill and had a tough time recovering, or chronic conditions make shopping, cleaning, cooking or even bathing and dressing yourself too difficult to maintain. In this case, moving to an assisted living community is a good option, as they provide a higher level of care than an independent living community.
  • Your safety. Living safely in your home means you might need to do things like remove throw rugs or low furniture to ensure you don’t suffer a fall. Or, maybe you need modifications like handrails in the bathroom to keep you steady on your feet. You should also consider the safety of the neighborhood in which you live; is it a safe, quiet community?
  • Financial situation. Maintaining a home can be costly, especially when big ticket repairs come up, like needing a new roof or furnace. There are many financial options available to help pay for the cost of senior care which can help save you money in the long run.

All of these factors need to be taken into consideration as you’re choosing a senior living community that will best fit your needs. If you’re still active and mobile, an independent living community is sufficient and provides an easy, maintenance-free lifestyle. However, if you need more assistance, the higher level of care provided at an assisted living community could be a better decision for your future.

It’s important to communicate your wishes with your loved ones, too. Many seniors find that family members are happy and supportive in their decision to choose housing options like an independent living apartment or senior assisted living.

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Famous Centenarians

Famous CentenariansIt’s no secret that today, more and more people are living longer, healthier lives. In fact, the group of people living to 100 years old, known as centenarians, is the fastest growing portion of the population! The U.S. Census Bureau put out a special report back in 2010 that revealed there were over 53,000 centenarians in the country. While that number is a small percentage of the population, the number of people 100 years old and up increased by almost 66 percent in the past 30 years.

In other countries, centenarians are even more prevalent than they are here in the States. In 2010 in the U.S., there were 1.73 centenarians per 10,000 people, while in Japan, for instance, the number almost doubled at 3.43 centenarians per 10,000 people. Worldwide, recent figures state that there may be more than 450,000 centenarians living today.

Common Characteristics of People Over 100 Years Old

Centenarians share some common traits. For instance, some of the similar characteristics of those who live to 100 years old include:

  • Gender. The overwhelming majority of centenarians are female. In 2010, almost 83 percent of all people 100 years or older were women; for every 100 female centenarians, there were only 20.7 males the same age. This could have something to do with the fact that women tend to take less risks with their health than men, or, it could be because women are generally more socially active than men, which has been shown to increase life expectancy.
  • Race. Over 82 percent of centenarians in 2010 were white, compared to around 12 percent of African Americans and 2.5 percent of Asians in the population.
  • Living arrangements. The majority of those living to 100 years old resided with others. While around a third of centenarians lived alone in their homes, it’s more common to find this age group in assisted living facilities or living with loved ones.
  • Location. The oldest citizens in the country tend to live in more urban areas, with almost 86 percent of centenarians in 2010 living in the city. This could be due to having more mental stimulation and access to better healthcare, along with more possibilities for social activities.

A Few of the Most Famous Centenarians

One of the most famous centenarians who was Jeanne Calment, who lived to be 122 years old. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, she was the oldest person on earth when she died in 1997. Ms. Calment dabbled in acting, appearing in the film Vincent and Me when she was 114 years old, and throughout her long life she also crossed paths with eccentric people like Vincent Van Gogh.

Some of the most famous centenarians in the entertainment industry include actors and comedians Bob Hope and George Burns, both of whom lived to be 100 years old. The iconic Irving Berlin, known for writing and crooning songs like “White Christmas” and “God Bless America”, lived to be 101. Another Hollywood legend who lived to be 100 was Hal Roach, a legendary film producer known for his comedies in the 1920s and 30s and for kick-starting the careers of Laurel and Hardy.

Finally, we can’t forget Grandma Moses, who lived to be 101. She began her painting career at age 77 and lived to see several years of great success in the art world.

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How to Get the Best Night’s Sleep

sleep disorders in the elderlySleep is one of the most essential elements influencing our overall health and well-being. Getting a good night’s sleep keeps us alert, refreshed and ready to face the day ahead. For adults age 65 and older, 7-8 hours of sleep per night is the recommended amount needed to function properly. However, since changes in our sleep patterns as we age are a normal part of the aging process, some seniors find it difficult to get the proper amount of sleep they need.

