3 easy ways to give the perfect gift this season


Do you ever struggle to find the perfect Holiday gift for loved ones, only to settle for something just so you can cross them off your shopping list?

We’ve all done it—given a gift that we know the receiver won’t love. This season, consider a gift they won’t want to return. If you know someone who values the meaningful work we do at Presbyterian Manors of Mid-America, consider making a donation in his or her honor. These tribute gifts are also a great way to remember loved ones who are no longer with us.

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What loneliness is doing to your heart

As social creatures, we suffer when cut off from one another

By Emily Gurnon for Next Avenue


Credit: Getty Images

You may have heard that loneliness is hazardous to your health — and can even lead to an early death. Now, an analysis of 23 scientific studies gives us numbers that reveal just how sick it can really make you.

People with “poor social relationships” had a 29 percent higher risk of newly diagnosed heart disease and a 32 percent higher risk of stroke, according to the study, published July 1 in the British journal Heart.

That puts loneliness and social isolation on par with other known risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as anxiety and job strain, the researchers said. And it exceeds the risk posed by physical inactivity and obesity, said lead researcher Nicole Valtorta, of the Department of Health Sciences, University of York, England.

Given the results of the study, Valtorta said, “interventions to prevent coronary heart disease and stroke should take loneliness and social isolation into consideration.”

Such interventions could be relatively inexpensive, she added, especially given the fact that cardiovascular disease remains the most costly disease in the United States. It accounted for direct medical costs totaling $193 billion, according to a 2015 study from GoBankingRates.com.

There’s a difference

Loneliness and social isolation do not necessarily go hand in hand. You can be lonely in a crowd, or you can be by yourself and feel perfectly content. But when your experience is negative — you are not happy with the quality of your social interactions, or you’re grieving a loss — that “can be really disastrous for well-being,” Valtorta said.

Unlike other studies, Valtorta’s (which was published online in April) was the first to focus on whether people experiencing loneliness and isolation were at greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease. It excluded people who were lonely but already had the disease.

Studies involving 181,000 people living mainly in the U.S., Europe and Japan were examined as a part of the meta-analysis, and they were tracked for a range of time — between three and 21 years. Among those people, there were 4,628 heart attacks or related events and 3,002 strokes.

The age of the subjects varied, and it wasn’t possible given the data to conclude whether a 75-year-old lonely person was more likely to have a heart attack than a 50-year-old, Valtorta said. The researchers did not find evidence of a difference between men and women.

Other research on isolation and health

A separate 2015 meta-analysis by Brigham Young University researchers concluded that both actual and perceived isolation were associated with early death.

Social isolation corresponded with a 29 percent greater risk of premature death; loneliness corresponded with a 26 percent greater risk and living alone corresponded with a 32 percent greater likelihood, according to the study, published in Perspectives on Psychological Science. Social isolation and loneliness threatened longevity as much as obesity did, the study said.

Two of the Brigham Young researchers were also involved in a 2010 study that found loneliness is as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. The problem is only getting worse, the scientists said.

“Humans are naturally social. Yet, the modern way of life in industrialized countries is greatly reducing the quantity and quality of social relationships … over the past two decades there has been a three-fold increase in the number of Americans who say they have no close confidants,” the study said.

All of the studies reinforce the growing recognition of loneliness as a public health issue.

A nonprofit coalition in Britain has responded by initiating the Campaign to End Loneliness, which among other things aims to broaden the services and activities available to those who may be lonely.

What we should be doing

Brigham Young researcher Julianne Holt-Lunstad told Time magazine that nurturing close relationships as well as a “diverse set of social connections” is key. She said that policies to alleviate loneliness may be difficult to imagine but could include encouraging doctors to identify at-risk patients and rethink the way neighborhoods are designed, the magazine said.

“People’s response is oftentimes to say, ‘What are you going to do, tell everybody to give someone a hug?’” Time quoted Holt-Lunstad as saying. “But there are many potential ways in which this could be implemented.”

© Twin Cities Public Television – 2016. All rights reserved.

Holiday Traditions and Recipes

shutterstock_520393018 From the residents of Wichita Presbyterian Manor 

Jack and Louise Hall are residents of the Westwinds at Wichita Presbyterian Manor. Their Thanksgiving holiday is filled with joy as family on both sides come and spend the day together.  The Halls have 12 children, 26 grandchildren, and 30 great-grandchildren. Between 55 and 65 people usually come for the November celebration. To accommodate all the family members they meet in the church hall at St Peter’s in Schulte. The family enjoys visiting and catching up from one year to the next.
Dee Burke shares a favorite family recipe:

Sweet Potato Casserole

1 1/2 cups sweet potatoes
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 egg, beaten
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Boil and mash potatoes, add in sugar, butter, egg , vanilla and milk. Mix well. Pour into 13 X 9 greased pan. Mix all topping ingredients. Sprinkle on top. Bake in pre-heated oven at 350 degrees for 25 to 35 minutes.
Residents Karen Smith and Velma Barber are planning to get together and make Christmas Peppernuts to share with Presbyterian Manor friends.

