Seniors News Feed - NWILife Sun, 05 Apr 2020 07:25:39 +0000 en hourly 1 StoryPoint elevates the human experience Sun, 22 Mar 2020 10:00:42 +0000 Kayla Belec Editor’s Note: The story below represents the overall resident experience at StoryPoint in usual times. The staff and residents there are taking all recommended precautions for social distancing at this time and are looking forward to resuming their life-enriching social activities!

Just because life itself slows down at a certain point does not mean that living life should stop. According to Tonya Carter, Life Enrichment Director at StoryPoint Chesterton, life at a certain age should be enjoyed to its fullest potential. 

“We’re not here to stop people from living their best life—we’re here to add to it,” Carter said. 

An independent and enhanced senior living community, StoryPoint’s goal is to make sure residents shine every day. From regular rituals to special occasions, each moment is intended to be infused with value. To put it simply, StoryPoint elevates the human experience.

Little joys often make up the best of days, and Carter and the team at StoryPoint have made it their mission to elevate each of those little moments into something memorable. For instance, on Thursday nights, a routine Cocktails with Friends social hour gives residents a chance to catch up with their neighbors and indulge in an adult beverage or two. The same goes for certain Monday and Tuesday nights, when residents are invited to a social mixer following monthly forums. Such offerings are a perfect example of the life enrichment activities to which Carter pointed.  

“Events like our social mixers showcase that we’re all about enjoying and engaging in life,” Carter said. “We offer all sorts of activities throughout the day to engage residents and keep them busy, and then these mixers let them unwind and relax.”

The only way life should be interrupted once a resident moves in to StoryPoint is by becoming that much better, Carter said.

“We try to connect them to all those pieces that make them enjoy life to the fullest,” she said. “Life is fun, and why would it stop being fun once they move into an independent or assisted living community?”

With independent, assisted, enhanced, and memory care living options, StoryPoint Chesterton is committed to offering seniors at all stages of life opportunities to live it to the fullest. Beyond the more casual gatherings, StoryPoint also cultivates experiences that are educational, enriching, and significant. The events are fostered by the four levels of life enrichment StoryPoint identifies: social, intellectual, physical, and spiritual. 

For instance, Carter said that each year StoryPoint Chesterton highlights different decades and their significance. This year, they’ll be focusing on the 1950s, and a staff member plans to give a presentation on the post-World War II era at the end of the month. This fits into StoryPoint’s intellectual level of enrichment, allowing seniors to continue their quest for knowledge by stimulating their minds.

“A lot of people don’t consider this, but many of our residents are very civic-minded,” Carter added. “They plan to vote, so we make sure to connect them to resources and information on candidates and offer in-house voter registration.”

Among the most popular events StoryPoint offers are their cooking demos and culinary showcases. While sometimes getting the chance to learn to create decadent items like creme brulee, residents and their families also enjoy opportunities to indulge in themed meals and festivity. Past gatherings have included an Oktoberfest, a Havana Nights party, and a special chili cookoff night with the Chesterton High School football team.

“Our Havana Nights party was a new one, and it was a hit,” Carter said.

Other popular events include further opportunities to touch base with the community and engage artistic sensibilities. On national Inspire With Your Heart Art Day, StoryPoint invited residents and the surrounding community to engage with local artists and musicians, placing an emphasis on the healing power of the arts. 

Residents who have served our country are given special recognition at StoryPoint. Events such as a personalized presentation hosted by Vietnam War veteran Lenny Corso and Quilts of Valor, and features such as a wall showcasing the photographs and stories of residents who are veterans go a long way in demonstrating honor and gratitude.

When it comes to physical activity, StoryPoint chooses to focus on what residents can do rather than what they can’t do.

“For residents with physical limitations, we work to make their active life as easy-going and enjoyable as possible,” Carter said. “We offer specialized activities like chair yoga that are accessible for anyone. And we always listen to suggestions and feedback for improvement. We find a way to work with people and make it happen.”

