Posts By: The Bristal

Newsday Features The Bristal All-Star Annual Softball Game

Posted by: The Bristal

Newsday Features The Bristal All-Star Annual Softball Game

Article Courtesy of Newsday

On Wednesday, July 10th, the New York Senior Softball Association, a Nassau County softball league for seniors, gathered to play in it’s Annual All-Star Game. Sponsored by The Bristal, the group plays a game annually to honor a certain theme following Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game. This year’s game celebrated the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Mets World Series championship. “It was a magical time,” one of the players, Bernie Rosen, shares regarding the year 1969. “You have to remember that the Jets beat the Colts in January, the Knicks won, the Mets won, and, most importantly, we landed on the moon.”

Check out some pictures from the event:

Posted in: Events, News & Press
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Lake Grove Resident and Lifelong Mets Fan Celebrates 100th Birthday

Posted by: The Bristal

The Bristal at Lake Grove threw a celebration on Wednesday, July 3rd, in honor of resident Crispin Bottari’s 100th birthday. The lifelong Mets fan was surrounded by friends, family, and everything blue and orange on his special day. Cris was given a custom embroidered Mets hat and a personalized home plate that quoted, “In baseball, as in life, all the important things happen at home.” We are so happy you and your wife have chosen to call The Bristal home! Happy Birthday Cris!

Check out some pictures from the event:

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Posted in: Events, News & Press
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Why Exercise Really Is Worth It – And How to Get Started

Posted by: The Bristal

 Active senior woman and man stretch during exercise class

Do you dislike the idea of exercising – even though you know it’s good for you? You’re not alone. Research shows that genetics can even have an effect on how much we enjoy exercising.

But that same research also showed that the more you exercise, the more you start to enjoy it. There’s no need to wait until the next New Year to begin a fitness routine that works for you. Get started with the information and advice below anytime, and reap the benefits of better overall health.

The Health Benefits of Regular Exercise

There are several reasons why staying physically active is good for you, making it easy to see why it should be a part of your routine. Here are just a few ways exercise is good for your health, according to MedlinePlus.

  • It helps control your weight.
  • It can reduce your risk of heart disease and some cancers.
  • It can make you less likely to suffer a fall through improved balance and strength.
  • It can help you sleep better.
  • It improves your mental health and mood and helps keep your brain sharp.
  • It strengthens your bones and muscles for easier movement.

The CDC recommends that healthy adults get 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of moderate-intensity exercise per week. It also recommends that adults of all ages sit less and move more throughout the day to achieve better health.

Finally, the guidelines suggest doing muscle-strengthening activities at least two days per week, and mixing in balance and stability routines.

Does that sound like an impossible goal? If you break it down into smaller chunks – and consider the fact that physical activity isn’t just going to the gym – you’ll see how easy it can be to fit activity into your routine. 

Just remember that it’s best to visit a doctor before starting a new fitness routine. He or she can verify that you’re healthy enough to do so and offer tips for getting started. Depending on your existing health, the doctor may suggest different levels of exercise.

Related: Eat these ‘brain foods’ to help improve your memory >>

Align Exercise with Your Goals to Motivate Yourself

Many people dislike exercise because it’s potentially uncomfortable. After all, who wants to get sweaty, have sore muscles, and be tired? And who has time for a trip to the gym?

Clear any preconceived notions about exercise from your head. When done properly, exercise shouldn’t hurt, there’s no need to push yourself to exhaustion, and it doesn’t have to mean going to the gym.

Make exercise fun.

Physical activity is just what it sounds like – moving your body in a way that requires more effort and energy than resting. Once you realize that, it’s easy to think of ways you can start to incorporate exercise that fits your lifestyle and abilities. Sports like tennis and golf fit the bill, but taking a walk and doing housework do, too.

Don’t compare yourself to others.

The fastest way to get discouraged is by comparing your abilities to someone else’s. Everyone is different – different ages, different genetics, different backgrounds. So if you’re trying your best, there’s no need to worry about someone else. Be kind to yourself. If you’re showing up to exercise, you’ve already faced half the battle.

Find an exercise partner.

It’s easier to stay motivated when you have a buddy who can come along. Find a neighbor, friend, or family member who can help keep you accountable and participate in the same activities you enjoy. You’ll find that exercising can be a social event, too. 

Pick a goal.

Find the biggest reason you want to start exercising. Is it to lose weight? To be able to play with your grandchildren? To feel more confident walking around the block? Whatever your reason, think about it every time you’re ready to work out – and when you’re tempted to quit – to give yourself an extra boost of motivation.

Related: Smartphone apps to help you stay well >>

Exercises and Resources for Seniors

If you’re looking for some examples of exercises to try, see the list below. This list includes both cardiovascular exercises as well as muscle-strengthening ones. Some exercises are both.

  • Walking or hiking.
  • Dancing.
  • Strengthening exercises with dumbbells or resistance bands.
  • Bodyweight exercises like pushups, planks, squats, and lunges.
  • Swimming and water aerobics.
  • Riding a bike (stationary or outdoors).
  • Gardening activities.
  • Carrying groceries inside.

If your doctor has cleared you for exercise but you haven’t been exercising regularly, give yourself time. You won’t be able to run a marathon overnight. And to reduce your risk of injury, know your limits. Don’t push yourself too hard, too fast; give your body time to adjust.

Take it slow and recognize that it may take a while for you to accomplish some of your fitness goals. At the same time, appreciate your body for what it’s doing for you right now – you’re making great progress just by getting started!

