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Active Senior Living Communities Do Exist

At Five Star Senior Living we’re on a mission to dispel the myth that all senior living communities are like nursing homes. When we refer to our communities as ‘active senior living communities’, we mean it!

In this article:

Learn more about our active senior living communities and the activities, enrichment, and sense of kinship our residents enjoy at any one of 130+ locations around the country.

Experience Five Star Senior Living

At Five Star Senior Living, we truly live up to our name, providing a five-star experience for all of our residents, whether staying with us for a season or making us their permanent residence. We’re proud to offer active senior living communities in 28 states, providing the Five Star Experience for happy residents in over 130 locations.

From our award-winning senior health and wellness programs to restaurant-style dining, our values of putting people first drive everything we do. We take pride in creating a full-service environment that meets our residents where they are and encourages independence, while providing full support every step of the way.

Lifestyle360 Senior Health and Wellness

One of the ways we foster an active senior living community lifestyle is through our Lifestyle360 program, a holistic health and wellness program for seniors. We don’t just focus on physical fitness and mobility – our Lifestyle360 program encompasses all aspects of wellbeing:

Physical – Staying physically active promotes both outer and inner strength! Each of our communities offers unique physical activities, from walking groups, dance classes, aquatic therapy, and yoga, to weight training, bocce ball, and zumba.

Social – Making meaningful connections and building healthy relationships is important at any age. Our active senior living social activities include things like game nights, golf outings, museum and theater trips, live entertainment, wine tastings, and more.

Emotional – We understand that a big change like transitioning to an active senior living community can be stressful for residents and families, so we provide ample emotional support and self-care resources, including support groups, poetry and painting workshops, spa days, intergenerational enrichment programs, and more.

Intellectual – Scholastic, cultural, and creative activities stimulate the mind and help you stay engaged with the world around you. Activities include art classes, book clubs, trivia, birdwatching, language courses, technology classes, and more.

Spiritual – Our spiritual activities support each resident’s unique spiritual journey, helping to foster a sense of purpose and meaning. Choose from spiritual programs like Bible study, pet therapy, meditation, prayer groups, horticulture therapy, and more.

Ageility Senior Rehab & Fitness

Our active senior living communities are redefining fitness and rehab for older adults with our Ageility Physical Therapy Solutions program. Our state-of-the-art senior fitness and rehab clinics are located right within our communities, bringing an entire suite of services and equipment to both short- and long-term residents. Our active senior living communities boast Ageility programs like:

  • Group fitness classes and one-on-one personal training with trainers specializing in older adult fitness
  • Physical, occupational and speech therapy
  • Memory care-focused fitness programs to foster strength and independence for residents living with Alzheimer’s and dementia

Learn more about how Ageility is changing the world of senior rehab and fitness.

Senior Living Activities

When we describe ourselves as active senior living communities, this doesn’t mean there’s pressure to participate in high-energy outings if you’re more comfortable staying home!

Whether you want to go out on the town and explore, or if you’d prefer to stay in and cozy up to a good book in the community library, we have senior living activities to suit every interest and meet residents where they are in terms of their level of mobility and social comfort.

Each of our active senior living communities offers its own unique suite of enriching activities, and we’re always adding new options catered to our residents’ interests. From local day trips to craft clubs, group exercise classes to quiet nature walks, there’s something for everyone at Five Star Senior Living.

Find an Active Senior Living Community Near You

At Five Star Senior Living, maintaining a vibrant, active life at every age is our priority. We’re so proud to offer our residents a lifestyle that blends comfort and support with purpose and enrichment, all in an environment designed with hospitality in mind. Are you looking to explore your options for active senior living? Find a community near you and contact us for a tour today!

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Senior Living Amenities to Look For

Are you considering a senior living community for yourself or a loved one? As you begin your search, benefits like maintenance-free living and the peace of mind that comes with things like access to medical care are clear, but with so many different senior living options to choose from, each with their own unique senior living amenities, it can be overwhelming trying to compare one community to the next.

In this article:

When it comes to choosing the right community, you’ll want to focus on the senior living amenities that matter most to you. Whether you’re looking for a vibrant local area to explore, sports and fitness opportunities for active older adults, or a more tranquil and relaxing atmosphere, we’ve gathered some of the many senior living amenities to consider while choosing where to call home.

Best Amenities in Senior Living

Ask senior living residents what their favorite amenities are and you’ll get a plethora of different responses! From enjoying restaurant-quality dining to strolling beautiful walking paths, getting pampered at an on-site beauty salon to enjoying group outings and activities, here are some of the most popular senior living amenities that help residents live life to the fullest.

Restaurant-Quality Senior Living Dining

Tired of cooking dinner every single night? Has takeout lost its appeal? If so, let senior living dining take the stress out of mealtime. Many senior living properties offer restaurant-style dining with all sorts of delicious and nutritious options to suit a full range of tastes and dietary needs. In fact, some rival five-star restaurants!

Custom senior dining options

Enjoy hot gourmet meals prepared just for you! At many senior living properties, chefs can adjust ingredients to accommodate allergies, dietary preferences, and restrictions. Whether you’re in the mood for hearty meat and potatoes, a vegetarian dish, or need something heart-healthy prepared with lower sodium, senior living dining staff are available to quite literally cater to the nutritional needs of seniors, both in terms of health and taste.