Face to face interaction with residents is an important quality for StoryPoint. In their eyes, human connections and experiences make all the difference in a world of technology-based instant gratification that can contribute to that feeling of being disconnected. Carter said that the entire team at StoryPoint works to ensure residents feel they’re living their most extraordinary lives.

“There’s really not a head or a tail, we’re one big team working together,” she said. “It’s not about titles or positions here, either, it’s about serving our residents. We work doubly hard to make every moment memorable.”

For more information on StoryPoint Chesterton, visit

StoryPoint elevates the human experience
StoryPoint Chesterton dining services provides ultimate experience for residents Tue, 25 Feb 2020 06:32:38 +0000 Andrew Redick The staff at StoryPoint Chesterton works to do everything possible to ensure their residents are well taken care of and happy.

Their service extends to every part of their lives, including residents’ dining experiences. The culinary team always aims to give residents memorable meals three times a day. In addition, every week a brand new menu is rolled out based on the feedback from the residents.

“We like to be on a personal level with all the residents so we can build off of their feedback,” said Derrick Stevens, executive chef for StoryPoint Chesterton. “We want to try to find ways to improve every day and give the best service possible.”

Though the lunch and dinner menus have their set items, the staff still makes sure every resident is individually satisfied. The dining team tries to talk with every resident after meals to collect feedback and discover new options they might enjoy. While every resident may not get their own unique meal, the StoryPoint dieticians strive to ensure each dish is catered the way it needs to be for each particular resident’s diet requirements. For instance, if meat needs to be cut a certain way, or a resident requires a meal with less salt than others, dieticians will take these factors into account and deliver.

“The residents love all of the variety that we provide,” Stevens said. “We have a huge impact on all their lives, even if it is in the smallest way.”

The dining staff takes every available chance to spice things up once in a while. At least two or three times a month, they plan special events for their residents, including themed holiday menus, such as Oktoberfest, St. Patrick’s Day, and Havana Night. They also present showcases to the residents and show them how to make all different kinds of meals.

“We are here 365 days of the year, so we are always going to make the most of it,” Stevens said. “We have fun planning everything and the residents have fun attending.”

Appreciation emanates from the residents and the rest of the staff at StoryPoint, who know how hard each member of the dining services team works.

“Our chef spends the time talking to the residents about their needs and wishes,” said Tonya Sanders, life enrichment director. “He wants to go the extra mile for every one of them, and they take pride in everything they do, even the smallest things.”

To learn more about StoryPoint Chesterton and all of their dining options, click here.

StoryPoint Chesterton dining services provides ultimate experience for residents
Porter Regional Hospital hosts HealthPorte’s Annual Winter Potluck Party Wed, 22 Jan 2020 14:15:05 +0000 Curtis Hankins For seniors looking to stay healthy and sociable as they age, few clubs are more practical than Porter Regional Hospital’s HealthPorte program. Every month, it features breakfast presentations designed to help people 50 and older stay healthy, active, and informed – but having fun while doing so is just as important.

“It’s a way for our seniors to come together, have camaraderie, and get some new information,” said Jennifer Spitz, Regional Community Relations Coordinator for Porter Health Care System. “We found that people who were members even two years ago are still learning new things. Plus, they really enjoy getting together, they form bonds and friendships.”

Every year, HealthPorte members come together for an Annual Winter Potluck Party. Homemade dishes and desserts pile high, and lectures and presentations are prepared for an afternoon of food, fun, and games. It also gives Porter Regional Hospital the chance to gather feedback from the members on what they can improve on moving into the new year.

“It’s a chance to get together and relax; there was no presentation today,” Spitz said. “Our members will also be filling out a form that’ll tell us new topics that they want to hear about. It’s always good for them to come to us and say ‘hey, we’re hearing about this, what do we need to know about it,’ because we love to clarify things like that for them.”

