Chef’s Table: The Bristal at Lake Grove’s Mark Hain Shares His Recipe For Lobster Risotto

Posted by: The Bristal

Lobster risotto recipe from The Bristal at Lake Grove

From working at a country club as a teen, then training under renowned chef Ming Tsai, to his current job at The Bristal at Lake Grove, Mark Hain’s cooking career is as varied as it is impressive.

“My father always said if you want money, you have to go out and make it,” Hain, a Rockville Centre native, said. “I started out in the country club washing dishes. One day the chef called (for help)…I just jumped onto the line and went from there.”

But even before that first job, Hain’s father instilled a love of cooking that went far beyond money.

“He was all about waking up on a Sunday morning and cooking. He really had no experience, he just loved to cook for the family on Sundays,” said Hain.

Related: Get Chef Mick Gehnrich’s Thai butternut squash soup recipe >>

Working as a Chef at The Bristal at Lake Grove

Hain went on to study at The Culinary Institute of America before working with Tsai, his mentor, and a number of other top chefs. Although he loved the work, the long hours were grueling.

“I would start at six in the morning and get home at 11, 12 at night,” he said.

After overhearing another chef talking about an open position at The Bristal, Hain applied and fell in love with the job.

Besides the much more palatable hours, Hain enjoys teaching the other staff members and residents about the food and techniques he uses.

Outside of work, Hain participates in a variety of cooking-related community activities. There’s Taste of Long Island, a yearly festival benefiting veterans in the area, and he is active in events at The Morgan Center, a preschool for children battling cancer.

Related: Get Chef Amanda Ciniglio’s blueberry carrot cake recipe >>

Holiday Dishes at The Bristal

At The Bristal at Lake Grove, Hain says he prepares a risotto dish each year for the holidays. He also includes action stations, where residents can move around the room and choose from different options for themselves.

After all, he asks, “Who doesn’t love a good risotto?”

Lobster Risotto

Yields 6-8 portions


6 Tb. unsalted butter
3 large shallots, finely chopped
2 cups Arborio rice
8 cups chicken broth
¼ cup white wine
¼ cup Pernod (absinthe)
2 cups cooked lobster meat, diced
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup heavy cream
2 Tb. truffle oil

Cook time: 20 to 30 minutes

1) Warm your stock so it is ready to add to the rice (the key to a great rice is using warm liquids).
2) In a separate pan, add butter and sweat shallots on medium heat until translucent.

3) Add rice and slowly toast over medium heat, about two minutes, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula. Do not brown the rice; only cook until the aroma of the rice starts to come out.

4) Once rice is toasted lightly, add Pernod and deglaze your pan. Be careful as the Pernod will ignite if close to an open flame.

5) Once the rice has absorbed the Pernod, add the white wine and allow the rice to absorb the wine, again, taking caution of the open flame.

6) When the wine is almost completely absorbed, slowly stir in the stock a little at a time, stirring constantly to bring out the starch in the rice. Do not rush, as this is a key step to the risotto.

7) The risotto is ready in about 20 to 30 minutes and should have a consistency of a creamy oatmeal with a slight crunch.

8) Add cooked lobster meat.

9) Once the risotto is complete, turn off the heat, and slowly add heavy cream, folding in the cream with the rubber spatula.

10) Fold the cheese into the rice.

11) Drizzle the truffle oil on top of the rice and serve.


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Alzheimer’s and Mealtime: Tips for Success

Posted by: Jenny

Elderly woman with dementia struggling to eat a meal

Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease can present many challenges for a family caregiver. Making mealtime go smoothly might be one of them. It’s important to identify what your family member’s struggles are and develop strategies to work around them.

Why Do Loved Ones With Dementia Sometimes Refuse to Eat?

A few mealtime challenges that are common for people with Alzheimer’s disease or a related form of dementia include:

Diminished appetite

Your loved one may no longer recognize their body’s hunger triggers, or they may be taking a medication that decreases their appetite. A loss of smell or taste can further exacerbate these problems. All of this may make an older adult with dementia less interested in food at mealtime.

Oral health problems

It isn’t uncommon for someone with Alzheimer’s to experience weight loss. If it’s a significant amount, it may lead to a problem with their dentures fitting properly. Caregivers may also struggle to convince a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease to cooperate with dental care. Lack of good oral hygiene may result in an underlying oral health problem that can make it painful for them to chew.

Difficulty with coordination

For most people with Alzheimer’s disease, hand-to-eye coordination eventually becomes an issue that may make mealtime physically and emotionally difficult. The frustration of trying to use silverware and being unsuccessful can lead to a loss of dignity and lower self-esteem.

Anxiety and agitation

One of the more common struggles for both the person living with Alzheimer’s as well as their family members is managing agitation. It can make sitting still long enough to eat difficult or even impossible to do.

The Family Caregiver Alliance is a helpful resource with tips and facts about mealtime for people with dementia.

Related: Using nonverbal cues to communicate with someone who has dementia >>

Feeding Strategies and Nutrition for Dementia

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to adapt your family member’s environment and modify mealtime activities, allowing a loved one who has dementia to feel successful. Here are a few to consider:

1. Eliminate distractions:

Turn off the television, cellphone, and radio. Try to create a corner where you can sit down quietly for each meal with your loved one. If your older family member responds well to music, turn on the radio. By providing a calm, consistent environment for meals, you can help decrease agitation and encourage eating.

2. Pay attention to visuals:

Use a brightly colored placemat with a different colored plate to create contrast. This approach will allow them to distinguish the plate from the table, as well as identify the food on the plate. Avoid linens and dishes with busy patterns. Studies have found when people with Alzheimer’s are served meals on red plates, they eat 25 percent more than those who eat from white plates. Researchers believe the issue stems from the loss of depth perception people with Alzheimer’s experience.