Finally, while a personal trainer certainly isn’t required to exercise, a trainer can help you get on track and build an exercise regimen that’s right for you. Ask friends and family if they have recommendations, and check with local gyms to see if they offer personal training.

For more examples of how you can fit physical activity into your routine, see the CDC’s Physical Activity Guidelines.

Discover More Tips for a Healthy Lifestyle

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Posted in: Lifestyle Blog
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Newsday: 190 Years of Wedded Bliss – Lynbrook Couples Celebrate Anniversaries

Posted by: The Bristal

Newsday - Lynbrook Couples Celebrate Anniversaries

Article courtesy of Newsday

The Bristal at Lynbrook held a celebration on Wednesday, June 26 marking the wedding anniversaries of three happy couples residing there. The couples honored included Elaine and Herbert Sacks – married 65 years, Eda and Vincent DeMatteis – married 63 years, and Margaret and Philip Falzone – married 63 years. The afternoon began with blessings of love, thanks and gratitude offered by both Rabbi Susan Elkodsi of the Malverne Jewish Center, and Pastor Steve Brower of Faith & Victory Fellowship Church in Freeport. The ceremony was followed by a beautiful cocktail hour and formal dinner. Congratulations to these incredible couples on celebrating a combined 190 years of marriage, and thank you for allowing us to be a part of this memorable event!

Posted in: Events, News & Press
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How to Pay for Assisted Living

Posted by: The Bristal

Senior couple researching ways to pay for assisted living in the new york long island area

Many people assume assisted living is impossibly expensive or that they could never afford it. In reality, the cost of assisted living can be very affordable. Rates vary based on several factors, like location, services and amenities, and the amount of care a resident requires. When you take into consideration all the monthly costs of maintaining a house, and add on the value of meals, housekeeping services, a daily calendar of events, and on-site amenities, moving to an assisted living community can be a wonderful lifestyle change and also be within your budget.

Prices vary depending on the area of the country, just like all real estate. Genworth Financial, which conducts the most comprehensive report of senior living costs, places the current national average for assisted living at around $4,000 per month.

How Can I Pay for Assisted Living?

There are a few ways people usually pay for assisted living, including private funds, long-term care insurance, veterans benefits, and sometimes Medicaid. Private funds can be drawn from savings accounts or personal investment portfolios, like 401(k) accounts, pensions, or individual retirement accounts (IRAs).

When someone makes the decision to move into an assisted living community, most people sell their homes and use the equity that has built up to cover the costs.

For those who own homes, but who don’t want to sell them, it is possible to trade in equity for a loan. This is called a reverse mortgage. With this option, it may be necessary for someone to remain living in the home.

As everyone’s situation is different, your financial advisor would be a great resource in helping you to make decisions regarding the best way for you to finance a move to assisted living. Read on for more information about the common options.

Learn more about assisted living at The Bristal >>

Long-Term Care Insurance

This is a policy purchased via a private company. Most policies will not cover the costs unless the person is unable to perform two or more ADLs, like dressing, bathing, eating, or using the bathroom. Some insurance companies make evaluations using their own doctors to see if you qualify.

It’s best to get an integrated home care policy with 100 percent protection for care received either in a licensed assisted living or skilled nursing community or in an unlicensed setting such as your home.

Sometimes, it’s possible to convert a life insurance policy into a long-term care insurance policy. If this isn’t possible, you might be able to sell a life insurance policy for its present value, called a life settlement, and use the money to pay for assisted living care.

Veteran Benefits

The Veteran Administration’s Aid and Attendance (A&A) pension is an additional part of a veteran’s regular pension that can pay for assisted living costs up to $1,881 per month for a single veteran and up to $2,230 for a married veteran as of 2019.

To qualify, veterans who served on or before September 7, 1980, must be 65 or older and must have had 90 days in service, one day of which must have been during a period of war. Even if the veteran never left the United States, they may still qualify as long as they met these service requirements. Also, the veteran must have not been dishonorably discharged.

There are additional income requirements and benefits for widows as well.

Related: Learn more about veterans benefits for assisted living >>


Does Medicare cover the cost of assisted living? This question comes up often, and unfortunately, the answer is usually no. There are certain circumstances where it may cover a portion if the care is considered medically necessary.

Assisted living, although sometimes seemingly necessary, is not considered medical. It is aimed at providing residents with room and board, a social and active lifestyle, plus assistance with the activities of daily living (ADLs) if needed — rather than the skilled care services Medicare covers.


Unlike Medicare, Medicaid does cover assisted living costs, but the coverage, financial aid, and eligibility of a person differ from state to state. In some states, there is no Medicaid coverage for assisted living. And regardless of state, not all communities accept Medicaid benefits.

Whether or not a community accepts Medicaid depends on the type of licensure that they have from the state Department of Health.

Assisted Living Costs at The Bristal

The Bristal is Long Island’s premier family of assisted living communities. No other community in the area provides the same level of lifestyle, care, and amenities for the price.

Posted in: Transitioning to Assisted Living
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How Can Veterans Benefits Pay For Assisted Living?

Posted by: The Bristal

Veteran in assisted living crosses hands over flag

Do VA benefits cover assisted living costs?

As you consider assisted living for you or a loved one, your first question might be: Can we afford it? You should also ask: Are there government benefits that can help pay for assisted living? The answer is “yes” if the potential resident is a veteran or the surviving spouse of a veteran.

Many veterans don’t realize they may be eligible for benefits from the Veterans Administration.

