Monday, December 9, 2013

The Truth About Year End Giving

December.  That wonderful time of the year when your mailbox is full of Christmas cards… and letters requesting support from many charitable organizations!  For most organizations, including Redstone, end-of-year gifts are critically important to our fundraising efforts. 

There are many reasons that this is the season of gift making.  Most people are starting to think about the taxes that will be due in the New Year and are looking for ways to reduce that tax burden through philanthropic efforts.  Gifts of cash, stocks, or personal property are tax deductible when given to an eligible non-profit like Redstone and when you will be itemizing your tax returns.  There are many ways that you might wish to consider making a gift before the end of 2013. 

Especially for our residents, the option of “rolling over” required withdrawals from an IRA is a wonderful option.  If you request that the annual check from your IRA distribution be sent directly to a charitable organization, you will most likely be able to avoid paying taxes on that distribution.  This can be a wonderful way to make a gift.
The same is true with gifts of Stocks and Securities.  Making a gift of appreciated stock directly to a charitable organization can help to relieve the tax burden usually experienced at the time of the sale of stock. 

And of course, cash gifts of any size will result in tax savings come April of next year (as long as you itemize your taxes.) 

So the experts will tell you saving on taxes is why charitable giving is so important at year’s end, and why so many charitable dollars are contributed at this time of the year.  While this may be true, personally I believe that most donors are motivated by far different values.

This is the season in which we remember life’s blessings, when we spend time with those who mean the most to us, when we think about our faith and what we value the most.  Our hearts cannot help but be opened to those who are perhaps less fortunate than we are.  For Christians, this is the season when we celebrate the greatest gift ever… the Savior who was born in Bethlehem.  And while the tax benefits may be out there, I think that love and gratefulness are the real motivators for year-end gift making. 

As you consider your year-end gifting, I hope that you are considering a gift to help support benevolent care for residents in need here at Redstone.  Gifts made in memory or in honor of someone special to you before December 25th will receive a star on our “Trees of Giving” on our campuses.  No matter the size of your gift, please know that it will be appreciated and put to good use to carry out our mission to care for those who are so very precious to us. 

May all of the blessings of the season be with you.

Make a donation to Redstone Highlands at

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Response to "Put the Elderly in Prison"

Not long ago there were comments on Facebook about "Put the Elderly in Prison." This post referred to senior living communities as prison for older adults. Our Vice President of Quality Services Vicki Loucks responded to this comment with her own message.

"I have recently seen a post that some of you have shared called “We Should Put the Elderly in Prison”. I have to tell you that I am offended by that. As an RN who has worked in Long Term Care for 20+ years now I can tell that comparing Long Term Care to Prison is not a fair comparison. Your post notes that prisoners receive three meals a day, a daily shower, video surveillance, access to a library, computer and TV, a gym, doctors on site and free medication. Let me tell you the TRUTH about long term care…in our communities, our elders receive three meals per day, under the direction of our Executive Chef, we have at least one large library in each of our communities featuring a variety of books, we also have computer access for all of our elders, AND we provide technology education to assist them. Elders choosing to live with us have access to a state of the art gym and access to a personal trainer. We also provide doctors on site every day as well as free medication if needed and our buildings provide secure access including, but not limited to, video surveillance. Walk through our hallways and you’ll see tailgate parties in our pub during Steeler's, Pirate's or Penguin's games, elders engaged in community service projects and a host of recreational activities. You might see a men's barbeque on the back patio with ribs and beer or a fashion show featuring this Fall’s line, but you won’t see lights out at 7:00!

Your post, you see, doesn’t take into account the tireless hours the caregivers provide daily to assist elders with the basics – dressing, bathing, dining, mobility, etc. You also don’t take into consideration the fact that we do what we do every day with inadequate government funding…but we do it anyway, because, in many cases, it’s our mission. There are many great organizations out there that work diligently every day to provide the highest quality services to this Greatest Generation – if you are interested in learning more about what really happens in long term care, come visit me at Redstone Highlands Communities, or take a look at the websites/facebook pages of LeadingAge, or the Pennsylvania Culture Change Coalition – you’ll see how wrong the prison comparison actually is.

To all the caregivers out there who have read that post and are feeling badly about your job as a result of it – I say to you don’t hang your head! I stand proudly beside you and say I am a long term care worker! I’m going to work today and I will make a difference for the elders that I care for. You see, I don’t have to do this job, I GET to do this job and it’s an honor every day!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Think Outside the Box - Celebrity Blog

We are pleased to have a celebrity blogger who has allowed us to use one of his blogs. This blog was written by North Huntingdon resident Rev. Richard L Morgan.

