The quiet blessing of grief that never ends

This writer finds beauty in the pain she feels over the loss of her sister

By Jill Smolowe for Next Avenue

Credit: Getty Images

Credit: Getty Images

In the almost seven years since I laid my husband to rest, followed barely a year later by the loss of my sister and mother, I’ve developed an appreciation for just how unpredictable and, well, amazing grief can be.

I’m not talking about the period of hollowing when the shock and fog of loss clouds every thought and informs every waking (and perhaps sleeping) moment. No, I’m talking about the grief that comes after that. After the deceased loved one’s absence is no longer a constant presence. After the acute ache subsides and then, unthinkably, stills. After life moves forward, opening new melancholy-free vistas that trace no connection to the departed.

The grief I’m referring to lays claim to no stage and holds no hope of being put behind. Even on the happiest days, it lies patiently in wait for some quirk of logic to unleash it. A scent. A song. A glimpse of an almost-familiar face. Suddenly — whap! — you’re puddled in a heap, sobbing and thinking, WhatTheWhatThe.

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The 5 exercises you should do every day

Improve your range of motion and balance in less than 10 minutes

By Rashelle Brown for Next Avenue

Credit: Thinkstock

Credit: Thinkstock

Balance and mobility training can benefit us at any age, but it becomes more important as you reach and pass the age of 50.

Maintaining joint range of motion allows you to move naturally and helps to combat the postural problems that cause neck, back, shoulder and hip pain.

Far from only preventing stumbles and falls, balance training is extremely important for everyone because it makes us better at every physical thing we do. Having a keen sense of proprioception (the sense of where your body is in space) makes all movement more efficient. When combined with fluid joints that allow for a full range of motion, this puts you at your functional best.

Here’s a short sequence of five exercises you can do every day to improve and maintain your balance and mobility. Done in a slow, controlled fashion, you can finish the whole workout in under 10 minutes:

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Get a move on for wellness!

Lawrence-FitnessCenter-2Senior fitness is a big topic every May when we celebrate Older Americans Month. Whether you have been an athlete all your life or you’re just beginning to exercise, every older adult benefits when they keep moving.

Even gentle or moderate exercise can help fight pain, maintain better balance, and improve flexibility – all of which help elevate your overall wellness. So can prevention – you know what they say about an ounce! We asked Trisha Bahr, the director of our rehabilitation program, to share a few basic tips for wellness and reducing your risk of injuries.

Good balance is one of the core elements of senior fitness, Trisha said. “Balance is just like a muscle. You have to keep them exercised, or you lose the strength. If you don’t challenge your balance, you will lose it,” she said.

Trisha strongly urges people to work with a trainer when starting a balance-strengthening regimen. Don’t work on this alone. Presbyterian Manor residents can find guidance at the Diehl Wellness Center and from our new physical therapist, Joe Miller.

Many of our residents have found the Wii gaming system is a fun way to improve balance and coordination. Trisha said Tai Chi is also popular for its gentle, flowing movements.

It’s important to continue doing tasks for yourself as much as possible. Trisha said it can be tempting to start asking other people to do things for you, like walking to the mailbox.

“It takes so little time to lose muscle, strength and balance,” she said. “Even if you don’t want to at first, just getting out of bed can be a good start.”

At Lawrence Presbyterian Manor, we offer fitness activities for residents in all neighborhoods. Independent living residents can join in daily aerobics and balancing exercises or use the cardio and strength machines in the Wellness Center. In assisted living, residents can take advantage of stretching, aerobics, chair yoga and more. For health care residents, wellness activities include daily stretching, drum circle, music therapy, and even adaptive volleyball and bowling. As always, check the activities calendars for the latest fitness opportunities.

Finding love in a senior living community

Add romance to what single older adults look for when seeking housing

By Kimberley Fowler for Next Avenue

Credit: Getty Images

There are many reasons older adults move into a senior living community, but is looking for love one of them?

Burdett Stilwell has been working with older adults for many years and, and as sales and marketing director of Somerby of Mobile,  she has had the pleasure of developing friendships with the many residents of this Somerby Senior Living home in Alabama. She’s up-to-date on who is dating whom. When it comes to relationships, Stilwell says, the Somerby people she knows fall into two categories: those who are interested and those who have “been there, done that.”

