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Local, family owned-and-operated assisted living caring for seniors from Mesquite, Garland, Rowlett, Murphy, and the surrounding cities at our facility in Garland, TX.  We emphasize quality, personable elderly care within a home-like environment.  Book a tour today!

"I Didn't Choose The Craft Life; The Craft Life Chose Me"

Food is the ingredient that binds us together.
— Anonymous

Phew.  After some time and some wind up it’s finally complete.  I don’t know how I’m the person on the admin team charged with doing crafts, but that’s just how it turns out.  Kyle, my cousin and our bookkeeper watched me today poke holes with a rusty box cutter, use a level as a ruler, and pencil in and re-pencil sad crooked guide lines.

So after all that -- here are our new Recipe suggestions boxes!  Got an old recipe for pie you’d like for us to try? Write it down and send it our way!  Got a new recipe for pie that’s to die for? Write it down on a card or even print it out and just slam it in there!  

We’re looking forward to seeing what people send our way.  As an obvious disclaimer, we can’t accommodate to every recipe.  We won’t be able to accommodate a recipe that requires a rare expensive herb in the Himalayas or Alaskan crab meets filet mignon wrapped in duck confit (although all of those sound amazing).  However we’d love to try a heritage soup recipe or a blueberry pie idea or a family recipe for gravy! Write it down, and if we can accommodate we will do our best!

Here’s to good food!

Lessons from Residents: Dancing Wasn't Invented Yesterday

Welcome to “MIllenial Memoirs: And Other Things I’ve Learned Working with the Elderly”. Today’s lesson is Dancing Wasn’t Invented Yesterday.

This Image is not my own — this was taken from

This Image is not my own — this was taken from

One of our residents passed away in the last year who I’ll call Sally.  Sally worked as a stay at home mom and spent most of her adult life raising her daughter.  Amidst that she was well travelled and well educated. Her husband contributed to local government, and they were both very involved with their community.  What I admired most about Sally was her flexibility towards aging. When I first met Sally (who had just recently lost the companionship of her latest boyfriend) she was reading her Kindle.  I asked her if she needed anything, and she told me she would be just fine as long as she could play on her Kindle. In an industry where most residents feel paralyzed by technology and apprehensive to change, I was very impressed.

One day, I was talking with Sally and she told me how much she loved white wine (I believe Sauvignon Blanc’s and chardonnays were some of her favorites) and then she started talking to me about Drambuie and mixed drinks.  She told me about all the people she and her husband would meet and their adventurous nights out.

As ridiculous as this sounds -- I was shocked.  Of course -- she drank white wine. Of course she drank drambuie.  Of course she had friends who she would drink and dance and socialize with.  Why wouldn’t these be things she enjoyed?  Because she was older and I somehow thought the older generation hadn’t encountered these things?  Like alcohol and going dancing were invented yesterday?

No--history repeats. When one stops to realize this, it’s easy to feel a transcendence that we’re all coming from the same place and going to the same place .  It’s easy to forget this but sometimes when you sit with the elderly for a bit, you start to realize how small, yet significant you are in the grand scheme of things.  On one end, you’re just a dot in the line of humanity, and nothing really new has happened. On the other end, you’re a dot in the line of humanity and without you that line is missing a piece.  

Working with the elderly has taught me that we were all young once and we’ll all be old eventually.  That fact has an oddly sobering effect on just how valuable one views human life and and the cycle of one’s own human experience.   It allows one pause to zoom out and view that every human’s life is a timeline. And one begins to see where he is on his own timeline and how to live that life to the fullest.  

In that regard one becomes more mortal, and when that happens he becomes more grateful.  Sitting with Sally, finding out more about her flourishing life, realizing how similar it was to mine at one stage and how similar mine might be to hers one day -- made me incredibly grateful for the stage I’m in and for the opportunities and the rich lives  we each have ahead.