3. Give one item at a time:

Serve one part of the meal at a time. Once they have finished one part, add the next one to their plate. Try serving nutrient-rich foods first in case you are unable to keep their interest long enough to finish an entire meal.

4. Adapt your serving pieces and utensils:

Serve food in a bowl and use a larger spoon to help reduce frustration. If your loved one is still unable to eat independently, finger foods can be another option. Cut food into bite-sized pieces and avoid nuts, hot dogs, sausage, celery, raw carrots, and popcorn to help avoid choking.

5. Model eating behavior:

If you can, sit down to eat with senior loved one at mealtime. You can model the behavior you want them to follow, such as drinking a protein shake or eating a hamburger. It will also allow you to gently assist them if necessary.

One final tip for making mealtime go more smoothly is to create menus that contain their favorite foods. They will be more likely to eat if the meal contains foods they have always enjoyed.

Finding the right mealtime strategy for you and your loved one might take time, so try to be patient and flexible.

Related: Daily living tips to help your loved one with Alzheimer’s disease >>

What Does Dementia Feel Like?

It’s sometimes hard to understand what living with dementia is like, but the Virtual Dementia Tour® is helping to change that. See how staff members at The Bristal are taking a walk in someone else’s shoes – and how it’s changing how we think about caring for people with dementia.

Learn more >>

Posted in: Senior Care
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Westchester County Business Journal: Marking Veterans Day in Armonk

Posted by: The Bristal

Westchester County Business Journal: Veterans Day in Armonk

Article courtesy of Westchester County Business Journal

This Veterans Day in Armonk, we were proud to honor 14 residents of The Bristal for their military service. Among those who came out to show their support were North Castle Supervisor Michael Schiliro, North Castle Council members Barbara DiGiacino, Steve D’Angelo and Jose Berra, Assemblyman David Buchwald, and Westchester County Legislator Margaret Cunzio. Thank you to everyone who came to the ceremony to help us properly honor our Veterans.

Posted in: Events, News & Press
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Memory Loss: What’s Normal; What’s Not?

Posted by: The Bristal

Woman talking and walking outside with an older elderly woman about memory loss and dementia

With dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other memory-related cognitive disorders so top-of-mind today, it might cause you to pause and wonder:

Is My Age-Related Memory Loss Normal?

According to studies, almost 40 percent of people over the age of 65 experience some form of memory loss. When there is no medical issue behind it, it’s referred to as “age-associated memory impairment,” a normal result of aging.

On the other hand, brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia are something quite different.

 Related: Understanding the common symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. >>

Age-Related Memory Loss Versus Dementia

While forgetfulness may be unsettling or frustrating, it isn’t necessarily a sign of dementia. A key difference between normal age-related memory loss and dementia is the severity and frequency of the symptoms, as in the examples below.


Normal aging is not being able to remember details of a conversation or event that took place a year ago.

Dementia may be not being able to recall details of recent events or conversations.


Normal aging is not being able to remember the name of an acquaintance.

Dementia is not recognizing or knowing the names of family members.


Normal aging means occasionally having trouble finding words.

Dementia can mean frequent pauses and substitutions when finding words.


Normal aging is being worried about your memory, but your relatives are not.

Dementia is when your relatives are worried about your memory, but you are not aware of any problems.


So, if you’ve been struggling a bit to remember simple things, don’t jump to conclusions. Your concerns may just be a normal part of aging. Any true diagnosis can only be made by a physician.

Related: How to spot the signs of Alzheimer’s that aren’t related to memory.>>

Tips to Help Keep Your Brain Sharp

Here are some tips from the Mayo Clinic that may help improve your memory:

Stay organized.

Keep activities, events, to-dos and reminders in a planner or on your phone. If you know you’ll need to do or remember something later, write it down right away – it’s easier to look back at your notes than try to recall what it was.

Try new experiences.

Your brain likes to be challenged and soak in new things. Research shows it can even help your brain repair itself and build new connections at any age. To that end, don’t be afraid to shake up your routine a bit.

Spend quality time with others.

Staying social is good for both your emotional and mental health. Having dinner with family or friends, joining a book club or choir group, or just talking on the phone can all help.

Get a full night’s sleep.

Getting quality sleep is critical for all aspects of your well-being, even memory (as anyone who’s gone to work after a sleepless night can attest). Setting a regular bedtime, limiting distractions and bright lights, and keeping your room cool can help you drift off more easily.

Stay physically active.

Research shows that exercise changes the brain in a good way, and challenging your body also challenges your mind. Taking walks, stretching, or joining a fitness group are good ways to keep moving. As with any fitness routine, talk to your doctor before beginning.

Eat a healthy diet.

There’s a reason people call some foods “brain food” – they’ve been linked to a healthier mind in addition to being good for your body. Leafy greens like spinach, oily fish like salmon, and antioxidant-rich fruits like blueberries can all be healthy (and delicious) additions to your diet.

Related: Improve your memory with these six ‘brain foods.’

More Information About Dementia

If you’re truly concerned about memory loss, you should always consult a physician. But just remember: It’s perfectly normal for everyone’s memory to slip a bit as we age.

Still curious about other signs of memory loss?

Learn more about the types of dementia and their causes.

>> Learn More <<

Posted in: Alzheimer’s & Memory Care
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Chef’s Table: The Bristal at Garden City’s Mick Gehnrich Shares His Butternut Squash Soup Recipe

Posted by: The Bristal

Chefs have many reasons they like to cook: they were inspired by a certain dish, they find it challenging and artistic, they connect cooking with fond memories or people from the past, and so on. All good reasons, but for chef Mick Gehnrich at The Bristal at Garden City, he keeps it simple.

“I love to eat,” he says. “My number one reason why I like to cook is not because I like to cook, but because I like to eat.”