Senior Living Activities

One of the most rewarding benefits of being a senior living resident is being able to meet new friends and get involved in the community. Loneliness and isolation are increasingly common in older adult populations, particularly for seniors continuing to live at home on their own. Being a part of a senior living community affords opportunities(y) for residents to engage as much as they like to create a vibrant social life which is linked to increased overall wellness.

Programs like Five Star Senior Living’s Lifestyle 360 ensure that a range of activities and events will appeal to those with varied interests and with an emphasis on physical, spiritual and emotional wellness.

Here are some of the activities you may want to look for as you consider a Five Star Senior Living Community:

  • Senior fitness group exercise classes, including indoor and outdoor low-impact options
  • One-on-one senior personal training sessions
  • An accessible swimming pool for classes or recreation
  • Dancing classes and social dances
  • Outings to shop or simply sightsee in the local area
  • Group vacations or trips to further away destinations
  • Exploring hobbies like cooking, gardening, crafting, or birdwatching
  • Game Night and groups including card games, billiards, bingo and board games
  • Movie nights at an on-site theater
  • Holiday parties and celebrations
  • Music – including community singing groups or musical ensembles, community pianos, performances by visiting musicians, and music therapists (therapy).
  • Special events welcoming families and friends
  • Companion animal visits and wildlife enrichment activities
  • Bible Study or other religious worship

And so much more.

Senior Living Concierge Services

Being able to take a morning swim or settle in for an evening book club meeting with friends may be just what you’re looking for when choosing a senior living community, but beyond leisure activities, it’s important to consider the practicalities of daily living. While moving to a senior living community eliminates much of the maintenance of owning and maintaining a home, there may be certain daily activities that residents require assistance with while continuing to live more independently. Being able to maintain as much independence as possible is important for residents, and a senior living concierge helps make that possible.

What is a senior living concierge?

A senior living concierge provides day-to-day assistance to make life easier for senior living residents while supporting their independence.

Senior living concierge services at a Five Star Senior Living Community may include:

  • Transportation services
  • Help with errands like dry cleaning
  • Coordinating pet care
  • Appointment-setting and reservations
  • Administrative and logistical tasks like receiving packages, mail, helping with moving, etc.
  • Greeting/receiving guests

Senior Living with a Swimming Pool

Do you love the water? Consider a senior living community with a pool and dive right in! Beyond being a fun activity that provides a relaxing, resort-like feel, swimming is an excellent, low-impact way for seniors to maintain cardiovascular health while supporting joint health and building strength.

Whether relaxing on a pool float in a warm-weather community’s outdoor pool or swimming laps in a year-round indoor pool, you can choose from an assortment of senior aquatic activities that are just right for you. Many senior living communities with swimming pools offer group swimming or water aerobics classes for fitness and fun. You can also take one-on-one swimming lessons, or simply use the pool for recreation and relaxation.

Senior Living Amenities at Five Star Senior Living

As you consider what options and amenities are most important to you in your senior living search, we welcome you to contact the Five Star Senior Living team to help you find the perfect senior living community for you. Whether you’re looking for a bustling social calendar or a tranquil retreat, our senior living amenities make it easy to find the perfect fit. Learn more about the Five Star Lifestyle.

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5 Ways to Combat Loneliness in Seniors

We all experience loneliness at some point in our lives, but as we age we have an increased risk of experiencing loneliness. In fact, an estimated 13.8 million seniors live alone, according to a report by the Administration for Community Living’s Administration on Aging of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Chronic loneliness is the feeling of being alone, regardless of the amount of social contact. As an older adult, this can increase your risk of dementia by 50 percent.

In this article:

What Contributes to Senior Loneliness and Isolation?

Senior isolation is unfortunately a common occurrence. Many older adults live at home alone, often after the loss of a loved one. Reduced mobility or lack of physical exercise can also cause seniors to become housebound or get out less. Without frequent visits from family or friends, feelings of isolation can sink in and keep you from living your fullest, most vibrant life.

How To Reduce Senior Loneliness and Build Genuine Connections

The “epidemic of loneliness” is considered a public health concern. In May, a Surgeon General Advisory highlighted the dangers of loneliness, especially senior loneliness.

“Our epidemic of loneliness and isolation has been an underappreciated public health crisis that has harmed individual and societal health. Our relationships are a source of healing and well-being hiding in plain sight – one that can help us live healthier, more fulfilled, and more productive lives,” said U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy in the advisory.

Here’s the most important thing to remember: you’re not alone. Your neighbor down the street may be having those same feelings of loneliness and isolation, just waiting for someone to knock on their door and say hello. Building genuine, human connections is one of the most powerful ways to overcome loneliness. Here are five ways to do just that and find joy, purpose and new friendships later in life.

1. Reduce isolation by getting to know your neighbors

Putting yourself out there to meet people in your community isn’t easy, but the benefits can be life changing. Staying connected with your neighbors doesn’t require any grand gestures, either. The report also discovered that performing small acts of kindness like offering advice to new neighbors, helping bring in groceries or just waving hello as you walk by can reduce the likelihood of feeling lonely.

2. Fight loneliness by getting involved in the community

Everyone has unique skills and talents they can offer their community. Maybe it’s a green thumb, an artistic side or simply a passion for pitching in wherever help is needed. Volunteering is a great way to do just that while also making new friends. Search online or ask a neighbor about volunteering opportunities in your community like tending to local gardens, tutoring kids after school or helping put together care packages for those in need.

