The Right Place

Carefree living in a wonderful community starts with healthy minds and bodies 

Ron and Connie

For months, they passed each two ships in the night, Connie catching just a fleeting glimpse of Ron as she strolled in to work the night shift while he left for home after the dat shift.

Then one night, Connie saw Ron at a local dance club they frequented. She hasn’t let him out of her sight since.

“My mother was the one who told me to look for him there,” Connie says. “She worked the day shift with Ron at the manufacturing plant where we all worked and told me he was a nice guy and that he went to that club a lot.

“It was a place called The Rail in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and I used to go there a lot, too, because I love music and love to dance. The night I finally met him I just went up to him, tapped him on the shoulder and said, Are you Ron Maronn? He said yes, and that was it.”

Ron and Connie’s romance blossomed quickly following that meeting. They were married nine months later and began a family two years after that. In January, they will celebrate their 55th wedding anniversary.

That celebration will take place at The Meridian at Brandon, a supportive independent living, assisted living and memory care community that Ron and Connie have called home since it opened this past summer.

“We moved to a place in Plant City after we retired in 2008, and we loved it there,” Ron explains “But Connie has some memory issues and I am legally blind, so we started looking for a place where we could get a little help if we needed it.

“That’s what led us to The Meridian at Brandon. A friend of ours told us about it after reading about it and checking it out, and when we came for a visit, it had everything we were looking for. It was a perfect fit.”

Perfect  because  the  owners  and operators of The Meridian at Brandon strive to help their residents live better by  offering  care  and  services  that strengthen minds and bodies, decrease falls,  improve  moods  and  increase engagement in social activities.

“We offer seniors every opportunity possible  to  get  healthier,  socialize, celebrate and make new friends,” says Stacy McCanless, executive director of The Meridian at Brandon, which is open to residents of varied physical abilities.

“We   want   to   provide exceptional experiences for our residents and fill their days with fun and meaningful interactions within their homes as well as the greater community outside, where we offer many opportunities to get involved and be active.”

To  do  this,  The  Meridian  team weaves wellness through day-to-day experiences, from activities to dining to care to the social scene. As part of that effort, the team has partnered with a physical therapy company that provides a full-time exercise physiologist.

The community also has a state-of- the-art gym that was designed with residents in mind. It features high-tech equipment such as a digital weight machine, a MIRROR smart gym, a Biodex Balance™ System, and a NuStep® recumbent cross-trainer.

“I love to exercise and do my best to stay as fit as possible, so the gym and all the equipment they have was one of the many things that convinced us that The Meridian was the right choice,” Connie says. “That checked one of my boxes, for sure.”

The Meridian at Brandon also offers residents an opportunity to participate in an exclusive exercise program called #Roadto150 that helps seniors set goals around reaching at least 150 minutes of exercise per week.

“Studies show that increasing activity to 150 minutes per week can decrease the risk of falls and the onset of disease that may result in injury,” Stacy explains. “We want 150 minutes to be a lamppost to guide our programming.”

Corporate owner Meridian Senior Living has also partnered with nationally known chiropractor Edythe Heus, DC, and her Revolution in Motion training system to roll out a senior-specific health and fitness program called Vitality.

Grounded in kinesiology,  Vitality can help residents improve balance and mobility, decrease fall risk, focus the mind, increase energy and improve sleep, all while seated in a chair on a balance pad. “This is a safe program that has turned back the clock for many of our residents as they feel much younger, with improved memory, coordination and balance,” says Sue Johnston, Meridian Senior Living’s vice president of programming.

The Meridian at Brandon also offers yoga, tai chi and morning stretching classes as well as a walking club. Its exercise physiologist can also create customized fitness plans and in-house physical  and  occupational  therapies specific to those with Parkinson’s disease and dementia.

Cognitive and Social Wellness True wellness goes beyond the gym, however, so regardless of a resident’s level of dependence, The Meridian at Brandon offers an array of daily activities designed to stimulate the mind, bring purpose, and capture passions and interests.

Those  activities  include  arts  and crafts, history courses, religious services, Bible studies, music programs, happy hours  and  movie  nights  in  the community  theater.  The  Meridian also  offers  a  speaker  series  and transportation to local shows, shopping, museums and more.

“I love to draw, paint and work with my hands, so I really appreciate the opportunity that I have here to get involved in art classes and things of that nature,” Connie says. “And Ron and I love to dance. We get a chance to do that quite a bit.”

Ron and Connie take full advantage of those opportunities. They’re regulars out on the dance floor during happy hours and live music events, and according to Margie Ferrino, sales director at The Meridian, “They cut a mean rug. They’re absolutely beautiful together.”

Residents can also become involved in community life via The Meridian’s Dining Council, Ambassador program and Philanthropy Club, a resident- led group that will focus on “paying it forward” to its chosen causes.

“One of the things we’re doing right now is making blankets for people who have suffered losses,” Connie notes. “Ron is doing that, too. We’re making blankets for little ones who may have lost their home in a fire or something of that nature. It’s a giving thing.”

Memory Care

Building image courtesy of The Meridian at Brandon.

For seniors with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, The Meridian at Brandon offers Montessori Moments in  Time™,  a  program  designed  to enhance the quality of life for those with memory impairment and guided by its “Five Directional Paths.”

“Beginning with each ‘Resident Life Story,’ we build our programming on their habits, their personal preferences, their past and present interests, and what brings them joy,” Stacy explains.

The Family Connections path helps strengthen the partnership with adult children or family members as they come to terms with their loved one’s diagnosis. Support groups, resources and education provide opportunities to learn more about the disease, ways to communicate and tools to cope.

The community also partners with Eldergrow™, a program that provides horticulture therapy to memory care residents. Eldergrow and its mobile sensory garden have resulted in benefits consistent with a Montessori approach such as a feeling of independence, a sense of purpose and accomplishment, and important sensory engagement.

Nutrition Is Important

Along with staying mentally and physically active, healthy eating is an integral part of wellness. The Meridian achieves that objective by providing residents  with  a  well-balanced  diet through chef-prepared specialty menus and classic offerings.

“We have found that when seniors live at home, they often don’t eat healthy because of physical limitations that prevent  them  from  preparing  food or getting to the grocery store,” Stacy informs. “At The Meridian, we make dining an experience that encourages people to eat well-rounded meals and make healthier decisions.”

The community features a private dining room, a grab-and-go bistro, a large restaurant-style dining room, a pre- dining lounge, even a bar. The culinary staff prepares three meals per day, which are included in the monthly rent.

Because nutrition is so important, the menu always reflects The Meridian’s commitment to offering a delicious and healthy dining experience.

“The food is something we love best about living here at The Meridian. I never learned to cook,” Connie offers. “And I don’t make many meals, but we’re eating very well and very healthy now, and we’re both loving that.”

“What else I love is that I don’t need to worry about maintaining the grounds or the building,” Ron adds. “I also love how they’ve set me up with all the in- house doctors here because I don’t drive anymore. That’s very important, so yes, we really do love living here.”

article by Roy Cummings oto by Jordan Pysz

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