Matt Gallardo

Aging: Debunking the Myths

Matt Gallardo

“Age, ain’t nothing but a number”

In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal entitled “Why Everything You Think About Aging Maybe Wrong,” staff reporter Ann Tergensen reveals a number of myths and misconceptions about getting older. She states that “as we get older, friendships, creativity and satisfaction with life can flourish.”

racin grandpaI appreciate how she challenges conventional thinking from the very beginning of the article. She generalizes, “Everyone knows that with age… life inevitably becomes less satisfying and enjoyable… that cognitive decline is inevitable… and that we become less productive at work…Everyone, it seems, is wrong.” She also challenges the stereotype of growing older as a time of loneliness, depression and decline; because, as she points out, there’s more and more research that shows life can actually get better in many ways as we age.

Truthfully, as an advocate and promoter for embracing aging for Messiah Lifeways, I do have my own personal anxiety about getting older and maintain a small amount of skepticism about articles such as Ms. Tergensen’s. However, each year that goes by, as I interact with more and more vibrant and gratified seniors, and discover research that supports aging as a time of opportunity and contentment, my anxiety and skepticism wane. Likewise, my fear and reluctance about aging are evolving into appreciation and acceptance. The journey of aging that I encourage others to embrace is one that I’m learning as I go as well.

She goes on to say that growing older does have its challenges and takes its toll on our physical and mental health. But the “stereotype of being depressed, cranky, irritable and obsessed with their ailments, constitute “no more than 10% of the older population” as stated by Paul Costa, a scientist emeritus at the National Institute of Health. Furthermore, an article I wrote a while back entitled, “Ageism and Karma,” I stated that you can assign stereotypes to every generation, and while they may be true, they are often grossly exaggerated generalizations.

The WSJ article continues on by debunking 6 myths about aging.

Myth #1: Depression Is More Prevalent in Old Age - Despite the assumption that aging and depression go hand-in-hand, a 10 year study from Stanford University refutes that myth. It included 184 participants ages 18 to 94 reporting on their emotions over this 10 year period. They found that participants’ moods, which were measured by the ratio of positive to negative emotions, steadily improved with age.

Myth #2: Cognitive Decline Is Inevitable – As we age, our concentration and memory does begin to slip, which actually starts around age 30, and I can attest to that. However, barring dementia, a study from the University of Toronto indicates that older adults performed better in real world situations versus cognitive tests because of acquired knowledge and life experiences. And much like any other muscle in the body, exercising and challenging our brains is essential to combat mental decline.

Myth #3: Older Workers Are Less Productive – a vast majority of academic studies shows “virtually no relationship between age and job performance,” says Harvey Stearns, director of the Institute for Life-Span Development and Gerontology at the University of Akron. It’s also noted that in jobs that require experience, some studies showed that older adults have a performance edge and that older workers seem better at avoiding severe errors.

Myth #4: Loneliness Is More Likely - though true that social circles do get smaller as you age, several studies indicate that the friendships that you do have typically improve with age. Also they tend to have better marriages, more supportive friendships, less conflict with family, and closer ties with members of their social network versus younger adults.

Myth #5: Creativity Declines with Age – academic studies and historical figures have shown that artists and scholars may reach their peak output when they are in their 60s according to Dean Keith Simonton, a professor of psychology at the University of California Davis. He also adds that “experimental artists” improve with time and experience and take years to perfect their style and knowledge and that wisdom does increase with age.

Myth #6: More Exercise Is Better – James O’Keefe, a professor of medicine at the University of Missouri, states that with exercise as you age there is a point of diminishing returns. Therefore, moderate workout routines are sufficient, and long-term strenuous endurance exercise can cause “overuse injury” to the heart.

In conclusion, I think the article challenges traditional thinking and opens your eyes about aging by backing it up with data and research. However, it is important to focus on a particular fragment within this commentary – and it’s the word “can.” As stated earlier in the article “as we get older…life can flourish,” but it hinges on your individual attitude and outlook on aging. For the parts of aging we control, if you let it, loneliness, depression and decline will bring you down. But if you take control and find meaning and purpose and embrace aging, you can flourish.

To learn more about how you can change the conversation and flourish as you age, contact the Messiah Lifeways Coaching Program at 717.591.7225 or

Matt Gallardo

Please Put Down the Christmas Sweater!