The Aid and Attendance benefit is a non-service-connected pension benefit for veterans or spouses. It’s for those who need help with the activities of daily living, like bathing, feeding, grooming, and dressing.

VA pension eligibility

To qualify, veterans who served on or before September 7th, 1980 must be 65 or older and must have had 90 days in service, one day of which must have been during a period of war. Even if the veteran never left the United States, they may still qualify as long as they met these service requirements. Also, the veteran must have not have been dishonorably discharged.

The veteran must also qualify financially for pension benefits, including Aid and Attendance. Effective December 1st, 2018, the applicant must have a net worth of less than $127,061. They have also introduced a penalty for asset transfers, with a 36 month look-back period.

The pension program is need-based. The veteran doesn’t need a disability or disability rating to qualify for pension benefits.

VA widows and widowers benefits

A surviving spouse may be entitled to a veteran’s pension if he or she was married to the veteran at the time of their death. The veteran must have met all of the service criteria outlined by the VA. There is no age restriction for the surviving spouse, and the benefit amount is based on the surviving spouse’s income.

If the surviving spouse remarries after the death of the veteran, they aren’t eligible. The surviving spouse cannot have been divorced from the veteran. Also, they must have been married for at least one year before the veteran’s death.

Related: How to pay for assisted living

VA Aid and Attendance 2019 amounts

This amount is based on need and income. Applicants will need to document their income, including Social Security, and expenses. They also need to include their medical expenses and the cost of assisted living. Veterans and spouses in assisted living typically qualify for the maximum benefit.

Single veteran – up to $1,881 monthly

Married veteran – up to $2,230 monthly

Surviving spouse – up to $1,210 monthly

Comparing assisted living costs

Veterans and spouses might need to take care when planning their estate to qualify for VA benefits. Families must also be mindful of look-back and penalty periods during planning. If you’re considering assisted living for yourself or a loved one, take some time to understand what you’ll pay. Our assisted living cost calculator is a great place to start.

Try it: Assisted living cost calculator >>

Posted in: Caregiving & Family, Transitioning to Assisted Living
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Chef’s Table: The Bristal at East Meadow’s Joseph Albert Shares His Spaghetti Squash Recipe

Posted by: The Bristal

Halved cooked spaghetti squash and fork on wooden cutting board

Some people are lucky: They’ve always known where they want to work. Joseph Albert, Food Service Director at The Bristal at East Meadow, is one of those people.

“I’ve been working in assisted living practically since my career started,” he said. “I’ve always loved the feeling of the back of the kitchen.”

And during those years, he’s come to embrace every aspect of his job there.

“I love the hours, I love the people, I love the residents,” he said. “I love being able to have conversations with people who’ve seen things that I couldn’t and been through so much through the years.”

A Day in the Life of a Chef at The Bristal

Joseph’s daily routine is busy, but never dull.

When he arrives at work, some residents are still enjoying breakfast. He takes a few minutes to chat with them, pour coffee, and get ready for the lunch rush.

In the kitchen, he said, “I make sure everyone is working and doing good.”

After lunch, it’s already time to start preparing dinner. And it’s no wonder it might take a while, with dishes like slow-roasted beef short ribs in red wine sauce and sautéed trout almondine, cauliflower polonaise, and zucchini provencal on the menu.

For Joseph, originally from Old Bethpage, cooking isn’t just something he does at work; it’s a way of life.

“Outside of work, I cook everything,” he said. “I love to cook smoked food. I cook brisket at home for 14-15 hours; same thing with ribs, and I make my own barbeque sauce.”

And at work, there’s one dish, in particular, he enjoys making for the residents: spaghetti squash with sautéed chicken, grape tomatoes, and fresh baby spinach.

It’s clear that after a lifelong career cooking for assisted living residents, Joseph is smitten with his job.

“I love being able to prepare good food and good stuff for the residents, and see them enjoy it,” he said.

Get Chef Joseph Albert’s Spaghetti Squash Recipe

With fresh vegetables, chicken, and squash replacing pasta, this dish is as healthy as it is delicious.


1 medium spaghetti squash

2 cups chicken broth

1 lb. chicken tenders, cut into cubes

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved

10 oz. baby spinach

2 cloves garlic, chopped

½ Spanish onion, diced

2 oz. butter (½ stick), softened

½ cup white wine

Italian seasonings to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

Shredded parmesan cheese, for garnish


1)      Split the squash in half; top with Italian seasonings and the 2 oz. of butter.

2)      Roast the squash for 50 minutes at 350 degrees or until tender.

3)      In a sauté pan, brown the garlic and onions. Add chicken and cook until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

4)      Deglaze the pan with white wine. Add chicken broth; bring to a boil and reduce by half. Season with salt and pepper.

5)      Once the squash has cooled enough to handle, scrape out some the squash onto the plate with a fork. Make a nest with the spaghetti squash.

6)      Add spinach and tomatoes to the chicken mixture. Cook until the spinach is wilted and the tomatoes have softened. Top squash with chicken-vegetable mixture and sauce. Garnish with the parmesan cheese.

Want More Food Stories and Recipes?

At The Bristal, we pride ourselves on delicious and varied culinary offerings at every community. Read more of our past featured recipes, or sign up to receive future ones through our TopStories newsletter.

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Posted in: Food & Dining
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Safety, Security, and Peace of Mind at Reflections

Posted by: The Bristal

Man with alzheimer’s disease takes a walk

When your loved one has Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, keeping them safe is often your top priority. And according to the Alzheimer’s Association, keeping loved ones with dementia safe not only helps to prevent injuries, but helps them feel relaxed, not as overwhelmed, and able to stay independent longer.

