Settling in to Senior Living, Tips for a Successful Transition

Easing the Transition
When older adults move to a senior living community, they often worry if they will fit in and feel at home in their new environment.
Pathway to Living Lifestyle Specialists provide guidance to future residents and family members from the first phone call all the way through the transition to community life. They know from experience how to smooth the way for this major lifestyle change. There are steps that older adults and their family members can take—before the move and beyond unpacking—to make settling in easier and more successful.
Involve Your Loved One
Who is the one making the move? If it’s mom, then involve her in the senior living selection process from the beginning. Including older adults gives them a sense of ownership and control over the decisions being made that directly affect their futures.
Start by asking your mom which senior living communities she would like to visit. If she has none in mind, research yourself and pick no more than three to reduce feelings of being overwhelmed. Tour the communities together and encourage her to ask questions and be part of the decision-making process at all stages. Adult children often have their own agendas and, although unintentional, older adult’s input can get lost along the way.
Create a Homey Space
Moving in and decorating is an opportunity to make the new space feel comfortable and inviting. Start by planning what to pack. Measure the apartment, take photos and videos and request floorplans that include dimensions.
You may need to downsize, but be sure to bring a few must-have items that will make the new space feel like home, such as the comfy reading chair, heirloom dresser or other favorite piece. For the finishing touches, decorate with familiar artwork, family photos and beloved keepsakes.
If family lives close, fill the closet with only the current season’s clothing and store the rest at the nearby relative’s house. Not only is this a space saver, but it simplifies life with fewer choices for your loved one.
Get to Know the Team
Several people work at the senior living community. Get to know each person and their role, so you’ll know who to go to with questions and concerns and be familiar with those caring for your loved one daily.
Ask the team member who coordinated your move to introduce you to key people such as the ones in charge of wellness, culinary, programming, housekeeping and transportation.
Be Honest
Provide complete and truthful information to the wellness team. It is important to communicate openly about your loved one’s abilities and needs.
It can be difficult to talk about incontinence, mobility and dementia issues, but the more the wellness team knows, the better care they can provide. The goal is to support independence and dignity and to help each resident be as active, healthy and confident as possible.
Encourage Involvement
The resident’s home extends beyond his or her apartment to the entire senior community. Residents get to know their neighbors over cups of coffee, at happy hours and, most often, sharing meals.
Educational classes, fitness groups and outings also provide fun ways to keep active and make friends. Some people may have to push themselves outside of their comfort zone to get involved, while others will welcome the easy access to peers. Community team members can help make introductions and arrange seating at meals to ease the social transition.
Be Patient
Some people take longer than others to settle in at a new community, and that’s okay. Try not to be discouraged if your loved one is not off and running in the first week. Extra support from team members and family in the beginning can help the resident become comfortable and happy. In time, most new residents are pleasantly surprised by all the friendly faces nearby and didn’t realize how lonely or isolated they were before the move.
Tell Others
Help your loved one stay connected to former neighbors, friends and family by sending out change of address cards. Share dad’s new address, phone number and e-mail. Let others know that they are welcome to drop in for a visit and encourage them to send cards and e-mails. Everyone like to get mail!

Local 5th Grader’s Little Free Library Sparks Connections with Books and Alexian Village’s Older Adult Residents

Local 5th Grader’s Little Free Library Sparks Connections with Books and Alexian Village’s Older Adult Residents


Ariana Trausch, a 5th grader at Salt Creek Elementary, brought a little free library to Alexian Village to share her joy of reading with older adults as part of a class project and now visits regularly to read with residents.

Ariana Trausch, a 5th grader at Salt Creek Elementary, brought a little free library to Alexian Village to share her joy of reading with older adults as part of a class project and now visits regularly to read with residents.


            In supportive living community Alexian Village’s living room sits an adorable little free library stocked with children and adult books for everyone’s reading pleasure thanks to local fifth-grader, Ariana Trausch. Ariana’s little free library offers Alexian Village’s older adult residents and their guests a choice of books to read, but what’s more, her good deed comes with good reads when the fifth-grader visits every two weeks to re-stock books and read aloud to whomever is up for listening to a good story.