Matt Gallardo

As a kid, I vividly recall my Grandmother instructing us every holiday shopping season, “Please, do not buy me Christmas gifts that I have to clean or dust.” We always got a laugh out of her for that, but she was serious. Make no mistake she loved exchanging gifts at Christmas, but having been a depression-era baby she didn’t really want big extravagant gifts or silly novelty gifts like an ugly Christmas sweater - yikes! Especially as she became less mobile, she didn’t want gifts that she had to dust, wash or took up lots of space. She had much simpler more practical taste. Living on a fixed income, she really appreciated the flexibility of gift cards that she could use on things she really wanted or needed. And in other cases it’s just plain difficult to buy for family members, especially when they are 2 or 3 times your age. For others who have downsized into an apartment or into personal care or to nursing care, getting large or novelty gifts can be a challenge due to a lack of space or storage.

91d572e7006025f5e456c622d2b0b3d8So put down those Duck Dynasty Chia Pets® this holiday season and think more practical and streamlined when it comes to buying gifts for Great Uncle Joe or Grandma Louise. Flowers, food, or a good book are really great ideas. Small electronics like a smart phone or an e-reader may be a good choice too. I have also included some other great suggestions available through Messiah Lifeways. These are great gift ideas for Messiah Village residents and as well as some for non-residents.

1. Membership to Pathways Institute for Lifelong Learning® ($20 for 1 course, or 5 courses for residents $50 and community members $75)

2. A massage therapy session from Messiah Lifeways At Home ($40 for 1/2 hour, $65 for 1 hour)

3. Sunday Brunch at the Fireside Grille gift certificate ($25)

4. Monthly membership to Connections ($20 single, $30 household)

5. Messiah Lifeways Wellness Community Membership to the aquatic/fitness center ($45/month)

6. Two hours of technology and computer support provided by Messiah Lifeways At Home ($50)

7. Two hours of housekeeping from Messiah Lifeways At Home ($50)

8. A supporting membership to Mechanicsburg Place: A Senior Center & More ($25 annually)

9. Gift certificate to Bailey Street or Paxton Street Coffee Shops at Messiah Village (varying denominations)

10. A gift certificate for a shampoo/cut/set at one of the salons at Messiah Village (varying denominations)

Give a gift this year that they will really appreciate. Click on the links above or call 717.697.4666 to be transferred to the respective departments to get details on ordering gifts. If you have any additional questions or ideas, please leave a comment or contact the Messiah Lifeways Coaching office at 717.591.7225.


Archive from Nov. 2012, revised for Dec. 2014
Written by: Matthew Gallardo, BASW, CCP
Matt Gallardo

Make Caregiving Manageable During the Holidays

Matt Gallardo

Ah, the holiday season. It’s the most wonderful time of year, right? As we all know it can be a very busy and stressful time too. Between the shopping, cooking, and traveling it gets hectic, especially for those who serve as a primary caregiver to a loved one. Caregivers deserve to enjoy Thanksgiving or Hanukkah or Christmas just as much as the next guy, if not more. But sometimes there just are not enough hours in the day.

As the holiday season quickly approaches, it is good to know that there are some great options out there for those caring for an aging parent or loved one.

Beat Black Friday Blues

imagesCA4PU30TFor many shoppers Black Friday is a holiday unto itself. Whether you think it’s a good idea or not, we know some people are determined to get up at the crack of dawn and get the best deals possible. If you have some shopping to do or you’re just plain busy, several solutions can make your life more manageable. First, there are some great technology solutions. An emergency call system, such as Philips Lifeline®, can be the difference between your loved one getting help immediately versus laying there for hours before someone discovers them. Their Auto-Alert option can even detect a fall and send a signal if the person is knocked unconscious, and the Philips GoSafe® emergency call system provides GPS tracking response both in and outside the home. The Philips Medication Dispensing® (PMD) System can help individuals manage medications safely and effectively. Face Time, which is on most Apple® mobile devices or Skyping can be a great way to provide face to face interaction with long distance loved ones to check in on them.

If you have aversion to technology, another option is non-medical home care. Hire an aide to come stay with mom or dad for several hours or several days. There are a number of non-medical home care agencies in the area from which to choose. Particularly, Messiah Lifeways at Home offers traditional home care services like help with bathing, housekeeping, and cooking, but they also provide unique home care services like non skilled home-maintenance, transportation, and even pet and plant care. Another great choice are Adult Day Programs. Messiah Lifeways offers a day program where loved ones can come for a full or half day of activities, socialization, meals, and receive assistance with activities of daily living. These programs are cost effective and offer great flexibility based on your need. Give yourself a gift of time and peace of mind.

