Whitney Center News | Senior Living in Hamden, CT

Celebrating Forty Years of the Arts

By | Blog

Anyone who’s heard a moving piece of music, seen a spectacular theatrical performance or taken in a breathtaking display of artwork understands that culture and the arts are intrinsically valuable to all of us. They enrich our lives in so many ways, allowing us to experience new things, connect us to each other and provide us with the means to express ourselves in different ways.

“Over the past 40 years, Whitney Center has seen how the arts help individuals of all ages thrive, express, connect and experience,” says Michael Rambarose, President and CEO of Whitney Center, a Life Care Community in Hamden, CT. “Our connections to the humanities, arts and education are an integral part of our community’s culture, and we strive to provide opportunities for residents to engage in, create and enjoy the arts in whatever way they want.”

Perhaps the most obvious example of art and culture takes place at the Cultural Arts Center at Whitney Center, which hosts performances and lectures throughout the year. The Center also houses Perspectives: The Gallery, an art gallery that is open to the public three days a week. The gallery, which was completed in 2011, features two defined sections that boast exhibits of original artwork from Whitney Center residents as well as exhibitions curated by the Arts Council of Greater New Haven.

“We are proud to be recognized as a center for the arts and humanities in Hamden, and pleased that we’re able to provide artistic inspiration both on and off campus for our residents and for the community at large,” says Michael.

The Arts & Aging

The art realm, specifically as it relates to aging, has grown quite a bit over the past 10 years thanks to dedicated efforts from nonprofits and foundations. These efforts have focused on three specific aspects:

  • Integrating the arts into health care settings
  • Providing opportunities to participate in the arts or skill-build, no matter how young or old a person is
  • Creating communities that use design and art to develop accessible, engaging spaces for people of all ages and abilities

This focus on aging and the arts is still fairly new. Although there have been many studies done on the therapeutic benefits of art and music in a health care setting, there has been less actual research on the effect of arts and culture in general for seniors. There has been anecdotal research that shows how participants in the art experience lower rates of depression and loneliness, have a greater sense of self-worth and are more dextrous, both physically and mentally. In order to fully embrace the importance of these fields when it comes to aging, more research will need to be done to see what global effects they have.

“As people are living longer and experiencing longer retirements, this generation of senior Americans have unique opportunities,” says Michael. “Not only do individuals get the opportunity to try their hand at new arts in their golden years, but professionals in the arts – musicians, singers, actors – can continue to refine, hone and expand their craft as they age, bringing knowledge and value to the community at large. At Whitney Center, we say that your life is a work of art, and we strive to make that come true in every way possible.”

If you’d like to learn more about Whitney Center and how our retirement community can help make your life a work of art, contact us today. We look forward to discussing how you can begin enjoying the benefits of our Life Care Community.

Discover Excellence in Senior Living.

At Whitney Center, you’ll find a distinguished senior living community where residents do what they love. Located in Hamden, Connecticut, Whitney Center combines all the cultural, educational and historical charms of the Greater New Haven area with the intricate details of daily life for active seniors. Whitney Center is a Life Care community, offering not just an unparalleled Independent living lifestyle, but a full continuum of care services as well, including Assisted living, Rehabilitation, Skilled nursing care and Memory care. Whitney Center even offers a home-based long-term care program, Thrive at Home, which connects seniors to the services they need to live well in their own home.

Choice. Freedom. Opportunity.

We believe that remaining engaged and striving for excellence builds a more meaningful life. That’s why residents experience a host of services and amenities, events and cultural opportunities and wellness programs designed to foster endless growth and personalized living. Backed by our first-rate hospitality and philosophy of continuous improvement, our residents are free to travel, learn, volunteer, set new goals and create the life they want to live.

Come Here to Thrive.

At Whitney Center, residents live in the midst of cultural arts and education and dignified connections to the greater community. Seniors thrive in pursuit of what brings them joy, with unlimited opportunities to create and contribute. And, with the confidence in quality care services available on site if health needs ever change, Whitney Center makes it possible for seniors to continue enjoying the freedom to embrace life at its fullest.

Contact Whitney Center today to learn more about our Life Care community!

Meet LaTasha Green – Human Resources Generalist/Employee Relations Specialist

By | Blog

Caught in the Act! It’s a phrase nearly every Whitney Center employee hopes they hear according to LaTasha (Tasha) Green, Whitney Center’s HR Generalist/Employee Relations Specialist.

