In senior living communities, staying mentally active is crucial for overall health and well-being. A key study found that mental activity can also delay the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
Three female residents at Colonial Nursing & Rehabilitation in Lindale, Texas, a StoneGate senior care community, exemplify the benefits of actively pursuing mind-engaging activities. All high achievers before retirement, they continue to find ways to pursue their passions. Colonial Lindale is one of StoneGate’s many communities, which include Alzheimer’s, dementia, assisted living, memory care, nursing home, rehabilitation center, rehabilitation, and skilled nursing facilities (SNFs).
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Lowa Williams, 90 years old, started teaching in 1949 at the age of 19. Licensed to teach English in grades 1–12, she found her home in the fifth-grade classroom. Lowa was also a licensed counselor, principal, and school superintendent and continued in the school system until retirement.
Lowa taught primarily in Houston, typically in classes of 45 students. Many were from low-income families. “Grades often suffered because these students were helping to earn money for their families,” she says. “That called for a creative approach to accommodate their schedules. Understanding their challenges deepened my interest in counseling.
“Teaching that many kids, many of whom were not motivated to learn, was often difficult. But it also kept me on my toes,” she says. “I was married to a salesman. He taught me a trick that helped him on the job. He said, ‘Before I go to work each day, I say, ‘Boy, am I ever enthusiastic!” And that’s what I said to myself every morning when I walked into the classroom. No matter what trial I encountered, it helped me to have the right attitude. And it helps to this day!”
At Colonial Lindale, Lowa keeps her mind active by staying up to date with current events. “I watch news programs all the time,” she says. “The state of our world couldn’t be more interesting.” She also indulges her creative side by sketching with colored pencils and chalk and painting with watercolors – an activity she’s enjoyed since college.
Carol Turner, 72, worked for 20 years as an X-ray technician. She went back to college to become a licensed vocational nurse, an occupation she pursued for 10 years. “My dad was a doctor so I was exposed to the medical field at an early age,” she says.
Carol keeps her mind engaged by reading as many as three books a week. “I don’t use a computer,” she says. “Books are all I need.” She starts her book immersion at 5am and – except for breaking to eat – often reads throughout the day until bedtime at 11pm. Along with novels and biographies (favorite: Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing), she also enjoys pouring through text books like the ones she read when training to be an X-ray technician.
In her nursing career, Carol served for a time as a nurse’s aide at Colonial Nursing & Rehabilitation. “I loved working here – and now I love living here,” she says. “I’ve come full circle.”
Virginia Anderson, another rehab Colonial Lindale resident, headed off to business college a week after graduating from high school. She worked as a bookkeeper for a company in Midland, Texas, and then returned to college and studied to be a teacher. Virginia served in the school system for 30 years, primarily teaching second-graders
At Colonial, Virginia is recovering from a fall and a break to her left leg. “Along with participating in daily physical therapy, I’ve occupied myself by reading, visiting, and participating in organized community activities and games. I don’t have anyone at home to take care of me, so I’m grateful to have a team dedicated to helping me heal. Daily socializing makes it all the easier to recover.”
All StoneGate facilities are devoted to enriching the lives of our residents by providing a supportive and stimulating environment. Healthcare staff work with each resident to find activities that promote mental acuity – providing continuous opportunities for learning, engagement, and joyful connection.