Christmas Peppernuts

1 cup butter
4 cups brown sugar
4 eggs
6 cups sifted flour
1 Tbsp baking soda, dissolved in 1 Tbsp hot water
1 tsp cream of tartar
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp allspice, ginger, cloves
Star of Anise to taste (we use 2/3 tsp)

Beat butter and brown sugar together…Add eggs and beat until light and fluffy.
Add the remaining ingredients. Drop dough in cutter, press through the holes and cut at desired length. (about 3/8 inch)
Place on greased pan and bake at 375 degrees for 6-8 minutes.

This recipe comes to us from a Westwinds resident:

Ozark Pudding

2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 Tbsp flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 1/2 cups Jonathan apples (peeled and chopped)
1 cup pecans
Mix in order. Bake at 350 degrees in a greased deep pan for about an hour. Pudding is done when the apples are tender. Top with ice cream and serve.
(Sometimes I double this, making 16 servings)

Meet new residents Dee and Tim Burke

dee-and-tim-burke-2 If you heard the national anthem sung a cappella at our Veterans Day memorial service, then you’ve heard Dee Burke sing. Dee and her husband, Tim, are two of our newest residents at Wichita Presbyterian Manor.

Dee and Tim moved from Dodge City to a duplex in the Westwinds neighborhood in September, and Dee has quickly become known for her singing talent. She is already working as choir director at the Adorers of the Blood of Christ convent in Wichita and has also sung the anthem at a charity race this fall.

“Music has always been a part of my life,” Dee said, “I started singing at 3 years old for family things. When I was 5, I made a record, and when I was senior in high school I sang a solo on radio at Christmas.”

Dee also sang with a professional diocesan choir in Des Moines; she plays piano, organ and guitar; and she’s a composer. She has written sacred music for her church and has also recorded a CD of country ballads. And she has performed in many musicals and cabarets.

With all that experience, Dee said she does still get stage fright. “It’s just part of it. Even to do this day I get nervous even when I have to sing. But that makes it better because I’m more conscious of my breath control and vibrato.

”Believe it or not, Dee said she’s largely self-taught, with little formal musical training. Her profession instead was nursing. She served in several roles, finally as a bilingual nutrition counselor for the women, infants and children program at the county health department for several years before she retired. Dee also served on the state nutrition board.

“I got bored real easy, so I changed a jobs a lot because I liked to do all kinds of things,” Dee said.

The Burkes moved to Wichita to be closer to family. They have three children, eight grandchildren, and 12 great-grands. Plus, Dee has three sisters and a brother here. We’re happy to welcome them to Wichita Presbyterian Manor, and we hope you will, too!

Meet Melody, our new marketing director

img_1953-pp-2 Welcome to Melody Dodge, Wichita Presbyterian Manor’s new director of marketing and sales! Melody takes over the role from Jill Coleman, who will now serve in a regional role for Presbyterian Manors of Mid-America.

Melody has had a long and varied career in marketing around the Wichita area. She most recently worked at Harry Hynes Memorial Hospice, and she said right away she could see similarities between the work she did there and her new role.

“I always said that a lot of what I do is education,” she said. “Here, we’re telling and showing people the story so they understand this is not how it was 50 years ago. We want to help people realize that once you move to a senior living community, it’s not about end of life but about beginning the next chapter.

”Melody said she always wanted to work in advertising or marketing, so she pursued that major at Wichita State University. After graduation, she went to work in marketing for Simon Malls, and she later worked at the Wichita Eagle for 17 years. She also held positions at T-Mobile and in the cable TV industry.

She said she loved working at Harry Hynes, but she felt she had more to achieve. She prayed that God would open the door he wanted her to walk through, and He did.

“People said, ‘You sound like you’ve got fire in your belly.’ I think you have to keep learning or life gets stale,” Melody said.

Her zest for life and learning also extends to her family, including three sons; her dogs; and lots of outdoor activities, from gardening and biking to sailing and skiing. “We need to realize if we do stay active and engaged, we will live a longer and higher quality of life,” Melody said.