Common Sleep Disorders in the Elderly

While problems sleeping can be common in seniors, the need for a good night’s sleep remains vital; it’s a myth that as we age we don’t need as much sleep as we used to! There are a few sleep disorders and problems that are more prevalent in the elderly, such as:

  • Elderly insomnia: The National Sleep Foundation reports that 44 percent of older adults experience either chronic or acute insomnia, usually related to some sort of medical or psychiatric condition.
  • Advanced sleep phase syndrome: Changes in our circadian rhythms affect the coordination of our bodily functions, including sleep. It’s normal for older adults to feel more tired in the early evening and wake up earlier in the morning compared to their younger counterparts. They might still be getting the 7-8 hours of sleep needed, but going to bed and waking up very early.
  • Sleep apnea: Sleep apnea is a serious condition associated with high blood pressure and other health problems. When a person has sleep apnea, he or she will actually stop breathing for as long as 10-60 seconds, causing a sharp drop in the amount of oxygen in the blood. This causes the sufferer to wake up briefly to begin breathing normally again, and it can happen several times throughout the night.
  • Restless legs syndrome: RLS causes discomfort and a tingling sensation in the legs, usually in the evenings, which gets worse as the night progresses. A strong urge to get up and walk around can follow, interrupting one’s sleep.
  • REM-behavior disorder: This is a rare condition, but a serious one as it causes the sufferer to move or thrash about during sleep.

In general, elderly sleep problems also tend to occur as seniors have a harder time falling asleep and staying asleep throughout the night. Seniors usually spend more time in the lighter stage of the REM sleep cycle than in deep sleep. Plus, certain medication side effects might make one drowsy during the day or more alert at bedtime, disrupting sleep patterns.

How to Sleep Better and More Soundly as You Age

The key to a good night’s sleep is creating better sleep habits overall. First, discuss your situation with you doctor, who may perform a medical examination to make sure there isn’t an underlying health condition for your sleeplessness. Medication is sometimes prescribed, but it rarely seems to help for the long term. Instead, focus on changing the following habits:

  • Create a schedule for sleeping in which you go to bed around the same time each night and wake up at the same time in the morning.
  • Use the bed only for sleeping, not napping or lounging.
  • Wind down in the evening with quiet activities like reading, doing crossword puzzles or taking a warm bath.
  • Avoid large, heavy meals in the evening as well as caffeine, nicotine and alcohol.
  • Keep the bedroom cool, comfortable and dimly light at night.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Limit daytime napping, especially in the afternoon.

Remember, the better sleep you get, the better and healthier you’ll feel.

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How Diabetes Differs for Men and Women

diabetes and genderAlthough anyone can develop type 2 diabetes, your lifestyle, age and family history can put you at a higher risk. Common signs of diabetes include weight loss or gain, increased thirst, frequent urination or urinary tract infections, tingling or numb extremities, and feeling lethargic all the time.

Symptoms can develop gradually and can be somewhat difficult to notice; most people find out they are diabetic when they’re visiting the doctor for a different reason altogether.

The Facts about Diabetes and Gender

Recently, studies have revealed some differences in the impact of diabetes on women versus men. Statistics show that 11 percent of women in the United States age 20 and older have diabetes, a number just slightly less than men.

One of the major differences is how the disease is diagnosed. The signs of diabetes in men tend to be more recognizable, making it easier for men to get diagnosed earlier. Men tend to develop type 2 diabetes at a younger age and at a lower weight, which means they receive more aggressive treatment sooner for both diabetes and the potential heart health risks it can bring. Women tend to be further along in the disease when they are diagnosed, making them far more susceptible to complications.

Some of the ways diabetes symptoms in women have a greater impact on overall health include:

  • Heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death among women with diabetes. When a woman is diabetic, the risk for heart disease is six times higher than for women who do not have diabetes. Studies show that the risk of heart disease to women with diabetes is 50 percent higher than for men with diabetes.
  • Hormonal problems. Women’s hormones can also affect the way they manage their diabetes; menopause can cause changes in blood sugar levels, and some women find it difficult to keep their blood glucose at a normal level around their periods.
  • Mental health. Women with diabetes are more likely to suffer from depression than men. Women in general tend to experience depression twice as often as men, and when coupled with diabetes, it can take more of a toll on women overall.