Besides his love of food, his interest in cooking grew from two main childhood memories. One was his parents, who both worked. If Mick wanted to eat breakfast in the mornings, he says, it was up to him to make something.

Second, Mick’s father belonged to a hunting and fishing club, which hosted a wild game dinner each year.

“I’m still helping out with that wild game dinner,” he says. “My dad’s no longer around, but I’ve taken up the reins on that.”

The Dining Experience at The Bristal at Garden City

Mick’s culinary background evolved from there, eventually landing him a job at The Bristal. He then took an offer to head up the kitchen at their new community in Garden City when it opened in June 2018. He says working at The Bristal is an atmosphere that’s both challenging and rewarding.

“It’s definitely wearing a lot of different hats, and satisfying the residents is a big part of it,” he says. “Going out and talking to them, listening to their stories … we’re getting a (resident) food council right now, and the four people on it are so excited.”

Passing his own love of food on to the residents and other employees at The Bristal is another aspect of the job that Mick enjoys.

“I love the fact that I’m able to teach people how to cook and enjoy eating,” he says. “That’s one of my biggest passions, explaining the dish to the residents and taking that extra minute to talk to the residents about the food.”

Get The Bristal’s chef Amanda Ciniglio’s blueberry carrot cake recipe >>

Learning to Like New Foods

Of course, there’s bound to be a dish on the menu that some residents might not care for. But Mick says that’s yet another aspect of the job he enjoys: showing someone that something they thought they didn’t like is actually delicious.

“Usually 60 percent of the time people try it, and they’re like, ‘I thought I didn’t like it, but I’ll have another bowl,’” he says.

Next up on the menu at The Bristal at Garden City? Mick plans to use his favorite fall vegetable and whip up butternut squash soup with a Thai twist. While squash isn’t always people’s favorite, he’s hoping to change that perception. Try it for yourself at home by following his recipe.

Thai-style Butternut Squash Soup Recipe

Servings: 8

Prep time: 20 min.

Cook time: 30 min.

Total time: 50 min.


For the soup:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, very roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh ginger, from a 2-inch knob
  • 2 ½ pounds pre-cut butternut squash (or one 3-pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed)
  • 3 large carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 6 cups quality chicken broth
  • 1 ½ tablespoons fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
  • 1 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk (full fat adds to the creaminess, but can be made using low fat)
  • Juice of half a lime, plus more limes for serving
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Optional garnishes:

  • Sriracha sauce, for drizzling
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • ¾ cup salted peanuts, roughly chopped
  • ⅓ cup chopped fresh cilantro


  1. Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Do not brown; reduce heat if necessary.
  2. Add the squash, carrots, broth, fish sauce, sugar, and curry paste. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered, until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
  3. Using a hand-held immersion blender, purée the soup until silky smooth. (Alternatively, cool the soup slightly, then purée in a blender in batches, making sure to leave the hole in the lid open to allow the steam to escape). Stir in the coconut milk, lime juice, and salt (if the coconut milk is solidified, use the immersion blender to mix it in). Bring to a simmer, then taste and adjust the seasonings, if necessary. Ladle the soup into bowls. Drizzle with the Sriracha and garnish with the scallions, peanuts, and cilantro, if using.


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Discover 5 of Long Island’s Hidden Gems this Fall!

Posted by: The Bristal

discover 5 of long island's hidden gems this fall

Nestled into the rich history of Long Island are many hidden gems full of family, friendship, and longevity. Long Island features beautiful shorelines where many travelers stepped foot into America long ago, bringing with them the hopes, dreams, and aspirations which enriched Long Island’s culture, making it home to some of the most highly sought-after destinations in America.

Take a few minutes and journey with us to discover five of Long Island’s valued hidden gems.

1. Mattebella Vineyards

rose wine from mattebella vineyards

Established in 1640 and covering 22 acres of sloping land, Mattebella Vineyards is found in one of New York’s oldest towns, Southold, along Long Island’s eastern end.

With their strong commitment to protecting the environment, Mattebella continues business the old-fashioned way; by hand.

“Our goal is to create an environment in the vineyard where our customers can taste and experience our wines coming to life,” states their website.

Reservations can be made to spend the day taking a tour of the vineyard, then head to the cottage for a tasting experience of their local wines.

2. Jordan Lobster Farms

jordan lobster market

Family owned and operated for over 50 years, Jordan Lobster Farms, in Island Park, only serves the best! Originating in Brooklyn, New York, with the creation of Jordan Lobster Dock, this hidden gem doesn’t disappoint with its gourmet lobster and seafood.

When visiting Jordan Lobster Farms you can pick out your own lobster, with the specialty being Select and Jumbo. Stop by the market and discover their large selection of fresh seafood, prepared dishes, and gift items. This is one hidden gem you won’t want to miss!

3. Woodside Orchards

u-pick apples at woodside orchards in north fork

Located in Jamesport and Aquebogue on Long Island’s North Fork, Woodside Orchards has been a family working farm since 1982. Offering a variety of 28 apples, they create a cider that is to rave about!

“Folks are friendly, and the cider is tasty,” states a review on their Facebook page. Woodside Orchards is also well-known for their cider donuts, a customer favorite. In addition to the cider donuts, Woodside Orchards offers a hands-on U-pick experience, when in season. When stopping by the orchard, you can have a personalized tasting in their cozy Hard Cider Tasting Room.

The orchard also offers cider slushies, honey, Christmas trees, seasonal baked goods and much, much more! As they state, “there’s something always in season at Woodside Orchards!”

4. Lavender By the Bay

blooming lavendar at lavendar by the bay on long island

Rated by Country Living as one of the top six stunning lavender farms to visit in America, Lavender By the Bay offers relaxation to the mind, body, and soul. What began as one families’ hobby has now flourished into 17 acres with over 80,000 plants of fresh lavender.