3. Prevent senior isolation by getting and staying active

It’s no secret that keeping your mind and body active has major health benefits for older adults, but if done in a group, it’s also one of the most effective ways to fight loneliness. Finding the motivation to get and stay active, though, isn’t easy. The thing to remember is, having an active senior lifestyle doesn’t mean you need to hit the gym and work up a sweat every day. Activities as simple, easy and fun as joining a neighborhood walking group or, if immobility is an issue, working on a puzzle with a friend can help improve your overall well being while also keeping you connected to others.

4. Feeling lonely? Ask for help

Sometimes the hardest thing to do when we’re feeling lonely is to tell someone. It can feel like you’re being a burden. Or maybe you were raised to rely on yourself, not others. For those that bravely take that first step toward seeking help, though, there are all sorts of great resources available that can help you cope. The Social Isolation and Loneliness Outreach Toolkit from the National Institute on Aging and Connect 2Tools from AARP are good places to start. If you’re experiencing symptoms of senior depression alongside feelings of loneliness—like loss of appetite or lack of energy—also consider contacting a mental health professional who can offer guidance and coping strategies.

5. Move into a senior living community

It’s only natural that living alone can lead to feelings of loneliness, especially if you have lost a spouse. The desire to maintain independence and remain at home as you age is common amongst older adults, but isolation can be a dangerous side effect.

That’s where senior living communities come in. Life in a senior living community not only promotes your health and wellness, but also encourages socialization. With a lifestyle that provides you with more choices and more comfort, you have more time to pursue your passions. Senior living communities give you opportunities to know your neighbors, get involved, and stay active.

The Five Star Difference: Goodbye senior loneliness, hello life

At Five Star, helping our residents find joy, purpose and friends they can call family is our mission. Our innovative LifeStyle360 wellness program is designed to connect residents and combat loneliness by offering enriching and engaging activities for residents. Don’t just take our word for it. Here’s what one resident had to say about how moving into a Five Star community helped her overcome her loneliness and live life to her fullest.

“This has been a huge blessing in my life. I found myself being very lonely and not eating well while living alone. My friends and family suggested I take a look at [Five Star] and it has been the best decision. I have made so many friends. I’ve gotten healthier with all the dining options. I go to many activities, especially Bible study. Anything I need they take care of. The community is so clean and inviting. I never want to leave here and wish I had moved sooner.”

To learn more about how life at Five Star Senior Living is can be the antidote to senior loneliness and isolation, contact one of our senior living experts or find a Five Star Senior Living community near you.

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Common Mental Health Issue for Older Adults

Mental health in older adults – a common problem commonly left untreated

As we age, our lives are filled with life changing experiences that can affect our mental health, like being diagnosed with a serious illness or coping with the loss of a loved one. Some people learn to live with these changes. For others it can be challenging and create feelings of isolation and depression.

Mental health is especially important for older adults as they experience a lower rate of help for mental health conditions. According to the World Health Organization, over 20 percent of adults aged 60 and over suffer from mental health issues—most commonly depression, dementia, and anxiety.

Mental health in older adults is often under-identified by both older adults and their health care providers. The stigma of mental health conditions can also make people reluctant to seek help when they need it.

It’s vital to close this gap in mental health care for older adults and to raise awareness. Here are several ways to recognize what affects mental health in older adults, common symptoms and issues, and how to get help when you need it.

Common life changes that affect senior mental health

Seniors can experience common mental health issues like depression and anxiety, but are also more likely to experience mental health issues more common later in life like declining cognitive abilities. Here is a list of common life changes that seniors experience and can affect their mental health.


Losing a family member or friend is one of the most difficult events someone can go through. As people age, they are more likely to experience the loss of a loved one. Everyone grieves differently. They may cry, be angry, isolate themselves or feel empty and drained.

Serious illness or injury

Whether it’s an illness or an injury, a serious diagnosis can put an older adult’s mental health at serious risk. Older people are more likely to receive such a diagnosis as they age like reduced mobility, chronic pain, and terminal illness. A person’s mental health has a direct impact on their physical health.

Financial changes

When someone retires they may experience a drop in their regular financial status and this can create stress in a person’s life. Seniors often have to live on a tighter budget and their daily lives might be disrupted. These major changes can cause a lot of complicated emotions which can lead to mental health issues.

Moving to a new home

After years of filling a home with memories and warmth it can be hard to leave. Stressors of leaving due to financial issues, retirement, or because of physical needs can all add up to affect an older adult’s mental health.

Elder abuse

Seniors can experience abuse through a person’s deliberate acts or negligence. This can take many forms such as physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation. Abuse can have an immediate and detrimental effect on a senior’s mental health and wellbeing.

The most common senior mental health issues and their symptoms


One of the most common mental health issues in seniors, depression is a persistently miserable mood or loss of interest in activities that once brought joy. Symptoms are wide-ranging, but can include apathy, difficulty getting out of bed, trouble sleeping, social isolation, and hopelessness. If left untreated, depression can lead to a poor diet and thoughts of suicide.