The idea to build the little library came from a class project at nearby Salt Creek Elementary School that challenged grade school students to find ways to follow their passions. “I decided to share books with my community, because I love reading,” said Ariana, an 11-year-old from Elk Grove who brought the library to Alexian Village in April.

Alexian Village residents love that Ariana chose to place her little free library in their community room. “They look forward to Ariana’s visits to see what new books she will bring and what story she will pick to read,” said Alexian Village’s Community Life Manager Andi Rothenberg. “The little free library is a wonderful complement to our cozy home environment and encourages more reading.”

To make the little library possible, Ariana raised about $200 through a GoFundMe website to pay for building materials and books. Her teacher’s handy husband made the custom-built library, and Ariana filled it with second-hand books from the Salvation Army, Goodwill and donations.

Adult and children books are available for borrowing, and each are marked with a sticker that says, “Thanks for sharing my love of reading.”

Ariana’s next story hour is planned for Monday, May 15, at 4pm at Alexian Village, located at 975 Martha St, Elk Grove Village. “Having a young and passionate reader as the caretaker of our little library is such a treat for the residents, who welcome the opportunity to share books and conversation,” Rothenberg said.

Owned and operated by Pathway Senior Living, Alexian Village is a supportive living community offering award-winning VIVA! programming and wellness care, quality residential accommodations, amenities and support services at affordable prices. For more information, visit or call 847-437-8070.

Victory Centre Salutes a Model Centenarian! Billie Proves that 100 is the New 80

Victory Centre Salutes a Model Centenarian!
Billie Proves that 100 is the New 80

Billie Pignotti of Victory Centre of Bartlett will be honored by her alma mater Bloom Township High School in Chicago Heights for her 100th birthday milestone and for her years of service.

Billie Pignotti of Victory Centre of Bartlett will be honored by her alma mater Bloom Township High School in Chicago Heights for her 100th birthday milestone and for her years of service.


Wilhelmina Pignotti, known as Billie, waited many years to enjoy the irony of celebrating her 100th birthday with the salute, “Cent Anni,” a traditional Italian toast meaning “May you live 100 years!”

At last, on April 30 the toast was made in honor of the newly minted centenarian, who says, “Being 100 doesn’t feel any different.” So, cheers to Billie who continues to embrace life and, in the process is changing people’s notions of what being 100 years old is all about.

Weeks after celebrating her 100th birthday at Victory Centre of Bartlett, the senior living community where she lives, Billie, an avid golfer, plans to embark on her annual trip to Florida for the PGA golf tournament.

But before she leaves, her alma mater, Bloom Township High School in Chicago Heights, will honor Billie’s birthday milestone at a ceremony at the school on May 12. Billie is the sole surviving member of the 1935 graduate class and a member of the high school’s Hall of Fame. In 2010, she was inducted for serving 18 years on the local school district’s Board of Education and for her lifelong commitment to volunteering.

Billie started helping others in high school while volunteering at an immigrant settlement. “High school years are the happiest years,” said Billie, despite being a teenager during the Depression, which meant wearing the same dress with different embellishments to several dances. Perhaps it’s because Billie met her future husband her sophomore year at Bloom. Dino was a senior basketball player nicknamed “Puggy” because of his pug nose. The two got married after “a nice courtship” and were together 54 years.

Before moving to Victory Centre of Bartlett, Billie lived in Florida where she liked to play golf and exercise. In her three years at the senior living community, Billie remains active, going to Cubs and Sox games, walking in the Alzheimer’s Walk and even attending the overnight Camp VIVA! trip.

“What’s the use in sitting around?” Billie said. “You’ve got to keep moving.” Her advice to others on how to age well is, “You just live! Think ahead, how will I act when I’m 80 years old? And so on.”

Living long may also be in her genes. Billie’s great, great aunt lived to age 107! “I did get to visit her in Lithuania before she died,” said Billie, adding that she’d like to travel more. “I still have more to see.”