When visiting Lavender By the Bay, walk through the magical fields of purple, stop for a rest while taking it all in at the shaded pavilion, and before leaving, stop at the Farm Store to purchase fresh lavender products for your home.

Lavender By the Bay is a family owned and operated business, located in East Marion on Long Island’s North Fork, that has been providing products from their farm to homes since 2002.

5. Long Island Live Steamers

long island live steamers railroad ride in suffolk

Located in Suffolk’s Southhaven County Park and built to preserve the art of precision steam model making is Long Island Live Steamers, Inc.

LILS offers nostalgic fun for all on its 8.5 acres of land, that is inclusive of outdoor tracks and trains. If you’re feeling adventurous, on public run days, you can take a train ride on rideable steam, diesel, and electric trains around The Groundline or The Highline track.

Long Island Live Steamers is a great day-out adventure that features members who also build model steam boilers, engines, boats, tractors, and fully functional railroad models.

Long Island: The Island with Something for Everyone

Long Island has destinations to offer for everyone; whether you enjoy the beach and the outdoors or aspire to be a wine connoisseur, the island has options for you! With a deep sense of rich history, and diverse communities full of unique culture, Long Island’s hidden gems are out there waiting to be discovered.


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Posted in: Food & Dining, Lifestyle Blog
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Better Your Memory with These 6 ‘Brain Foods’

Posted by: The Bristal

brain foods that better your memory

While there is no magic food to improve your brainpower (yet!), there are a few foods that research has shown may be able to delay dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease. While it’s very important to eat a balanced diet (more on that below), it’s always best to check with your primary physician before you make any lifestyle changes.

Which Foods are Good for Memory?

Research has linked these six brain foods to delaying memory loss. Read on to see how you may be able to eat your way to better health.

1. Berries

Berries are rich in flavonoids, which can improve cognitive function, according to this study. Researchers found women who ate two or more servings of berries a day had a slower rate of memory decline- up to 2.5 years.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends women older than 50 consume 1.5 cups of fruit daily, and men over 50 eat 2 cups of fruit every day.

Strawberries and memory: What’s the connection?

2. Caffeinated beverages

Go ahead and enjoy that morning cup o’ joe or green tea. Caffeine has been linked to better memory retention, according to this study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Just make sure to not have it to close to bedtime so it doesn’t affect your sleep quality.

3. Green, leafy vegetables

The kale craze isn’t going away anytime soon. According to a study published earlier this year in the medical journal “Neurology,” one daily serving of green, leafy vegetables could slow age-related memory loss.

Besides kale, other green, leafy vegetables referenced in the study include spinach, collard greens, and lettuce.

4. Extra-virgin olive oil

Researchers at Temple University have identified a key component to the popular Mediterranean diet’s benefits: Extra-virgin olive oil.

The researchers found olive oil “reduces brain inflammation and activates autophagy,” which is how cells break down toxins like beta-amyloid plaques. These proteins have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

This versatile condiment can be used to make your own salad dressings or used in cooking.

5. Fatty fish rich in omega-3s

Fish are a great source of unsaturated fats, like the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA. These fatty acids help improve cognitive function, according to these studies by The University of Illinois, which linked omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids to healthy brain aging.

Wild Alaskan salmon, Atlantic mackerel, and sardines are a few of the omega-3 rich, low-mercury foods on this guide from the Environmental Defense Fund’s Seafood Selector.

6. Nuts

As well as being packed with protein, fiber, and Vitamin E, nuts join a few other items on this list with beneficial ingredients such as unsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids. This study by Loma Linda University found regularly eating nuts can strengthen brainwave frequencies.

They are also heart-healthy, according to the Mayo Clinic who recommends replacing foods containing saturated fats with a handful of nuts or a tablespoon or two of a nut butter.

Related Read — Alzheimer’s & Mealtime: Tips for Success

Brain Foods and the Importance of a Healthy, Balanced Diet

Besides lowering obesity rates, good nutrition is important to reduce your risk of diseases and help your overall health, not just your brain function.

On top of eating a well-balanced, healthy diet consisting of a variety of foods, consider the following suggestions from the Alzheimer’s Association when looking to boost your brain health:

  • Limit foods with high saturated fats, such as butter and lard.
  • Reduce your intake of refined and processed sugars.
  • Cut down on salt to limit your sodium intake.

Other Ways to Help Your Brainpower

In addition to making healthier choices in your diet, you can also try increasing your physical activity, as well as adding mental exercise, socialization, and stress techniques into your routine. Combine these, and you’ll be well on your way to maintaining a brain-healthy lifestyle!

For more information about these your brain health boosters, check out this blog. >>


Posted in: Alzheimer’s & Memory Care
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Tips For Preventing, Coping With Sundowning

Posted by: The Bristal

Older woman experiencing sundowning

Sundown syndrome is a state of confusion affecting people with dementia that occurs in the late afternoon into the night. Sundowning can cause confusion, anxiety, and aggression, as well as wandering, which would naturally worry any caregiver.

Here are some tips for managing sundowning along with factors to look out for that can aggravate sundown syndrome in your loved one.

What Causes Sundowning?

There are many factors that can aggravate sundowning, but The Mayo Clinic notes the most prevalent of causes include:

  • Increasing shadows
  • Low lighting
  • Disruption of a regular daily schedule
  • Fatigue or illness
  • Disruption of a person’s body clock
  • Difficulty separating reality from dreams

Related Read: What are the Symptoms of Sundowning?

How To Cope With Sundowning

If you notice your loved one exhibiting signs of sundowning, the National Institute on Aging recommends you listen to your loved one’s concerns and frustrations and gently reassure them everything is OK. More tips include:

  • Reducing clutter, noise, or the number of people in the room
  • Distracting your loved one with a favorite activity or object. Offer your loved one a snack, play their favorite song, or suggest a simple task for them to occupy themselves with.
  • Having a family member or friend call during this time to help soothe and relax your loved one.