Being aware of how type 2 diabetes can affect health and quality of life is key for managing diabetes symptoms in women and preventing any complications. Getting the effective health care is essential, too, and studies show that women tend to be treated less aggressively than men for cardiovascular risk factors that can stem from diabetes. Lifestyle changes like getting more exercise and eating healthy foods can help maintain better health and decrease the risk for diabetes.

Women at risk for developing diabetes should get screened often and maintain follow up appointments to ensure they are getting the treatment needed. Women with diabetes should also communicate often with their doctors, making sure they are on the right medications to keep their blood pressure and blood fat levels on target.

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When is it Time to Stop Driving?

seniors and drivingThe Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) estimates that as of 2014, there were more than 24.4 million licensed drivers aged 70 or older. Compared with younger drivers, these elderly drivers are more likely to be involved in certain types of accidents, especially collisions at intersections or from failing to yield to the right-of-way.

The aging population is steadily growing, and by the year 2020 there will be more than 40 million drivers aged 65 or older behind the wheel. While getting older isn’t necessarily a reason to stay off the road, regularly taking note of your driving abilities is an important aspect of healthy aging.

Seniors and Driving

Many seniors resist the idea of giving up their car keys, seeing it as a loss of independence. However, certain health conditions that come with aging can make it difficult to continue driving and can make it dangerous not only for the senior, but for other drivers on the road with them. Some of the reasons that can hinder an elderly person’s ability to be a safe driver include:

  • Changes in vision. Being able to see clearly is a key component of safe driving; accurately reading the speedometer, street signs and noticing pedestrians on the side of the road requires good eyesight. However, changes in vision are normal with aging, especially in those aged 75 or older. Plus, certain eye diseases like glaucoma, macular degeneration or cataracts can affect vision, making it unsafe to be behind the wheel.
  • Issues with hearing. Hearing loss can happen gradually, affecting the ability to hear sirens, horns honking or tires screeching. As over one-third of seniors have some hearing loss, it’s important to note these changes before continuing to drive.
  • Stiff joints or muscles. Health conditions like arthritis can make it difficult to move; even just turning the head to check out a blind spot might not be possible due to stiff muscles or joints. It may be hard to turn the steering wheel or press the brake, affecting the ability to drive safely.
  • Slower reaction time. Being able to react quickly to other cars or people on the road is also key to avoid accidents. Reflexes may slow down or attention spans may dwindle, making it difficult to make fast decisions and follow the rules of the road.
  • Memory issues. Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia can make it unsafe to drive, as memory and decision-making skills become affected. Getting in the car and forgetting how to get where you are going, or not recognizing familiar neighborhoods can cause definite problems behind the wheel.
  • Medication side effects. The elderly tend to be on a variety of medications, some of which have side effects like drowsiness or dizziness that can affect the ability to drive.

Safe Driving Tips for Seniors

Seniors should regularly have their driving skills evaluated by a trained professional, like an occupational therapist or driving rehabilitation specialist. They can also consider taking a driving refresher course to update their driving skills. It’s better to be safe than sorry; if road conditions are poor, don’t attempt to go out and drive anywhere, as icy or slippery roads can make it difficult for any driver to remain safe. Seniors can also avoid highways when possible; choose roads with less traffic and left hand turns as needed.

There are also services that offer transportation to seniors to help them get around town. Or, consider public transportation by bus or train if possible. Seniors can also discuss their situation with friends and family members to set up a driving schedule to help them get to the grocery store or appointments.

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The Importance of an Early Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

Early Alzheimer's diagnosisAccording to the Alzheimer’s Association’s 2016 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures, every 66 seconds someone in the country develops Alzheimer’s disease, which is the sixth leading cause of death. Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, is a degenerative brain disease with  symptoms that gradually worsen over time.

It’s vital to pay attention to the warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease in aging loved ones. While momentary lapses in memory are normal among seniors, some of the common Alzheimer’s symptoms include more disruptive memory loss, such as struggling to complete daily tasks or effectively communicate, confusion with vision, time and/or place, misplacing objects and being unable to retrace steps to find them.