About Victory Centre of Bartlett

Victory Centre of Bartlett, located at 1101 W. Bartlett Road, Bartlett, IL, features supportive and independent living apartments, three meals a day, support services as needed, wellness programs and Pathway’s innovative and award-winning VIVA! lifestyle all at an affordable monthly rate. The community is owned and operated by Pathway Senior Living. For more information, please call Victory Centre of Bartlett at 630-213-0100 or visit the website at

Why Elephants are a Big Deal in Thai Culture

Why Elephants are a Big Deal in Thai Culture
VIVA! World Tour

Residents at Heartis Village of Peoria created elephants to celebrate Thai culture.

Residents at Heartis Village of Peoria created elephants to celebrate Thai culture.

While exploring Thailand and its culture as part of Pathway’s VIVA! World Tour, the armchair travelers became fascinated with the country’s majestic and revered Asian elephant.

For centuries, Asian elephants have been part of Thailand’s history in good times and war times, when they led Thai kings into battle. Today, the now endangered elephant is a national emblem with its image appearing on Thai’s stamps, coins, the Navy flag, architecture and artwork.

Thai culture celebrates the elephant as a symbol of fortune. The superstitious will pay money to pass underneath the beast’s body in the hopes of gaining the animal’s luck. Besides being superstitious, one must also be brave as elephants are the largest land animals in existence today. Asian elephants, slightly smaller than the African variety, can stand up to 11 feet tall and weigh as much as 11,000 pounds!

The saying, “An elephant never forgets,” comes from the elephant’s renowned intelligence and belief that elephants are thoughtful about their actions. These smart creatures are also recognized for their longevity—living on average 60 years in the wild and 80 in captivity—and their social, pleasant nature.

According to Thai legend, marriage is like an elephant. The husband is the front legs, choosing the direction, and the wife is the back legs, providing the power!

To honor the Asian elephant, residents at Heartis Village in Peoria used the ancient art form of paper mache to create one of their own and named her Miss Violet.

Create a Paper Mache Elephant
Follow these directions to make your own “Miss Violet” elephant.

Make Your Own Paper Mache Paste
• Measure 1 ½ cups water, 1 cup flour and ¼ cup school glue.
• Pour the measured ingredients in a plastic bowl.
• Mix until smooth.

Make an Elephant Frame

• Blow up two balloons, one to full size and the other to half size. The large balloon will be the elephant’s body and the smaller one will be the head. Tape the head balloon onto the top side of the body balloon.
• Cut cardboard tubes into four equal sections, each approximately 4 inches long. These will be the elephant’s legs. Tape the cardboard-tube legs to the underside of the body balloon with two on each side.
• Cut a small paper plate in half. Tape each half onto each side of the balloon head as ears.
Paper Mache the Elephant
• Cover your work surface with newspaper.
• Cut 2-inch by 10-inch strips of construction paper or newspaper.
• Dip the paper strips into the paper mache paste. Squeeze off the excess paste. Cover the elephant frame, one strip at a time. Wrap the pasted paper strips around the balloons’ circumference, around the cardboard tubes and around the paper-plate ears.
• Set the elephant aside to dry.
Add Finishing Touches
• Paint your elephant with a gray and brown paint mixture.
• Paint eyes onto the face with a fine or small brush.

Five Gardening Tips for Mature Growers


Five Gardening Tips for Mature Growers 

Whether you have two green thumbs or none, gardening can be a rewarding activity. This is especially true for experienced and beginner older adult gardeners, who are interested in staying fit and having fun. Digging in the dirt is proven to make people stronger, healthier and happier…albeit muddier too!

Gardening provides some of the same benefits as going to the gym right in your own backyard. The planting, weeding, watering, hoeing and harvesting help build stronger bones, increase muscle tone and improve physical endurance. Plus, being outdoors in the sunshine and fresh air can lift your spirits and reduce stress.

So, if you want to reap the rewards of gardening in the safest and easiest way possible, follow these five tips.

  1. Dress for garden success – No overalls, no problem! But you should invest in a good pair of garden gloves to protect your hands and nails and a wide brimmed hat to shade your face. A light-weight, long-sleeve shirt and long pants will protect you from sunburn and insect bites. Treat yourself to a pair of garden clogs that are easy to slip on and off and keep clean.