Peace of Mind for Holiday Travel

As family becomes more spread across the country, it leaves many caregivers with the predicament of traveling versus staying home for the holidays. If you choose to go away for the holidays or any other time for that matter, a respite stay for the person you care for may be the answer. Respite provides short-term or temporary care. As a respite, your loved one can receive the same services a permanent resident would like meals, activities, medication monitoring, and assistance with activities of daily living. You can arrange for the individual to stay for several days up to a month. Messiah Lifeways at Messiah Village offers respite in personal care for as little as a five-day stay. It provides a safe, secure, and nurturing place for them while you are out of town. Holiday activities and cooking, plus special events like Christmas concerts and holiday celebrations make the time even more enjoyable.

Additional Holiday Caregiving Tips

Unlike Santa Claus, we do not have magical powers. We cannot be in multiple places. Ask for help from family and friends and learn how to delegate tasks. Despite it being a difficult choice, consider re-evaluating family traditions that involve lots of travel or preparation time. Develop priorities for the activities that matter most to your family. Remember to include the things that you enjoy doing for your holiday celebrations. You can’t be all things to all people so don’t feel guilty about the things you cannot change. Finally, set aside time to relax and talk to your loved one about the holidays and really listen as they reminisce.

For additional information about the many options available to make the holidays more manageable, please contact the Messiah Lifeways Coaching Office at 717.591.7225 or email


Originally posted Nov. 2012 & Revised Nov 2014
by Matthew Gallardo, Messiah Lifeways Coach


Matt Gallardo

Celebrating Home Care: A Key to Aging in Place

Matt Gallardo

Every November, the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) celebrates National Home Care Month all month long, and Home Care Aide Week, from November 10-16. It is a time to honor the care giving heroes who make a remarkable difference in the lives of those in need. This year’s theme is “Home is the Center of Health Care.”

untitledHome care lies at the core of helping aging and disabled Americans stay in their home for longer periods of time. It can potentially lessen the amount of time someone may spend in an assisted living residence, personal care home, or nursing home. Of course there are many other resources to help people “age in place or community.” Other options include home health care, which provides short-term medical care into the home, adult day programs, respite care, technology, home modification, and in-home medical equipment. Home care services combined with one or several of these other home-based resources can create a workable blueprint to help someone age in place.

The Evolution of Community-Based Care
There are a number of reasons for this shift toward community-based care. First is the government’s dwindling ability to fund healthcare. And with nearly 78 million baby boomers reaching age 65 in the next 20 years, coverage for institutional care will become harder and harder to get. Because of this, the free market is joining the movement away from an institutional model of care and pushing for more community support services. It is the direction health care services are headed in our country. This is why you are seeing more urgent care centers, home care agencies, and hospice providers popping up in the community. It is simply cheaper to take care of someone if they don’t have to be hospitalized or placed in a facility, which is what most people want anyway.

These 78 million boomers represent a large and powerful generation whose demands and expectations of care will be very different from what we are used to seeing. Once more the idea of bringing services into the home and modifying homes will be the future for this rapidly growing number of seniors. Other factors compounding this evolution of care include our ever increasing life spans which require longer periods of care and funding. Secondly, over the last three decades, the number of family members, especially daughters, serving as caregivers has shrunk as our society becomes more mobile and career-oriented making a move out of town, state, or country more common. The way we used to care for our elders has changed. Just as nursing homes and personal care homes have provided surrogate care for aging loved ones over the last several decades, the idea of substituting care with home care aides has become more conventional. It helps working daughters (or sons), sandwich generation caregivers, out-of-towners, and spouses to replace or supplement the care they provide.

The National Association for Home Care & Hospice states that demographic shift studies translate into some disturbing data. The number of frail older people over 65 is expected to increase from 11 million in 2010 to 18 million in 2030. The percentage of frail older people who are childless is expected to rise from 14 to 18 percent during this period, and the ratio of frail, older people who have only one or two adult children is expected to increase from 38 to 49 percent. Most of these aging boomers will want to remain in their homes, but they may not be able to count on their families for long-term care when it’s needed.