Porter Regional Hospital HealthPorte Winter Potluck Party 2020

Porter Regional Hospital HealthPorte Winter Potluck Party 2020 21 Photos
Porter Regional Hospital HealthPorte Winter Potluck Party 2020Porter Regional Hospital HealthPorte Winter Potluck Party 2020Porter Regional Hospital HealthPorte Winter Potluck Party 2020Porter Regional Hospital HealthPorte Winter Potluck Party 2020

Linda Lea started attending HealthPorte meetings about five years ago. She found it to be such a valuable resource that she decided to start volunteering for the program and now helps keep the events running.

“It was an opportunity to find out more about our health and community when we retired,” Lea said. “These meetings are really beneficial. When a staff member or doctor speaks, you get to learn all about what the hospital does and all things available to you. It’s been really good, and it’s a chance to meet new people!”

Joleen Wilson, like Lea, started attending HealthPorte meetings years ago. She helps recruit new members and spreads word about how much the meetings have helped her out.

“It’s very informative, and it covers such a variety of topics; It’s not like they stick to one thing all the time,” Wilson said. “You learn a lot. It’s also really nice to have this potluck since it gives us a chance to talk to more people.”

Another HealthPorte volunteer, Mary Lynch, summarized what makes it such a special resource to seniors in particular.

“Number one, we’re introduced to new doctors, and we’re at the age where we may need them,” she said. “You get to know them on a more personal level than you might in their office. Second, it’s the camaraderie with the people. It’s fun when you’re in Khol’s, at the show, or in Chili’s and you can say hi to someone you met at HealthPorte.”

To learn more about HealthPorte and all of Porter Health Care System’s programs, visit

Porter Regional Hospital hosts HealthPorte’s Annual Winter Potluck Party
Porter Regional Hospital HealthPorte Winter Potluck Party 2020 Wed, 22 Jan 2020 14:10:07 +0000 Curtis Hankins Porter Regional Hospital HealthPorte Winter Potluck Party 2020 New Study Finds Healthier Lifestyle May Help Fight Dementia Tue, 21 Jan 2020 23:15:41 +0000 UnitedHealthcare For those living with dementia or the caregivers who support them, the illness can be a challenging journey. Families enduring this condition may not know how to navigate care, but it’s important to know, you’re not alone and help is available. 

Dementia in its many forms is referred to as a group of complex diseases that cause memory loss, impairing the ability to think or make everyday decisions. Though advances in medicine are ongoing and researchers are working aggressively to find a cure, there are still few known treatments to stop the progression of the disease. 

That said, a new study offers a glimmer of hope. Researchers say a healthy lifestyle might be one way to fend off the diagnosis for those with a genetic pre-disposition for dementia.   

The first-of-its-kind findings in a JAMA Network study show that lifestyle factors and genetic factors both play a role in the risk for dementia. Researchers determined people with a genetic history of dementia may lower their high risk by one-third by eating healthy foods, exercising and not smoking.

A team at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom followed nearly 200,000 people ages 60 and older, and found a 32 percent decrease of dementia in those who had a high genetic risk of dementia but incorporated healthier choices. 

To understand exactly how lifestyle factors may fend off dementia, the research team grouped the participants into high, intermediate and low genetic risk for dementia based on their lifestyle behaviors including:

  • self-reported diet
  • physical activity
  • smoking 
  • alcohol consumption

Those with a high genetic risk of dementia coupled with an unhealthy lifestyle were almost three times more likely to develop symptoms of the disease compared to those with a low genetic risk and healthy lifestyle.

If you’re looking for some ideas to help jumpstart a healthier lifestyle, consider these tips. It may be less daunting to start small and build from there. 

While we can’t change the genes we inherit, this latest research shows we can control our lifestyle choices, and embracing healthier habits is one way to stack the odds in our favor.

