The Importance of Community

When visitors walk through our community we often hear them say, “There is something different here”. I believe that is because our residents and staff are brought together by common values and Christian beliefs. We serve together, staff and residents, giving everyone an equal sense of purpose and commitment. Staff work here because it’s a calling to serve seniors; seniors live here because they are called to be part of a community that provides fellowship as well as opportunities to continue serving. This is CRISTA Senior Living (CSL) and this is exactly why visitors feel something different when walking through our communities.

CRISTA SENIOR LIVING offers two communities: Cristwood in Shoreline  a Life Plan Community (formerly known as a Continuous Care Retirement Community CCRC) and CRISTA Shores in Silverdale collectively serve over 700 seniors;. We have a 67 year legacy of serving seniors and a commitment to excellence rooted in our Christian faith.  That legacy, in no way, suggests that we are an old fashioned “Nursing Home” Quite the opposite. We are a, vibrant, highly diverse, weave of people interested in growth, innovation and fellowship. As Christian Senior Communities we provide multiple care and housing options to meet the needs of our Community members as they journey through life. Our Independent Living options range from simple studios to large luxurious two bedroom suites. Our Assisted Living offers traditional care options and on our Shoreline Campus, two amazing Memory Care Units, with experts in memory care programming and award winning technology used in dementia care. In Shoreline, as our resident’s care needs increase, we provide skilled nursing care in our long term care neighborhoods. We also support our local hospitals and healthcare community by providing short-term rehabilitation (also known as post-acute care), to patients needing recovery from surgery, stroke, spinal cord injuries, cardiac event, serious illness, or wound care. In short we are an all-encompassing community.

Our two campuses are uniquely different. CRISTA Shores is located in Silverdale overlooking Dye’s Inlet offering residents with water front board walks that provide some amazing bird watching. Cristwood is located in Shoreline and sits on 55 beautifully landscaped acres and shares the campus with six other CRISTA Ministries providing unlimited opportunities to engage with local and global ministry work. One of the unique features on the Shoreline campus is the proximity to King’s School (pre-school through high school). On any given day you will find young people and our seniors interacting.  King’s school and CSL strive to find ways to intentionally engage students with seniors. These intergenerational events provide sharing and purpose to both students and seniors.

As you walk around our campus’s what you will experience, more than anything, is a sense of community and belonging. The bases of that belonging is our long rooted legacy of Christian Faith. My favorite definition of community is, “A feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests and values”. Here at CSL we share in our faith and our love of Jesus Christ. Our values are deeply rooted in that faith. This unites us in a way that is truly unique. We also share in a mission to “cultivate community where seniors and staff experience grace, encounter Christ’s love and discover renewed purpose”.

I invite you to come feel the difference, experience Community Like No Other.

Billie Pendleton, RN, BSN, CHC,
Vice President, CRISTA Senior Living

The Extravagance of Simplicity – Meet Kirk & Peggy Hoopes

For Kirk and Peggy Hoopes, the process of downsizing focused on everything they would gain rather than on the things they were giving up. They realized quickly that they would experience life in abundance, spending time on things that really mattered to them, when they no longer had to worry about maintaining a home. Their life motto of “less is more” is a phrase that they truly live out. Recognizing that they felt burdened by items they no longer wanted, they were eager to start the process early.

When they began looking at retirement communities, they didn’t need to look far. Kirk had worked as a nurse at Cristwood Nursing & Rehabilitation Center several years ago, and they are both active with a Bible study that meets on the Cristwood campus. “We were looking for community, and there’s a special dynamic at Cristwood – everyone is smiling,” Peggy explained.

Kirk and Peggy recognized the extravagance of being able to spend their time and energy in new ways, and the outcome was worth far more than the accumulation of items over the years. Time spent with their children and grandchildren is filled with laughter, shared meals, and catching up on life, rather than discussing decisions and sorting through boxes. The downsizing process was challenging, but starting early made the move to Cristwood Park relatively seamless. “Our kids thought it was crazy that we wanted to start the process so early in our lives, but they lead busy lives and we didn’t want to burden them with having to make decisions for us later,” Kirk explained. “Our kids don’t want our stuff- they want to downsize too!”