  1. Invest in labor-saving tools – Garden centers and hardware stores carry many tools designed to make gardening easier on the body. Look for features like chunky, easy-to-grip handles, long tools that let the gardener work from a standing position and tools that allow the use of two hands to help spread the workload. Gardeners who use walkers can attach a bicycle basket to the front of the walker to carry tools, cut flowers and picked vegetables!


  1. Think inside the box – To reduce kneeling and bending consider using raised garden beds. They can be built from a variety of materials and to any desired height. Container gardens are also easy to access. Try putting your containers on wheeled platforms that simplify moving the plants around.


  1. Prepare and pace yourself – Garden in the morning or late afternoon to avoid the heat of the mid-day sun. Do some gentle stretches to warm up your legs, arms and torso before you start. Change your position every few minutes or so to avoid stiffness and take a 10-minute break when you feel tired. Drink plenty of water.


  1. Enlist a younger helper – Gardening is a great activity to bridge the generation gap. Invite children or teens to help. They’ll see the enjoyment and satisfaction that it brings, and, if they are patient, they can literally taste the fruits of their labor.

Watch the Gardeners Bloom!

Your self-esteem will grow as the garden grows! The tomatoes you plant and pick will taste sweeter than any from the market. And, goodness knows, working in the garden can work up a real appetite.

Pathway Senior Living communities feature “Victory Gardens” in backyard courtyards, on rooftop patios and inside greenhouses. Residents enjoy the physical, mental and social benefits of gardening as well as the harvest, many of which is used by the chefs to create fresh and delicious garden-to-table dishes.

To learn more about Pathway Senior Living, please visit us at

Five Questions to Ask Memory Care Providers

Looking for a memory care community for a parent or other loved one can be an emotional and challenging experience. The good news is that today, as the need for memory support grows, there is a greater selection of communities from which to choose. In addition, the modern approach to memory care is a loving one that is often a more residential vs. institutional setting that supports freedom of choice and promotes individuality.

To help make the right choice, plan to visits each potential community and ask good questions. Here are five questions to be sure to ask and some ideas of what to look for in the community’s response.

  1. What’s your care philosophy? Every memory support program should have an overall philosophy that guides their approach to care and one that team members can easily articulate. A good philosophy will emphasize the importance of focused attention, unconditional love, patience, good listening skills, fostering independence and promoting individuality.
  2. How do you get to know each resident? The community should have protocols for getting to know each resident on a personal basis. Most communities will complete an Individual Care and/or Service Plan before a resident moves in. This document helps them assess the amount and type of care needed as well as notes personal preferences for morning and bedtime rituals and socializing and details about the resident’s life such as careers, hobbies and passions.
  3. How do you promote happiness and wellbeing? Look for caregivers who are focused on preserving a sense of purpose and personal identity for the residents they serve. The ways to accomplish this are as varied and unique as each resident. Some find purpose in helping with community chores, while others enjoy tapping their feet to familiar songs, exercising in rhythm or tending to an outdoor garden. Whatever the activity, it’s important for residents to maintain freedom of choice and the ability to be in charge. Preserving a sense of normalcy is another way to promote wellbeing. This can be accomplished by encouraging residents to keep everyday belongings such as purses, wallets and keys or by providing opportunities for them to complete everyday tasks like making a piece of toast or folding their own laundry.
  4. How do you deal with challenging behaviors? Many people living with dementia experience a loss of social inhibitions. Because of this, some residents may act angry or touch other residents’ belongings. A good caregiver responds with unconditional love and knows that any behavior is a way of communicating needs and not a reflection of who the person is inside.
  5. What is the family’s role? Family members should be able to come and go as they please any time of day or night. Look for a welcoming environment that makes it easy for loved ones to share meals and visit in comfort and privacy. Inquire about the communication process between the care team and family.


While other questions will arise, these five provide a good starting point to help you get a feeling for and an understanding of the culture of each community. Be assured that by personally visiting each community and asking the right questions, you should have enough information to make an informed decision about which memory care community is the best fit for you and your loved one.

To learn more about Pathway Senior Living, please visit us at

VIVA! World Tour, Destination Afghanistan!