It’s so easy at any age to stay in a rut, and not change. This is especially true for older people, many of whom resist change. I, for one, applaud the changes our retirement community is making on our first floor, converting bare walls and drab surroundings to a Main Street motif, with exciting murals, a Highlanders bar, and high definition TVs. But, some of the residents resist change, and spend time griping about it. I told one group that babies cry to be changed, and old people cry when they have to change. I think it’s great to take new risks, and think outside the box. We did that ten years ago when we moved from our lovely home in North Carolina to western Pennsylvania. I can still see the boxes lined up in the hall, before we could get them all unpacked and settle in. But that move, hard as it was, had positive results. We relieved our four adult children of worrying about us as we age in place. Living at Redstone Highlands means continued care as long as we live. Furthermore, despite the crammed space, I have written four new books and co-authored three others. Sure, we miss our old friends, but we have made new friends here. On another occasion when some malcontent was complaining about the changes on the first floor, I quietly said, “Some people make things happen; others watch things happen, and the third group wonder what happened!! I am glad that Redstone Highlands makes things happen, and when the Main Street project is completed, I believe most will like the changes!

To read more from Rev. Richard L. Morgan visit his blog at

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Story


In conjunction with the New Hope Presbyterian Church (in North Huntingdon) Redstone’s North Huntingdon campus is hosting a weekly Bible Study based on the book The Story.  The Story is the story of the Bible, God’s great love affair with humanity.  As the book jacket reads, “Condensed into 31 accessible chapters, The Story sweeps you into the unfolding progression of Bible characters and events from Genesis to Revelation.  Like any good story, The Story is filled with intrigue, drama, conflict, romance, and redemption – and this story’s true!”  There is a video series that accompanies the book, featuring one of the author/editors, Randy Frazee.  Participants in the study meet on Wednesday mornings at 10:30 am in the chapel to discuss a chapter and watch the video related to that chapter.  Great discussion follows! 

This week’s chapter, the second chapter in the series, focused on the story of Abraham and the birth of a great nation.  In his comments on this section, Frazee writes, “The Bible simply says, ‘So Abram went…’ In Hebrews 11 we are told, ‘By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.’  Now there is one thing I know about most senior citizens, holding in my possession my own AARP card: they don’t like change.  (How many senior citizens does it take to change a lightbulb?  ‘Change? Who said anything about change?’)  But this older couple – Abram and Sarai – dug down deep, got way out beyond their comfort zone, and did what God asked them to do.”

This faith story of Abram and Sarai (later to be known as Abraham and Sarah) provided us with great food for thought.  Many of the residents participating shared that they had a glimpse of this kind of trust through their experience of moving to Redstone.  They shared that they had felt the hand of God at work in leading them to consider a new home at Redstone, and that while it took a leap of faith to make the decision and the move, their lives had been blessed because of the choice. 

We also talked about how God never stops wanting to work through our lives – no matter how old we are.  While God may not bless us with children when we’re pushing 100 years of age (like Abraham and Sarah!) God does still want to work through us.  Living at Redstone provides opportunities to stay connected with a faith community and to continue to serve others through volunteering of our time and talents.   What a joy it is to know that God still wants to work through us at any age! 

God blessed and worked through Abraham and Sarah well into their old age.  And we are grateful that God continues to work in the lives of our residents as they, too, place their trust in God and say “Yes!” to the journey.

(The Story is available at many bookstores and online.  It is published by Zondervan Publishing. If you would like to join the study, stop by the North Huntingdon campus on Wednesday morning at 10:30.  All are welcome.) 
Visit The Story website:
Visit our North Huntingdon Campus website:

Friday, July 12, 2013

Together We Can Hold Up the Sky

There is an old Chinese Parable that goes like this…

One day an elephant saw a hummingbird lying on its back with its tiny feet up in the air. "What are you doing?" asked the elephant. The hummingbird replied, "I heard that the sky might fall today, and so I am ready to help hold it up, should it fall." The elephant laughed cruelly. "Do you really think," he said, "that those tiny feet could help hold up the sky?" The hummingbird kept his feet up in the air, intent on his purpose, as he replied, "Not alone. But each must do what he can. And this is what I can do."

Doing what we can, when we can, gives life meaning and purpose. For many, volunteering for causes and community organizations is one way of “doing what I can do.” Here at Redstone, we are so very grateful for volunteers who help to make our communities special places to call home. We are always looking for others who are willing and able to join us in our mission.