Things I've Learned Working with the Elderly: Bite the Bullet

Welcome to “MIllenial Memoirs: And Other Things I’ve Learned Working with the Elderly”. Today’s lesson is Bite the Bullet.

bite the bullet.jpg

Wikipedia on “Biting the Bullet”: It is often stated that it is derived historically from the practice of having a patient clench a bullet in his or her teeth as a way to cope with the extreme pain of a surgical procedure without anesthetic, though evidence for biting a bullet rather than a leather strap during surgery is sparse.

Adventures in Activities

When I first started working here at the assisted living, one of the most important parts of my jobs involved coordinating activities -- and one of the things I enjoyed was getting to know our residents one on one.  One such resident I got to know was a woman I’ll call Lily. Lily was a taciturn working woman but very active in politics in her time as well as church. I really liked spending time with her. One day, I sat in her room and we were chatting and I think I mentioned some trivial, personal problem I was having at the time -- the kind only young adults in their early 20s might have.  

I was expecting some sort of sagely advice. I don’t know why, but I’ll never forget what she said to me -- It’s not fancy wisdom, in fact many might call it cliche, and yet today it guides my life.  She said with a very distant look in her eyes,

“You know, John.  Sometimes we just have to bite the bullet.

So Much for Sagely Wisdom.

She said it with authority, with sagely wisdom, and rather matter of factly.  She said it with the gravitas of someone who had to do so over and over again.  In those three words, I think what she really said was this:

 “Sometimes -- in life -- you want something, you need something, you demand something -- and all you can really do is absorb the cost.  And the cost is -- gritting your teeth into that hot piece of lead.”

Now -- that choice is entirely yours.  No one said you have to. But you wanted this thing.  You chose to have the surgical procedure and for some reason or another, there’s no anesthetic.  So now you have two options: refuse procedure and roll the loaded dice with gangrene OR face the bullet and live.  It’s the price you have to pay. It’ll be done after a time. The scars will heal, the pain leaves the body.

I think in the day and age we live, that became a guiding principle in my life.  In that moment I think Lily told me to be strong and accept the pain of my decision -- knowing it’s for the better. Ask for broader shoulders instead of a lighter load.  Accept the meat with the bones. Refuse fragility and instead steel myself to the elements. Not in a machismo sort of way, not in a way that I don’t recognize the pain.  But to accept and recognize my choice to accept it in repayment for the greater end.

I can only imagine the thoughts that cross the mind of a woman of more than 70 years of age when she says that phrase.  How many times had she had to bite the bullet? How many sacrifices had she made for a greater good? How many times had she told sons, daughters, nieces, nephews, grandchildren the same piece of advice that had served her for years?  She didn’t offer a long sagely solution, or a trick that would solve all the problems -- both of which I was seeking. She simply said what she said. Or maybe I just didn’t know it -- maybe that was the trick.

Truly, Lily didn’t say much besides that.  I think I walked away that day at first thinking, “Wow.  That seemed relatively simple.” But maybe sometimes it is.  

Sometimes all there really is to do is bite the bullet.

Muscle Loss is the Crook // Sarcopenia's Impact on Aging

If you want to know how other ways of helping prevent injuries and syndromes associated with aging, read on and learn about a muscular-skeletal problem known as sarcopenia.  Here are the key takeaways: 

  • Sarcopenia is defined as natural muscular loss associated with aging.

  • Sarcopenia is linked to falls, and falls are linked to trouble

  • Sarcopenia cannot be stopped but its impact can be reduced

  • Nutrition (high protein intake) and exercise in the form of resistance training and walking help stop the impact.

Ah yes.  The height of living.

Ah yes.  The height of living.


Wine and cheese is the stuff of retirement.  Everytime I go to a church gathering, non profit fundraiser, or chamber meeting with older adults, wine, cheese, and prosciutto are frequently on the menu.  A lot of the times, I ask my friends at these meetings if they’d like to get dinner and they respond, “Oh, this is plenty, I’m full.” But wine and cheese isn’t really dinner.  


Don’t get me wrong, I love a good cabernet.  But they don’t substitute for a good meal of roast chicken and rice, or pork chops and asparagus.  This isn’t so bad in your 50s or 60s, but as you approach your 70s or 80s, this could be a problem.  On top of that, many do it in the name of, “It’s less food, and so it’s less calories.”