Kirk and Peggy demonstrate that downsizing isn’t about slowing down; there’s extravagance in living simply. Kirk joked, “I feel like a rich guy in a giant house with a lot of servants! We’ve never lived like this before, and it’s a blessing to have someone else taking care of the daily aspects of life that we used to have to maintain.” Whether enjoying the view from their balcony, catching up with friends over a cup of coffee in the fireside lounge, or investing in quality time with their family, life feels richer than ever.

Their advice to other couples? Don’t wait. The idea of downsizing can be cumbersome, but the end result is well worth it. Spend time enjoying life now instead of wishing later that you had started the process earlier.

Cultivating Community

Harvesting at Cristwood

Good things take time. Meaningful friendships, similar to a home-grown garden, take patience and intentionality to flourish. At CRISTA Senior Living, our community gardens offer both, simultaneously. The only thing better than spending a relaxing summer evening sitting outside with friends and enjoying good food and great company is doing so after having grown and prepared the meal together.

Every summer, our community gardens at Cristwood and Crista Shores are brimming with tomatoes. And while our resident gardeners surely enjoy savoring the fruits of their labors, just as enjoyable is the process of working along each other, tending the plants and growing in community.

Now what to do with all those tomatoes? Just ask our Director of Dining Services, Chad McKenzie. With more than 30 years of culinary experience, Chad believes that food brings people together and in gathering around a meal there is great conversation and healing. His work has been awarded by the Washington Health Care Association, but most importantly he sees dining as an avenue that brings meaning and enjoyment to life. Here Chad shares his recipe for heirloom tomato bruschetta, a summer recipe filled with fresh ingredients and perfect for outdoor eating with friends.

HEIRLOOM TOMATO BRUSCHETTA

(serves 6)
3 diced heirloom tomatoes
2 tablespoons basil pesto
¼ small diced red onion
1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper
2 tablespoons of sundried tomato paste
4 tablespoons virgin olive oil
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

BALSAMIC GLAZE

2 cups of balsamic vinegar
1 cup molasses
Cook on stove top over medium heat until reduced and thickened.

TIME TO BUILD YOUR BRUSCHETTA

1 baguette
Finely shredded gouda cheese
Melted butter

To make the crostini, cut baguette into quarter inch slices. Place on a baking sheet and then brush with
melted butter. Place in oven at 350 degrees until golden brown. Top with finely shredded gouda cheese.

Top each crostini with a tablespoon of the heirloom bruschetta.

Top with finely shredded gouda and a light drizzle of the balsamic glaze.

This article first appeared in 3rd Act Magazine.

Volunteering: The Joy of Giving

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What makes volunteering so meaningful? Time and time again, our volunteers describe that CRISTA Senior Living is special because of the residents and staff, and that they receive just as much as they give when they volunteer. Our residents encompass a wide range of rich backgrounds and life histories, including former pastors and missionaries. The diverse staff and the heart of unity with which they serve is another reason the volunteer experience at CRISTA Senior Living is so unique. When volunteers give the valuable gift of their time, they receive immeasurable joy in return.

Natalie is a King’s High School student who volunteers at Cristwood Rehabilitation & Skilled Care twice a week. While earning her service hours, Natalie has had a wide variety of experiences. These experiences include organizing and receiving inventory in central supply, supporting life enrichment coordinators with activities, celebrations, and special events, as well as one-on-one time visiting with residents. While volunteering this semester, Natalie has displayed maturity beyond her years, flexibility, and respect towards both staff and residents.

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Another volunteer came to CRISTA Senior Living in order earn hours for her application to a competitive nursing school program. Although Rachel completed her required volunteer hours, she continues to come in weekly to call help with activities and visit with residents after a busy day at work.