At Reflections at The Bristal, we’re serious about our residents’ safety, security, and comfort. Kate Schneider, MS CTRS CADDCT and Programming Specialist for Reflections, explains some of the ways The Bristal ensures residents experience consistent and safe surroundings.

  • Residents wear WanderGuard bracelets, which allow them access to specific areas of the community.
  • Pull cords in all bathrooms, bedrooms, and showers can immediately alert staff members if pulled.
  • Bright, natural lighting and consistent floor coverings help residents find their way.
  • Individual care plans for each resident make sure staff members get to know them closely and help them adjust to Reflections.

In addition, staff members in our Reflections areas are trained in dementia care and participate in our Hands-On & Hearts-In® training program. This approach shows them the cognitive and physical challenges people with dementia face, which in turns helps them provide better care to residents.

Related: When should I look for memory care for my loved one? >>

Daily Life at Reflections

Reflections residents participate in a variety of activities each day, from group games which encourage cognitive stimulation to special events like movies, bingo, dances, comedy nights, and more. These recreational opportunities help encourage residents to remain active, engaged, and involved in the world around them.

Dining rooms in Reflections offer comfortable seating in four tops, which helps encourage socialization. Different types of therapeutic music are played at each meal. And staff can provide assistance with food choice and eating, although we always try to promote independence.

Residents can also enjoy quiet rooms with water features, gliders, aromatherapy, music, and other soothing activities. Enclosed courtyards allow residents to safely enjoy the outdoors whenever they’d like.

Residents also have the opportunity to attend supervised outings. Trips are planned to carefully selected venues to help ensure the comfort of those who wish to join. Reflections staff members always accompany the residents, bring along necessary supplies like boxed lunches and drinks, and are present throughout the outings.

Residents who don’t wish to exit the bus also have the option to take part in scenic rides around the local areas. The Director of Recreation regularly plans these types of trips to see local beaches, parks and preserves, historic homes, light displays during the holidays, and so much more.  

Related: See more of the dementia therapies we use at Reflections >>

Visitation and Guest Policies

At The Bristal, care is a whole-person approach. That’s why we keep family members informed of their loved ones’ health and activities, and we welcome them – and encourage them – to visit as often as they’d like.

Family members may visit Reflections at any time, without announcement, day or night. Living at The Bristal is just like living at home. There are no rules about when family can stop by for a visit with their loved one.

“There are many beautiful public and private common areas for the families to visit,” said Schneider. “Residents can host visitors in their apartment, or enjoy any one of the common areas. Parties can be arranged in the private dining room or country kitchens with a prior reservation.”

With recreational activities going on, family can either take part privately in an activity with their loved one, or join with the group.

And just as they would at home, Reflections residents are free to leave the community with their families, maybe for a special meal out, a shopping trip, a family celebration, or a holiday. All residents are asked to sign out at the reception desk with an expected time of return so staff members are aware of who is in the building.

Related: How games can help people with dementia >>

Learn More About Reflections

Does Reflections memory care sound like a good fit for your loved one? Explore one of The Bristal’s communities that offer memory care and learn more about the person-centered care you’ll find here.

Find a community near me >>

Posted in: Alzheimer’s & Memory Care
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Sleep Better Tonight When You Try These 6 Foods

Posted by: The Bristal

Senior woman has trouble falling asleep

Haven’t been sleeping well? Contrary to popular belief, getting a poor night of sleep isn’t a normal part of aging.

While some disorders or medications might make it harder to get rest, there are lifestyle changes you can make that could help you get to sleep faster and enjoy better-quality sleep. One that’s simple to make? Rethinking some of your eating habits.

Eating Tips for Better Sleep

Before you know what to eat, know how to eat before bed to give yourself the best chance at sleeping well.

  1. Stay away from heavy meals for a few hours before bed…
  2. …But, a small snack (see the section below) can keep you from going to bed hungry.
  3. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and excessive sugar before you go to sleep.

Depending on your specific needs and any medical conditions you have, the list might look different. For example, if you have acid reflux, you already know that eating something greasy or spicy can spell trouble for getting sleep.

Similarly, because everyone is different, you might find that other foods not specifically mentioned here can have a negative impact on your sleep. You might try keeping a journal of what you eat during the day to help pinpoint anything that causes trouble and limit it in the hours before bed.

Related: Improve your memory with these 6 brain foods >>

Foods That Promote Sleep

Now that you know the eating patterns to help you sleep better, what are some specific foods that can help you nod off? Science says:

  • Nuts like almonds and walnuts. These contain healthy fats and high levels of melatonin, a hormone that promotes a more regular sleep cycle.
  • Cottage cheese contains lean protein and can help to increase levels of serotonin. Low levels of serotonin may contribute to insomnia.
  • Herbal tea is a good way to relax before bed. Choose a variety without caffeine, like chamomile or peppermint.
  • Kiwi fruit has been shown to improve the amount of sleep people with insomnia get, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
  • Tart cherry juice also contains high levels of melatonin, so pucker up and have a glass before bed.

You may also like: Smart shopping tips for healthy eating >>

More Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep

Eating well can help you get a better night’s sleep, but it’s just part of the whole picture. And because habits that help you sleep are also things that promote your overall health, you’ll likely see even more benefits if you incorporate them into your daily routine.