As you might guess, it’s not optimal.  As we get older, sarcopenia can set in -- a natural degeneration of our muscles and muscular growth. “After 50, a natural degeneneration of muscles becomes natural”.   Sarcopenia is defined as “ by progressive and generalized loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength and it is strictly correlated with physical disability, poor quality of life and death.”  And what people don’t seem to understand is that wine and cheese, as wonderful as it is, is no substitute in terms of protein intake.


Let’s look at some math:  One slice of cheese on the low side has 7 grams of protein and 7 grams of fat.  Considering the average male adult looking to lose weight should inta0ke about 150 grams of protein so this doesn’t appear so bad.  However, the average male adult also only needs about 56 - 78 grams of fat to cover basic dietary needs while losing weight.  So if “dinner” is cheese and wine, even if dinner was a third of your calories, you’d have to eat 10 slices of cheese to get close to your protein budget, bringing your fat budget to the limit!  


(Average needed being the daily average needed for a 5-8" to 5-10" male weighing somewhere between 150 - 170 lbs.   I'm no nutritionist but this is what some of my Googling and personal research has lead me to find.  If we're going to get really specific, some sources suggest as much as 0.8g of protein for every pound of body weight but that changes on whether or not someone is trying to lose weight.  Anyways, we could go into a black hole of nutrition research -- if you want to talk more our contact us on our website.)

(Average needed being the daily average needed for a 5-8" to 5-10" male weighing somewhere between 150 - 170 lbs.   I'm no nutritionist but this is what some of my Googling and personal research has lead me to find.  If we're going to get really specific, some sources suggest as much as 0.8g of protein for every pound of body weight but that changes on whether or not someone is trying to lose weight.  Anyways, we could go into a black hole of nutrition research -- if you want to talk more our contact us on our website.)

It’s no wonder then that most older men and women aren’t getting enough protein in their diets and as a result are marked with sarcopenic obesity -- wherein the obesity is more a result of a reduction in muscle fibers rather than an increase of fat.  

Even though the arm size hasn't changed, the fat to muscle ratio has a significant difference.  This is why as a kid I used to be able to grab excess fat on my grandma's arm and make fun of it.  Funny as a grandkid, but not as a senior trying to maintain your health.

Even though the arm size hasn't changed, the fat to muscle ratio has a significant difference.  This is why as a kid I used to be able to grab excess fat on my grandma's arm and make fun of it.  Funny as a grandkid, but not as a senior trying to maintain your health.

What’s so wrong with sarcopenia anyways?  You might say, “You said it yourself, John.  It’s just a natural part of aging.”


The problem with sarcopenia and the reason that we must do what we can as caregivers and as geriatric professionals to deter its effects is because of quality of life.  Mortality is inevitable. There is a 100% chance that everyone will die at some point. However, we can do the best that we can to make sure that the quality of life as our loved ones (and we ourselves) age is a smooth transition -- not one fraught with excessive medication and surgeries because of something as preventable as loss of muscle fiber via atrophy.  


One study said this: “Community-dwelling older adults in this study were largely sedentary but there was evidence that higher levels of activity were associated with reduced adiposity (fat tissue) and improved function. Physical activity at all intensity levels in later life may help maintain physical function and protect against sarcopenia.”  Protection against sarcopenia is protection against unnecessary mortality.  Too often as caregiving professionals we hear about someone having an unfortunate fall and their condition deteriorating rapidly afterwards.  Falls can lead to a loss of ambulation which can lead to further losses of independence and quality of life. Falls can damage important skeletal structures which once damaged lead to a loss of mobility and overall well-being.   Protecting against sarcopenia is to protect your loved one’s assets and independence as a competent individual.  “It should be important to prevent or postpone as much as possible the onset of [sarcopenia], to enhance survival and to reduce the demand for long-term care.”  Researchers highlight that we can reduce the need for long term care by monitoring against sarcopenia.  Although in some ways long term care is inevitable, we can do what we can to make it less impacting on our culture and our society.  Long term care is expensive and taxing on families financially, mentally, and emotionally. If we can reduce the need for it or prolong residents’ competence beyond it, then shouldn’t we?