Why Early Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is Key

If you think your loved one is displaying any of the warning signs for Alzheimer’s disease, don’t hesitate to get a proper diagnosis. Recent studies have shown that an early Alzheimer’s diagnosis can lead to treatment or therapies that can help slow or even stop the progression of the disease. Some of the advantages early diagnosis provides are:

  • Possibly reversing or properly treating symptoms. Early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s allows your loved one to explore different treatment options that can alleviate some of the symptoms, ultimately leading to more independence for a longer length of time. If the diagnosis proves not to be Alzheimer’s, treatment of some of the reversible conditions help improve brain function and reduce symptoms.
  • Allows time for planning for the future. Early diagnosis provides an opportunity to make plans for your loved one’s future healthcare needs. It can also prevent your loved one from making choices that could be detrimental, like moving away from family or friends.
  • Empower loved ones to participate in decisions. Likewise, your loved one will have a voice in some of the decisions made regarding his or her long-term care options, as well as in financial and legal matters. It’s much easier on family caregivers when loved ones’ wishes are made known in advance.
  • Receive the care and support you and your loved one need. Getting the proper care and finding supportive services will allow improve quality of life for all those involved. Joining a support group early on provides an opportunity for learning strategies for dealing with the Alzheimer’s diagnosis and coping with the symptoms.
  • Advocate for more research. You will not only learn more about the disease, but your loved one can also take part in clinical trials and advocate for more advances in research. Clinical trials also help empower your loved one, allowing them to feel like they are making a change, both for their own care and the future care for their children and grandchildren.

Studies show that an accurate Alzheimer’s diagnosis is more easily possible when a complete history can be taken early on, while your loved one is still able to communicate effectively, answering questions and voicing concerns. Once the brain has been more affected by the disease, a proper diagnosis can become difficult.

For more information about Memory Care and Memory Care Assisted Living offered at American Senior Communities, please visit

5 Reasons to Join a Senior Fitness Program

senior fitness programsWhile most people are well aware of the risks surrounding living a sedentary lifestyle, it’s not uncommon for seniors to believe that adding physical activities into their weekly schedules just isn’t possible.

In fact one recent study suggests that approximately 67 percent of people aged 65 or older are inactive for over eight hours each day. As we age, we tend to lose bone density, muscle mass and flexibility, and conditions like arthritis or other joint problems can make it painful to simply get up out of a chair, let alone to start lifting weights or participating in aerobic exercise.

However, long periods of inactivity only further weaken muscles and bones. It’s imperative that older adults incorporate exercise into their routine to improve their overall quality of life.

Fitness for Seniors Equals Healthier Aging

Exercise for seniors doesn’t have to feel like a chore, and once you find a fitness program that’s right for you, you’ll start experiencing the benefits right away! The top five reasons to join senior fitness program include:

  1. Help manage chronic conditions. Contrary to what you might think, exercise is crucial for managing and reducing pain from conditions like arthritis, as regular movement helps lubricate the joints and decrease stiffness. Plus, exercising can help reduce the risk for heart disease, cognitive impairment, diabetes and stroke.
  2. Prevent falls. 1 out of 3 adults age 65 or older suffer a debilitating fall each year; in fact, falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries in seniors. Adding exercise, especially balance exercises, can help older adults remain steady on their feet and lead to a higher level of independence.
  3. Decrease the need for some medications. It’s common for seniors to take a wide variety of medications every day, whether for managing the chronic conditions mentioned above or for issues like depression and anxiety. A combination of aerobic activity, strength training and flexibility exercises can reduce the need for some medications. For instance, when you’re physically active, endorphins can increase and improve your mood, lessening the need for medications to reduce symptoms of depression. Plus, exercise can help reduce systolic blood pressure and decrease your need for blood pressure medication.
  4. Enjoy better sleep. When you’re more active throughout the day, you tend to be more tired in the evening. Seniors who suffer from insomnia find that exercise helps exhaust them enough to enjoy restful sleep throughout the night. Just make sure to avoid strenuous activity two hours before bedtime.
  5. There’s something for everyone. No matter what your current fitness levels are, you can find senior fitness programs and exercises that will meet your individual needs. For instance, swimming is a great low impact exercise for seniors that works every muscle group in the body but is easy on the joints. Chair exercises are ideal for seniors with mobility issues and can build muscle tone and increase blood circulation. The key is to find something you enjoy doing so you can start experiencing the benefits of exercise right away.