New Study Finds Healthier Lifestyle May Help Fight Dementia
StoryPoint Senior Living Chesterton has different way of interfacing with residents Fri, 17 Jan 2020 21:57:28 +0000 Kali Beatty StoryPoint Senior Living Chesterton is always looking for ways to make the lives of both their senior residents and loyal employees better. One way StoryPoint achieves this is through less automation and technological advancements for interfacing with residents, and more face-to-face contact. Through their programming, residents are offered several opportunities for fun games, demonstrations, and socializing throughout each day to encourage them to get away from the screen.

“We try to create an experience every single moment possible of every day,” said Tonya Carter, Life Enrichment Director at StoryPoint. “In order to do that we really need to be spending one-on-one time with the residents.”

At StoryPoint, they don’t just send an email to new residents filled with information—they take the time to greet them and walk them through the process of what the StoryPoint schedule looks like.

“There’s always a leader who is connected with them,” Carter said. “It goes back to engaging with all of your senses and not just focusing on your laptop or iPad.”

Residents can come to any of the activities throughout the day as often or as little as they would like. They’re encouraged to attend any or all of StoryPoint’s book clubs, chicken soup socials, crafts, or cooking demonstrations to really get to know their neighbors and staff. 

“We’re creating that connection, and it’s not through any automation because cognitively you’re going to see an increase in function,” Carter said. “We’re just re-engaging those senses through bringing back memories of important things to them.”

It’s all about reminding the residents of the good ol’ days through music, smells, and activities alike that will allow them to keep their memory sharp for years to come. 

“We’re purposefully looking at how can we make individuals happy, and how can we connect them to having an exceptional experience every possible second,” Carter said. “We know it’s not possible to be happy all the time, but is there an opportunity when they look for something to engage in.”

Of course, residents have TVs and phones and computers. Removing technology completely is not the idea—it’s just about using those items in smarter and wiser ways that enhance the residents’ quality of life, and not letting technology be the only thing residents engage with for activity. 

“In a world where everyone is so used to things being fast paced and instant gratification, that’s not what we’re about here,” Carter said. “We’re really about creating human connections and experiences amongst not just the residents but the staff, and I think that makes all the difference.”

Residents have responded well to StoryPoint Senior Living’s program. One resident even told Carter’s boss that “she needs a bigger budget” because of all the amazing activities she plans. For more information go to,

StoryPoint Senior Living Chesterton has different way of interfacing with residents
Residences at Deer Creek Offers Valuable Educational Presentation on Marriage and Dementia Thu, 19 Dec 2019 00:24:11 +0000 Andrew Redick Something that isn’t talked about a whole lot but that should be discussed more is having a spouse who is dealing with dementia.  Residences at Deer Creek is doing all they can to be a resource to the community, and one of those ways was to host a Marriage and Dementia seminar facilitated by the community’s Director of Social Services, Rondi Wightman, MSW, LCSW, CDP.

Guests and their loved ones gathered as Rondi presented an incredibly eye-opening presentation with information and several ways to cope with a spouse having dementia and working through tough emotions and feelings. Guests were also able to ask any questions they had about dementia, or anything else that would help them better understand how to address their unique situation. “We want this to serve as a way for others to get information and find ways that they can help the people they love,” said Rondi Wightman, Director of Social Services at Deer Creek. “People are never alone, and it is okay to ask for help. Sometimes it takes a village to help and that’s what we are here for.

Residences at Deer Creek Marriage and Dementia Seminar 2019

Residences at Deer Creek Marriage and Dementia Seminar 2019 12 Photos
Residences at Deer Creek Marriage and Dementia Seminar 2019Residences at Deer Creek Marriage and Dementia Seminar 2019Residences at Deer Creek Marriage and Dementia Seminar 2019Residences at Deer Creek Marriage and Dementia Seminar 2019

Dementia can be a cruel disease, and it is hard to find the help needed and sometimes not everyone is comfortable talking about it. More events like this are what may help open more people up and break the norm. Especially when we are dealing with a spouse, it is not an easy diagnosis to accept, and this becomes increasingly more difficult as memories fade and we lose pieces of the person we love.