The holiday season has been full of volunteer activity. Volunteer groups have been caroling through the halls, and an abundance of volunteers signed up to help serve Christmas dinner and assist with the resident Christmas parties.

Our dedicated volunteers play a crucial role in the environment that so enriches our residents’ lives, as the relationships that are developed are extraordinarily meaningful. Sunday church volunteers, morning piano players, and support in central supply are openings for those looking to join the volunteer team in the New Year.
Volunteer opportunities at CRISTA Senior Living frequently shift according to staff and resident needs. However, our need and love for faithful and compassionate volunteers never changes.

To learn more about volunteering, please visit: http://cristaseniorliving.org/volunteer/

National Memory Screening Week at Cristwood

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In partnership with the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, Cristwood is participating in National Memory Screening Week. During the week of November 2nd – 6th, Cristwood is offering free, confidential memory screenings, which take about ten minutes to complete. With the goal of early detection and prevention, memory screenings present a valuable opportunity to learn more about healthy lifestyle choices.

What are Memory Screenings?

Memory screenings are a simple and safe way to test memory and other thinking skills with a series of questions and tasks that take about ten minutes to complete. The process and results are completely confidential, and the screenings do not diagnose any particular illness. Memory screenings are available to anyone, whether they have current memory concerns, are at risk for dementia, or simply want to be screened as a baseline for future comparisons.

Why Memory Screenings?

Memory screenings are a first step to identifying potential memory issues, and can also be a way to learn if a more complete medical visit would be beneficial. With early detection, memory screenings allow individuals the opportunity to talk with their doctor about identifying, treating, and slowing down conditions that cause memory problems. Screenings can also be a learning opportunity for families as they plan for the future.

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How Can I Exercise My Brain?

For a long time, it was believed that as people aged, connections in the brain became set. Now research has revealed much about brain plasticity – the flexibility that enables a person to improve brain functioning. Our brains retain the ability to change and grow throughout our lives, and new experiences, new challenges, and mental exercises can strengthen and enhance cognitive functions over time. The following activities can all be helpful in exercising your brain:

  • Study a new language
  • Join a book club
  • Discuss current events
  • Write letters to friends
  • Visit a museum
  • Do crossword or jigsaw puzzles
  • Play board games
  • Learn new computer skills

Interested in more information or scheduling a memory screening? Call 206-546-7565. Screening times are available November 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th from 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.
Visit www.nationalmemoryscreening.org to learn more about National Memory Screening Week.

Coffee & Community | Meet Al Bartlett

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At the heart of CRISTA Ministries’ Shoreline campus is the Arbor Deli, a café that serves as a central hub to the seven different ministries. It’s a place where a simple cup of coffee can turn into a time of encouragement and lunch can span across generations. The students, staff, residents, visitors and family members who meet at the Arbor are a tangible representation of the various people who make up the different components and generations of CRISTA.

The Arbor thrives on a strong community of regular customers, but there’s only one customer who has an engraved plaque with his name and “office hours” at his favorite table. Meet Al Bartlett, a resident of Cristwood who loves fellowship, studying God’s Word, and a good practical joke.

Al moved to the Garden Apartments at Cristwood almost ten years ago, but he had been familiar with CRISTA long before then. As a college student, he remembers hearing Mike Martin, CRISTA’s founder, speak about acquiring the land for his ministry to teens. Over the years, Al has been connected to many of the ministries of CRISTA. His son graduated from King’s Schools, his daughter volunteered at CRISTA, his son-in-law worked for World Concern, and countless friends from church have been connected with the various ministries. After traveling for several years following retirement, moving to Cristwood was a natural fit.

A few days each week, Al arrives at the Arbor as the first customer of the morning. With a cup of coffee, newspaper, and iPad, he gets settled at his table. Some mornings are filled with planned meetings where friends drop by to catch up on life. Other mornings are filled with spontaneous interactions, where simply picking up a latte on the way to work leads to a meaningful conversation with Al. Whether chatting with a neighbor, praying with a teacher, or playing checkers on his iPad with a kindergartener, Al views the Arbor as a place of ministry. “I never know what’s going to happen,” he explains, but he knows that God has a plan for each person that he meets.