What can we do to counter Sarcopenia?  As with everything the doctor tells you but doesn’t give you any specific instructions on: diet and exercise.


One studies shows that “Analysis of all thirty-nine studies suggest protein and EAA [essential amino acid] supplements may improve fat-free mass, muscle strength and physical function.”  By supplementing our diets with more protein and essential amino acids, muscles are given the nourishment they need to stay healthy and strong.  Strong muscles help maintain mobility and strength, preventing falls.

“If you don’t lose it, you lose it.”  This phrase could not be truer of sarcopenia, making the second countermeasure, of course, as exercise.

Among those interventions, physical activity with or without protein supplementation has demonstrated to be effective in improving muscle mass and function and in preventing disability and frailty in older persons.


Physical inactivity or a decreased physical activity level is a part of the underlying mechanisms of sarcopenia and therefore physical activity can be seen as an important factor to reverse or modify the development of this condition.


“Based on these evidences, recommendations for adult and frail older people should include a balanced program of both endurance and strength exercises, performed on a regular schedule (at least 3 days a week).”

This is a video image of Stronger Seniors, the video series we use at Abba Care for our residents.  There are PLENTY of these right now on that wonderful place we know as Youtube.

This is a video image of Stronger Seniors, the video series we use at Abba Care for our residents.  There are PLENTY of these right now on that wonderful place we know as Youtube.

All three studies, across the board recommend exercise as an important, if not the most important part of counteracting muscle atrophy via sarcopenia.  Endurance exercises include things like walking or aerobic activity, where as strength exercises include things like resistance training that is meant to build muscle.  We have a penchant towards attributing exercise for young people looking to get into shape -- something older adults don’t “need” anymore. Building muscle and aerobic exercise, encouraging our loved ones to do the same, at any age whether it is 9 or 95 doesn’t have to be about losing weight or looking good -- it’s about maintaining our independence and our quality of life for as many years as we possibly can.


So what can we take away here:


Personally, I’m very invested in weight lifting and so is a good friend of mine.  For years, he had been predominantly interested in moving bigger and heavier weight.  The other day though, he told me, “I’m less interested in moving crazy weight these days.  I just want to be able to lift for the rest of my life.” Societally, we seem to forget that fitness is more than just the short game of looking good.  It’s the long game of preserving quality of life and quality of health. Muscle degeneration may be a part of aging, but sarcopenia, frailty, and injury do not.  So maybe have the wine and cheese, but maybe after that, but get a quick workout in before, and then throw in a chicken breast with wild rice while you’re at it.

Frayed Family Ties: The Best Tips for Resolving Family Conflicts for Caregivers


Caregiving is challenging even when things go reasonably smoothly.  If you and family members aren’t seeing eye to eye, the situation can be especially complicated.  Here are some tips for navigating obstacles when connections between family members are getting frayed.


Common conflicts.  There are many issues that can arise when caregiving for an elderly loved one.  Family members may want to manage living or financial concerns differently, relatives who are too far to lend a hand may be resented, and decisions may reveal to differing beliefs.  With some basic conflict-resolution techniques, it’s possible to cope with the situation together and find ways to work as a team. Put a few well-thought-out guidelines in place so you and the rest of your family can keep the peace and focus on your loved one.  


Remember respect.  Not everyone reacts the same way in stressful circumstances.  As the Alzheimer’s Association points out, the tension and stress of coping with caregiving can bring issues to a head.  Most of the conflicts that may arise are not simple and will require patience and time to work through.  Remember to respect your relatives in the course of resolving issues and allow time for thorough discussions with everyone’s opinion heard and valued.  Avoid attacking or blaming anyone, as that will not resolve issues but will create hurt feelings, making it even more difficult for everyone to cooperate.  