Commonly misattributed as a disease, dementia is a general term for the impaired ability to remember, think, and make decisions to the point where it interferes with an older adult’s ability to do everyday activities. Symptoms of dementia include cognitive and mental decline, confusion, personality changes, memory loss, and jumbled speech. People experiencing dementia are often unable to live alone as they can not before activities of daily living.


A common reaction to increased stress, anxiety is the feeling of fear, dread, or apprehension. It is often a normal emotion when faced with a major decision, test, or event, but can be an indicator of an underlying disease if feelings are all-consuming and interfere with daily living.

Bipolar disorder

Believed to be caused by a combination of genetics, environment, and brain structure, bipolar disorder, bipolar disorder can cause manic episodes of high energy that last days followed by depressive episodes of low energy and low motivation. Episodes can also be associated with suicidal thoughts.

Why mental illness in older adults goes untreated

Mental illness in older adults can go untreated for a number of reasons. People with mental health issues often don’t seek treatment due to stigma and fears of being treated differently leading to shame. Another reason older adults can go untreated for mental health illnesses is the misconception that depression and anxiety are regular signs of aging, when, in fact, they are just as serious for older adults. Ageism in healthcare can also lead to over-treatment and under-treatment of seniors.

How to get help for senior mental health issues

The mental health of older adults can be improved by promoting active and healthy lifestyles. At Five Star Senior Living communities offer residents a chance to meet other seniors, participate in enriching programs, and reimagine aging. Plus, with our fitness and rehabilitation partner, Ageility, physical wellness can help support emotional wellbeing.

Five Star team members are always there to support your needs, both big and small. We offer the highest level of service so there’s always an activity to enjoy or an event to attend for a chance to find love and connection, discover a community near you today.

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Depression in Older Adults – Symptoms, Risks, & How to Get Help

Having a bad day or feeling down once in a while is a normal part of life, but having these same feelings day in and day out is usually a sign of something worse—depression. In older adults, depression is not just being melancholy, having “the holiday blues”, or being upset at the loss of a loved one. It’s a very real, but treatable, medical condition.

In this article:

Senior depression is not a normal part of aging, but older adults are at higher risk for experiencing depression. According to the Centers for Disease Control, depression in seniors can often be misdiagnosed due to healthcare providers mistaking depression symptoms as a natural reaction to illness or other life changes.

While seniors are at higher risk for depression, the vast majority of seniors are not depressed. Additionally most seniors see improvements in their symptoms when treated with antidepressant drugs, therapy, or both.

Here are some tips to recognize depression in older adults and how to get help:

Symptoms of Depression in Older Adults

It isn’t always easy to recognize the signs of depression in older adults— you may notice a plate of empty food or a loss of interest in hobbies that were once pleasurable. One of the biggest tell-tale signs of depression is prolonged feelings of sadness or anxiety that can last for weeks. Older adults with depression may also be experiencing:

  • Feelings of guilt, helplessness, hopelessness, sadness, or pessimism
  • A lack or loss of interest in activities that once brought pleasure
  • Decreased energy
  • Inability to concentrate or make decisions
  • Insomnia or excessive sleeping
  • Overeating or appetite loss
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol
  • Thoughts of suicide and suicide attempts

Common Causes of Depression in the Elderly

The exact causes of senior depression are unknown, but experts believe it may be caused by a combination of factors in a person’s life. While it’s important to know the symptoms of depression in older adults, it’s just as important to know what can put someone at risk for experiencing depression. Each person is different, but here is a list of potential factors that can contribute to depression in older adults:


As adults age, their worlds can feel increasingly isolating. Partners and loved ones can pass away; neighbors, friends, and family may move; and the ability to physically leave home may become more difficult.

Medical issues

Older adults may struggle after a medical procedure or illness. A surgery that doesn’t allow a person to be as active as they once were or an illness like cancer, stroke, or chronic can contribute to feelings of helplessness.

Traumatic or stressful events

Major traumatic events in a person’s life can happen when they’re least expecting it. Seniors can be victims of abuse, experience the death of a loved one, or have financial problems that can all affect their mental state.

Using alcohol or drugs

Certain medications can cause changes in a person’s behavior and mentality. It’s always best to talk to your doctor about how your medications are affecting you or a loved one. Alcohol consumption can also lead to similar emotional changes.

How to Help Seniors with Depression

The good news is that there are plenty of ways to help and support seniors with depression. If you are concerned about a loved one who may be experiencing depression here is a list of ways you can support them:

Talk it out

Communication is key. Having a one-on-one conversation with a loved one is one of the best ways to know what’s going on with them. Sometimes just venting can help an older adult, other times you may find they need help, but are struggling to ask for it. Either way take some time to discuss what is happening in their life.

Frequent check-ins

Moving to a senior living community is a major change for an older adult. One way to make them feel more at home is by making frequent visits or phone calls. Set up a schedule and carve out time to let your family member know you’re there for them. Simple questions like “how are you doing?” and “what did you do today?” can go a long way.

Schedule activities

If you’re able to visit in-person, spend time playing games, going for walks, or venturing out into the local town. Set up an activity like going to a museum, a new restaurant, or seeing other friends and family to give the older adult in your life an event to look forward to.

Accompany them to see a health care provider

Approach this subject delicately, as your family member may be hesitant to seek help. By offering to join an older adult to an appointment, you can show that they’re not alone no matter what they’re going through. This can also be an important step for your loved one to be diagnosed and, if needed, treated.