  1. Exercise regularly. Exercise can improve your mood and stimulate your metabolism. And to speak in layman’s terms, exercise makes you tired and helps you fall asleep quickly! Try to exercise earlier in the day; intense exercise a few hours before bed can keep you up. Just remember to check with a doctor before starting or modifying your exercise routine.
  2. Reduce stress. Lying awake at night and worrying doesn’t help anyone sleep. During the day, take care of yourself mentally by taking breaks, doing activities you enjoy, and spending time with loved ones. 
  3. Keep your bedroom a few degrees cooler at night.A temperature between 65-75 degrees is optimal for getting to sleep. 
  4. Avoid too much screen time before bed. Staring at a smartphone or TV screen that emits bright light tells your body that it’s time to be awake, not go to sleep. 
  5. Make sure your bed is comfortable. It sounds simple, but having the right number of blankets on the bed, as well as a supportive pillow, can make a big difference.

More Lifestyle Tips from The Bristal

Did you find these tips from The Bristal Assisted Living helpful? If so, consider subscribing to our TopStories newsletter. You’ll get tips on caregiving, read fun spotlights on our communities, and more.

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McKnight’s Senior Living: Winsome Bent Among McKnight’s 2019 Women of Distinction Winners

Posted by: The Bristal

McKnight's Women of Distinction

Article courtesy of McKnight’s Senior Living

The Bristal is proud to announce that Regional Director, Winsome Bent has been recognized as a top leader in the field of long-term care and senior care. Winsome was named to the Hall of Honor in the nationwide 2019 McKnight’s Women of Distinction awards.

The program is overseen by independent trade publications, McKnight’s Long-Term Care News and McKnight’s Senior Living, which received hundreds of nominations in this, the program’s inaugural year. An independent panel of judges comprising industry professionals and McKnight’s editors selected the winners, who were announced March 13 and March 14.

In her two-decade association with The Bristal, Winsome has not only risen through the ranks but her hard work, her kind demeanor, her support of her colleagues and her dedication to our residents and their families, have helped to mold and create an environment that has allowed The Bristal to become and remain the finest in the assisted living industry.

Collectively, McKnight’s Women of Distinction have helped their organizations achieve major patient care and financial performance milestones. Winners include direct care providers, as well as association and academic professionals. They have served as mentors or inspiration to their colleagues and in many cases pushed through personal hardship as well.

“The caliber of talent among nominees blew us all away,” said McKnight’s Vice President and Editorial Director John O’Connor. “It was humbling to see so many detailed and personalized nominations for hundreds of women in the field. We are excited to be the industry leader in acknowledging the contributions this group has made, and many are only getting started.”

McKnight’s will announce the 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award winner in late March.

All of the winners will be honored May 16 in Chicago. Profiles of each will be featured both online and in print editions of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News and McKnight’s Senior Living.


Posted in: Events, News & Press
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Dementia Care: Six Tips for Coping with Delusions

Posted by: The Bristal

Senior woman with dementia looks out the window
You’ve been helping Dad with his bills and investments for years — and now he’s suddenly convinced you’re trying to steal his money.

Or you’ve shared a happy marriage for decades with your beloved wife, but now, out of the blue, she’s accusing you of having an affair.

These are disturbing and, unfortunately, familiar scenarios for many who care for loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. It’s not uncommon for people with dementia to exhibit paranoid or delusional thinking or, in some cases, to experience hallucinations.
Approximately 30 percent of people with dementia may develop delusions at some stage of the disease. The incidence may be even higher among certain groups.

When paranoia, delusions, or hallucinations occur, it can be traumatic for caregivers. These behaviors are not only difficult to handle at a practical level, but they can be very hurtful at an emotional level.

Your best weapons? Knowledge — and some coping strategies.

The Differences Among Delusions, Hallucinations, and Paranoia


Delusions are firmly held beliefs that are not real. Dementia can trigger also paranoid delusions—Mom may believe that someone is poisoning her food, or Dad may think someone is stealing his money. No amount of arguing or reasoning helps.


A hallucination is different from a delusion. Delusions involve false beliefs, but hallucinations involve false perceptions of objects or events. When someone has a hallucination, they may hear, see, smell, taste, or even feel something that isn’t really there. Hallucinations are less common but can affect people with some types of dementia.


Paranoia is an unrealistic concern that others are “out to get” the person or will harm them. The person with dementia, for example, may become convinced that he’s being followed by the police.

Related: Memory loss: What’s normal and what’s not? >>

Paranoia, delusions, and occasionally hallucinations tend to occur in mid- to late-stage dementia. Confusion and memory loss can contribute to these problems as the person struggles to make sense of their world.

For example, if Mom can’t remember leaving her purse in the closet, she may accuse a family member or caregiver of stealing it. If your husband doesn’t recognize a common caregiver or visitor, he may believe there’s a dangerous stranger in the house.

While these accusations can be hurtful, remember that the dementia is causing these behaviors. Try not to take it personally. It’s the disease talking, not your loved one. Keep in mind, too, that for the person with dementia, these situations seem very real, even though they aren’t grounded in reality.

When to Ask the Doctor

In rare cases, paranoia, delusions, or hallucinations may have a cause that is reversible or treatable. Consider the possibility that the person may be experiencing delirium — a sudden change in thinking caused by infection, surgery, or other illness.

Some medications can cause delusions or hallucinations as well. Drug interactions — or too much or too little of certain medications — can also affect a person’s mental and emotional stability.

If your loved one’s paranoia, delusions, or hallucinations are new or came up suddenly, discuss these possibilities with your loved one’s doctor.