Distribute duties.  Caregiving responsibilities should be talked through.  Create a list of all the tasks involved, including how much time each task takes, and be prepared to discuss each item on the list.  Each family member should choose tasks that match up with abilities and interests; for instance, if someone is good at and enjoys bookkeeping, that person can absorb those duties.  If someone is good at organizing and coordinating schedules, that person should man that role. Not everyone needs to be involved in hands-on caregiving, and every part of the overall duties matters.  Some experts recommend giving special thought to who can provide for financial obligations, as this may be a vital role someone fills that is neither personally present nor contributing in other ways.  And remember, as U.S. News & World Report points out, you should never fall into the misconception that you “shouldn’t have to ask” for someone to pitch in.  


Continue communicating.  Your work as a team doesn’t end when all the various roles are assigned.  Continue to meet in person or on conference calls routinely. Everyone needs to be kept in the loop, and situations can change as time goes on.  Reevaluate roles as needed and make a plan for the progression of the disease.


When someone isn’t helping.  Unfortunately, sometimes people don’t choose to do the right thing.  This can be for a number of reasons—an inability to accept the situation, avoidance of responsibility, etc.  If a family member isn’t contributing fairly, some professionals suggest sending a handwritten note including specific, concrete requests, such as a visit for respite, or making phone calls.


Substance abuse.  In the course of caregiving, one of the many situations family members may discover is their elderly loved one is abusing substances, particularly prescription medications.  With the aging of our population, there is an increase in inadvertent addictions among the elderly. If you discover your loved one has a problem, the experts at suggest addressing the situation honestly.  Talk with your senior’s physician and don’t allow the situation to progress.


Healing family ties.  When the stress of caregiving brings conflicts to the surface, it’s important to take steps toward resolution.  Practice respect, distribute duties, communicate, and if you discover a substance abuse issue, address the situation.  By using thoughtful strategies, you can keep your family functioning as a team.

Online Learning for Seniors and Friends

Article submitted and written by Karen Weeks


Photo by Pixabay

If you’re a senior on the precipice of retirement, you might be wondering how you’re going to fill your extra time. If you’ve got a few retirees already in your social circle, then you may know some who dive headfirst into skills that they have always wanted to learn, start up on hobbies that have been on the backburner, or work on technology skills to keep involved with their kids and grandkids.

While some people think technology isolates us, it doesn’t have to! It can put a world of information just one click away. From videos that teach you how to play instruments to classes on public speaking, turn your computer on and let the learning begin. Here are a few ways technology can help you and your friends enjoy those treasured golden years.

First, start with the basics

If you’re looking to get involved with fun online activities with your friends, then you might need to boost your general computer skills to get a basic understanding of how the internet works. To take an online class, you’ll want to learn how to use email, watch videos, use a web browser, create passwords and logins, and share files.

Don’t let feeling overwhelmed hold you back! Think of all you have accomplished that got you to retirement. Some seniors get nervous around technology, but all it takes is some knowledge and practice, and you can master it. Once you and your friends are comfortable with computers, next, you’ll want to decide on what classes and activities to take and learn about.

Next, try getting creative

 What has four strings and is filled with fun? A ukulele! Whether you live in a retirement community, make regular trips to the local senior center, or invite friends to your house, learning to play an instrument online can happen anytime, anywhere.

There are all kinds of music lessons online, and many, especially on YouTube, are free. First, decide which instrument to learn, and then do a web search for “online music lessons” with the name of the instrument to research your options. Not only will an instrument be a fun skill to learn both as an individual or in a group, it will also help stave off arthritis, improve memory, and help with balance.

Or, start a second career with online learning

 There are a lot of skills you can learn online that will help you grow personally, but there are also skills you can build to grow professionally, too. There are many great reasons to keep working a bit in retirement. Studies show that our minds are better at retaining memory, critical thinking, and making decisions when we stay stay active and engaged in retirement. Some seniors enjoy earning a certificate or license online that not only challenges their minds, but also gives them some extra pocket money, too.