The Benefits of Finding a Community

Moving to a senior living community can also have numerous benefits for an older adult with depression. Communities like Five Star Senior Living offer a welcoming atmosphere that brings older adults together to make new connections and stay active with a suite of programs and activities.

AlerisLife and Five Star Senior Living communities believe a person’s quality of life is ageless. At Five Star Senior Living communities, we offer a wide range of senior living options built with a high level of service and sense of community.

Contact us to find a senior living community near you.

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The Top 5 Best Dogs for Seniors

Dogs make great companions for seniors. With their fun, loyal, and cute personalities, dogs are a joy to share a home with and provide many health and emotional benefits to their owners like lowering blood pressure while raising “feel-good” serotonin chemicals in the brain. Plus, being a pet parent in retirement provides plenty of perks for the dog by having an owner with a more flexible schedule and the ability to be at home most of the day. But with so many different dog breeds to choose from, how can you know which dog is best for older adults?

With so many dog breeds that come in all shapes and sizes it can be a challenge—and important—to know which dog is the best dog for you and your living situation. Luckily, certain dog breeds have traits that fit perfectly alongside an older adult’s golden years.

Overall, the best dog breeds for seniors have lower energy levels and are smaller in size. This is especially true for seniors that may have downsized their lifestyles to live in a home at a senior living community. To find out the best dog for your lifestyle we’ve compiled our top picks for the best dogs for seniors:

The 5 Best Dogs for Older Adults

Pugs — The Best Dog for a Quiet Retirement

An ancient dog breed once favored by Chinese Emperors, a pug will leave you feeling like royalty when it’s by your side. Pugs are small dogs that weigh between 14 to 18 pounds, can live for up to 15 years, and have either light brown or black fur. Known for their loyal and loving temperaments, pugs are an easy dog to take care of and require no special grooming. Pugs are great for older adults because they don’t need a lot of exercise, love to cuddle on the couch, are easy-going, and gentle. This dog is great for someone who likes to relax at home and enjoy a quiet retirement.

Greyhound — Best Dog for Older Adults Who Love Big Dogs

Being the fastest dog breed by a country mile, greyhounds may not be the first dog you think of when it comes to companions for older adults. Greyhounds are a large breed that can weigh up to 70 pounds and live up to 13 years. Greyhounds come in a variety of colors such as tan, brown, black, and red. Ironically, gray is the rarest greyhound color and is referred to as “blue.” While their size and racetrack reputations are no joke, greyhounds are one of the most calm and gentle breeds around. They are not the high energy dogs many think they are. A greyhound is a great dog for older adults because they enjoy walks as much as they enjoy lounging on the couch. This dog is perfect if you want a breed that is large but easy to handle.

Miniature Schnauzer — Best Dog for Active Seniors

The Miniature Schnauzer is a German breed of small dog bred by farmers. The breed can weigh up to 20 pounds and live for up to 15 years. The breed comes in black, salt and pepper, black and silver, and in rare instances red. With a strong, outgoing, and energetic personality, miniature schnauzers are great for a senior who is more active and would enjoy frequent walks or trips to the park. As an added plus, this breed is low-shedding and hypoallergenic, but they have a double coat of fur which requires regular brushing or professional grooming.

French Bulldog — Best Dog for Seniors Who Love to Have Guests

Cute, humorous, curious, and playful, the French bulldog hits all the marks when it comes to a great canine companion for older adults. This breed is small, but can weigh up to 28 pounds and live for up to 12 years. Equipped with distinct bat-like ears and an even disposition, seniors looking for a dog that will entertain them as well as their friends and family should look no further. Their adaptability and easy trainability make them a perfect fit into any living situation.

Pomeranian — Best Dog for Apartment Living

At three to seven pounds, the fluffy Pomeranian is an ideal dog for older adults who live in more compact quarters. These puffball pets are loveable, sweet, and make for the perfect dog to sit in your lap. Pomeranians are also known for their long life spans which are up to 16 years. Seniors who enjoy grooming their dog will find joy in brushing the Pomeranian’s furry coat. An all-around adaptable dog, this breed is active, but can be exercised with both indoor play and outdoor walks. Highly intelligent, the Pomeranian will master tricks and commands before your eyes with ease.

The all-around best dog for seniors

For older adults looking for one breed that checks just about every box, the pug is our number one pick. With its relaxed temperament, charming looks, and easy trainability, this breed will make a great addition to any senior’s home. Want to go for a walk in the morning? Want to relax on the sofa and watch a movie? The pug can do it all at your pace.

Finding a Dog-Friendly Senior Living Community

If you live at a senior living community, make sure to check if pets are allowed. At Five Star, we welcome your pet with open arms!

Many of our pet-friendly communities offer trails and other green spaces for you to enjoy the fresh air with your furry friend. Plus, if you’re out on a community excursion or outing, we allow dog walkers to access our buildings during the day.

Love dogs, but not ready to make the full commitment? We’ve got you covered! Five Star’s exclusive Lifestyle360 programming includes pet therapy activities so you can enjoy cuddling with a therapy dog to add a little extra joy in your life.

Enjoy Retirement With Man’s Best Friend at Five Star Senior Living

Studies show that spending quality time with animals can be good for your health by lowering blood pressure and adding joy and purpose to each day. Five Star is reimagining aging for older adults. With senior living communities in 28 states, Five Star offers a quality of life that’s ageless.