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Don’t ignore these facts about sunscreen

5 ways to apply it right and help avoid skin cancer

By Sheryl Kraft for Next Avenue

Credit: Thinkstock

The sun’s power is undeniable: The largest object in our solar system, it contains approximately 99.9 percent of the total solar system mass. Its interior could hold more than 1.3 million Earths. The sun provides for our very life. But this 4.5 billion-year-old star also has the power to kill.

Melanoma, the most dangerous and potentially lethal form of skin cancer, is caused most often by intense UV rays of the sun, and its rates have been rising for at least 30 years. About 73,870 new melanomas will be diagnosed in the U.S in 2015, and approximately 9,940 people are expected to die, according to the American Cancer Society.

The typical victim? On average, a person is 62 when the cancer appears. The risk of melanoma increases as we age.

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The health benefits of pets for older adults

They reduce blood pressure, help us get exercise and brighten our outlook

By Ronni Gordon for Next Avenue

Caption: Bridget Irving and her Yorkshire Terrier, Ben

When Lynette Whiteman’s youngest child went to college, Whiteman went out and got a second dog that she calls “my empty nest dog.” She wanted someone else to care for, “who loves me non-judgmentally and doesn’t mind if I’m gaining weight or getting gray.”

Whiteman may get home from work tired, but the 60-year-old resident of Toms River, N.J., says the dogs stare at her until she puts their leashes on. She walks them and always feels good afterwards.

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10 ways to turn your finances around in 2017

How advisers say you can do it without a lot of effort

By Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell for Next Avenue


Credit: Getty Images

Did you resolve to save more for retirement this year, become debt-free or put cash aside for a bucket-list trip? We’re more than a month into the new year, but there’s still plenty of time to turn your finances around in 2017.

Next Avenue spoke with a few noted money experts for their suggestions. Here are 10 recommendations:

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5 tips for disorganized taxpayers

How experts say you can avoid the mad scramble at tax time

By Rosie Wolf Williams for Next Avenue


Tax season is here and it may be causing you agita. Rifling through drawers for your 2016 tax paperwork; sorting a flood of receipts to qualify for write-offs; printing out assorted bank, brokerage and mutual fund statements and on and on.

Don’t hide under the covers. Instead, follow these five organization strategies from tax advisers to get your taxes together once and for all:

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4 money moves for a happier retirement

Advice from a writer who just combed through the latest retirement surveys

By Bart Astor for Next Avenue

Credit: Thinkstock

How do pre-retirees and retirees feel about retirement these days? Glad you asked.

Since this is “National Retirement Planning Week” (dreamed up by 40-odd financial industry and advocacy groups), a passel of retirement surveys have just been released. I’ve read them — so you don’t have to — and here are the highlights and four action steps to take based on the findings.

Interestingly, the results are somewhat contradictory.

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Senior event series planned

shutterstock_447293980Wondering if senior living is the right decision for you? What if you could live somewhere that gave you peace of mind for the future? Does the thought of downsizing your belongings send chills down your spine? Learn the answers to these questions and more at two free events this month at Lawrence Presbyterian Manor.

At “Get the Scoop” April 19, learn why Presbyterian Manor residents chose senior living and what they love most about their homes on the campus. They will share personal stories about why they made their decisions and answer all your questions about senior living, too!

At “Rightsizing Workshop” April 26, Interior Designer and NIMBLE owner Hollie Blakeney, an Aging in Place Specialist and experienced space planner, will lead participants in creating a home where you will love to relax and enjoy life. Learn how to rightsize based on your habits and live in a well-designed space.

“Get the Scoop” will begin at 9:30 a.m. April 19 at Lawrence City Presbyterian Manor, 1429 Kasold Drive. “Rightsizing Workshop” will begin at 9:30 a.m. April 26 at Lawrence Presbyterian Manor.

The presentations are free. The talks are part of Lawrence City Presbyterian Manor’s Just Ask series, a free, ongoing lifelong learning program featuring information from local, regional and national experts on topics of interest to older adults and their families.

Space is limited. RSVP by April 14 by calling 785-841-4262, ext. 3422, or email

For more information about Presbyterian Manor, visit our website at or contact Angela Fonseca, marketing director, at 785-841-4262 or email