Sharing a favorite Bible verse, talking about the joys and hardships of life, or simply joking around, Al approaches each day with an undeniable sense of joy. The engraved plaque was a birthday gift to Al from the Arbor staff several years ago, a formality that acknowledged his already integral contribution to the CRISTA community.  Al explains his outlook on life simply by saying: “I’m so grateful for my life, that I get to live in a place like this and share life with people of all ages.”

And we’re grateful to have him here.

“I’m so grateful for my life, that I get to live in a place like this and share life with people of all ages.” – Al Bartlett, Resident

Top Tips for Downsizing

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Practical tips for simplifying your move — and your life

Moving into a retirement community offers many advantages: less time and money spent on upkeep, a worry-free lifestyle, a wider range of activities, and more. But a move can be stressful for older adults — not to mention physically exhausting. It can seem that the tasks associated with a move will just be too overwhelming. However, with a little help and the following tips, the process can be much more manageable.

Begin Early

It can be daunting to organize years’ worth of possessions and furniture, but starting the process well in advance will help eliminate the feeling of being rushed to prioritize and pack. Starting early means being in control of the process.

Start Small

So often, people jump into the downsizing process and begin sorting items with a lot of sentimental value, which can quickly leave them feeling emotionally exhausted. Start the process with items that don’t hold as much emotional value, and then move on to more important items.
Focus on ‘Rightsizing’

Plan carefully for which possessions will actually fit in your new living space. One of the most common complications on move-in day is bringing too much. Calculate the percentage difference in square footage from your old and new residences so you have a point of reference for how much you can bring along.

Organize with Purpose

Separate possessions into groups: Keep, donate, sell, and discard. Color-coded stickers are an easy way to quickly identify which category an item belongs in.

Managing Emotions

Allow yourself time to experience your feelings. Remind yourself that the meaning attached to possessions is in the memories, not the item itself. Allow yourself to relieve the memories as you sort, but also remember that not all items attached to memories need to be kept.

Define Your Goals

When it comes to giving things away, it can be helpful to define your goals. Your goals could include “I want my things to go to people who will use and appreciate them the most” or “It’s important to me that everything is fairly and evenly divided among family members.” Defining these goals can help bring clarity to your purpose in giving things away.

Take Breaks

Work in blocks of time, and make a point each day to take a break from sorting. Go for a walk, see a movie, or meet a friend for a meal. You’ll feel recharged and ready to take on more when you get home.

Set Small Goals

It can be overwhelming to think of sorting through your entire house at once. Set small goals for each day, and complete your goal before moving on to the next task. The junk drawer in the kitchen or the hall closet can be great places to start.

Minimize Disruptions

When starting the downsizing process early, there’s no need to disrupt your home and your life. You can begin in an area that you don’t use every day, such as a guest bedroom. One tip for sorting clothes is to push all the hangers to the middle of the closet. As you sort items, move items to keep to the right end of the closet and items to donate to the left end of the closet. This way if you need to take a break from sorting, you aren’t left with a pile of clothes to clean up later.

Use Your Community Contact

Know who will be there from your new community to greet you. When a new resident arrives on the day of his or her move, it is important to ensure that someone will be there to answer questions and handle last-minute issues.

Settling In

Completing the downsizing process and moving to a new residence is worth celebrating! But it’s also normal to still experience feelings of loss. It can be helpful to recreate some of the arrangements you had in your previous home – placing books or pictures in the same way, or displaying pictures of important people in your life. Give yourself time to adjust and look for ways to get involved in your new community and meet your neighbors.

A final word of advice: don’t do it alone. Family, friends, neighbors and professional services can all provide valuable help! Downsizing doesn’t need to be a draining process; in fact, it’s a necessary step closer to an unencumbered home and a positive new life.