Tips For Preventing Sundowning

1. Maintain a predictable routine

The Alzheimer’s Association notes structured daily activities often reduce agitation. When planning your loved one’s routine, consider their likes, dislikes, interests, and what times of day they function best.

2. Get enough rest at night

When a person with Alzheimer’s disease doesn’t get enough sleep, they can often become agitated and restless, increasing their chances of experiencing sundowning. For that reason, make sure your loved one gets enough sleep and has proper sleep hygiene.

See how The Bristal applies these techniques, and learn more about our sleep services in dementia care. >>

3. Do not serve alcoholic drinks or caffeine

Both substances can cause confusion and anxiety in a person with Alzheimer’s disease.

4. Make sure your loved one has plenty of exposure to light during the day

Sitting near a window or going for a walk may help reset your loved one’s body clock and encourage nighttime sleepiness.

5. Create a soothing environment for your loved one at night

Use a night light to prevent your loved one from becoming anxious due to dark, unfamiliar surroundings. Try to reduce background noise and play familiar, gentle music. White noise machines work well, too: the sound of waves crashing or rain can help your loved one relax in the evening.

If Sundowning Symptoms Persist

Seeking medical advice is one of the first steps you should take if symptoms of sundowning appear, change or worsen. Your loved one’s doctor may be able to find an underlying cause such as an infection or a medication side effect.

Seeking support and advice from others in a similar situation can also help. Exchanging experiences and successes with other caregivers may spark ideas to help you and your loved one alleviate sundowning symptoms. A casual place to meet other caregivers is at The Bristal’s Our Place Memory Café.  

Our Place Memory Café is a monthly get-together, designed for people with dementia and their caregivers. For caregivers, it can be both valuable and comforting to meet and share experiences with others. For all in attendance, it’s a relaxing afternoon of entertainment and friendship.

>> Find an Our Place Memory Café Near You <<

Posted in: Alzheimer’s & Memory Care
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Chef’s Table: The Bristal at West Babylon’s Amanda Ciniglio Shares the Recipe for Her Blueberry Carrot Cake

Posted by: The Bristal

carrot cake recipe

Amanda Ciniglio, Director of Food Services at The Bristal at West Babylon, has always loved food and cooking. In fact, the first badge this lifelong Girl Scout received was for cooking. Growing up in an Italian family, a love for food is in Amanda’s blood.

“I learned from my mother, my father, my grandfather, and food was always important in our house,” Amanda says.

Although Amanda makes all types of food at The Bristal at West Babylon, she credits dessert as her favorite to prepare.

“People are happy when they’re eating desserts,” she says. “Dessert kind of brings people back home; brings them back to memories. Whether it’s cookies, cakes, breads, it can bring you back to happier times. If you’re in a funk, dessert is an uplifting thing. It’s nice to share with people. It gives me a good feeling when I show up at somebody’s house with baked goods that warms their heart, and they enjoy them.”

So, it’s no surprise she chose a blueberry carrot cake with cream cheese and raw honey frosting to share! Read on to learn more about Amanda and to get her recipe.

About Amanda, the Chef at The Bristal at West Babylon

Amanda originally went to school for music therapy but changed her major to culinary because she was having so much fun working in restaurants. After culinary school, she worked at a few restaurants and ended up in senior living, eventually coming to work for The Bristal.

What She Enjoys About Being a Chef at The Bristal

When asked what her favorite thing about working at The Bristal was, Amanda says that it is the people, like the residents and her wonderful staff, that she enjoys most.

“I feel like I have a purpose, helping seniors through food, giving them an excellent dining experience to share with their friends, their families,” Amanda says.

She also says she enjoys having a lot of food freedom at The Bristal. Whereas at a restaurant, you have to follow the recipes to a T, she can stray off the menu here.

“Here, we can have a lot of creative moments with our menus,” Amanda says. “We can change things and do fun events and theme days. You can get as creative as you want with the food.”

Amanda noted creative events like the San Gennaro feast, clam and lobster bakes, Hawaiian day, Oktoberfest, and an apple-themed fall festival as some fun food events she’s enjoyed at The Bristal.

See what’s happening at The Bristal at West Babylon. >>

Being a Chef Outside of The Bristal

When Amanda’s not cooking for residents at West Babylon, she stays busy. For the past nine years, she has judged the junior culinary competition at the Long Island Fair every year, where kids from Nassau, Queens, and Suffolk counties enter their baked goods in the competition.

Amanda is a lifelong Girl Scout and holds a Gold Award. She also participates in numerous cooking competitions and fundraisers, as well as chef showdowns through area fire departments. In 2014, she won the Taste of Long Island. In 2016 and 2017, she was part of the winning team for the Guiding Lights of North Carolina’s Share to Care event.

About Her Brain Food Cake

Amanda says her blueberry carrot cake with cream cheese and raw honey frosting came about because she wanted to look at a different way to incorporate brain foods. She notes they try to get as many healthy ingredients into their menu at The Bristal at West Babylon, and this cake is no exception.

“It’s a fun way to spin a dessert to get them some healthy foods, and it’s very tasty,” Amanda says of her made-from-scratch recipe.

Amanda’s Blueberry Carrot Cake with Raw Honey Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients You’ll Need:

For the Cake:

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups canola oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 cups grated peeled carrots
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries, washed
  • 1 1/4 cups coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons minced peeled ginger

For the Icing:

  • 10 ounces cream cheese (such as Philadelphia), room temperature
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup raw honey


For the Cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch-diameter cake pans. Line bottom of pans with parchment paper. Butter and flour paper; tap out excess flour. Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in medium bowl to blend. Whisk sugar and oil in large bowl until well blended. Whisk in eggs 1 at a time. Add flour mixture and stir until blended. Stir in carrots, blueberries, and ginger. Divide batter between prepared pans.
  2. Bake the cakes until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes. Cool cakes in pans 15 minutes. Turn out onto racks. Peel off parchment paper; cool cakes completely.