It takes a lot to be able to help someone get through a disease like dementia, and it affects more lives than some may think. Adult children, extended family, and friends are all affected in some way, there is a sense of loss, and a grieving process that is vastly different than someone passing, because the person is still physically here.  Residences at Deer Creek and its team are experts in the field of dementia and educate the community at large with various experts as often as they can.

 To learn more about Residences at Deer Creek and upcoming educational presentations, click here.

Residences at Deer Creek Offers Valuable Educational Presentation on Marriage and Dementia
Residences at Deer Creek Marriage and Dementia Seminar 2019 Thu, 19 Dec 2019 00:20:22 +0000 Andrew Redick Residences at Deer Creek Marriage and Dementia Seminar 2019 Medicare Made Simple Tue, 03 Dec 2019 00:27:29 +0000 Methodist Hospitals Wednesday, December 4, 4:30 pm

Southlake Campus
Pavilion B, Conference Room
200 E. 89th St., Merrillville

Space is limited. 


or call 1-888-909-3627.

NOTE: The Medicare enrollment period ends Saturday, December 7.

A Medicare representative will be available with enrollment forms.

Medicare Made Simple
Porter Regional Hospital’s HealthPorte talk unpacks changes in speech and cognitive function in aging Tue, 19 Nov 2019 22:26:46 +0000 Kayla Belec Everyone has experienced the sensation of entering a room only to forget what they were looking for or bringing up a conversation topic only to lose their train of thought. Most of us have uttered the phrase, “It’s right on the tip of my tongue!” when trying to think of a specific word or name. These lapses, however, become more common with age. While they’re associated with the typical transitions and inconveniences of aging, there are a few distinctions that could signal a more serious concern. 

Porter Regional Hospital’s free HealthPorte senior program features monthly presentations designed to help individuals ages 50 and better maintain healthy, vivacious lifestyles and stay one step ahead of the changes they might experience in their golden years. This month’s topic addressed speech, cognitive, and swallowing changes in the aging adult and the various treatment options to help people work through those difficulties. 

“I think it’s a common misconception that speech failure and lapses in memory are just a sign of aging, but sometimes they can be a definite sign of cognitive deficit,” said Carlos DeJesus, Director of Porter Outpatient Rehabilitation Services. “A good takeaway from today’s talk and any HealthPorte talk is to be more proactive, to recognize the signs that are not always normal signs of aging.”

Jacqueline Rife, speech therapist at Porter Outpatient Rehabilitation Services in Portage, led the seminar. 

HealthPorte Talk – Speech Therapy Aging 2019

HealthPorte Talk – Speech Therapy Aging 2019 22 Photos
HealthPorte Talk – Speech Therapy Aging 2019HealthPorte Talk – Speech Therapy Aging 2019HealthPorte Talk – Speech Therapy Aging 2019HealthPorte Talk – Speech Therapy Aging 2019

Rife unpacked the differences between normal aging and signs of impairment in each category. She said that when it comes to cognitive function, people of all ages find themselves in similar predicaments to the ones described above, no matter their age. She began her talk by calling out a series of questions like, “Where did I just put my phone?” and “What was I going to say?” and having attendees raise their hands if they’d ever asked themselves the question. 

“I started asking myself these questions when I turned 40, if not before that,” she laughed. “There are a lot of factors that can contribute to them, and not all of them have to do with age.”

Nevertheless, Rife continued, age plays a big factor in how various signs of impairment advance, no matter what the cause. The senior population is much more prone to cognitive impairment when taking certain medications, recovering from surgery/anesthesia, suffering from an illness, being stressed, anxious, depressed or even experiencing a urinary tract infection. Some conditions, such as dementia, indicate a progressive illness. No matter the situation, it’s important to get to the root of the cause and treat it if it progresses. 

