Galentine’s Day is for gals of all ages! NHC is a place where many seniors go to spend their golden years in comfort, but for residents Sue and Martha, it’s a place that brought them together as the best of friends, making NHC more than just a place to call home.  NHC Healthcare Center is a place where many seniors go to spend their golden years in comfort, but for residents Sue and Martha, it’s a place that brought them together as the best of friends, making NHC more than just a place to call home.

So, for this Galentine’s Day, NHC highlights the unbreakable bond of Martha and Sue, two women who have proven that friendship is the best gift of all.

Sue, 76, and Martha, 90, have formed a bond that changed their days at the NHC Healthcare Center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. They both moved in at the beginning of 2022, and from that moment on, they have been inseparable.

They enjoy spending all their time together whether that’s getting their nails done, gossiping over a good meal, or singing gospel songs which is a favorite for NHC Admissions Coordinator Stacey Priestley. “You can walk down the halls and definitely hear Ms. Martha belting them out and Ms. Sue just carrying along with her,” said Priestley with a smile.

They have become each other’s support system, always there to lend a listening ear or offer a helping hand. Their friendship has not gone unnoticed by the staff and other residents at NHC, who often marvel at the way these two women bring out the best in each other. “Sue and Martha are a dynamic duo. They are like Lucy to Ethel,” said Wellness Director Caitlyn Scott, “I always say when I grow up I hope to have a friendship like that because it is truly something special.”

One of the things that makes Martha and Sue’s friendship so special is the way they have proven that friendship knows no age limit and that it’s never too late to find someone who will love and accept you for who you are. “She keeps me straight,” said Sue as Martha burst into laughter.

And as for Martha, she shared the same sentiment.

“If I’m in a bad mood, she gets me out of it right quick,” said Martha with a click of her tongue.

As they look back on the time they’ve spent together, they are filled with gratitude for the friendship they have found and for the memories they have made. “I love you, Martha, forever,” said Sue as she reached her hand to hold Sue’s arm.

“Well, I love you too,” Martha returned.

“Forever and ever,” said Sue.

It’s moments like this that remind us of the importance of friendship. Studies have even shown that loneliness can be just as dangerous to one’s health as smoking and is an even greater risk factor than obesity and a sedentary lifestyle (Holt-Lunstad, 2010). No need for Martha and Sue to worry though, as their bond has certainly put loneliness at bay.

And that bond is why we celebrate the women in our lives who bring joy, laughter, and support into our lives. So, from the staff and residents of all NHC locations, happy Galentine’s Day!

To learn more about NHC, visit our homepage.

ref: Holt-Lunstad, J., & Smith, T. (2010). Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review. SciVee. doi: 10.4016/19911.01.

The holidays conjure up images of delicious meals, festive lights, and classic movies. However, the holiday festivities also come with their share of stress; and that’s more true than ever now during COVID-19.

For seniors, the holidays can feel especially nostalgic, bringing to mind memories of happier, younger times. This also comes with a sense of loss: of youth, of friends, and of loved ones. And in a season when many seniors have been more isolated than normal because of the pandemic, your elderly loved ones may feel like they’re missing out or don’t have much to celebrate.

If you’re looking for ways to reduce stress and bring some extra joy to your loved ones this holiday season, these tips can help.

Be realistic. Know your senior’s limitations, as well as your own. Try to set reasonable expectations before going on an outing, and don’t forget that your loved one might need to be especially cautious about exposure to COVID-19.

Watch your body language. So often, our elderly relatives feel like they’re a burden. You may be exhausted and impatient, but be careful not to show it. Take deep breaths, relax your shoulders, uncross your arms, smile often, and give little hugs. Let your loved ones feel like you have all the time in the world.

Think outside the box. So your mother wants to Christmas shop, but she’s immunocompromised and shouldn’t be out in the crowds? Bring a laptop, snuggle up next to her on the sofa with a steaming cup of hot tea, and do some online shopping.