For the Icing:

  1. Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar and beat at low speed until well blended. Beat in raw honey. Chill until just firm enough to spread, 30 minutes.
  2. Place 1 cake layer on a platter. Spread with 3/4 cup icing. Top with the second layer. Spread remaining icing over entire cake. Arrange walnut halves around top edge. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with a cake dome; chill. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before serving.)


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Our Sleep Services in Dementia Care

Posted by: Kate Schneider, Reflections Programming Specialist

Senior woman with dementia having issues sleeping at night

When you are the caregiver for a loved one diagnosed with dementia, it can be an emotional and sometimes stressful experience. You may be seeing instances where your parent may not recognize you at times or just aren’t acting like they always did. Then at night, you may see another set of challenges.

Confusion and Other Sleep Disturbances

Sleep disturbances can be common in individuals showing signs of memory loss or who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia. Your parent may wake up confused, such as in the middle of the night and believe it is time to start their day. He may revert back to a work schedule he had when he was younger or he may seem to have his day and night confused and is sleeping during the day and awake at night.

If you’re a caregiver and your loved one is waking upset or confused, the best thing you can do is validate your loved one is upset and talk with them and comfort them. While the method may vary from person to person it is important to have an in-depth knowledge about the individual.

At The Bristal Assisted Living, our Reflections staff follow an individualized service plan and a resident profile. The profiles show past and present likes, dislikes, patterns, interests, abilities, and needs, so that our staff members are able to comfort your loved one in a knowledgeable manner.

Related Blog: Behavioral Changes: Tips for Caregivers

Measures Caregivers Can Use to Promote Better Sleep

There are a few measures caregivers can do to lessen their loved one’s dementia-related sleep issues at night, such as:

    • Provide stimulating therapeutic recreation during the day
    • Exposure to outdoor or natural light
    • Create a ritual and hold to it to promote good sleep patterns
    • Follow similar sleep recommendations for the general population, taking into consideration dementia, like no electronics, caffeine, etc.
    • Incorporate aroma and music therapy
    • Offer a comfortable bed and pillow
    • Encourage proper food intake
    • Use the bathroom prior to bed

The Bristal Assisted Living provides the above to residents in our Reflections memory care areas as part of our individualized services. The Bristal is able to provide a standard mattress and bedding at our communities; however, we encourage bringing your own furniture, bedding, and pillows, as each person has different preferences.  

Try Activities During the Day to Help Alleviate Sleep Issues

You can also incorporate activities during the day to help alleviate sleep issues at night, like therapeutic programming your loved one would be interested in. Adaptive physical programs are always good because they decrease boredom, so the person is active in the daytime. If your parent sleeps well during the night, naps are fine during the day – just watch the duration of the nap, or make it earlier in the day if they start showing signs of difficulty sleeping.

At The Bristal Assisted Living, our Reflections memory care programming includes adaptive physical, cognitive, social, religious, outdoor, and cultural activities, as well as various supervised trips and outings. Remember: keeping the body, mind, and spirit engaged is important, so that when it is time to go to sleep, the body, mind, and spirit is willing!

Looking after a loved one who is showing early signs of dementia can often be overwhelming. Our Alzheimer’s Day Care programs can help.

Establish Bedtime Rituals to Alleviate Stress

Individuals with dementia can pick up on a caregiver’s stress level, so one suggestion to help alleviate your own mental exhaustion would be to start rituals in both of your schedules. Getting a person ready for bed will take time; but with a ritual, it will get easier over time.

One of the ways we incorporate bedtime rituals at The Bristal is by using “sleep hygiene” to utilize the social and physical environment to promote a healthy sleep pattern and sleep experience. Your loved one’s routine is important at The Bristal, so our staff keeps a schedule so that the resident wakes up and goes to sleep at a similar time each day and night.

Educate Yourself About Dementia and Sleep

If you’re a caregiver to a loved one who has been diagnosed with dementia or who is showing signs of memory loss, be sure he or she gets a full diagnostic workup and exam, and follow up.

Always check with your loved one’s doctor about medications, as certain substances — such as some pain relievers — and alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine can also exacerbate sleep issues in persons with dementia.

There are also many resources available for you to educate yourself about dementia and other cognitive issues. Our TopStories newsletter is a great source to find more information on Alzheimer’s disease and memory care.


Posted in: Senior Care
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Wellness Apps for Smartphones to Improve Your Health and Fitness

Posted by: The Bristal

Active senior woman in New York utilizing free health and fitness apps on her phone

Are you a senior with a smartphone? You’re not alone! In fact, 67 percent of Baby Boomers (54 to 72) and 30 percent of the Silent Generation (73 to 90) own smartphones, according to Pew Research Center. And those numbers are only growing!

Whether you prefer to play games or keep up with friends and family, your smartphone is a helpful device for all aspects of your life. For example, if you’re looking to get healthier, there are a variety of health and fitness apps available to you. To help you discover the best one for you, we’ve put together a list of five health and fitness mobile applications for your smartphone.

The apps we have chosen to feature (which are not endorsed by The Bristal) can be used on your smartphone on both IOS and Android.

5 Free Wellness Apps for Your Smartphone

Whether you want to track your nutrition or exercise your mind, smartphone apps are easy to use to keep you in your best shape. From mental health to medication management, mobile applications can also help you alleviate stress and improve your mental capacity — all in the palm of your hand.

Discover an app for your lifestyle!