Home Care Can Fill Many Niches
Not only has health care evolved to put a greater emphasis on community-based services, but home care itself is evolving. Traditional housekeeping, cooking, companionship, transportation and assistance with activities like bathing and dressing are generally offered by most non-medical home care providers. However, home care providers such as Messiah Lifeways At Home now offer a unique array of services that buoy one’s ability to live safely and more carefree at home. Some of these newer and less known options include: pet and plant care,  non-skilled home maintenance, downsizing services, assistance with home exercise programs, and technology/computer assistance.

Lastly, in a time where the expanding need along with the absence of consistent familial support continue to grow, home care staff fill a void and become more than just caregivers for their clients. They become almost like close friends or even family. They’re a large part of why home care is poised to play a key role as the center of health care in our country.

To learn more about Messiah Lifeways At Home go to or call 717.790.8209. For information on home care services for the entire state, visit the Pennsylvania Homecare Association (PHA) home care locator link [click here].

Originally posted November 2013- Revised for November 2014
by: Matthew Gallardo, Messiah Lifeways Coach, BASW, CCP


Matt Gallardo

What Is Aging in Place?

Matt Gallardo


What exactly does it mean to “Age in Place”? Ideally, aging in place is leading a healthy and engaging life in your own “home” for as long as one chooses. And “home” should be considered a fluid term. But, if we delve deeper, we’ll discover its meaning becomes situational, conditional, and distinct to each person facing difficult life choices as they grow older and or more dependent on others.

Aging in place has become a broad term bandied about in the senior and long-term care industries for many years. At work, I use the term several times a day and provide guidance to older adults and their families on how to “age in place.” However, for those who have little or no exposure to an aging or disabled loved one struggling to live independently or safely at home, it may be an unfamiliar concept.

One way to help define aging in place, or muddy the waters, depending on how you look at it, is to dispel what it is not:

•It’s not exclusively defined by age. When you retire at 65 you’re not suddenly aging in place. Furthermore, is a healthy 81 year old still working full-time and leading a very active lifestyle aging in place? I wouldn’t necessarily say that he is. Plus, if I claimed he was, he might respectfully disagree, since I’m referring to my father-in-law. Conversely, we could reference a 45 year old female with a traumatic brain injury in which the family is doing everything they can to keep her at home as she becomes more dependent each passing year.

•It also is not defined necessarily by where you live. Someone residing in a place other than their house, such as in a retirement or 55+ community, a personal care home or assisted living, has the opportunity to age in place. Therefore, you can age in place in multiple stages and locations too.

Thoroughly confused yet? Don’t be. You can boil the term down to whether a person has a fundamental deficit or inherent need, that without help may not be able to live independently or safely. These deficits can be quite broad. It could be that because of aging, impairment or disability that person needs some home modifications: a ramp into the house, a bedroom on the first floor, or a walk-in shower rather than a bathtub. A deficit may also be due to a loss, such as the loss of driving privileges or loss of physical or mental capacities. Aging in place manifests itself if you now need assistance coming to your current living situation for the safety, welfare or maintenance of you or your household.

Another way to understand aging in place is to talk about its primary alternative. Typically, this is choosing to move to a retirement community or care facility because it could make life easier or more enjoyable or safer than living in a private residence. Statistically, if we examine the choice of aging in place versus making a move among older adults, the percentage of those who move into a facility for care is less than 15%. Thus, the majority of older adults will be living at home and opt to age in place.

There are a multitude of different services and resources that can help people stay at home and age in place. Family or hired caregivers and/or professional home care are keys to aging in place. Other options include: adult day programs, home modification, and technology such as emergency call systems, telemedicine and even the use of web cams. Additionally, home health care and hospice services, durable medical equipment, outpatient therapy and diagnostic programs bolster the effort of people living safely and healthy at home. Wellness programs, volunteering, community membership groups like Messiah Lifeways Connections, senior centers, and transportation services can help round out a healthy and engaging life in the comfort of your own home.

To learn more about aging in place options available through Messiah Lifeways Community Support Services, call 717.790.8209 or go to

Matt Gallardo

It’s National “Hug Your Physical Therapist” Month

Matt Gallardo


When it comes to national health observance months, most people know that October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The pink ribbon crusade is very prominent and has proven to be quite powerful in the fight against breast cancer. However, October is also National Physical Therapy Month. Conjointly, physical therapy plays an important role in the recovery of breast cancer patients who sometimes develop lymphedema in the breast, neck, and the underarm regions after a mastectomy, lumpectomy or damage to or removal of the lymph nodes in that area. Therapy and exercise help to restore flexibility and strength in the neck and upper arm, and improves drainage of the lymph nodes.