Ditto if you believe that delusions could lead your loved one to harm themselves or a caregiver. While the first line of treatment is typically through nondrug approaches, medications may be appropriate in severe cases.

Related: Delirium isn’t always related to dementia. Here’s why >>

Tips for Coping with Delusions

First, try not to let your loved one’s suspicions get under your skin. And be sure to explain what’s happening to family, friends, and caregivers. Help them understand that suspicions and false accusations are not a reflection of them.

Second, try to maintain your loved one’s daily routine as much as possible. A predictable, consistent schedule will reassure the person and may help reduce anxiety.

Other tips for caregivers

1. Don’t argue or try to convince. Allow the person to express their ideas, and acknowledge opinions. Offer reassurance and a gentle touch. Remain calm.

2. Turn off the TV. What may seem like innocent “background noise” to you may provoke fear or confusion for your loved one. Remember that the line between reality and fantasy is often blurred in people with dementia.

3. Offer a simple answer. Don’t try to persuade the person with lengthy explanations.

4. Look for patterns. Does the behavior tend to occur at a certain time of day? Keep a log of the person’s activities, and look for ways to avoid situations that may trigger paranoia or delusions.

5. Distract and redirect. Try to switch the person’s focus to another activity. Ask them to help you with a chore, or point out something of interest.

6. Keep extras on hand. If the person tends to repeatedly lose and search for a particular item, consider keeping several available. For example, if Dad loses his wallet and thinks it’s stolen, buy two or more of the same wallet, and offer the extra one should he lose his wallet.

Related: Tips for Alzheimer’s caregivers >>

Get Help with Caregiving

Understand that coping with delusions, paranoia, or hallucinations can be quite trying and difficult. Don’t go it alone. Join a support group or find an online forum where you can share and discuss your experiences with others who are going through the same thing.

If you’re looking for a memory care community where your loved one will experience the care, compassion, and attention they deserve, explore Reflections at The Bristal. These communities provide specialized care for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

Learn more about Reflections >>

Posted in: Alzheimer’s & Memory Care
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Stay Safe and Healthy This Winter With These Top Tips

Posted by: The Bristal

Senior woman staying warm and healthy during the winter months

With a chill in the air and snow blanketing the ground, you can be sure that it’s finally winter. While winter can pose its own challenges, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy the season safely, healthily, and enjoyably.

Cold Weather Safety Tips for Seniors

Cold temperatures can be uncomfortable for most people, but dangerous for older adults. Because their bodies may have less fat and lose heat faster than a younger person, it’s important for seniors to keep themselves warm during the winter.

What is hypothermia?

First, know the symptoms of hypothermia, a condition that can occur when a person’s body temperature dips below 95 degrees. It can lead to serious problems like a heart attack, kidney damage, and more. Be on the lookout for:

  • Cold feet and hands
  • Puffy or swollen face
  • Pale skin or lips
  • Shivering (although this does not always occur)
  • Acting unusually sleepy, angry, or confused

Later signs of hypothermia include trouble walking, a slow heartbeat, shallow breathing, or losing consciousness.

If you or a loved one exhibit these symptoms, call 911 right away.

How to prevent hypothermia

The best way to avoid hypothermia is by being prepared. Whether indoors or out, dress in layers to keep warm, and wear a hat, gloves, and heavy socks to keep extremities from getting cold.

Inside, keep your home’s temperature between 68-70 degrees. Setting the temperature at even 65 degrees or cooler can set the stage for hypothermia.

If you do go outdoors, be prepared. Limit your exposure, and again, dress in plenty of layers. Tell a friend or family member where you’re going, and carry a cell phone or other device so you can call for help if you need it.

Finally, if you know a loved one is alone during the winter, check in with them at least daily. Make sure their home is at a warm temperature and that they have plenty of supplies.

Related: Outdoor walking tips for seniors >>

How to Stay Healthy During the Winter

Staying safe is one thing, but how do you stay healthy when it’s too cold to go outside and too snowy to get exercise? Not to worry; there are plenty of ways to stay feeling your best during these months.

Getting exercise during the winter

Although you might not be feeling motivated to get exercise when it’s cold outside and gets dark earlier, there are plenty of reasons to continue. Exercise can boost your energy, mood, and metabolism – and depending on what you do, it can be a great opportunity to socialize.

Just remember – always check with your doctor before trying a new exercise. They can help you choose a fitness routine that works for you.

  • If it’s a warmer day and there’s no snow or ice on the ground, bundle up in at least three layers, choose shoes with plenty of traction, and take a walk around the block.
  • If you usually go to the gym, keep up the good work! Invite a friend to work out with you and enjoy catching up at the same time.
  • If you don’t usually go to a gym or the weather prohibits it, try working out at home. Simple exercises or workout videos, combined with your favorite music, make getting physical activity easy and fun.

Healthy foods to try this winter
If you indulged a little over the holidays, you’re not alone. Winter can be a great time to reset your eating habits, because contrary to popular belief, there are plenty of delicious and healthful fruits and vegetables available during this season. Try out one of the following foods and enjoy health benefits in addition to a delicious taste.

  • Citrus fruit – For a boost of vitamin C, try some of the sunny citrus that’s at its peak in the winter (like oranges, clementines, and grapefruit).
  • Winter squash – Explore varieties like acorn, butternut, or delicata for a boost of vitamin A.
  • Leafy greens Brussels sprouts, collard greens, and kale all provide fiber and folate.