At American Senior Communities, our New Energy Wellness program is designed specifically for seniors to build endurance, balance and improve overall quality of life. You will have access to an array of workout equipment and a Health Promotion Coordinator who will work with you and your physician to create a customized exercise regimen that helps you meet your specific goals.

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Reasons to Watch Your Cholesterol

senior heart healthCholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that is found in all cells of the body as well as some foods like meat, poultry and full-fat dairy products. Our bodies, specifically our livers, make all the cholesterol they need and circulate it throughout the body, which helps us make some hormones, vitamin D and other substances that help us properly digest food.

Normal cholesterol levels are essential to our bodies’ normal functioning, however, higher levels of cholesterol in the blood can put us at risk for heart disease and heart attack. Too much cholesterol in the arteries can build up as plaque, which can slow or block blood flow altogether. This is most evident when the buildup occurs in the coronary arteries, when not enough blood can get through to the heart.

The Danger of High Cholesterol in the Elderly

Not all cholesterol is bad. There are three types of cholesterol or fat in the bloodstream, and while some can be dangerous if levels get too high, others can actually benefit the body. The different types of cholesterol include:

  • LDL: Low-density lipoproteins are known as “bad” cholesterol as it clogs the arteries. The higher the level of LDL in your blood, the greater your chances are of getting heart disease. Levels above 70 mg/dl need to be actively treated.
  • HDL: High-density lipoproteins are known as “good” cholesterol, and can help the body by attaching to the LDL, pushing it to the liver to be filtered out of the body. HDL levels should be at 60 mg/dl or higher.
  • Triglycerides: Triglycerides are not actually cholesterol, but are a form of fat that needs to be monitored, as it can also clog arteries and damage the cardiovascular system. Levels should be kept below 150 mg/dl.

Seniors in particular need to pay attention to their cholesterol levels, as coronary heart disease is the number one cause of death among individuals age 65 or older. High cholesterol is caused by a variety of things, including foods with saturated fats or trans fats, food from animal sources like meat, cheese and eggs, being overweight and having low activity levels. This is why it is so crucial for seniors to live a healthy lifestyle. However, high cholesterol can also be hereditary, and your age and sex also play a role.

Improving Senior Heart Health

Cholesterol levels tend to peak around age 60, and when seniors maintain good health overall, the levels can start to decrease. If one is at higher risk for heart disease, taking measures to lower cholesterol is the best approach to preventing the risk for heart attack, stroke or peripheral vascular disease.

The best ways to lower cholesterol and improve senior heart health include living a healthier lifestyle overall. Avoid living a sedentary lifestyle; staying active can reduce blood pressure, aid in weight loss and lower the risk for diabetes. Add small changes to your daily habits; take the stairs instead of the elevator or park farther away from entrances, for example. Eating a heart healthy diet is also key to lowering cholesterol; studies have shown that seniors who improve nutrition by consuming lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats can decrease their risk for heart attack. If medication to reduce cholesterol is prescribed, make sure to take it as directed. Always consult a physician with any questions regarding how to lower cholesterol and keep your heart as healthy as possible.

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Recent Advances in Diabetes Research

diabetes researchThe past several years have been active in regards to diabetes research. New advances in diabetes treatments and medications are evolving and becoming available to the public  and they show promise for not only better management of symptoms, but will also hopefully ultimately lead to a cure.

The Latest Diabetes Research

One of the most recent studies regarding diabetes looks at the connection between stress and type 2 diabetes. Evidence suggests that our environment actually plays a large role in our physical health, possibly even more so than genetics. It’s long been thought that when it comes to type 2 diabetes, family health history is one of the main factors in the risk for development of the disease. However, everyday stresses some people face may have a bigger impact. This is due to the fact that when we are in stressful situations, the body releases more cortisol, a hormone that tells the body to increase blood glucose and directs cells to absorb and store this glucose to keep it ready for muscles to burn. When cortisol levels are consistently on the high side, and no physical activity is being done to counteract the effects, this can contribute to type 2 diabetes.