Like the treatment for lymphedema and all the other ailments and injuries treated by modern medicine, physical therapists often play an unsung role in the health and recovery of patients young and old. National Physical Therapy Month is hosted by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) in October to acknowledge how physical therapists and physical therapist assistants can help people by improving their quality of life by restoring and improving their physical abilities. So it is certainly fitting to celebrate what therapists can do for all of us.

I have worked for and with rehab providers for nearly two decades and, unfortunately, as a weekend warrior, I’ve relied on physical therapy several times. Prior to and long after my anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction surgery, physical therapy on my knee was just as vital to my recovery as the surgery itself. Furthermore and quite ironically, I just had rotator cuff repair surgery several weeks ago and will be starting physical therapy in the middle of October once again. I also had physical therapy on my opposite shoulder for a partial rotator cuff tear that did not require surgery. It was physical therapy alone that really helped to heal and strengthen that shoulder. I might be falling apart, but the surgeons coupled with the help of the physical therapists that are putting me “back together.”

Professionally, I have worked with physical therapists for a long time. In particular, I have seen some pretty amazing results and recovery at Messiah Village in the Wagner Transitional Care Neighborhood. The physical, occupational, speech therapists, PTAs and OTAs from RehabCare do an incredible job helping residents reach their recovery goals for a variety of injuries and illnesses, such as stroke, hip and knee replacements, and degenerative and neurological disorders. In my previous role as Director of Admissions, we would admit residents that were very ill and, at first glance, had little chance of ever returning home. Amazingly, in many of the situations the therapists were able to motivate, treat and compassionately push residents to regain their strength, safety awareness and endurance. Furthermore, in conjunction with the physicians and nursing staff, they were able to help safely discharge that person home or back to their previous level of living.

D3C_5843 CMYKPhysical therapists do not treat you chemically or surgically; however, the physical, emotional and even spiritual strength they provide clients and residents warrants celebration. Physical therapists deserve a lot of praise and recognition year-round, but here in October take an extra moment to say “thank you” and give them a big hug!

Click on the following links to learn more about National Physical Therapy Month, the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) and To learn more about inpatient and outpatient therapy available for residents and community members alike, please call 717.790.8201 or visit


Matt Gallardo

Senior Centers: Celebrating a Community Focal Point

Matt Gallardo

September is National Senior Center Month – Celebrate!

Across the country, more and more people are beginning to recognize their local senior center isn’t what it used to be – it’s a lot more! According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA) there are 11,400 senior centers across the US that serve more than 1 million older adults every day. Thanks to the Older Americans Act (OAA), senior centers have become a community focal point and one of the most widely used services among America’s older adults.

NCOA also shared that when compared with their peers, senior center participants have higher levels of health, social interaction, and life satisfaction. They go on to say that research shows participants learn to manage and delay the onset of chronic disease and experience measurable improvements in their physical, social, spiritual, emotional, mental, and economic well-being.

Senior centers typically offer a wide variety of programs and services such as, but certainly not limited to, the following:

* Meal and nutritional programs
* Health, fitness, and wellness programs
* Transportation services
* Public benefits counseling
* Employment assistance
* Volunteer and civic engagement opportunities
* Social and recreational activities
* Educational and arts programs

Locally Messiah Lifeways sponsors and operates two senior centers, Mechanicsburg Place: A Senior Center and More and the newly christened Senior Center in Shippensburg, now known as Branch Creek Place: A Senior Center and More. On September 2, a huge gathering came to celebrate the name unveiling at the future home of Branch Creek Place located on 115 N. Fayette Street in Shippensburg. This collaborative effort between Messiah Lifeways, local and county officials, and the Cumberland County Department of Aging and Community Services further demonstrates the commitment to and value of local senior centers. Thanks in part to a $112,000 state grant, renovations will begin on Branch Creek Place this fall, with an anticipated completion next spring. At that point, the center will move from its quaint yet cramped and temporary location at the Christ United Methodist Church at 47 E. King Street.

These senior centers are friendly community gathering places where you can connect, volunteer, enjoy cultural experiences, take educational classes and a lot more. Activities like line dancing, low impact exercise, health screenings and flu shots help members stay well and active. Members also experience culture with bus trips and outings to local restaurants, theaters and historical sites. They also have many opportunities to connect with others at meal time, game time or while playing pool or singing in the chorus. Participants also have many ways to grow and learn by taking computer classes, health and safety classes or simply by meeting new people. And like most senior centers, volunteering is a big part of the experience. Whether it’s helping out at the center by answering phones, serving lunch or helping out with community service projects, members can share their time and talents.

