Former Nurse Awarded April Wellness Star

. Posted in FPH, Journey to Healthy Aging Blog, News

Florida Presbyterian Homes has named resident Ellie K. as the Wellness Star award winner for April 2020. This month’s wellness star focused on the vocational dimension of wellness. That includes work that utilizes a person’s skills, while also providing personal satisfaction through volunteerism. Ellie’s love of the nursing profession and her interest in helping others made her a perfect choice for this month’s award.

Resident-recognized-as-April-Wellness-Star-Award-WinnerEllie had a 40+ year career in the nursing profession, which included degrees from the University of Rochester and Florida Southern College. She began working as a nurse in the University Hospital before moving to Florida, where she spent the remainder of her career at Winter Haven Hospital in surgical intensive care, IV therapy and as a nursing supervisor.

Ellie says she enjoyed nursing because it was challenging and she loved caring for people. Her talent from her professional life as a nurse has served her well with volunteer opportunities in the Porter McGrath Center here at FPH. She has been volunteering with a resident in the health center for the last two years. “It’s satisfying knowing I am helping other people — not only the resident, but also the caregiver who can get some time away,” said Ellie.

When asked what wellness means to her, Ellie said, “To feel the best I can and be able to do the things I like to do. Plus, I have to keep walking and doing my exercises.”

Well said, Ellie. Congratulations on your commitment to wellness!

Avoid Coronavirus Scams

. Posted in FPH, Industry News, News

Scammers are taking advantage of fears surrounding the Coronavirus.

What the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is Doing

The FTC and FDA have jointly issued warning letters to seven sellers of unapproved and misbranded products, claiming they can treat or prevent the Coronavirus. The companies’ products include teas, essential oils, and colloidal silver.

The FTC says the companies have no evidence to back up their claims — as required by law. The FDA says there are no approved vaccines, drugs or investigational products currently available to treat or prevent the virus.

Avoid Coronavirus Scams

Here are some tips to help you keep the scammers at bay:

  • Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know. They could download viruses onto your computer or device.
  • Watch for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or experts saying they have information about the virus. For the most up-to-date information about the Coronavirus, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • Ignore online offers for vaccinations. There currently are no vaccines, pills, potions, lotions, lozenges or other prescription or over-the-counter products available to treat or cure Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) — online or in stores.
  • Do your homework when it comes to donations, whether through charities or crowdfunding sites. Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money, don’t do it.

Link to for the FTC’s most up-to-date information about Coronavirus scams

Nature Lover Receives March Wellness Star Award

. Posted in FPH, Journey to Healthy Aging Blog, News

Florida Presbyterian Homes has named resident Debbie G. as the Wellness Star for March 2020. And it’s her love of nature that helped her to be recognized for this award. Each month, we look at various types of wellness, including the environmental dimension of wellness. Environmental well-being promotes interaction with nature and one’s personal environment.

Wellness-star-winner-florida-presbyterian-homesDebbie is a nature lover. In fact, it started when she was a child. Debbie’s dad and grandmother taught her about different birds and she enjoyed feeding birds in her grandmother’s garden. She and her grandmother would spend hours watching birds and chipmunks.

Today, Debbie’s love of birds helped her to create a habitat for them to live within our community — specifically the Wood Ducks and Purple Martins.  She made three new Wood Duck boxes and replaced two Purple Martin houses near the boat ramp. Debbie says the new houses are easier to clean and have bigger apartments for the birds. 

In July of last year, Debbie noticed several feral cats within the community. With the help of a friend, they began putting out traps. The goal was to capture the cats and take them to the SPCA for neutering, rabies shot, and de-flea medicine. Some of the cost came out of Debbie’s own pocket, but several residents helped to cover costs. Seven cats were taken to SPCA to be neutered. Out of the seven, two cats became house pets.

When asked what wellness means to her, Debbie replied, “Life in balance, focused on now and trying every day to do better.” Good advice from this month’s Wellness Star award winner. Congratulations Debbie!