“There are a lot of great medicines and treatments for those diseases now,” Rife said. “It’s always good to have those situations addressed early on.” 

Rife said that treatments often include creating strategies, such as placing car keys in the same spot every day or keeping a detailed planner. 

“According to the American Academy of Neurology, thirty minutes of cognitive activity, seven days a week, are very beneficial,” Rife said. “Keeping your mind engaged keeps it active. Learning new things can be helpful, too. When you’re not repeating the same patterns and habits every day you’re keeping your mind sharp and pliable.”

Rife said cognitive activity can be everything from card games, puzzles, and reading, to socializing with old friends and watching the Bears game for talking points later. 

When it comes to difficulties in speech, such as being unable to find the right words or express them, Rife recommended a substitution method. 

“If you can’t think of a word, try thinking of a synonym or description,” she said. “I’ll often have my patients give me three different ways to say a phrase such as ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away.’”

Rife had volunteers substitute ways of saying, “the cat jumped over the fence” to test the practice.

Some speech issues, such as raspy voice, can indicate damaged vocal cords, and difficulties swallowing can indicate a weakness of the muscles. Swallowing impairment, or dysphagia, can occur due to surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation, medications, COPD, dementia, or reflux. 

“Believe it or not, most of the patients I see have difficulties swallowing due to reflux,” Rife said.

Other signs of dysphagia include pocketing food in the sides of the mouth, coughing and throat clearing during eating or drinking, and pneumonia, which occurs when a liquid or bacteria becomes trapped in the mouth or throat and infects the lungs. This is why oral care is very important. Other strategies to assist with dysphagia, such as a mechanical soft diet or straw restrictions, are all very individualized to the patient. Doctors can determine the weakness of muscles using a modified barium swallow exam, which uses a videoed X-ray called fluoroscopy to evaluate the patient’s swallowing. Should an issue be determined, professionals like Rife can help.

“The goal with any type of therapy,” Rife said, “is to improve and maintain certain skills so patients don’t decline rapidly, maintain independence, maintain safety, and prevent or delay the need to transition to assisted living.”

Attendees at the HealthPorte talk were engaged and appreciative of the discussion. Nancy and Larry Pennell, HealthPorte members for more than six years, said they come away from each event more knowledgeable than when they entered.  

“We became interested in the group mainly due to our age, but also because it seemed like a helpful activity to be involved in,” Larry said. “We’ve learned to change our eating habits, how important exercise is, and I’ve been in tune with watching for certain signs of arthritis after one particular talk.”

Although neither had any personal history with this month’s topic, they were prepared to take notes and look for future signs. 

“I always learn something!” Nancy said. “I’m sure today will be another eye-opener.”

Membership to Porter Regional Hospital’s HealthPorte program is free. For more information, visit Adult Outpatient Speech Therapy services are provided at Porter Outpatient Rehabilitation Services in Portage and Valparaiso. If your physician recommends speech/voice therapy, call 219-764-1053 or 219-263-4888 to schedule an appointment. 

For your convenience, here are signs of impairment vs. normal signs of aging.


  • Difficulty with your daily tasks, such as making coffee or showering  
  • Difficulty remembering new information, such as physical therapy exercises
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Getting lost while going to familiar places
  • Safety issues, such as forgetting that something is cooking


  • Hoarse, weak, or raspy voice
  • Difficulty projecting
  • Running out of breath while speaking
  • Difficulty expressing needs/wants
  • Increased frustration while communicating
  • Persistent difficulty finding the right words or explaining


  • Difficulty swallowing food, liquids, and/or pills
  • Coughing or having to clear throat while eating/drinking
  • Food or pills feeling stuck in throat
  • Pocketing food into the sides of mouth
  • Pneumonia
Porter Regional Hospital’s HealthPorte talk unpacks changes in speech and cognitive function in aging