Finally, remember to stay hydrated this season. Drink plenty of water, and choose foods with high water content (like some of those mentioned above) to keep yourself feeling your best.

You may also like: The best wellness apps for your smartphone >>

Mental wellness for the winter

After the joy and family time of the holidays, the rest of winter can seem to drag on. And if you live in a cold climate with little sunlight, you might be feeling the effects of seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

First, know that feeling down during the winter is very common. You certainly aren’t alone in these feelings, and it’s important to check with your doctor if you think you might be experiencing SAD. They can prescribe medication as well as suggest lifestyle changes that could help.

Even if you aren’t diagnosed with SAD, following similar tips to keep yourself mentally well during this season can go a long way in making you feel your best.

      • Get plenty of exercise. We’ve already mentioned this above – and that’s because it works. Physical activity can help alleviate stress and make you feel good about yourself.
      • Soak up the sun. Low vitamin D levels can lead to feelings of sluggishness in the winter. Sit near a sunny window, take a walk, or talk to your doctor about other ways to get more vitamin D.
      • Schedule time with family and friends. You don’t have to go through the season in isolation, and chances are others are looking for time to socialize as well. Make a date to get coffee or lunch, or just meet up to chat.
      • Embrace the season for what it is. The Danish concept of hygge – enjoying the season in cozy comfort with loved ones – has become wildly popular in recent years. Take a cue from our European friends and try some of their ideas.

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5 Fun Day Trip Destinations: Suffolk County

Posted by: The Bristal

The lighthouse at Fire Island National Park in Suffolk County on Long Island

There’s so much to see and do in the idyllic landscape of Suffolk County, located on the eastern half of Long Island. Accessible within a few hours’ drive or an even shorter train ride from New York City, this place of wide-open spaces and pristine seashores can seem a world away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

History of Suffolk County, New York

Suffolk County was one of the original counties of New York State and was founded in the mid-1600s. At that time, thick forests covered the island, and it was populated by the Montauk Native American people. Early European settlers farmed, fished, and depended on lumber from the abundant trees. During the Revolutionary War, the island was occupied by the British.

Whaling was a main source of industry on the island until the mid-1800s. In 1844, a railroad to Greenport enabled Long Island to grow and develop economically. And in the early 1900s, the island gained popularity as a retreat for the rich and famous, spawning the mansions that inspired F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.

Today, the island is an eclectic mix of old and new. Tourism is still highly popular, and while agriculture is no longer the main industry, it’s making a comeback with the east end’s vineyards and farmers’ markets.

From the more urban areas of Queens, Brooklyn, and Nassau County on the western half of the island, to the more spread-out spaces of Suffolk County to the east, Long Island offers something for everyone.

Where to Go in Suffolk County

If you’re looking for a list of some fun destinations to visit in Suffolk County, see below – and pick a place that’s right for you!

For a classic Colonial beach experience:
Baron’s Cove Sag Harbor is a classic beachfront resort offering guests airy, bright rooms, many with water views or direct pool access. Take the complimentary shuttle to one of the nearby beaches, relax in the on-site spa, or enjoy fresh-caught seafood in the dining room.

For the wine connoisseur:
The Sannino Vineyard offers a retreat in the midst of Suffolk County vineyards. Visit their tasting room to sample the made-on-site syrah, rosè, Merlot, and more. Or, take a tour of the property to explore the wine-making process from grape to bottle.

For the Roaring ’20s romantic:
Experience a little of the Gilded Age for yourself at the Oheka Castle Hotel & Estate. A AAA Four Diamond-rated property, the Castle has been featured in a host of movies, television shows, and ad shoots — most notably in the opening scenes of 1941 film Citizen Kane. Enjoy the grounds, the exquisite rooms, or the chef-prepared delicacies in the dining room

For the artist:
Parrish Art Museum is filled with the paintings, sculptures, and photographs of artists from Long Island, past and present. View more than 3,000 works inside, purchase an original piece to take home, or look to join a class.

For the ultimate escape from city life:

Visit Fire Island, a popular summertime destination that’s easily accessible – some parts by car, other parts by ferry. If you travel to one of the car-free areas by ferry, you can head to some of the most popular restaurants and hangouts – or to the Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness — New York State’s only federally designated wilderness area.

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How Essential Oils Can Help People With Dementia Sleep Better

Posted by: The Bristal

Lavender flowers on table near brown essential oil bottles

Is there a certain smell that reminds you of home? Is it fresh-baked cookies right out of the oven? Maybe the smell of Chanel No. 5 evokes memories of watching your mom get ready for a big night out.

Scents have been proven to connect with a person’s memory, and aromatherapy, or the use of essential oils, has been increasing in popularity when it comes to its effects on those living with Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia.

Read on to learn more about how incorporating aromatherapy into caregiving may help when it comes to your loved one’s nighttime routine.

What is Aromatherapy?

The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy defines aromatherapy as “the art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize, and promote the health of body, mind, and spirit.”

While essential oils have been in use for decades, interest in aromatherapy and its effects on Alzheimer’s disease and dementia has increased over the last 30 years.

Effects of Essential Oils on Alzheimer’s and Dementia

To date, there is limited research on aromatherapy and its effects on people with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. However, some studies on aromatherapy and its effects on dementia have shown aromatherapy can help lessen related symptoms.

Learn More About Sleep Services in Dementia Care at The Bristal

Aromatherapy and Sleep

Aromatherapy may be beneficial for those who have been diagnosed with sundowning, a state of late-day and nighttime confusion, which commonly affects people with dementia.

