Mon09152014

Senior Lifestyles

Showing they care

For the residents of Sunny View Lutheran Home's special care unit, the days are packed with activities. A typical Tuesday schedule includes Betty's Bridge Gang, Bingo with June, Senior Hoops, Tuesday Trivia, Balloon Volleyball, a film festival and a sing-along.

Residents of the special care unit are seniors with Alzheimer's disease and other memory loss afflictions. Yet, as the schedule from Susan Raye, the unit's activity director, proves, they are busy, active and very much involved in daily life.

This is one of the goals of Sunny View. As Judy Jackson, director of marketing, said, "We provide a holistic approach -- for body, mind and spirit -- to bring dignity and fulfillment of life" to senior citizens.

Sunny View offers four levels of care: independent apartments; assisted-living apartments; special care; and skilled nursing, which is 24-hour care. The facility has been in the area since 1964 and has 190 residents, 40 percent of whom come from Los Altos, Cupertino and Mountain View.

One of the recent highly anticipated activities for the community was the annual open house June 27, this year with a Hawaiian theme. Hosted by the 12 residents of the special care unit, the open house is an opportunity for Sunny View residents as well as outside guests to interact with one another.

The residents of the special care unit acted as greeters who signed in guests; escorts to the dining area; hostesses who offered punch and cookies; and one woman who entertained with piano music. Young volunteers played games with the residents, and Raye herself joined in a piano duet. Nearly everyone ended up wearing a lei. Other residents proudly offered guided tours of what Raye calls "our neighborhood."

The sense of Sunny View as a small community was echoed by Jackson, who described "the feeling(s) here" as "very special -- feelings of home, a place that is inviting."

Such places are coming into demand as Alzheimer's becomes more common. According to Bill Fisher, CEO of the Northern California Alzheimer's Association, 4.5 million Americans are affected by the disease, including 500,000 in California, 75,000 in the Bay Area, and 16,000 in Santa Clara County alone. And the incidence is growing. According to a National Institute of Aging study, by 2050, approximately 14 million Americans will be affected, including 2 million Californians.

As Fisher put it, "The two principal risks are aging and genetics." So, as Americans' life spans continue to increase, so will the prevalence of Alzheimer's.

There are efforts being undertaken to reduce the effects of the disease. According to the state Department of Mental Health, California appropriates more than $1 million each year for research alone. Much of that goes to academic centers in the Bay Area, such as Stanford and Berkeley.

Thanks to this funding, new medical advances are being made yearly to improve the quality of life of those suffering from Alzheimer's. But perhaps nothing can improve quality of life so much as being surrounded by caring staff and volunteers, fun and absorbing activities -- and, of course, brightly-colored plastic leis.

Sunny View Lutheran Home is located at 22445 Cupertino Road, Cupertino. For more information, call (408) 253-1574.

Open house shows those with Alzheimer's disease can still enjoy activities

By Laurel Lathrop

Town Crier Editorial Intern

For the residents of Sunny View Lutheran Home's special care unit, the days are packed with activities. A typical Tuesday schedule includes Betty's Bridge Gang, Bingo with June, Senior Hoops, Tuesday Trivia, Balloon Volleyball, a film festival and a sing-along.

Residents of the special care unit are seniors with Alzheimer's disease and other memory loss afflictions. Yet, as the schedule from Susan Raye, the unit's activity director, proves, they are busy, active and very much involved in daily life.

This is one of the goals of Sunny View. As Judy Jackson, director of marketing, said, "We provide a holistic approach -- for body, mind and spirit -- to bring dignity and fulfillment of life" to senior citizens.

Sunny View offers four levels of care: independent apartments; assisted-living apartments; special care; and skilled nursing, which is 24-hour care. The facility has been in the area since 1964 and has 190 residents, 40 percent of whom come from Los Altos, Cupertino and Mountain View.

One of the recent highly anticipated activities for the community was the annual open house June 27, this year with a Hawaiian theme. Hosted by the 12 residents of the special care unit, the open house is an opportunity for Sunny View residents as well as outside guests to interact with one another.

The residents of the special care unit acted as greeters who signed in guests; escorts to the dining area; hostesses who offered punch and cookies; and one woman who entertained with piano music. Young volunteers played games with the residents, and Raye herself joined in a piano duet. Nearly everyone ended up wearing a lei. Other residents proudly offered guided tours of what Raye calls "our neighborhood."

The sense of Sunny View as a small community was echoed by Jackson, who described "the feeling(s) here" as "very special -- feelings of home, a place that is inviting."

Such places are coming into demand as Alzheimer's becomes more common. According to Bill Fisher, CEO of the Northern California Alzheimer's Association, 4.5 million Americans are affected by the disease, including 500,000 in California, 75,000 in the Bay Area, and 16,000 in Santa Clara County alone. And the incidence is growing. According to a National Institute of Aging study, by 2050, approximately 14 million Americans will be affected, including 2 million Californians.

As Fisher put it, "The two principal risks are aging and genetics." So, as Americans' life spans continue to increase, so will the prevalence of Alzheimer's.

There are efforts being undertaken to reduce the effects of the disease. According to the state Department of Mental Health, California appropriates more than $1 million each year for research alone. Much of that goes to academic centers in the Bay Area, such as Stanford and Berkeley.

Thanks to this funding, new medical advances are being made yearly to improve the quality of life of those suffering from Alzheimer's. But perhaps nothing can improve quality of life so much as being surrounded by caring staff and volunteers, fun and absorbing activities -- and, of course, brightly-colored plastic leis.

Sunny View Lutheran Home is located at 22445 Cupertino Road, Cupertino. For more information, call (408) 253-1574.

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