Likewise, studies have also shown that diabetes and depression are also closely linked. Living with a chronic condition like diabetes can take a toll on mental health, and depression can make it difficult to take proper care of yourself. A new behavioral treatment plan being studied looks at targeting both depression and diabetes at the same time, as the necessary lifestyle changes that need to be implemented for diabetes management and mood improvement.

Another recent study done on diabetic mice found that injecting a group of hormones known as fibroblast growth factors (FGF) into the brain resulted in the rodents with type 2 diabetes being put into remission for two to four months. This specific hormone targets brain circuits involved in regulating blood glucose levels, and while researchers were not surprised the hormone worked to lower the glucose levels, they were surprised by how long the effect lasted after just one single injection. More research needs to be done on this particular finding, as this hormone also can cause cells to grow and divide, which can lead to cancer.

New Advances in Diabetes Treatment

More interesting diabetes research includes a study revealing that a medication used to treat high blood pressure may actually treat diabetes, too. A medication used to lower blood pressure called verapamil, which is sold under the brand names Calan, Verelan and Isoptin, may also help lower blood sugar levels. Studies show that people with diabetes, especially those currently using insulin treatment, had lower glucose levels when using this medication.

Another advance in diabetes treatment includes a study that shows a drug called Gleevec, which is approved to treat various forms of cancer, may actually be a potential cure for type 2 diabetes. Gleevec can lower the level of insulin resistance, which reduces the risk of both hyperglycemia and obesity. The exact reason why this drug improves insulin sensitivity and decreases blood glucose isn’t known yet, so more research is needed to determine the cause.

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O2NE Program Graduates Nurses to Fill the Nursing Void

2016 O2NE LUNCHEON 124INDIANAPOLIS, IN — With the help of American Senior Communities and the Opportunities to Nursing Excellence Program, 10 senior healthcare workers, including three from the Ft. Wayne area, are starting careers as registered or licensed practical nurses.

They all completed nursing programs at accredited schools throughout the state, with costs paid by American Senior Communities (ASC), a network of 87 Senior Rehabilitation and Memory Care facilities throughout Indiana. Most of the graduates have passed state board examinations and are now licensed or registered nurses.

The Fort Wayne area graduates are: John Gilruth, a registered nurse at Glenbrook Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing Center; Comaron Langhorne, a registered nurse at Heritage Park, and Angie Hancock, a registered nurse at Betz Nursing Home.

ASC locations across the state nominate staff members who go through a rigorous application process to enter the Opportunities to Nursing Excellence (O2NE) program. Selected candidates are then offered the opportunity to return to school, fully paid for by ASC. They are also given a 30-hour work schedule while being paid for their regular 40-hour schedule, allowing additional time for classes and study without being penalized financially.

ASC also provides assistance for childcare, alleviating another common stress point for adults returning to school. Since the program asks graduates for no obligation to ASC, they are free to use the education wherever they choose. Over 135 participants have completed their education through the program, which started in 2008.

Donna Kelsey, CEO of American Senior Communities said, “It’s been amazing to see the impact the program has had on their lives, the lives of their families, and on the people they care for in our communities. It’s very moving to see the pride of accomplishment in their faces. They did the hard work; we just afforded them the opportunity to do it.”

A luncheon honoring this year’s graduates was held Wednesday at the Bridgewater Club in Carmel, where the graduates were presented a certificate and a special stethoscope to commemorate the achievement. The speaker was Sheila Guenin, vice president of long-term care for the Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County.

Other graduates are Yohan Song, a registered nurse at American Village; Penny Warner, a licensed practical nurse at Monticello Healthcare; Kyanna Wilkerson, who will take the state exam to become a licensed practical nurse at Riverview Village; Katherine Brown, a licensed practical nurse at Riverwalk Village; Savannah McCracken, a licensed practical nurse at Seymour Crossing; Celicia “Nikki” Osborne, who will take the state exam to become a registered nurse at Washington Healthcare Center, and Chris Taylor, a registered nurse at Zionsville Meadows.

With the shortage of nurses expected to intensify in coming years, ASC’s program is widely welcomed. “The core idea behind the O2NE program is to continually breathe new life into the healthcare industry and for it to benefit all Hoosiers, not just those in our care at ASC,” said Kelsey. “We hope to be sending more graduates into the field for many years to come.”

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