Senior Living 2023

F.C. Resident to Celebrate 100 Years of Activeness and Friendship

by Kylee Toland

As some people grow older, they might feel the need to “slow down” and enjoy their golden years. For one City of Falls Church resident, their golden years include being active in various physical activities in the community. 

On March 10th, Marguerite Shaffer will turn 100 years old, something Schaefer herself said she can’t believe. 

“I’m still doing as much as I do,” Shaffer said. “Then I think ‘Gee, at 100 maybe I should stop [doing] things,’ it just kind of egged me on to want to do more.” 

At 99 years old, Shaffer is involved in a senior bowling league at Bowl America Falls Church, as well as women’s golf league at Jefferson District Golf Course in Falls Church. She said she initially took part in these activities after some pushing from her husband, due to her not being able to get involved earlier in that she was raising their six children at the time. 

Recently, Shaffer suffered an injury to her right arm while bowling, but that hasn’t stopped her from continuing to bowl with her left arm. Although she stated she’s “not that good” at bowling, Shaffer’s favorite part of these leagues is the friendships she had made with her fellow teammates and going out to lunch with them. 

“I just like people period,” Shaffer stated. “Me, lunch and friends is what I seem to like the most.” 

Through her participation in her bowling and golf league, Shaffer has seemed to garner many life-long friendships along the way. One friend, Linda Brown, has known her for 30 years and was intrigued by Shaffer after initially meeting her through bowling. 

“She was a kick,” Brown stated when describing her first impression of Shaffer. “She had a great sense of humor, very aware of everything that was on and a really fun person to know.” 

Presently, Shaffer and Brown go golfing together on a regular basis, which Brown said is the “most fun” and one of her favorite moments with Shaffer. Not only does she inspire Brown, but Brown said she inspires “everybody she meets” based on her activeness and friendliness at almost 100 years old. 

“She’s just a wonderful friend and a great person,” Brown said. “She knows everything that’s going on, she reads the paper from front to back and she’s really well-versed.” 

Some accomplishments Shaffer said she has experienced was scoring a hole-in-one in her golf league, which Shaffer described as a “thrill” for her. Outside of her participating leagues, Shaffer has made “Fan of the Day” while attending a Washington Nationals baseball game, even making it on the big screen at the stadium. 

Although she doesn’t think she will join any more activity leagues any time soon, Shaffer said her goal for turning 100 is to keep “doing things” and “seeing people,” including her children in Virginia and Florida. For her birthday, she said her children will be throwing her a party that includes friends and family, as well as Bowl America throwing her a party as well. 

Her words of advice for her fellow league team members, as well as for other local senior citizens, is to “forget your problems and the things that bother you” and just relax and pay attention to “what you’re doing.” 

“I find that when I leave [my house], I just try to clear my mind of anything that might be bothering me,” Shaffer said. “Then you just can’t help but have fun.” 

Senior Living Facilities Provide Opportunities to Keep One Feeling ‘Youthful’

by Kylee Toland

When someone is thinking about moving into a senior living facility, or placing their loved one in an assisted living facility, there may be some surrounding negative stigma over these types of housing centers. However, local senior living facilities are providing ways to ensure a resident and their families that these centers won’t restrict them from having an enjoyable experience. 

Retirement homes and assisted living/nursing homes are sometimes thought to be a place where “older” people spend the rest of their lives if they are unable to keep up with their homes or maintain their health on their own. This can cause these types of facilities to be looked at negatively, but in recent years, these centers have been able to provide various activities and events so that their residents don’t feel like they are a day over 55. 

In the City of Falls Church and surrounding areas, local senior living facilities offer their residents and families ways to enjoy their time at the center. These can be activities inside the facility or even trips to outside locations . 

According to their website, the Kensington Falls Church offers activities seven days a week, “from morning until evening,” as well as various events. These activities and events have “been shown” to “reduce stress, preserve wellness, keep the mind sharp and increase feelings worth.” Current and past activities include baking, morning motion classes, movie nights and more. During the holidays, residents were taken by staff to enjoy the winter lights in Falls Church neighborhoods.   