Caught in the Act is a Whitney Center employee relations program designed to recognize employees who go above and beyond each month. While the program was in place when Tasha came to Whitney Center a little over two years ago, she has taken the program to exciting new heights. “I just think the program is wonderful,” says Tasha. “We are fortunate to have a team in place who loves what they do. It shows in the care they provide and in the tasks they perform every day. Caught in the Act is a way for us to recognize their efforts.”

Each month, residents select employees from a list of nominations. The employee “Caught in the Act” is treated to a fine dining lunch experience with Whitney Center’s CEO, Vice President of Business Services and some residents.

Tasha says the program was specifically recognized by CARF – Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities and Continuing Care Accreditation Commission – during Whitney Center’s recent accreditation process, stating that Whitney Center “nurtures a culture of trust as indicated in the longevity of employees who say they feel recognized and important. This is reflected in the quality of care and service.” CARF designation is awarded only to communities that demonstrate financial stability, quality of care, and the value of a resident’s investment.

Overseeing Caught in the Act is just one of many programs Tasha has enhanced since she joined the team. In addition to conducting initial interviews for all potential new hires, implementing orientation and training programs, her “superpower” according to many of her colleagues, is event planning.

“Tasha is our event planner extraordinaire,” says Cathy Goodman, Whitney Center’s Director of Marketing. “Her employee events truly help build bridges between our residents and employees. She’s been instrumental in making sure employee morale remains high because all of us here at Whitney Center are firm believers that gratified, satisfied employees, equals better care and better service for residents.”

Tasha says the most talked-about event of the year so far was the Black History Month Celebration. “The event focused on migration and a changing culture. Together, residents and employees shared their views and opinions on the importance and role black history has had in their lives. Local entertainers came in; we had food …it was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the diversity of the community,” says Tasha. “The event was all about building relationships and celebrating our differences – something we try to do here every day.”

“The Black History Celebration was another way to show the staff how much we appreciate what they do,” adds Cathy. “Tasha places a lot of emphasis on making sure the staff knows that every person on our team is appreciated by Whitney Center’s leadership, as well as by our residents.”

“A little recognition goes a long way so I try to promote and support the staff as much as I can,” says Tasha. “Our employees are dedicated, hard workers. They deserve to be celebrated.”

When it comes to planning employee events, her coworkers say Tasha thinks outside the box. “Fortunately, everyone here at Whitney Center supports my ideas, so the staff can look forward to several new, ‘outside-the-box employee events’ throughout the next year including a big splash for our upcoming 40thanniversary and an even-bigger celebration for next year’s Black History Month,” says Tasha.

At the end of the day, as a Human Resources Specialist, Tasha is largely responsible for hiring the right team. She says the most important quality she looks for in a potential hire is empathy. “I try to get a feel for how that person will engage with our residents … Did they mention a relationship with a grandparent? Why did they become a caregiver?” she says. “I am looking for a person that fits our culture. We are a mission-focused community that places a high emphasis on living our values. I look for people whose values align with ours.”

About Whitney Center

Whitney Center is a Life Care community for people ages 62+. Founded over 40 years ago, the community offers area retirees a full range of lifestyles and services including independent living, assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing care, rehabilitation services, and home care. As a Life Care community, residents have access to any level of health care they may need. Whitney Center is located at 200 Leeder Hill Drive in Hamden.

Why the Humanities Enhance a Senior’s Quality of Life

By | Blog

What is it about the humanities that draws us all – young, old and in-between? From the time we are very tiny to advanced age, there is a drive in each human to create, to participate and enjoy the arts. Why is this, and why does it have such amazing benefits for our quality of life?

“The humanities play a vital role throughout our lives in helping us be well-rounded individuals,” says Michael Rambarose, President and CEO of Whitney Center, a Life Care Community in Hamden, CT. “They help us broaden our intellect, teach us to communicate, and improve our quality of life in so many ways. At Whitney Center, the connection to the humanities, arts and cross-cultural education is part of our community’s DNA, which is why we take pride in hosting lectures, performances and artwork at our Cultural Arts Center. We believe that striving for excellence and remaining engaged builds a more meaningful life, which is why we include cultural opportunities and events in the host of programs available to our residents.”

The Evidence for Humanities as Part of Senior Programming

What does art have to do with aging well? According to Barbara Bagan, PhD, ATR-BC, Professor of Expressive Arts Therapy at Ottawa University in Phoenix, AZ:

“Throughout history, artists have known that art benefits for both the creator and viewer. Current studies in the fields of art therapy, music therapy and other creative modalities confirm that art can affect individuals in positive ways by inducing both psychological and physiological healing. We know that, in general, exercising our creative selves enhances quality of life and nurtures overall well-being. We all are creative – not just a select few.”