Both Redstone Highlands and our subsidiary Senior Independence of Southwestern Pa. are seeking volunteers to perform various activities on each of our campuses. At Redstone we are seeking volunteers of all ages to perform duties such as, visiting residents, greeting visitors, leading worships, conducting games, driving residents for activities and appointments, leading Bible studies, assisting with special events, and general office help. Chances are that if you have a special talent or interest, we will be able to make use of it!

Senior Independence is looking for volunteers to assist with the new hospice practice. Volunteers can provide a variety of valuable support services to patients and families, including, visiting patients in their own homes or in a facility for conversation, reading, music, respite for family members, bereavement support or general office help.

Whether you have a day a week or an hour a month to give, you can help to “hold up the sky” for our residents at Redstone Highlands by giving of your time in a special way.

Those interested in volunteering at Redstone should contact Brenda Sobota at 724-832-8400 ext. 307. If you are interested in volunteering with the hospice program at Senior Independence contact Kathy Pehanich at 724-864-7388 ext. 488.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Facing the Future Together

The following comments were made by Redstone President & CEO John Dickson (pictured above) at the annual Chairman’s Appreciation Luncheon. This event honors those who give of their time, talents, and treasures to Redstone. We thought that you would enjoy reading his words and then watching the special video that follows:

You don’t have to be much of a student of pop culture to know that American Idol has been a cultural phenomenon for twelve years. In case you don’t know, American Idol is a singing competition program that starts with millions of young people auditioning for a spot on a TV competition, and ends with one winner being voted as that season’s American Idol.

Last season’s winner was a 22 year old from Georgia, named oddly enough, Philip Phillips. In usual American Idol style, he released a single record immediately after winning the competition. His song, simply entitled“HOME” – has broken all kinds of records. It has sold over 4 million copies, more than any other coronation song from an American Idol. Within a week of its release, it was number 10 on the Billboard 100. Amazing.

So what was it? Was it Philip Phillips himself with his smiling, boyish good looks and friendly personality? Is it the snappy upbeat catchiness of the tune? Or is it the lyrics within the song…

Hold on, to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
And although this wave is stringing us along
Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home.

I can’t help but think that the 4 million people who have bought the song, and the millions more who have enjoyed listening to it on the radio, are touched by this basic message. HOME means something. And making a place a home, means everything.

There was a time, when the word HOME carried a negative connotation within seniorcare communities. The COUNTY HOME evokes images of a place where those with nowhere else to go would be placed – often against their will. Moving mother to “the home” was not a thought met with much enthusiasm. It’s sad, isn’t it – that the beautiful concept of HOME came to take on such a negative meaning.

Ironically, in today’s culture change movement and emphasis on person centered care in communities like Redstone, a primary goal of the movement is to create a sense of HOME. Home in the best sense of the word. The place where we share in common community. The place where people are loved and cared for. Joys and sorrows are shared. And we are a family. Last fall residents across our three campuses were asked to describe Redstone in one word… and their most common response probably will not surprise you… the word was HOME.

Making a home doesn’t just happen. It isn’t just about bricks, mortar, management or staff… although all of those things are part of it. For a place to be home, there needs to be a heart at its center. And you – our dear friends– provide that heart. You have given generously of yourselves in many ways. You have given of your financial support and for that we thank you. Your gifts help make the benevolent care that we provide to those in need, possible. You have given of your time through your volunteerism and this has changed the lives of our residents. You have given of your final legacy – by naming Redstone within your estate plans… sending a message to us and to the world that Redstone is very important to you. And for this statement of love and support, we thank you. These gifts, this giving…came from your heart. And in giving your heart, you have helped make Redstone a place that many feel blessed to call HOME.

In the coming months, we have improvements planned across our campuses. We are always making changes and doing renovations that will both improve the quality of life for our current residents and help us attract the next generation of residents. In addition to the “normal” updates, there will be exciting enhancements to our public spaces at the Harbor Skilled Nursing Facility in Greensburg. We will be reconfiguring the front reception area, adding a market bistro that will provide exciting dining options for residents and visitors, renovating our beauty salon, and adding a wellness clinic with additional spaces for rehabilitation and fitness. These enhancements come because of the success of the first phase of our Promises Kept Campaign. We look forward to future phases that will bring a new elevator and admissions and discharge area to the nursing center, and the physical renovations necessary to transition to the Neighborhood Concept of care as part of our ongoing commitment to person centered care and culture change.

All of these improvements will make Redstone an even better place to call HOME. This will only be possible with your ongoing support and commitment, and we know that we can count on you. We face the future together. We can continue to make Redstone a VERY special place to call HOME.