Clubs are also offered to residents who may have physical and memory illnesses. For those who have Parkinson’s, exercise clubs are offered at The Kensington Reston, which not only allows Falls Church participants to engage in physical activity outside, but also visit an outside center where they can meet others. 

Chesterbrook Residencies in Falls Church states on their website that it is an “active and charming assisted living community,” offering daily activities each month. Shopping, museum and lunch trips to various local stores, museums and restaurants, physical activities such as chair yoga and dance fitness, movie nights, card games are offered to residents of Chesterbrook. 

For upcoming holidays such as Valentines Day and Mardis Gras, Chesterbrook hosts various parties to get residents excited about celebrating. On February 14th, a music party will be held in the lounge of the facility, and on February 23rd, a Mardi Gras-themed birthday party will also be held in the lounge. 

In Potomac Falls, Falcons Landing offers both a retirement community and assisted living facility. On their website, they state that their residents once lived an “active life,” so there’s “no reason to slow down” when entering their facilities. Various clubs are offered at Falcons, including arts and crafts, book, computer, investment and “knit wits.” Resident-run committees are also offered at Falcons that allows residents to become closer to others who may be their new “neighbors.” 

For residents who want to remain physically active, walking clubs, fitness classes such as aqua and chair aerobics are offered to Falcon’s residents. Three dining facilities are also available at Falcon’s, which allows residents to enjoy a dining experience while also getting to know fellow residents. 

Just Keep Moving: Simple Heart Health Tips For Seniors

by Brian Reach

It may sound like you’ve heard this before – probably because you almost certainly have: “The most important thing for seniors, like everyone, is to stay active.” advises Gordon Theisz, MD, FAAFP, physician at Family Medicine in Falls Church.  “Some type of cardiovascular activity for 20 — 30 minutes a day can help reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.”

But that may not be enough.  “Sitting Is the New Smoking,” a term coined by Mayo Clinic professor Dr. James Levine, refers to studies in recent years showing that sitting for hours at a time, whether at a desk or on your couch, increases your risk for cancer, heart disease, diabetes, anxiety, and depression.  Worse, the positive benefit of any amount of daily exercise is undone by a sedentary lifestyle.  Ironically, the article by the same name, which popularized the term, came out in February 2020, weeks before the entire world was locked in their homes for what felt like several decades.

“That’s when people get in trouble; when they just sit, sit, sit,” cautions Eileen West, MD, owner and practitioner at Eileen West MD and Associates.  West suggests any movement, even walking around the living room, throughout the day.  “One of the best exercises as we get older is walking – get your steps in!”

Indeed, as we age, circulation and plaque build-ups cause atherosclerosis, a hardening of the walls of arteries, which can lead to heart disease and stroke.  Experts recommend moving around for about five minutes every hour to get your blood flowing.  For those with mobility issues, any movement is better than none – get upright, stretch, or otherwise do what you can to stay active.

In addition to staying generally active, Theisz reminds readers to maintain a generally healthy lifestyle.  “Eating healthy, not smoking, and making sure your blood pressure is under good control are also keys to better health,”  he said.  

The health benefits of a daily glass of red wine are starting to look less beneficial in new studies, according to West.  “It’s more like 1-2 glasses per week,” she said.  Studies have also shown that the antioxidant benefits of red wine are also found in white wine.

West warned that women should know about three cardiovascular risk factors specific to them; specifically, “women who had either preeclampsia or gestational diabetes during pregnancy, and women who had significant heat flashes during menopause.”   These make women significantly more likely to have a heart attack or stroke, even decades later in life.  Even though it may be hard to recall, West says it’s worth it, “Think back.  Tell your doctor.”  West also advised that early heart disease begins around age 55 for men and 65 for women.

The circumference of your waist, regardless of other factors, has recently been found to heavily impact cardiovascular risk, especially for women.  Increase fruits and vegetables, reduce processed foods and sugar, and reduce sodium.  “Being heavy increases all risks: blood pressure, sugar, cholesterol,” said West.

Readers of all ages are encouraged to enjoy a brisk walk during the unseasonably warm weather this week, and to get in the habit of standing and walking throughout the day.