You can take online classes to help you earn your realtor license, a great side job for seniors who want to set their own schedules. This job allows you to work when and with whom you please and to meet new people and help families find their dream homes. Real estate agents can be their own bosses or work for a firm full-time or part-time. If retirement has been a bit too stagnant for you, then earning a certification or license online may be the thing you need right now and for the future. You can also study online in areas like finance, nutrition, massage therapy, behavior science, and foreign languages. If your friends are on board for the same course, you can hold each other accountable for work and support each other as a study group.


Regardless of your reasons for going online to stay healthy and whole during retirement, you can be assured that it’s much more fun to take the technology journey with a few of your friends. Whether it’s learning about technology, taking music lessons, or starting a new part-time career, there are many options for seniors.


A very special thanks to Karen Weeks for writing and submitting this article.  We look forward to more articles from her.  You can find more on her website.


If you're interested in contributing to our blog, please contact John at



The elderly all lived life at one time.  I feel that often times younger generations will look at the elderly and forget that they too at one time bought houses, fell in love, raised children, listened to beautiful music, watched interesting movies, shopped.  Though their values may have been different, humans are humans, and times are not so different that the men and women before us didn't also have great passions, ambitions, and desires.


One of our residents here was an engineer.  What did it take her to get there?  What sort of obstacles did she climb -- because you know she must have had many.  Another resident had a husband who sat on City Council.  They travelled all over the world for various occasions -- what sort of adventures did they go on, what sort of food and drink did they try, what sort of people did they meet?  Many of our residents of course were housewives.  What sort of funny stories did they have with their children?  What sort of days did they have?  What sort of communities were they a part of?  Another resident we had taught collegiate English and managed a growing business.  How did she handle both?  What sort of challenges did she face?


I think it's easy to distance ourselves from these stories out of a fear of getting to where they are.  But if you stop and look around, you'll realize that these people all had rich lives with a wealth of friendships and dreams as well.    

Excerpts: May 2017 Towncrier

This is an excerpt from our May Towncrier regarding the passing of our matron, Iluminada Blasquez:

An Illuminated Life

Reflections on Illuminada

I recently watched a video about someone explaining that happiness isn’t determined by how much water is or isn’t in the glass -- it’s determined by accepting how much water is in the glass, accepting it with satisfaction, and then being okay with trying to pursue more.  I believe in many ways, my grandmother didn’t have a lot of water in her glass all the time, but by the end of her life, “the cup poureth over”.

Iluminada did not have an easy life but she was content and made the most of every moment.  She was raised in the countrysides of rural Philippines.  She was a sickly child but ironically that saved her.   Her family worked to send her to school since she was not capable of doing the manual labor.  Starting from nothing and being in a working family, this girl would eventually gain a bachelor’s and a master’s teaching college English literature.

Her relationship with Arturo was not always easy.  Though loving and well-meaning, he was a cantankerous man who had his own demons to battle.  He trapped himself in an affair for ten years, one that Iluminada knew about.  But she never left him, and instead she remained tenacious, serving her family, running the business, getting her master’s.  Ten years later he would return to her patient love that waited and together they enjoyed the best years of their beautiful marriage.

In his sixties Arturo and her daughter Veronica became very sick and passed away.  Iluminada went back and forth between the United States and the Philippines watching and caring for both of her loved ones in their final stages, all the while caring for some of the grandchildren who had become like second children to her.  Despite everything that life sent her, Lu was never lacking in love to pour into the next generation.

In a utilitarian world that’s taught us to run when relationship, jobs, and circumstances get hard, Iluminada thrived as an example of the complete opposite.  She was a mother to so many, and a woman who will forever embody industriousness, tenacity, perseverance, and love.

Abba Care Assisted Living

1201 High Grove Dr.

Garland, TX  75041

972.840.1515  ||

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We are a welcoming community who provides care for and welcomes all people from all walks of life.  It is the policy of Abba Care to ensure that all residents, employees, families, and guests be treated considerately and respectfully regardless of  race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, cultural background, economic status, education or illness.