Recently, Mechanicsburg Place was chosen as one of ten senior centers in Pennsylvania to pilot a program called the “Sip and Swipe Café.” Essentially, it’s part of the center where members can get a cup of coffee and free lessons on how to use an iPad with trained members instructing other members. There will be multiple tablets for them to use on a regular basis especially as they become more and more proficient on them. This calls to mind that senior centers are making great effort reinventing themselves. Meeting the needs and desires of the aging baby boom generation has helped inspire these changes. Senior centers are developing new programs and opportunities for this dynamic generation of older adults.

As we celebrate National Senior Center Month, get out there and check out what’s new and exciting at your local senior center. Plus, to learn more about Mechanicsburg Place: A Senior Center and More, please call 717.697.5947 or visit Or to learn more about Branch Creek Place: A Senior Center and More, please call 717.300.3563.

Matt Gallardo

Frog in a Frying Pan

Matt Gallardo

I love metaphors and analogies. Just ask my wife, I use them all the time, and it drives her crazy. But to me, metaphors are a great way to make brief, colorful and descriptive points, such as “I’m happier than a pig in mud!” Now that’s happy. They can also help someone visualize life’s challenges and difficulties such as feeling like a “fish out of water” or one I hear more and more often, feeling like a “frog in a frying pan.” This metaphor often epitomizes caregivers.

One such example is a woman who has been caring for her mother for the last 7+ years. Her mother was diagnosed with dementia and moved in with her and her husband. In addition to being a fulltime caregiver to her mother, she also home schools her three young children, not to mention all the other responsibilities she has as a wife and mother. She is your classic “sandwich generation” caregiver and self-admitted “frog in a frying pan.”

frog it hot in here or is it just me?

She described feeling like the frog in a frying pan, based on the proverb– place a frog in the frying pan then gradually turn up the heat and it won’t jump out. Instead it stays put, continually adapting and adjusting to the heat until they get burned or worse! That’s how she and many other caregivers often feel. They take on the role of caregiver and don’t recognize that the gradual pressure and stress is “frying” them mentally, emotionally and even physically. They need to learn how to avoid getting burned, jump out of the pan and ask another “frog” for help or seek other solutions.

One of the first steps of avoiding caregiver burnout is to simply realize you are in fact a caregiver. Often spouses or adult children get into the habit of helping or doing little things for their loved one and, bam, several months or years later it has become their daily routine. It consumes them and can monopolize their time away from other important things in life. Caregiver burnout is a real epidemic. Otherwise all the books, articles, and websites dedicated to helping caregivers wouldn’t exist.

Realizing it is a problem and looking for solutions is great a starting point. How can you seek help or a solution if you don’t even realize the problem? But once you realize it, you’ll soon discover there are many resources out there dedicated to helping caregivers. Listed below is a sampling of a few great websites and some other local resources that include articles, financial assistance, checklists, support groups, and many other tools to combat caregiver burnout. (click on the links below)
Cumberland County Aging and Community Services
Cumberland County Family Caregiver Support Program
Dauphin County Area Agency on Aging
Dauphin County Family Caregiver Support Program
Hospice of Central PA Support Group Calendar

Please also consider attending our Caregiver’s Workshop at Messiah Village on September 4, 2014. The workshop was designed for those seeking options, resources, and support as caregivers. We will examine ways to identify and reduce caregiver burnout and explore available resources and support. Plus, the workshop will also include the “Caregiving Panel” for a question and answer session with local care-giving experts. For more information go to

Originally posted August, 2013- Revised August 2014
by: Matthew Gallardo, Messiah Lifeways Coach, BASW, CCP

