Part 29: Conservation and Change Describe Senior Living

On a beautiful Sunday afternoon at Holiday Villa East (HVE) in Santa Monica, three lovely ladies donated belongings for the neighborhood Goodwill Industries Thrift Shop. Between the daily activities of bingo and Scrabble, these HVE residents paused to place pants, a shirt and a beloved cape into the artful Earth Day donations box handmade by Activities Director Brenda Martinez.

Before placing her attractive brown cape in the box, thoughtful Rose asked if her friends would like to have it. Rose commented that the cape was warm, comfortable and in good condition. She had worn it for many years and was ready to give away the garment. The residents thanked her, but agreed that the cape should go to a new, perhaps needy, owner.

Wise women. Senior living requires downsizing and spring cleaning renews the effort to downsize and get rid of unwanted items wherever one lives. The theme for this year’s Earth Day is It’s Our Time To Lead and served as the impetus for the donation campaign at HVE

Being Green Every Day at Holiday Villa East

Living green refers to a lifestyle that promotes conscious efforts to reduce the amount of natural resources consumed so the environment, with its natural capacity to regenerate, can sustain itself. At HVE, management ensures that my senior living community is eco-friendly year-round. Sustainable practices include:

  • converting incandescent lighting to LED and CFL light bulbs
  • installing efficient water-flow shower heads
  • installing efficient toilets and aerators
  • recycling extra food items into nutritious dishes
  • donating to local charities the furniture, appliances and personal items left behind by residents

Sustainable practices are part of residents’ everyday life at HVE. With the ongoing drought in California, customers in restaurants and folks in our dining room are forgoing automatically filled water glasses on the table. If diners would like water, they must ask for it. Notably smaller glasses are being used for beverages at HVE.

Water conservation at mealtime began at HVE several months ago. At first, the changeover was annoying. However, acceptance comes with understanding that voluntarily water conservation is far superior to enforced water restrictions due to dangerously low supplies. Other water conservation efforts include providing fewer towels to each resident. If residents need more towels, they ask housekeeping. Likewise with bed linens; if residents require that their sheets be washed more frequently than once a week, they inform housekeeping.

As I noted in a previous Joan’s Journey, until SeniorHomes.com invited me to blog about Earth Day, the event was not on my radar screen, nor were green practices. Becoming familiar with the month-long and worldwide celebration has raised my awareness to advocate for advances in hunger, illness, poverty and conservation of natural resources.

Eliminating water at dinner, using fewer towels each week and changing bed linens once, not twice a week, are small contributions I can make. Multiply this by each resident at HVE, and we begin to make an impact.

For May’s Joan’s Journey post, I will discuss a little-known necessity for seniors in residential communities—the need for day-to-day cash, checks and charge cards. Until then, enjoy the journey day by day.

Joan London is a freelance medical and social service writer who specializes in topics on aging. London moved from Maryland to California to enjoy life in a senior living community and enhance her quality of life by living closer to her children and grandchildren.