There are plenty of anecdotal stories that highlight the benefits of older adults engaging in the arts. But what about actual scientific evidence? While there hasn’t been an inordinate amount of research into the topic, there have been some studies done showing that, yes, the arts are good for us no matter how old we are.

For example, a study published in the Journal of Aging Studies identified six features of healthy, successful aging:

  • Interactions with others
  • A sense of purpose
  • Personal growth
  • Autonomy
  • Self-acceptance

Activities that involve the humanities and the arts – like theatre, writing, painting and more –encourage a number of these features.

Next Avenue, a research-focused art blog, conducted a study of literature and studies, and discovered that “the most compelling evidence of the value of the arts revolves around improving the lives of older adults.” In other words, there is substantial evidence that participatory arts like writing, drawing, painting and the like can help maintain the health and quality of life of seniors.

The study goes on to state: “While extending the so-called “golden years” can be a blessing, challenges include deteriorating health, social isolation, loss of loved ones and life transitions. Fortunately, research shows that arts-related interventions can help (in some cases, more so than traditional Western medicine). In particular, there is substantial causal evidence that participatory arts activities help to maintain the health and quality of life of older adults.”

Benefits of the Humanities on Healthy Aging

Here are just some of the findings and evidence that supports the theory that the humanities play an important part in maintaining a high quality of life as we age:

  • Singing can improve mental health and improve self-esteem
  • Dancing helps boost motor skills and cognition
  • Playing a musical instrument has many positive effects, including reducing the risk of dementia
  • The visual arts (painting, drawing, sculpting) increase one’s social engagement, self-esteem and psychological health
  • Practicing in some form of art helps individuals relax and gain a sense of control
  • Individuals who participate in the arts and humanities show reduced signs of depression and anxiety, improved cognition, increased self-esteem and reduced boredom
  • Seniors who participate in the arts report a stronger sense of identity

“When older adults pursue activities that are based in meaning, purpose, and honesty, they can attain … wisdom and integrity,” writes Dr. Bagan. “Therapeutic art experiences can supply meaning and purpose to the lives of older adults in supportive, non-threatening ways.”

She reports that research into neurological pathways show that making art can produce new neural pathways and stronger connections, improving cognitive functions. Even viewing art causes the brain to reshape, restructure and adapt, thus expanding an individual’s potential to increase cognition and brain function.

According to Bruce Miller, MD, a behavioral neurologist at University of California, San Francisco, creative abilities don’t have to deteriorate as our brains age. Far from it, in fact. The aging brain responds excellently to art and the humanities and allows the entire brain to function in tandem. Creativity is a skill that is built throughout a lifetime, and using this ability in our senior years is the culmination of our knowledge, life experiences and outlook.

“At Whitney Center, we work together to promote independence and well-being in a vibrant cultural atmosphere,” says Michael Rambarose. “Everything from amenities and services to programming, events and a focus on everyday wellness is designed so that residents can keep doing what they love – and discover new ways to grow and find personal fulfillment.

If you’d like to learn more about Whitney Center and how we can help you live a stress-free retirement lifestyle, contact us today. We look forward to discussing how you can begin enjoying the benefits of our Life Care Community.

Discover Excellence in Senior Living.

At Whitney Center, you’ll find a distinguished senior living community where residents do what they love. Located in Hamden, Connecticut, Whitney Center combines all the cultural, educational and historical charms of the Greater New Haven area with the intricate details of daily life for active seniors. Whitney Center is a Life Care community, offering not just an unparalleled independent living lifestyle, but a full continuum of care services as well, including assisted living, rehabilitation, skilled nursing care and memory care. Whitney Center even offers a home-based long-term care program, Thrive at Home, which connects seniors to the services they need to live well in their own home.

Choice. Freedom. Opportunity.

We believe that remaining engaged and striving for excellence builds a more meaningful life. That’s why residents experience a host of services and amenities, events and cultural opportunities and wellness programs designed to foster endless growth and personalized living. Backed by our first-rate hospitality and philosophy of continuous improvement, our residents are free to travel, learn, volunteer, set new goals and create the life they want to live.

Come Here to Thrive.

At Whitney Center, residents live in the midst of cultural arts and education and dignified connections to the greater community. Seniors thrive in pursuit of what brings them joy, with unlimited opportunities to create and contribute. And, with the confidence in quality care services available on site if health needs ever change, Whitney Center makes it possible for seniors to continue enjoying the freedom to embrace life at its fullest.

Contact Whitney Center today to learn more about our Life Care community!