Diet and Exercise

Diet and exercise apps like MyFitnessPal offer a one-stop shop where you can track your goals, log exercise (including the ability to sync your activity tracker like a Fitbit or Apple Watch), and even get support through its community feature. If you’re eating out, this award-winning app features foods from hundreds of popular restaurants, too, making it even easier to count calories and keep track of your nutrition.

In addition to strengthening your muscles, activities like yoga can help ease stress, improve balance, and boost energy, according to research by Johns Hopkins University. One yoga app, Daily Yoga,  offers targeted asanas in addition to routines geared toward weight loss and strengthening. Consult with your primary physician before beginning any new exercise routines.

Mental Health

There are many ways to de-stress, and smartphone apps are one of them. Apps like Calm help users lessen anxiety and improve their sleep patterns using guided meditations, breathing programs, and relaxing music. If you’re looking for more ways you can reduce stress, check out this blog!

Research has linked game playing with healthier brains, so why keep your mind sharp and have a little fun at the same time? One app, Lumosity, links science with entertainment. Scientists and game designers developed this app, which combines tasks to measure cognitive abilities with fun, and the resulting puzzles may help improve your brain health.

Medication Management

If you take multiple medications or vitamins during the day, it can also be difficult to remember which medication you need to take when. That’s where apps can help.

One medication management smartphone app is Medisafe. Medisafe features color coding and timed alarms and can also remind you if you’re going to need a refill. If you have trouble reading your medicine labels, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration notes your pharmacist can print your the with larger type and can also be a resource to help you with finding out about interactions.

Start Exploring More Senior Friendly Health and Fitness Apps

Please note, The Bristal is not endorsing any of these apps listed above. This list is just to help you start exploring your options in Apple Store or through Google Play. There are so many apps out there — let us know what your favorite one is that we may have missed!

If you’re looking for more health tips, don’t forget to subscribe to TopStories to get health tips like these and other information from The Bristal!

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Stay Healthy This Summer With These 14 Tips for Seniors

Posted by: The Bristal

With longer days and cool nights, summertime brings plenty of opportunities for older adults to enjoy the outdoors. We’ve put together a list of summer activities and precautions to consider in order to you stay safe and healthy while you’re enjoying everything summer has to offer!

5 Ways Seniors Can Stay Healthy This Summer

While staying fit should be a prime objective for seniors all year round, there is no denying that warm weather allows for a range of outdoor activities that can make daily fitness more fun in the summer. Here are some of them:

1. Do aerobics in a pool

You don’t have to be an Olympic swimmer to get enormous benefits from exercising in a pool. In fact, you don’t have to swim at all. For example, the simple act of walking in waste-high water is a great muscle-toning exercise. Many gyms and community organizations offer water exercise classes for seniors.

2. Take early morning walks

A long walk before the temperature gets too high can be an invigorating way to start the day. Do it on your own if you prefer a contemplative experience, or arrange to do it with your spouse or friend. You can also join a walking club. Walking improves circulation, strengthens bones and muscles, supports your joints and may even help avoid dementia, according to the Arthritis Foundation.

3. Tend a garden

It doesn’t sound strenuous, but gardening requires a lot of movement and uses many different muscles. For seniors who have a sufficient range of movement, it is an excellent way to retain strength and flexibility. Gardening also can be a highly social experience. Consult the 126-year-old National Garden Clubs for information about a club in your area.

4. Ride a bike

It’s said, one never forgets how to ride a bicycle, and that must be true, because according to AARP, seniors comprise the fastest growing group of cyclists. Health benefits are one of the major reasons for this trend. If bike riding appeals to you, it’s best to stick to parks and streets that have designated bike lanes.

5. Consider Tai Chi

The ancient Chinese practice of Tai Chi Chuan is an exercise that involves a series of relaxed and graceful movements that “have the potential for a wide range of benefits” for seniors, according to Mount Sinai Hospital. Those benefits include improved balance, coordination and flexibility, as well as reduced stress. Many non-profit organizations, including some YMCAs, offer Tai Chi classes for seniors. Classes often are conducted in parks in the early morning.

Click Here for Additional Ideas on How to Stay Socially Active Outdoors

9 More Tips for Staying Safe in the Summer Heat

The hot, humid months of summer can present unique challenges for seniors. There are a variety of potential problems you need to be on the lookout for this summer ranging from sun poisoning to a heat stroke. We thought it would be helpful if we shared a few summer safety tips for seniors.

1. Stay hydrated

You’ve probably heard and read plenty of times by now that health experts recommend drinking eight glasses of water every day. In the hazy days of summer, make it a priority to hit that mark, especially when outdoors. It is one of the best ways to prevent heat-related illness and sunstroke. Many foods have a high water content that can help to improve hydration. Among them are watermelons, cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, celery, green peppers, cauliflower and berries.

Read More About The Importance of Hydration for Seniors

2. Limit sun exposure

The hottest time of the day is between noon and 4:30 p.m. It is best to avoid going outdoors during those hours of the day when the mercury rises over 80 degrees. If you enjoy outdoor activities like walking or gardening be sure to do these things in the morning or later in the evening.

3. Review medications for side effects

Drugs commonly prescribed as we age can increase the risk for heat-related illness. They include medications for high blood pressure, high cholesterol and some of the anti-inflammatories. They could result in heat exhaustion and sunstroke occurring more quickly. Consult with your doctor to find out if any of your medications pose a potential problem.

4. Don’t skimp on sunscreen

One of the most common health mistakes people make in the summer is not using an adequate amount of sunscreen and not applying it frequently. As we grow older, our skin becomes thinner. It means we can experience sunburn more quickly and potentially even develop sun poisoning. Dermatologists recommend applying at least the equivalent of two tablespoons of sunscreen every two hours.