Be a good listener. Let’s face it: often the elderly have a lot to be sad about. Instead of reprimanding them for whining, or telling them to cheer up, invite your family member to talk about their feelings. Try saying things like, “I bet you’re missing your husband this year, aren’t you? How do you feel?” Listening validates their feelings.

Recall happy memories. After you’ve let your mother vent, transition her into a more positive conversation. Or redirect your father’s attention by asking him to recall funny anecdotes. If you have children or teens, urge them to ask their grandparents leading questions like, “Tell me about your first Christmas with Grandma.”

Let your elderly relative help. Everyone likes to feel useful, and that’s especially true of seniors. Make a mental list of everything that has to be done: applying bows to gifts, setting out placecards, peeling vegetables, hanging ornaments, setting tables. Then ask your loved one for help with one of these tasks.

Prevent over-stimulation and isolation. As odd as it sounds, a large family dining table can be a lonely place for an elderly person who cannot hear well. This is especially true if he has been living in a quiet environment, like an assisted living or nursing home. Seat your senior at the dining table at a position where they can hear well. Often the middle of the table is the most comforting spot. Sitting at the end of a table can cause noise distortion and the perception that everyone is talking at once.

Take turns being the “temporary caregiver” at family gatherings. It’s easy to get caught up in the laughter and conversation and busyness of a family event and leave the senior out. By assigning different relatives to take turns being the companion at these events, it ensures that your elderly relatives feel like they’re part of the festivities.

Maintain routines. If your mother or father is accustomed to an afternoon nap, make sure you budget time for it. Routines extend to meal times and portion sizes, as well. Too much on the plate can be overwhelming and lead to the senior just pushing the food around.

Get creative with your gifts. Sometimes it’s difficult to know what to purchase for your elderly relatives, especially when they’ve downsized. Look for gifts that will make their space more cozy or help them connect with their loved ones. Maybe your mother needs a warm, fuzzy throw for her bedroom. Add a few movies that the two of you can watch together, and you’ll have the perfect Christmas gift. Or maybe your father would love an easy-to-use mobile phone or tablet that he can use to FaceTime his grandkids. A great gift doesn’t need to be complicated, just make it heartfelt.

Above all, you can control the holiday chaos by budgeting time to enjoy special music together, snuggle by a fire, and just be together. That companionship is undoubtedly the greatest gift your special senior can receive this year.

You might see Dodger offering cuddles and play time at Villages of Jackson Creek

We work hard to celebrate all of the amazing patients, partners, and family members who make up our centers. But there’s another group you may not know about that brings love, friendship, and wellness to our NHC community: the NHC dogs. 

Whether patients are visiting us for a short stay or living full-time in one of our long-term care centers, these furry friends help patients feel at home and remind them that they’re not alone. It’s no surprise, then, that therapy dogs are proven to reduce depression and anxiety for many of the people who interact with them. 

Mia is always willing to visit patients who need a friend at NHC Cookeville

Beyond the emotional benefits, did you know that dogs can also help people heal faster from an injury or illness? Some of the dogs you might see around your center are “facility therapy dogs” or “animal assisted therapy dogs.” These dogs are trained to work with a physical or occupational therapist to help patients with a variety of exercises, movements, and tasks. 

We even find that our “therapeutic visitation dogs” — who are mostly there to offer emotional support — bring a playful energy that encourages patients who are able to be more active and engaged.

Millie Wigglebottom helped NHC McMinnville patients celebrate the Fourth of July

It’s not uncommon to find a patient who’s hesitant to mingle with their peers coming out of their room to join the fun when one of our dog friends arrives for a visit. And if they’re unable to leave their bed, our visitation dogs are always willing to drop by their room for some one-on-one attention and cuddles.

Keep an eye out for a friendly therapy dog the next time you visit one of our centers, and don’t be afraid to give them some love!