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AlerisLife’s Five Star Senior Living and MIT AgeLab announce OMEGA scholarship recipients

Five students from across the country were each awarded $5,000 toward their college tuition as part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab’s OMEGA scholarship, an annual program sponsored by Five Star Senior Living, a division of AlerisLife.

What is the MIT OMEGA Scholarship?

The OMEGA scholarship—which stands for Opportunities for Multigenerational Exchange, Growth, and Action—recognizes students for their impeccable leadership efforts in their local schools and communities to foster intergenerational connections. Additionally, each of the five scholarship recipients will receive an extra $1,000 to support their programs.

2022 OMEGA Scholarship Winners

Through their efforts, each scholarship recipient has made a positive impact on older adults, some working directly with Five Star Senior Living communities. The 2022 OMEGA scholarship winners are:

Maya Lall, senior, Holton-Arms School in Bethesda, Md. Maya founded and serves as executive director of “Students Supporting Seniors,” which provides older adults with technology support through video demonstrations, virtual and in-person troubleshooting, and technology courses at local senior living communities, including Five Star Premier Residences of Chevy Chase.

Cora Funk, senior, Valor Collegiate Academy, Nashville, Tenn. After attending a 2020 OMEGA Summit at Five Star’s Fieldstone Place, Cora developed “Students Connecting with Seniors,” a club connecting local high school students with older adults in the Nashville community. SCS primarily partners with FiftyForward, a local nonprofit organization.

Maya Joshi, senior, Walter Payton College Preparatory High School, Chicago, Ill. Maya is the president and founder of a chapter-based nonprofit “Lifting Hearts with the Arts,” which connects older adults and youth for arts-based one-on-one activities as well as group programming including trivia, art lessons, and tai chi.
Steven Yang, senior, Wayzata High School in Plymouth, Minn. Steven is founder and president of “Zenith,” which trains high school student volunteers to teach tai chi classes in local residential and assisted living communities.

Michael Wilson, now a student at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Terre Haute, Ind. Michael coordinated a local chapter of the Arizona Old Time Fiddlers Association. His program, “Bridging the Gap through Music” fosters intergenerational interactions through acoustic music jams and performances. He is also a lead speaker, singer, and mandolin player in an intergenerational band “Six Gal ‘n Hat,” which often plays music for older adults in local events.

Creating opportunities for Students and Seniors

Sponsoring the OMEGA scholarship is one of the many ways AlerisLife and Five Star continue to provide services to the lives of older adults.

“At AlerisLife, and at each of our Five Star communities, our mission is to enrich and inspire the journey of life, one experience at a time,” said Zehra Abid-Wood, Senior Vice President of Strategy and Transformation at AlerisLife. “This exceptional group of students has displayed great empathy, respect, and leadership by spearheading initiatives in their communities to better the day-to-day lives of older adults. Their innovation and commitment to building intergenerational friendships is admirable and consistent with our company’s mission and values. We are proud to support the MIT AgeLab’s OMEGA scholarship awards program and look forward to following each of these students’ continued success.”

Explore Senior Living Options with Five Star

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Fran Healy, WWII Veteran Shares His Story

Most people can’t tell you they landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day, fought at the Battle of the Bulge, or earned a Bronze Star for their courage during World War II. Cornelius Francis Healy isn’t most people.

Fran, as he’s more commonly known, is 101 years and six months old. He spoke about his life from his home at The Gables at Winchester, a Five Star senior living community in Winchester, Mass.

A call to duty

Fran Healy grew up in North Cambridge, Mass. or—as he puts it— “Tip O’Neill country,” referring to Thomas O’Neill, the former Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives who served during the Carter and Reagan administrations.

Fran was drafted into the war toward the end of 1942, but he almost never left Massachusetts. He was allowed an exemption as the head of his family, helping support his widowed mother and two younger sisters. But feeling duty-bound to his country, Fran decided to enlist.

After his training, he was put on a convoy headed for England.

“The first day I remember it was only one or two ships, the next day a couple more, and about the third day we had about a dozen,” Fran said. “We were surrounded by U.S. destroyers who could drop it on the German submarines if they spotted them.”

While in England, Fran’s unit was attached to the Army’s 29th Infantry Division, known as the “Blue and Gray Division” for its blue and gray service badge. The unit was to become part of the largest seaborne invasion in history.

“They sent all these troops down to England, these fellows thought they were going to get 30 days off, but they were reassigned,” Fran said. “They were reassigned all right.”

The invasion

In their preparations for D-Day, Fran’s Major informed his unit they would be part of a provisional machine gun group after a large shipment of brand-new, heavy-duty half-track vehicles with mounted .50 caliber machine guns did not arrive in time for the invasion.

Fran spent the two nights before the June 6, 1944, D-Day invasion with no sleep, one while he waited to board a ship and the other while he crossed the English Channel. With bad weather overhead, Fran and his unit landed on Omaha Beach. By the time he stepped foot on the sand, the German defenses had been silenced and the fighting moved inland.

“There was no front line, everyone was out of position. The 82nd Airborne, none of them landed where they were supposed to,” he said. “It took a day or two for everyone to get back to their units to form a front line.”