Afghanistan is a landlocked and mountainous country located in the heart of South Central Asia with a history of over 5,000 years. While virtually exploring its tumultuous past and present, Pathway residents craved getting to know a sweeter side of its history and culture.

Armed with mixing bowls and spatulas, Pathway travelers trekked to their community kitchens where they recreated traditional recipes for Afghan cookie and custard.

Kolche Ab-e-Dandaan Cookie

The Kolche Ab-e-Dandaan (melt-in-the-mouth) cookie was traditionally baked for New Year and served to guests. Stoney River Marshfield residents made the cookies to celebrate spring’s arrival!

True to their name, these round, crumbly cookies melt in your mouth when you take a bite. This classic Afghanistan cookie calls for basic ingredients and is simple to make. Enjoy the recipe!

• 1 //2 cups Crisco (solid shortening)
• 2 cups powdered sugar
• 1 cup cornstarch
• 4 cups all-purpose flour
• 1/2 tsp baking powder
• 1 tsp ground cardamom
• ground pistachios (garnish)
Heat Crisco to warm, not hot. In a mixer, add the warmed Crisco, powdered sugar and cornstarch. Mix well. In a separate bowl, add all-purpose flour, baking powder and cardamom. Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and combine with hands for a few minutes.
Form into a ball, about the size of your palm, and flatten out to about a ½” thickness. Put a thumb print in middle. At this stage, you must work quickly, because as the Crisco hardens, it will be harder to form into a cookie.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350F for 30 minutes using a parchment paper covered cookie sheet. The cookie should a pale white color, not brown.
Cool cookies. Once cooled, sprinkle middle with ground pistachios. Cookies are supposed to have a cracked look to them.
Firni Afghan Custard

Traditionally served cold and for special occasions, Firni custard is a dish created by the Afghan people and re-created by residents at Heartis Village of Peoria.

• 2 cups cold whole milk
• 1⁄3 cup cornstarch
• 3⁄4 cup sugar
• 1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom pod, sifted
• 1⁄4 cup slivered almonds
• ground pistachios, for garnish
Pour about 1/2 cup of the milk into a small bowl, and the rest into a medium saucepan. Whisk the cornstarch with the milk in the bowl until smooth, and then add it to the milk in the saucepan. Whisk in the sugar and cardamom.
Cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly to avoid lumps and it sticking to the bottom, until it’s gently bubbling and thick like cream of wheat, for 4 to 6 minutes. Stir in the almonds. Continue to whisk for 2 more minutes.
Take off the heat and pour into a totally dry 9” diameter and 3 ½” deep serving bowl (it fills halfway). Let cool for about 30 minutes at room temperature. Then put in the refrigerator and chill until soft but firm, about 1 1/2 hours.
Sprinkle with ground pistachios and serve.

To learn more about Pathway Senior Living, please visit us at

Five Truths About Aging

Apartment facility for seniors promotes new experiences

Relax, not everything portrayed about aging in the media is true. Whether you are currently enjoying “older adult” status or are on your way, take comfort knowing that many stereotypes about aging are simply false!

Like racism and sexism, ageism perpetuates negative stereotypes about a specific group of people, older adults in this case. These ideas make some people afraid to age and proclaim, “I don’t want to get old.” They can also prevent younger people from befriending and getting to know the older adults in their life. (more…)

A Merry Trip to France

Vive la France! During February, the month of love, Pathway residents immersed themselves into French culture and became enamored with Parisian customs.

Armchair travelers enjoyed the virtual trip to France as part of Pathway’s signature program, VIVA! World Tour. Each month residents explore different parts of the world from the comfort of home and in the company of peers. (more…)

Fill Your Bucket with Hopes and Dreams

Don’t let growing older keep you from dreaming about tomorrow. Seventy or 80 candles on the birthday cake mean  it’s time to step up, eagerly embrace one’s hopes and dreams and wish big before blowing them out.

History shows that it’s never too late to make your mark on the world. Benjamin Franklin signed the Declaration of Independence at age 70, Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote her first book at age 64 and Nelson Mandela was elected president of South Africa at age 76. (more…)