Karin Bisbee

Project Envision creating a buzz

Karin Bisbee

Artist’s rendering of Village Square, slated to open in early 2017

Over the past few weeks, we’ve enjoyed some local media coverage regarding Project Envision, a mission-driven strategic plan that seeks to meet the changing needs of future generations of adults aged 55 and better. You may have seen articles in the Sentinel, The Patriot News, The Dillsburg Banner or via the Central Penn Business Journal. The centerpiece of Project Envision’s first phase is Village Square, an innovative town village concept featuring 80 spacious apartment homes with underground parking and numerous lifestyle amenities including a wellness and enrichment center, spa, and bistro.  Village Square will be the newest addition to Messiah Lifeways at Messiah Village in Upper Allen Township. Since announcing this project to Messiah Lifeways team members and stakeholders in early May, more than 160 people have expressed serious interest in moving to the Village Square. They’ve signed up to join the Priority Club which means they’ll have first access to floor plans when they are available next year. Big projects like this create a lot of excitement as we think and plan and dream for the future! It’s always great to share our 118-year story of serving older adults and families and giving people a glimpse of our ministry in action.  While we are proud of our amazing staff, beautiful Messiah Village campus, and excellent community support programs, it’s always nice to hear first-hand accounts of what our neighbors and friends think. In late July, we hosted neighbors who live near the Messiah Village campus to a special presentation so they could hear advance news about the upcoming expansion. As the meeting ended, a gentleman spoke out and shared that he and his wife are neighbors and volunteers. They’ve always appreciated living near Messiah Village and they enjoy giving their time to serve as volunteers. He went on to share a lot of positive reflections. The media coverage has been appreciated but moments like that – they are at the heart of our mission. It’s a privilege to serve persons aged 55 and better – to serve their families, to serve our neighbors and friends.  If you’d like to learn more about Village Square, visit

To check out Roger Quigley’s article on, click [here]

Matt Gallardo

Non-profit Nursing Homes Offer Distinct Advantages

Matt Gallardo

Main EntranceThose that have gone through the process of finding a nursing home for a loved one can tell you how much of a challenge it can sometimes be. Making such an important decision for an ailing parent or loved one can be difficult and overwhelming. Knowing the right questions to ask and the right characteristics to look for are vital to making a better and more informed choice. You can go online ( as one example) and print a list that consists of questions like “what’s the staffing ratio?”, “do you do background checks on staff?”, or does it smell and look clean? But one question to ask that you may not always see on these lists is whether it is a non-profit or a for-profit facility. Being aware of the ownership status can be a very good starting point.

A number of national senior and health care advocacy groups like Leading Age, Physicians for a National Health Program and the Center for Medicare Advocacy, Inc have determined through extensive research that the type of nursing home ownership and sponsorship can affect the quality of care that facilities provide to their residents. It can even affect the rate of hospitalization and the potential discharge to home percentage.

Much of the statistical research consistently determined that non-profit nursing homes offered specific advantages, such as:

>fewer deficiencies in total
>fewer deficiencies causing harm or jeopardy to a resident
>fewer residents taking antipsychotic medications
>lower prevalence of restraints
>lower prevalence of pressure ulcers (bed sores)
>lower hospitalization rates
>higher staffing number of registered nurses
>higher staffing ratios overall
>higher ranking on the Center for Medicare/Medicaid (CMS) Five-Star rating system
>higher discharge to home rates

I’m not suggesting that 100% of the time a non-profit nursing home is always a better choice; however, it’s hard to argue with these numerous sources and research supporting the facts. Non-profit retirement communities and nursing homes like Messiah Village are not looking to create profit for shareholders or the executives running the company. If positive revenue exceeds operational costs, non-profits typically put that money back into the facility by making improvements to the physical plant, focusing on staff retention and increasing wages, and by looking for ways to improve policy and procedure to create a better overall living experience for residents.

Ultimately deciding on a nursing home for a parent or spouse needs to be a well-planned collaborative decision, involving the perspective resident and their loved ones and/or their responsible persons. Taking suggestions from the doctor, a social worker or someone who’s gone through it is fine. However, there are more precise ways to evaluate the choice. In Pennsylvania, go to the Department of Health website to obtain a full list of nursing homes county-by-county, which also includes detail about profit vs. non-profit status, licensed number of beds, plus survey results that lists specific deficiencies and the subsequent plan of correction. Also call to schedule visits and tour several nursing facilities. And, if possible, do this ahead of time, not at the last-minute or during the time of crisis.

For more information or questions about finding the right nursing home for you or a loved one, please contact the Messiah Lifeways Coaching office at 717-591-7225 or email

Resources cited:

“Non-profit nursing homes provide better care, major study finds” from

“Non-Profit vs. For-Profit Nursing Homes: Is there a Difference in Care?” from

“5 Ways Not-for-Profit Nursing Homes are Different” by Geralyn Magan at

“For-Profit Nursing Homes Have Low Staffing and Poor Quality of Care” by Grace Rattue at


Initially Published- 06/20/2013


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