Despite the extensive planning that went into D-Day, Allied troops were caught off guard by French hedgerow country, mounds of earth topped with branches and shrubs. These property markers stalled tanks and slowed the Allied advance.

Fran and his unit were headed to the French crossroads town of Saint-Lô. Due to the dense hedgerows, the 20-mile journey took them six weeks to hack and fight through. As U.S. soldiers moved inland, they were bombarded with German 88mm anti-tank artillery guns.

“It was awful,” Fran said.

Finding the courage

At one point during the trek, a shell exploded between Fran and another soldier. Fran wasn’t hurt, but his companion was hit with shrapnel.

“Here I am with a guy bleeding pretty badly, no first aid handy, but I spotted a rogue convoy about 900 feet away. So, I picked him up, half dragged him, half walked him,” Fran said. The convoy said medics would arrive in five minutes, so Fran waited and got his companion on a truck even as artillery shells blasted all around them.

After weeks of battling through hedgerows, Fran and his unit arrived at a hill on the outskirts of Saint-Lô. Fran volunteered to join a patrol to warn another unit of an impending artillery attack from the Germans. The volunteer patrol navigated the downhill terrain at night and delivered their message but were exposed by the sunrise on the way back. Under heavy machine gun fire from the Germans, Fran made it back to his unit in one piece.

Fran’s courageous act with the volunteer patrol earned him a Bronze Star, awarded to members of the United States Armed Forces for heroic achievement in a combat zone.

Once he reached Saint Lô, Fran’s unit pushed onward to pursue the Germans. He arrived in Versailles when Paris was liberated at the end of August. “We spent about a day or two there in Paris. You’d think the war was over the way they celebrated,” he said. “It was for them.”

The final push

The unit pushed toward Belgium over the next four months and there were even a few weeks of relative quiet that included a Thanksgiving dinner. But “all hell broke loose” on Dec. 16, 1944, when the Germans launched their last major offensive campaign on the Western front known as the Battle of the Bulge.

“The weather was terrible. The clouds were hanging so low. It was snowing all the time for that whole week,” Fran said.

After about a week of fighting, the skies began to clear and air support arrived. Even after several decades, Fran’s fondness for the P-51 Mustang hasn’t faded. After Christmas, Fran witnessed his first dogfight, a close-range fighter aircraft battle.

“We were watching them up in the sky and one fellow was watching with a pair of binoculars and said, ‘hey there’s a plane up there with no propeller.’” That plan turned out to be the German Messerschmitt Me 262, the world’s first operational jet-powered fighter aircraft.

Life after the war

Fran rode across the Rhine River into Germany as the war came to a close. When his unit came to the Elbe River in April of 1945, the Allies were planning how to divide up post-war Germany.

Fran ended his service by tallying points that soldiers earned toward discharge. He was eligible in September of 1945. Life back at home was difficult.

“When I came back home it was frustrating. I felt lost, I didn’t feel comfortable anymore. My family walked on eggshells and we didn’t know what to talk about,” he said. “It took me a long time.”

Fran eventually became a licensed civil engineer for Massachusetts and worked on the construction of all the major highways. He married Margaret “Peggy” Cummings, with whom he had corresponded with through the war. The couple raised three sons, Paul, Don, and Kevin. Peggy died in 1986 and Fran never remarried.

A home with The Gables at Winchester Senior Living Community

As a widow, Fran lived on his own for nearly 40 years. He moved into assisted living at The Gables three years ago and says it’s the best decision he’s ever made, in fact. He wishes he had moved in a lot sooner.

“Everyone takes such good care of me here,” he said.

In his free time, Fran loves to keep active and exercises three times a week. Each night he has dinner with the same three ladies he met on his second day after moving in.

“It’s great here,” he said. “Best thing that ever happened to me.”

Fran never discussed his experience during the war until he was in his 80’s. His apartment at The Gables is decorated with accolades, letters from Presidents, invitations, press coverage, and other wartime recognition. Plus, he’s got plenty of objects of grandfatherly and great grandfatherly love from his four grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.

On Fran’s 100th birthday, The Gables held a parade outfront of their building with friends, family, other veterans, firefighters, police, and more. As a Five Star community always committed to its residents, The Gables is installing a flagpole near its main entrance and will hold a special Veterans Day ceremony to celebrate its arrival.

“I think about it every day,” Fran said of his time in the war. “It never goes away. Sometimes different events come back during the day. 78 years ago, but like it was yesterday.”

Assisted living at Five Star can open a world of possibilities for you or your loved one. Trade in household chores and errands for stress-free living and enhanced independence. Find out what assisted living—and all our other living options—are all about.

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Up, up, and away

Maria Armstrong knows a thing or two about travel. Originally from Wisconsin, Maria has lived in North Carolina, California, and Honduras. She lived in Michigan where she earned a Masters degree before moving to Colorado. She now lives at Five Star Senior Residences of Dayton Place in Denver.

Having traveled so much on land, Maria set her sights on the air. She took a class on hot air balloons 25 years ago, but her maiden flight was canceled. Never giving up hope, Maria, 77, submitted a request to go up in a hot air balloon as part of a Lifestyle 360 program her community was running in October. Several months later in May, Maria’s dream came true and she was able to soar the skies in a hot air balloon for over an hour. An avid photographer, Maria was able to get some shots of her adventure.