Exercise Makes the Heart Happy

. Posted in FPH, Journey to Healthy Aging Blog

 – By Jasmine Locke, FPH Wellness Intern, Spring 2020

Many people think of exercise only when they need to lose weight. But there are many benefits of exercise, to include stress release, improved sleep and reduced risk of some cancers. Heart health is another major benefit of exercise. Consider these five heart-healthy reasons to exercise:

  1. Exercise lowers blood pressure. With exercise, it can potentially slow your heart rate and blood pressure during exercise and at rest! Even small reductions in blood pressure can alleviate risk of heart disease.
  2. Exercise can stop or slow the development of diabetes. Johns Hopkins research has shown up to 50% reductions in development of diabetes in those who participate in aerobic activity (walking, running, swimming, etc.) on almost every day of the week! A walk a day can prevent type 2 diabetes. 
  3. Exercise is key to weight loss/management. Extra weight puts extra stress on the heart potentially leading to a greater risk of heart disease. Being physically active is key to losing weight or maintaining weight which in turn is key to a healthy heart. 
  4. Exercise strengthens muscles. Although the heart is a muscle, strengthening other muscles in our bodies improves the muscles ability to draw oxygen from the blood. If the muscles can easily draw oxygen from the circulating blood then the heart does not have to work as hard to pump the blood to the muscles. 
  5. Exercise lowers stress both physically and mentally. Our stress hormones can add an extra burden to our hearts and our minds. Any form of physical activity can relax and ease stress. If exercise alleviates stress, then it can elevate our mood. A healthy heart and a healthy mind are both benefits of exercise.

Source: Johns Hopkins Medicine

Community Update

. Posted in FPH

A message from our CEO and Executive Director, Joe X.:

Florida Presbyterian Homes, like many of you, has been gathering information regarding the Coronavirus COVID-19 each day. Our focus, as it has always been, is on the wellbeing of our residents. Our clinical leadership team has been following the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) as our primary sources of information. We have reached out to our area Emergency Operations Center, Lakeland Regional Medical Center, and other area healthcare providers. Our state associations have presented regular updates and weekly calls with providers so we can learn from each other. We also have an experienced clinical leadership team, a diligent infection control nurse, a professional and compassionate nursing team, and dedicated and knowledgeable employees in every department. Our focus is on prevention for every resident living in our community. Our Life Enrichment team is doing a great job providing programming in every level of living during this time.

Older populations are especially at risk for the flu and viruses like COVID 19. We ask people who are ill (especially those who have symptoms such as respiratory difficulties, fever, persistent coughing, and other flu-like symptoms), those who have visited one of the countries experiencing major challenges with COVID 19 (Italy, China, Japan, South Korea, Spain), have been on a plane or cruise within the last 14 days, and/or have been in close proximity to someone who is ill, to please avoid our campus at this time. The Governor’s Executive Order prohibits any visitors to our Porter McGrath Health Center and Assisted Living. We have recommended that residents living in our Residential Living Houses and Independent Living Apartments refrain from having visitors from the broader community at this time and do not visit other areas of living on our campus. Presently, we are requiring all staff, vendors, and delivery people to our campus to enter through one entrance and be screened each time they enter the building. We have also implemented protocols with our employee team members to assure that should they become ill, they remain away from the community until they have the appropriate clearance.

We are following time tested protocols and procedures for the flu as well as implementing “best practices” and recommendations from the CDC and FDOH, based on what we are all collectively learning each day. All medical professionals advise that prevention is the best form of protection: wash hands thoroughly (20 seconds or more) and more often than usual, use hand sanitizer, refrain from touching your face, and avoid, or at a minimum, keep a social distance of 6-feet from other people, and do not gather in groups of more than 10 people (and if you do, remain 6 feet apart).

Our prayers are that those who are suffering from COVID-19 are healed and that the virus is contained and managed as soon as possible. We will continue to be diligent in our preparation.

Take 5 for a Healthy Heart

. Posted in Journey to Healthy Aging Blog

 – By Jasmine Locke, FPH Wellness Intern, Spring 2020

Although exercise and a healthy diet are important for maintaining a health heart, here are five additional factors to include in your everyday routine to maintain a healthy heart:

  • Quit Smoking Tobacco – Smoking tobacco is the single most influential factor for developing heart disease. Eliminating the largest risk factor for heart disease is giant step in the right direction.
  • Practice good dental hygiene – Yes, that includes flossing your teeth everyday along with brushing! Neglecting your dental health can potentially lead to gum disease, which has the same risk factors as heart disease. The bacteria associated with gum disease can eventually work its way into the bloodstream leading to inflammatory responses in the blood vessels, and ultimately causing a risk factor for heart disease. Something as simple as brushing AND flossing your teeth daily can help prevent gum disease, as well as heart disease.
  • Get enough sleep – Sleep is an important part of our body’s recovery after each day, so it’s important to maintain proper sleeping habits. Studies show if you do not sleep for 6 to 8 hours each night, you are more likely to develop heart disease regardless of your age. An individual is two times more likely to develop heart disease with less than six hours of sleep each night. Make sleeping a priority, it can potentially save your life.
  • Do not sit for long periods of time – Staying seated for long periods of time is bad for your health. Even if you take an exercise class in the morning, be sure to keep moving throughout the day. Don’t have time to exercise? Then try taking multiple shorter walks throughout the day rather than one long walk or simply park a little farther at the grocery store so you can get more steps in. Be active on most days of the week!
  • Avoid secondhand smoke at all costs – Although smoking is detrimental to your health, second hand smoke increases your risk of heart disease by approximately 30%. Cigarette smoke, whether you smoke it or inhale it second hand, promotes plaque buildup in the arteries. Stay clear of smoking areas and if a family or friend is smoking near you, politely walk away to steer clear of second hand smoke.

By taking these five simple steps to heart, you’ll be on your way to a healthier tomorrow.

Source: Cleveland Clinic

February Wellness Star Awarded to Former Project Manager

. Posted in FPH, Journey to Healthy Aging Blog, News

Florida Presbyterian Homes is pleased to recognize Doug M. as the Wellness Star for February 2020. Congratulations Doug!

Florida-Presbyterian-Homes-Wellness-Star-for-February-2020.For this month’s wellness star award, we focused on the vocational dimension of wellness. Work that utilizes a person’s skills while providing personal satisfaction is valuable for society as experienced professionals, caregiver, mentors and volunteers.

Doug enjoyed a long career as a project manager. His gifts and talents from his professional life have served him well with volunteer opportunities to both organize and manage. Doug enjoys getting to know people and connecting with those around him. Now that he is retired, volunteering has given him a wonderful way to network and connect with people here at FPH.

“I want to make a personal contribution to Florida Presbyterian Homes,” said Doug, “and I want to help people in the process.” Doug takes pride in helping people connect with a task they are interested in and enjoy.

When asked what wellness means to him, Doug said, “It’s physical and mental wellness combined. Being mentally well is just as important as the physical aspect of wellness. It’s your mental attitude that can affect your longevity.” 

Well said Doug. Here’s to many more years of wellness for all!

Popular AquaFit Class Held Weekly at FPH

. Posted in Events, FPH, Journey to Healthy Aging Blog, News

Florida Presbyterian Homes is proud to offer AquaFit – a water exercise program held three times a week at Munn Pool. “It’s a class using therapy-related movements to improve range of motion, balance, strength and flexibility,” said Alison Kennedy-Hand, Director of the Wellness Program at Florida Presbyterian Homes. “In addition to the cardio benefits of AquaFit, exercising in the pool can really help with aging joints.”

Water-exercise-class-at-Florida-Presbyterian-HomesAccording to Kennedy-Hand, pools provide a “softer” environment for exercise. The water supports the participants’ body and falling isn’t a concern. Water exercise has also been found to help in alleviating fatigue, as well as relieving stress and tension. No special equipment is needed, although a variety of fitness or flotation devices are available.

AquaFit is open to FPH residents and takes place on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 9:15 am. There is no cost for residents. Anyone who has been given the go-ahead from their physician to begin a fitness program after an injury or to participate in a workout regimen may attend.

“Besides the physical benefits of AquaFit, participants really enjoy the social opportunities of gathering with others in the class,” said Kennedy-Hand. “It’s a fun program and the participants enjoy their time together.”

Interested residents should sign up or contact Alison Kennedy-Hand in the Wellness department by email at or by phone at (863) 577-6022.

Wellness Committee Recognized for Important Role at FPH

. Posted in FPH, Journey to Healthy Aging Blog, News

Florida Presbyterian Homes has awarded the entire Wellness Committee with the Wellness Star for December 2019. Typically, one FPH resident is selected each month based on their commitment to a particular dimension of wellness. But this month’s wellness star focuses on the many, many aspects of wellness.