In the popular words of that American Idol Philip Philips, “Know you’re not alone. We’re gonna make this place your home.” Thank you for being our partners in achieving this goal.

We made a video to the "Home" song with photos of Redstone residents and staff. View it at:

Friday, April 26, 2013

There's No Place Like Home

It’s human nature, isn’t it? Home is the place where most of us feel calm and comfortable. There’s no place like it. For seniors who choose to move to one of our Independent Living communities at Redstone Highlands, their apartment or villa quickly becomes “home.”
Several Years Ago, Redstone recognized the need to find ways to provide supportive services to our residents in order to make it possible for them to remain in their independent residences longer. While at one time these supportive services were only a vision, Senior Independence of Southwestern Pennsylvania (SISWPA) is now a successful example of how mission driven organizations maintain focus and accomplish more. A subsidiary of Redstone Highlands, SISWPA’s home and community based services provide high quality care to a broader array of seniors by delivering Home Health, Home Care and Hospice Care. Although originally motivated by the need to provide service to Redstone residents, SISWPA is now meeting the needs of seniors outside the walls of traditional retirement living.
With no long term commitments, services can be delivered directly in the home, and a variety of payer sources, seniors and their families find home based programs very attractive. Since services are customized to meet the needs and the budget for individuals, may find they are able to live independently longer at home, while avoiding or delaying more costly placement options.
Home Care services provide a personalized plan for daily living assistance to maintain quality of life in the comfort of one’s own home and includes personal care assistance, meal preparation assistance, medical transportation, light housekeeping and laundry services. Our VIP program, which brings cutting edge technology into the home, allows people with memory impairment to remain safe at home. Those individuals needing to routinely monitor vital health information (blood pressure, weight, blood, glucose, etc.) in order to detect health changed early, have also found this technology program beneficial. The program makes treatment more successful and staves off more critical health emergencies.
The Home Health program includes skilled nursing visits (RN), physical, occupational and speech therapies, home health aide services, and social work services. This care must be ordered by the individual’s physician and is typically covered under hospitalization insurance (Medicare, Highmark, UPMC, etc.).
For individuals experiencing a serious illness at end-of-life, our Hospice care teams will make every effort to ease pain and discomfort, provide emotional and spiritual support, and assist you in achieving person goals and honor your choices. This program is a Medicare covered benefit and will be added to our services in 2013.
Senior Independence of Southwestern Pennsylvania started in 2010 with only a handful of staff and clients. The program’s expansion has afforded over 150 seniors throughout Westmoreland County, of all economic statuses, to receive coordinated and innovative care from over fifty employees with different specialties. These efforts achieve the vision to allow for safe independence a home. Together Redstone Highlands and SISWPA will continue to support their common mission of finding more ways to meet the changing needs of seniors in the service area.

For more information call Senior Independence at 724-864-7388 ext. 490
or visit SISWPA on the web at


Monday, April 15, 2013

Making New Friends at Any Age

Redstone Highlands Senior Living Communities is well known for its staff attention to residents, the upkeep of its buildings and grounds, its wellness initiatives for residents and employees, and even its playful and creative innovation in providing residents with healthy, quality and delicious meals. However, one thing that we don’t hear about often is the relationships that grow between residents. Consider this one example of a budding relationship on one of our campuses:

It was a regular day for Greensburg campus resident Kay Altman. She was making her way to dinner when she noticed something out of the ordinary. A man was standing outside one of her neighboring apartments where a door was ajar. The community is close-knit, so Kay wondered who this man was. He greeted her and introduced her to his mother, Davida Leshock, a new resident

Davida and her son were planning on attending a Fourth of July celebration and invited Kay that introduction spurred something special between these two ladies, a friendship.

Since then Kay and Davida have used their friendship to explore something they are both passionate about, exercise and wellness. They’ve taken it upon themselves to try out as many of the wellness programs Redstone provides as they can. One of their favorites is Silver Sneakers, an exercise program developed for residents to participate in while using chairs. Kay was wary about a sitting-down exercise at first but has concluded that it gets the job done.

They also like to participate in the wellness programs at the on-site fitness center. Since they began their friendship in July, they have tried each of the aerobic machines in the center.

When their schedule permits, you’ll find the two ladies exploring other activities on campus as well. They make it a point to enjoy meals together when they can.

Kay moved to Redstone Highlands eight years ago after her husband passed away. She says she’s always really enjoyed living there, but since her friendship with Davida began, she’s had the opportunity to explore and enjoy so much more of what Redstone has to offer.