Whitney Center Life Care Community Director of Special Projects Shakes Things Up at a Local Middle School

By | Blog

Marc Browne, Director of Special Projects at Whitney Center, a Life Care Community in Hamden, CT, normally spends his workday designing new senior living buildings, directing renovation projects and planning apartment remodels for incoming residents. But recently, instead of focusing on ways to enhance and improve life for the retirees who make Whitney Center their home, he took a brief hiatus from the senior crowd and spent a few days focusing on a completely different demographic – eighth-grade children.

“I was charged with helping a group of students design, engineer and build an earthquake-proof structure as part of the school’s math-science initiative,” says Marc. “Our approach was first to build a platform that simulated an earthquake, and then build a viable structure.”

According to Marc, the experience was fascinating in countless ways. Perhaps most notably is how technology is now a part of the students’ everyday life. “When we were designing the structure, I was helping them with math – the way I learned math,” he says. “The students would always be quick to let me know there’s a newer way of doing this and it was often via an app! And you know what? It worked!”

Marc admits he was a little surprised at the determination and creativity of the students and says he enjoyed watching even the shyest of children coming out of their shells. “Everyone enthusiastically participated,” says Marc. “And when they hit roadblocks – like when they discovered their pyramid-style structure would not hold the required occupancy – they discussed it, brainstormed ideas and came up with viable solutions to overcome their problems. It was really cool.”

Marc says it’s important for Whitney Center to nurture a lifestyle that empowers employees to give back. “If you think volunteering is just a nice thing you do for others … think again,” he says. “A growing body of research points to the social, emotional and even physical health benefits of volunteering. In short, creating a culture of volunteerism doesn’t just help others, it also helps your organization – and we find that to be very true at Whitney Center.”

Michael Rambarose, President and CEO at Whitney Center, agrees. “Volunteering can be a life-changing experience and an important chance for employees to build new skills. We are committed to being good stewards of our community and volunteering helps us stay true to that promise.”

Marc says Whitney Center employees are eager volunteers. “Our employees have a wide variety of interests and passions, and it shows in the causes and organizations they support,” he says. “Their unique set of skills and knowledge can help others in a myriad of ways, from mentoring and tutoring younger generations to providing career guidance to feeding and clothing the disadvantaged to offering companionship and care.”

“At Whitney Center, we believe that we have a responsibility not only to our own community but to the communities of Hamden and the Greater New Haven area,” adds Michael. “This is why Whitney Center, its staff and residents take such an active role in volunteering and developing collaborative relationships with our neighbors and supporting programs that improve the quality of life in our community.”

Marc calls volunteering “a Whitney Center tradition,” and explains that he takes the time to contribute because it brings greater depth and joy to his job: “I love my work, and I love working with seniors. Volunteering enriches that. It brings a new perspective into my daily routine and adds a little more fun into it.”

Marc adds that many within Whitney Center agree, which is a prime reason why the staff and residents take such an active role in volunteering, developing collaborative relationships with community neighbors, and supporting programs that improve the quality of life both within and outside of the Whitney Center walls.

Our Volunteers Make a Difference

Whitney Center leadership, employees and residents are active in the community, giving their time and expertise to a variety of local organizations including Habitat for Humanity, The New Haven Community Soup Kitchen, Highville Charter School, IRIS Integrated Refugee &Immigrant Services, The Shore Line Trolley Museum, Yale Sustainable Food Program, and Yale-New Haven Hospital, to name a few.

Discover Excellence in Senior Living.

At Whitney Center, you’ll find a distinguished senior living community where employees love their jobs and residents do what they love to do! Located in Hamden, Connecticut, Whitney Center combines all the cultural, educational and historical charms of the Greater New Haven area with the intricate details of daily life for active seniors. Whitney Center is a Life Care community, offering not just an unparalleled independent living lifestyle, but a full continuum of care services as well, including assisted living, rehabilitation, skilled nursing care, and memory care. Whitney Center even offers a home-based health and wellness membership program, Thrive at Home, which connects seniors to the services they need to live well in their own home.

Contact Whitney Center today to learn more about our Life Care community!

“Take Two and Call Me in the Morning:” The Whitney Center Prescription for a Stress-Free Retirement Lifestyle

By | Blog

Raise your hand if you enjoy being stressed. No? No one? Stress is one of those things that nobody enjoys, but everyone experiences in some form or another. According to the most recent study from American Institute of Stress, 77 percent of people regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress. Since “job pressure” is far and away the biggest cause of stress for most Americans, you would think that retirees would be some of the least stressed individuals out there.

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