Using the same scent routinely to create a ritual can help your loved one relax as he or she prepares for sleep and help lessen the symptoms of sundowning.

Some essential oils that have been associated with promoting a better sleep environment include:

  • Jasmine
  • Lavender
  • Marjoram
  • Sandalwood

Related Read: Tips for Preventing, Coping with Symptoms of Sundowning

Essential Oil Application Methods and Safety

Essential oils can be used in many ways, such as with a diffuser, inhaled, topically (like through massage), and taken through a person’s diet.

However, The Food and Drug Administration does not regulate essential oils, so talk with your doctor before using any to make sure they will not have a negative interaction with medication.

If you’re looking for additional resources about dementia and other cognitive issues, our TopStories newsletter is a great source to find more information on Alzheimer’s disease and memory care.

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Chef’s Table: The Bristal at Holtsville’s Josef Mujanovic Shares His Recipe for Cheese Tortellini Francese

Posted by: The Bristal

cheese tortellini francese

Sometimes, a love of cooking is in our blood. And for Josef Mujanovic, that’s exactly what got him into the kitchen at a young age.

“Growing up, I remember sitting on bags of flour watching my dad cook,” said Mujanovic, food service director at The Bristal at Holtsville. “A lot of my passion for cooking comes from my mom and dad, and their culinary backgrounds have played a significant impact on my success and growth as a chef.”

Mujanovic’s parents owned several restaurants while he was growing up, which spurred him to make his own career move into cooking. He attended SUNY Delhi for hospitality and restaurant management, moving on to work in catering, hotels, and more restaurants. Along the way, he said, he found his passion.

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

The Dining Experience at The Bristal at Holtsville

Mujanovic didn’t intend to end up working in the senior living industry, but while at another job, he learned of an opening at The Bristal from another employee and applied.

“It’s rewarding to be able to help these residents,” he said. “We see them every day, three meals a day. It’s not always easy to make everyone happy, but when you do, it’s rewarding.”

Cooking itself is just one part of the job he enjoys. Mentoring other chefs at The Bristal is another, as well as keeping up with new developments in the industry.

Even though he’s not cooking for a traditional restaurant, Mujanovic works as if he does.

“I feel and I treat my kitchen as if it was my own restaurant. And I look at the food I put out as restaurant quality — the style, the garnish… I put my own twist on it every day,” he said.

Finding a Passion for Cooking

Outside of work, Mujanovic enjoys — what else? — cooking for loved ones. Besides the influence of his family, Mujanovic credits his wife, coworkers, and friends with the support they’ve given him along the way.

Through the years, I have always taken knowledge from every experience during this ride to be where I am now in my career with The Bristal,” he said.

Get The Bristal’s chef Mick Gehnrich’s butternut squash soup recipe >>

Handmade Cheese Tortellini Francese with Amaretto-glazed Mushrooms

Mujanovic’s experiences – from his Yugoslavian heritage to his Italian culinary background – mean some of his favorite foods to make are homemade pizza dough, stromboli, and fresh pasta. Here, he shares his recipe for a rich, from-scratch cheese tortellini in Francese sauce.

josef mujanovic cheese tortellini francese

For the pasta dough

  • 3 large eggs, beaten to blend
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt



Mix eggs, flour, oil, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with your hands until a shaggy dough forms. Knead with dough hook until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Cover dough with plastic wrap and let rest at least 30 minutes.

Cut and roll as desired.

Do ahead: Dough can be made 1 day ahead; wrap tightly and chill.

For the tortellini filling

  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons food-processed candied pecans
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • Fresh pasta (recipe above)
  • 1 egg mixed with 1/2 teaspoon water for egg wash



Using the fresh pasta recipe, roll out your dough either by hand or machine. Cut into 3- or 4- inch rounds with a round cookie cutter. Place 1/4 teaspoon into the center of each round. Brush egg wash on the bottom half of the round and fold over to seal. Fold back around your finger and turn down the edge to form the tortellini.

In half a gallon of rapidly boiling salted water, add the tortellini in batches. Cook for three to five minutes, or until they float to the surface. Remove to a strainer to drain.

While tortellini is cooking, begin Francese sauce and glazed mushrooms.


Francese sauce and amaretto-glazed mushrooms

  • 1  stick of butter, melted
  • 2 ½ cups white wine
  • Juice of 2 lemons (approx. 1 cup)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • ½ cup heavy cream (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch OR 1 packet dry chicken gravy mix, to thicken
  • 4 cups sliced button mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon amaretto honey
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • Salt and pepper to taste, lemon pepper, granulated onion, and garlic to taste



In a pan over low heat, combine melted butter and wine. Add in lemon juice and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Thicken sauce with chicken gravy mix; or, blend together cornstarch and a few tablespoons water, whisking into the sauce slowly until desired thickness is achieved. An immersion blender may also be used to combine.

Adjust seasoning to taste with salt, pepper, lemon pepper, granulated onion, and garlic. If desired, add ½ cup heavy cream for a richer sauce.

Next, in a separate pan, sautée sliced mushrooms in olive oil and amaretto honey, adding fresh rosemary throughout the process. Mix your finished tortellini with the hot Francese sauce in a sauté pan on medium flame until desired temperature (approx. four minutes).

To plate, set a bed of pea microgreens, add the tortellini Francese, and top with amaretto-glazed mushrooms. Finally, garnish with rainbow microgreens or your preferred herbs and serve with Italian herb-crusted crostini.


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