The benefits of friendship are often overlooked, however, researchers of the Nurses’ Health Study from Harvard Medical School concluded that not having close friends is as detrimental to your health as smoking or obesity. Redstone recognizes friendship as a great wellness tactic and provides many social events and occasions to help foster the friendships for both residents and employees.

The story of Kay and Davida represents the relationships that Redstone values and loves to share. Redstone strives to provide residents with the utmost living experience throughout all the years of their lives. It’s Redstone’s goal to encourage all residents to enjoy as many of the amenities of its communities as possible. Having a friend to share those amenities makes the experience that much richer.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Resurrection within a Community of Seniors

  "The resurrection witness is to the power of life that cannot be defeated. Even death is not able to stop the living. The power of life is manifest in the Resurrected One who lives in the community that witnesses to Christ and life itself...The miracle of resurrection is recognized each time someone rises from death to defeat terror, to take a breath and utter a cry. To remember the resurrection is to affirm human resistance and resilience and agency." - Flora Keshgegian
Today is Friday. Good Friday. The day upon which Christians around the world remember the passion of Jesus Christ on the cross. It is a day for quiet reflection, prayer and gratitude. Special services are being held on each of our Redstone campuses in commemoration of this holiest of weeks in the Christian year.
But if this is Good Friday, we also remember that on the third day comes Easter Sunday. The Day of Resurrection. The day that fills all other days with hope, and promise, and light, and life.
Within our Redstone Communities, we see signs of resurrection each and every day. Some, who may be unfamiliar with the special blessings of a community like Redstone, find this to be surprising. How can there be resurrection in a community of seniors? How can there be resurrection in a skilled nursing facility? How can a community like Redstone witness to the resurrection?
We see it every day. Here are but a few of our stories…we’ve changed the names, but the experiences are real…
Anne – who was sure that her life was over when she fell and broke her hip. But after a few weeks of rehab at Redstone she is ready to get home to the life she has enjoyed… including babysitting her grandchildren on a regular basis. Resurrection.
Phyllis – who begrudgingly acquiesced to her children’s wishes that she move to a retirement community. But instead of mournfully passing her days as she expected, she is enjoying every moment of lunches shared with new friends, evening card parties, and a good cardio workout in the senior fit program. Resurrection.
Bill – who thought the sadness of losing his beloved wife would never ease… until he met that special someone here at Redstone with whom he can share the precious memories of the spouses they have lost, while making new memories of their life shared together. Resurrection.
Louise – who came into hospice care frightened by what this closing chapter would be like for her and her family, and found herself surrounded by loving care, comfort, and peace. Resurrection.
In this season of Easter, we rejoice in a God who continually makes things new. And we rejoice in our Redstone Communities, which help to bring new life, hope, and joy for the living of all of our days.
Life cannot be defeated. Happy Easter, everyone!
Helpful links:
Coping with Grief and Loss

Learning to Love Again
How to Find a Friend

Friday, March 15, 2013

Downsizing in Your Retirement Years

The majority of today’s retirees are living in the home in which they raised their family. Many of those homes have two stories, rooms no longer in use and, unfortunately, far too many require maintenance or costly repairs. When the home that served you well for so many years becomes a burden, or even a liability, it’s time to consider other options.
Condominium living is popular because it eliminates outside maintenance and offers a larger space than an apartment. Keep in mind that if the community is not age restricted (an active adult community), you may have families with young children or teenagers as your neighbors. As investments are concerned, it’s advisable to do your homework, as some condominium communities struggle to maintain their value in the current real estate market.

Apartments are a good choice for those looking for a no-maintenance lifestyle since repairs and upkeep are the landlord’s responsibility. Since neighbors live closer together, you might want to research what is available in your community that is age restricted.

A retirement community if often preferred by retirees looking ahead to their future. Continuing Care Resident Communities (CCRC’s) offer independent living options in addition to access to care and services residents may want now or need in the future. Redstone Highlands offers two styles of independent living. Villa homes and senior apartments both include a service package, priority access into other levels of care in addition to clubs and free events.

If moving seems like too much work now, consider how much harder it will be as you get older. Putting off the decision to downsize while you’re able often times passes the unintended responsibility to adult children or other family members. When considering downsizing in your retirement years, sooner is definitely better than later.

Call one of our Redstone Highlands campuses to speak with our community liaisons who are ready to help develop a downsizing plan for you:
Greensburg – 724-832-8400
Murrysville – 724-733-9494
North Huntingdon – 724-864-5811

Visit the Redstone Highlands website at:

Helpful moving articles:
How to Hold a Garage Sale