For more information on downsizing or living a life connected at Cristwood, visit cristwood.org or call (206)546-7565.

Six Frequently Asked Questions about Memory Care, Answered by Our Experts

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When a senior faces the challenges of memory loss, families often have questions about how to best care for their loved one. With 25 total years of experience, Becki Hoyt and Justin Ha have helped countless families through the process of finding memory care. Becki Hoyt, RN, is the Director of Heathcare Services at The Courtyard at Cristwood and has worked for CRISTA Senior Living for 17 years. Justin Ha, RN, is the Memory Care Supervisor of Poplar Place at The Courtyard. He has worked as an RN for 8 years, and for CRISTA Senior Living for 4 years.

For Becki and Justin, working at The Courtyard at Cristwood integrates their clinical expertise, their personal faith, and their desire to serve seniors and their families. Here, they answer the most frequently asked questions about memory care from family members.

What is Poplar Place like? What would living there be like for my mom?

Poplar Place is our assisted living memory care neighborhood, designed for mild to moderate memory care needs. It’s a small, homelike setting with 16 residents, featuring a semi-secured design for residents who wander. The focus on creating a strong sense of community helps establish friendships among the residents, as well as relationships with staff. The neighborhood really feels like family. Therapeutic baking, music, exercise, art and activities integrated with all of The Courtyard residents are part of living in Poplar Place. Most importantly, the interactions and activities are designed for those with memory care needs, so the expectations are comfortable for residents to thrive.

What’s the difference between wandering and exit seeking?

Those two terms come up frequently when people start researching memory care options. Wandering is unintentional; a senior may see a door and decide to go through it, or perhaps they wander outside simply because the sun is shining. Exit seeking is when memory loss causes an intentional effort to leave. A senior may think that they have to go to work, or not recognize their surroundings and think that they need to find “home”. Poplar Place is designed for residents who wander, but as memory loss progresses, a fully secure memory care neighborhood is also available at Cristwood Rehabilitation & Skilled Care.

My dad is becoming forgetful, but I’m not sure if he needs memory care. How do I figure out what would be best for him?

When looking at options for memory care, get to know the caregiving staff. Ask them your questions, and do your research to learn about their experience and expertise. It’s normal for families to have difficulty assessing their parent’s needs, as the process can be very emotional. It’s important to find a community that you trust to take the best care of your family member. When staff have been trained in dementia care, they are better able to assess and serve the needs of residents.

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How have you seen memory care positively impact residents and their families?

When families try to care for a loved one with memory care needs on their own, it can be a lot of work and take a toll on families. Often they have to juggle a lot of other commitments along with caring for their parent. So often we see that after someone comes to Poplar Place, their son or daughter is once again able to enjoy spending time with their parent without the added stress of being the caregiver. We get a lot of letters from families thanking us for caring for their mom or dad and providing them with peace of mind.

How is the care different in a memory care neighborhood from traditional assisted living?

Memory care neighborhoods offer both more structure and more flexibility. A highly structured schedule with ongoing supervision provides the best care and a sense of community, but it’s done with the flexibility of accommodating to how each resident is feeling at the moment. This creates a calm and relaxed atmosphere.

Our staff are specifically trained in dementia care, and the caregiver to resident ratio is 1:8. In traditional assisted living, the ratio is 1:16. All of the activities are geared toward memory loss, and the homelike setting is incorporated into every part of life.

How do I choose the right memory care setting? What questions should I ask?

One of the biggest factors is how the community aligns with your personal values. A great caregiving staff is important, but it’s also important that the community atmosphere feels like home for the resident. At Poplar Place, the desire to be in a faith-based community is an important value for many of our residents and their families. As memory loss progresses, we have residents that may not remember names and experiences, but they remember that they love the Lord. For these residents, singing familiar hymns or reading familiar stories from the Bible can be incredibly therapeutic.