We interviewed Maria to ask about her flight and what’s next on her adventure list.

How do you like living at Dayton Place?

At Five Star It’s fine. I have a two-bedroom apartment. The good thing is I can have my dog, Ogie, and cat, Molly, here. That’s very important to me. They have a lot of activities going on. Some of which I don’t go to, but at least they’re available.

How was the flight?

It was so much fun, I had a great time, took some pictures, and the day was cloudy which was okay because it wasn’t really hot. We went north and then kind of circled around and came back.

How long were you in the air?

About an hour. It was a good ride. I’d taken a hot air balloon course years ago, but wasn’t able to go up to fly. This was my second chance to do so.

What interested you in going up in the hot air balloon?

I think it was just on my bucket list so I did it. I had the opportunity to do it so I did.

Did you celebrate after?

We had champagne after the ride. That’s sort of the normal thing to do.

Are there any other things on your bucket list?

I used to own horses, but I never got up to Rocky Mountain Park. I’d like to go up there and do a trail ride. That would be super fun although I’m sure I’d be sore for a week after. When I lived in Honduras I had my own horse and the people thought it was so funny to see an American girl riding a horse through the capital city. I was too young to drive so to go anywhere I had to ride a horse.

Are you scared of heights at all?


Any advice to someone thinking about going up in a hot air balloon?

Don’t be afraid of heights. You have to stand up the whole time.


Maria’s aerial adventure is a testament to never giving up on her dream. Do you have your own bucket list? Maybe you want to make a Baked Alaska, write a short story, or see the Grand Canyon. No matter what your dreams are, it’s never too late to pursue them.

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A lifetime of love

Seventy years ago Dwight D. Eisenhower won the U.S. presidential election, the average cost of a house was $9,000, and Don and Charlene Hietman got married. The Heitman’s, who are in their late 80s, celebrated their 70th anniversary last month at their home at Five Star Residences of Dayton Place in Denver, Colo.

The celebration

The couple celebrated their seven decades together by taking a limousine with their three adult sons and their wives to an Italian restaurant.

“I thought it was a delivery truck,” Don said of the limousine. “When you got inside of it, it was beautiful.”

The next day was a big anniversary party with over 70 people at Dayton Place, complete with a barbecue surrounded by family, friends, champagne, and cake.

The couple was especially appreciative of LifeStyle 360 Program Director Katelyn Buschman, who helped organize the party and made everything run smoothly.

“It’s our family here. Our boys are working and they are busy with their lives so the people here are our second family.”

How they met

When asked about how they met, Don didn’t miss a beat.

“Well it happened on the fourth of April, 1948,” Don said. “Many years before you were born.”

The Heitman’s, who hand off story details as seamlessly as two jazz musicians handing off solos, are both from neighboring small towns in Ohio. Charlene said she was 13 years old at the time when her friend asked her to accompany her to a downtown shoe shine shop to meet up with her boyfriend and some of the other boys who worked there. Don, who was 15, was among the other boys.

“[Her boyfriend] was going to get her something at an ice cream store a couple doors down so Don went with,” Charlene said. “They brought back Drumsticks. Don handed me my Drumstick and then as I started to take it he jerked his hand back with it. We all laughed of course and I got my Drumstick,” Charlene said.

From there, the two began spending time together going to the movies, riding bicycles, and skating.

“We just seemed to click,” Charlene said. “He was very shy and so was I, we were very young.” The next fourth of April, a year to the day after they met, Charlene received a dozen roses. “Here I was, a 14 year old with a dozen roses,” Charlene said. “I told him that sealed his fate. He wasn’t going to get away.”

On the fourth of April, 1951 the young couple got engaged during Charlene’s senior year of high school. While their actual wedding anniversary is June 7, the couple still celebrates April 4. Charlene’s mother, who liked Don, said the only requirement was Charlene needed to graduate high school. Her graduation was on a Tuesday and the following Saturday the couple got married.

Two weeks after getting engaged, Don left town for the AirForce. A bit of a surprise decision, Charlene said it ended up being one of the best decisions Don ever made. Don spent 28 years in the service and the couple lived in Colorado and Italy.

Their home at Five Star

The couple have lived in a cottage at Dayton Place for the past six years and have enjoyed every minute of it.

“We love it. No steps, that’s a big thing, and we have a beautiful front porch that we call our garden room,” Charlene said. “We can sit out there especially in the afternoon and enjoy the flowers that we bring.”

Some of their favorite community activities are movie nights, pizza nights, the scheduled outings, and spending time with other residents. The couple also likes to enjoy their porch with their miniature Australian shepherd, Mollee. “She’s dedicated to the two of us,” Don said. “She’s really Charlene’s dog because she follows her all over.”

The secret recipe

Their advice for younger couples? Never go to sleep mad or upset, spend lots of time together, and never forget to say “I love you.” “You’ve got to love each other,” Don said. “That’s the most important.”

Having spent the majority of their lives together, Don and Charlene agreed they just love each other’s company. That’s not to say they don’t have their boundaries.

“The only thing I don’t like is going shopping,” Don said while laughing. “I tell her ‘I’ll drop you off and I’ll wait in the car.’”

The Heitmans were humble as they reflected on their decades together. “I guess 70 years is a long time,” Charlene said while laughing. “We’ve just gone one day at a time.” “We’re working on 71 right now,” Don added.

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