5. Cover up in the sun

While that might seem counterintuitive when you are trying to stay cool, it will help protect you from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Make sure you have a hat that shades your face, sunglasses and a loose-fitting, lightweight shirt to throw on before heading outdoors.

6. Tick patrol can prevent Lyme disease

An increased amount of time spent outdoors puts people at higher risk for attracting ticks. That also applies to your furry friends. Before heading back indoors, make sure to go on tick patrol. Inspect your body and your pets for any signs of ticks.

7. Prevent food poisoning during summer barbecue season

No summer is complete without a few barbecues with family and friends! One of the difficulties of outdoor picnics and potlucks is maintaining the proper temperature of the food. Foods that are considered high risk during the summer heat include prepared salads, dairy products not kept on ice, beef, seafood, fish, pork and poultry. Food poisoning can be especially dangerous for older adults who have health conditions that may weaken their immune system.

8. Overheated homes are especially hazardous for older adults

Rarely does a summer go by that we don’t hear about a tragic outcome for someone who lived in a home without air conditioning. Older adults may be more reluctant to use air conditioning even if they have it because of the expense. Still others may forget to turn their systems on, or their units are in disrepair. Whatever the reasons A/C is not used, the warmer it gets, the cooler the elderly must remain, particularly when they are ill.

According to research conducted at the Harvard University School of Public Health, even small rises in summer temperatures may shorten life expectancy for seniors with chronic medical conditions. Following the lives of 3.7 million seniors with chronic medical conditions over 20 years, the massive study found that for each 1° Celsius of increase in temperature, the death rate increased from 2.8 percent to 4 percent.

Make sure your family has a safe place to cool off during the hottest times of the day. Senior centers, the local mall and the library are all good places to go to stay cool.

9. Finally, be sure to review and learn the warning signs of heat-related illnesses

The key to helping someone who runs into problems in the summer sun is to get medical attention immediately.

Stay Safe and Have Fun This Summer

While there are plenty of precautions you can take to stay safe this summer, we hope you enjoy this season by taking advantage of the warmer weather and participating in a variety of healthy activities. After all, winter will be here before you know it!


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Higher Stamina Levels May Lower Your Risk of Dementia

Posted by: The Bristal


Senior couple walking to increase stamina and reduce the chances of dementia

Women with higher stamina — or greater cardiovascular fitness — in midlife could decrease their risk of dementia by 88 percent, according to a new study published in the American Academy of Neurology’s medical journal, “Neurology.”

Study ties stamina level, dementia risk

The study began in 1968 when 191 Swedish women, age 38 to 60, participated in an exercise bike test to evaluate their cardiovascular stamina. During the test, the women were brought to their “maximum workload” or peak exhaustion.

The women were categorized into three fitness groups based on their workload: Low, medium and high fitness. Of the 191 women, 59 were in the “low fitness” group, 92 were in the “medium fitness” group and 40 were in the “high fitness” category.

For the next 44 years, researchers studied the women’s health, including who was diagnosed with dementia and who wasn’t. The study concluded in 2012.

Related: Is my forgetfulness age-related memory loss or is it early Alzheimer’s disease?

High stamina reduced dementia risk by 88%

The study’s researchers found 44 (or 23 percent) of the women developed dementia during the research period. Researches also learned:

  • The women who had to interrupt their test had a very high incidence of dementia at 45 percent, indicating “adverse cardiovascular processes might be going on in midlife that seem to increase the risk for dementia.”
  • The low group had a cumulative incidence of dementia of 32 percent.
  • The medium group had an incidence of 25 percent.
  • The high group had a cumulative incidence of 5 percent.
  • The average age for the onset of dementia was 11 years higher for those in the high group compared to the women in the medium group.
  • Compared to the moderate level, the high stamina level had an 88 percent reduced risk of dementia.

More dementia research is still needed

There are other factors that could have affected the findings, according to the study. Researchers noted examples such as genetics, hypertension, obesity and the effects that other conditions may have on the brain as additional components to consider.

Researchers also indicate the study’s sample was relatively small, and because it only included Swedish women, the number could be different for other populations. They also noted there were a number of women who didn’t show up or who passed away during the long-term follow-up period, and more research will need to be done to determine when in life a high stamina is the most beneficial to reduce your risk of dementia.

The study shows correlation, but not necessarily causation, CNN reported. However, it was noted that the researchers’ findings still demonstrate the importance of physical fitness in all stages of a person’s life.

Keep your brain active with a healthy lifestyle

There are many ways to help boost your brain health in addition to physical activity. Puzzles, eating healthy meals and keeping busy are just some things you can do to help improve your memory. The important thing is that you start taking steps now to help your body later. And if you or a loved one does receive a dementia diagnosis, know there are plenty of resources available to help.

>> See How The Bristal Incorporates Therapies in Memory Care <<

Posted in: Alzheimer’s & Memory Care
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The Bristal Sponsors NYSSA 13th Annual All-Star Game

Posted by: The Bristal

Today, the New York Senior Softball Association, a Nassau County softball league made up of 130 players 68 and older, gathered to play in its 13th Annual All-Star Game, the day after Major League Baseball showcased its best players. Sponsored by The Bristal, this year’s softball game commemorated the Yankees’ 1978 World Series win over the Dodgers. “It gives us a reason to get out of bed in the morning,” said player Nick Clarelli. Twice a week, his 15-man squad plays a four-inning doubleheader. Clarelli, 80, is one of the league standouts, ranging from 73 to 92 years old, that competed in today’s game. The league was honored to have Nassau County Executive Laura Curran throw out the first pitch. Clarelli’s team lost 14-5, but he came away with two singles and a Yankees cap. Thank you to the New York Senior Softball Association for allowing us to be a part of the fun again this year!


Check out some pictures from the event:

Click here for interviews of the players and coverage of the event:

Posted in: Events, News & Press, Senior Care
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