Wellness-Committee-Florida-Presbyterian-HomesAccording to Wellness Director Alison Kennedy-Hand, Florida Presbyterian Homes is lucky to have such a wonderful blend of residents to represent their resident Wellness Committee. They’re a committed group of individuals who set time aside to meet monthly, help with various wellness activities throughout the year, manage a wellness budget, and plan activities all for the benefit of the FPH residents.

“I’m only a department of one,” said Alison, “and I truly could not do what I do without their support and help.” Members of the Wellness Committee include: Marilyn R., Barbara K., Chris W., Don P., Roger C., Dolores J., Fran H., Sally F., Bud W. and Grace W.

The Wellness Committee works closely with Alison to keep residents active. Their purpose is defined by the following: The Wellness Committee aims to provide and promote wellness opportunities for FPH residents by coordinating with staff to encourage participation in a variety of activities — physical, mental, spiritual and social. The committee focuses on maximizing a healthy lifestyle for each resident for as long as possible.

“The members work very hard to keep residents active with their unwavering commitment to fulfill the purpose of this committee,” said Alison. “Their continued devotion to helping improve resident quality of life is to be commended.”

Congratulations to the Wellness Committee for this month’s Wellness Star award. You are recognized for volunteering your time on behalf of the residents and for your ongoing assistance with the Wellness Program at Florida Presbyterian Homes. Way to go!

6 Low-Maintenance Plants for Easy Gardening in Florida

. Posted in Journey to Healthy Aging Blog

 – By Brian Conner

Florida is famous for its sun, sand, ocean breezes — and as a retirement mecca. The Sunshine State beckons with its warm climate, casual lifestyle, and promise of carefree days.

One way to keep those days carefree is to make yard work a pleasant hobby rather than a chore. The key is to choose landscaping elements that are easy to maintain. Fortunately, Florida has plenty of beautiful ornamental plants that fit the bill.

Caladium planters-red and white. You’ll find a wide selection at reputable nurseries, but here are six of the best low-maintenance plants for easy gardening:

  1. Caladiums – These big-leafed plants come in a choice of subtle colors and are perfect for Florida’s warm, humid climate. They prefer a shady area that gets a few hours of sun, and they display their long leaves from spring through fall.
  2. Beach Sunflower – A favorite of Floridians, this native likes sunshine and will handle dry conditions. It blooms almost year-round and remains colorful when other plants shrink from heat and cold. You can have fun relaxing on the lanai and watching the blossoms follow the sun through the course of the day!
  3. Coral Honeysuckle – This shrub will grow anywhere in Florida and produces distinctive flowers that bloom from spring through summer. The flowers are an irresistible magnet for hummingbirds and butterflies. The plant’s berries also draw songbirds in late summer and fall.
  4. Black-Eyed Susan – This tough little favorite is drought- and salt-resistant, making it the state’s most popular for landscaping. Its yellow flowers will persist while others wilt in the summer sun. Butterflies love it.
  5. Passion Flower – This perennial is easy to grow and can tolerate dry weather. Its big lavender and purple flowers have quirky little fringes that appear to wave in the breeze.
  6. Bougainvillea – This Southern belle can handle the sun and dry soil, and blooms in an array of colors. Technically a vining shrub, it will grow on fences, trellises, and even in a pot. It should be covered during freezes and frosts.

Senior woman gardener Beds of ornamental plants can cut back on the area of your yard devoted to turf — and that means less ground to mow. Because Florida’s turfs are warm-weather varieties that don’t grow well in shade, shade-tolerant native plants can fill in the bare spots. You can also cut back on yard work with other non-turf elements, such as water features that recycle water, a cozy meditation nook, paths of pavers, and a pergola.

When it comes to choosing plants, think native when possible. Native plants, whether trees, shrubs, or flowers, are already adapted to the climate, meaning they’re hardwired to be low maintenance. They also attract beneficial wildlife and usually need less watering.

Florida has a climate ideal for gardening and a rich resource of ornamental plants to choose from. Putting them to use in your yard can make life a sea-breeze!


Brian Conner is a landscape designer and eco-conscious living expert. He prefers to use only native plants that will attract pollinators and other wildlife to backyards. He also specializes in using pest-repelling plants and flowers.

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Phone: 863-688-5521 or Marketing: 863-577-6001