Hilltop News and Events

Summer 2018

January / 2017

Join us for Let’s Learn Together! It’s a chance to learn about a topic from a local guest speaker. First up is Mike from Alpine Home Medical, who will share about how home medical equipment can keep you safer and make your life easier.Let's Learn poster-page-0.jpg

December / 2016

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May / 2016

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Mark your calendar for these upcoming support group meetings.

March / 2016

March 23 blog: Fresh air

At the Heart of Wisconsin Chamber of  Commerce Mardi Gras Business Expo in February, I signed up to win a Rainmate II.

I didn’t have a lot of time to visit the booths, but at the Water Works table, I was hit with a blast of fresh, scented air. I stopped to talk and filled out the slip to enter the drawing for one of 10 Rainmates. The Rainmate II is a device that adds a little humidity and your choice of scent to the air. An electric motor circulates the water. It cascades down the sides of the plastic bowl. A bulb inside will turn it into a night light. You add a few drops of essential oil, and voila – fresh air.

The Rainmate II operates in the Hilltop office.

When I learned I won one, I told my co-workers I was bringing it to the office. We can use the fresh air here. Our office is smaller than rooms at my home, too, so it should work well. We also can use it in our sensory room, with supervision.

I haven’t used essential oils, but I know a little bit about them. Different oils have different properties. I went to Family Natural Foods to see what was available. I bought a pre-mixed blend called Peace & Harmony. It has peppermint, patchouli, orange, lavender and basil oils. It has a minty floral herb scent. The bottle lists its benefits: centering, calming, balancing.

We turned the Rainmate on the other day after adding a few drops of oil to the water. My co-worker and I stood over it. We smelled … nothing. We both have colds that have rendered our sinuses pretty much useless. Everyone else who came into the office or down the hall commented on the nice smell. I let it run until the end of the day.

We turn it on for an hour or so here and there. The motor is a little noisy, but I can tune it out. Today, for the first time, I can faintly smell it. My cold must be improving. I’ll be happy when I can fully appreciate our fresh air machine.

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February / 2016

Feb. 18 blog post: Alzheimer's Association conference a must-attend event

I sent in my registration for the 30th annual Wisconsin Network Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias.

Don’t let the long name fool you into thinking it’s going to be boring. The annual event sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association is a great opportunity to learn a lot about Alzheimer’s, caregiving, research and more. It is billed as “one of the largest education forums in the United States dedicated to Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.”

This year’s event will be May 1-3 at Kalahari Resort Convention Center in Wisconsin Dells. It’s close enough for us that we can go down for a day – or two or three. The Kalahari also offers room deals, if you’d like to stay over.

If you are a family caregiver, that might not be feasible. But maybe you can get away for a day. There are sessions geared specifically for people caring for loved ones at home. There are sessions for professional caregivers, administrators and anyone interested in learning more about Alzheimer’s. I especially like going because of working with the Alzheimer’s Support Group in Wisconsin Rapids. As a co-facilitator, I am responsible for planning guest speakers. This conference provides lots of ideas for speakers and discussion for our members. We bring back brochures and information to share with them.

One of the most difficult parts is figuring out which workshop sessions I want to attend. There are five sessions, each featuring eight workshops. A couple repeat, but most only are offered once. Choosing five from 40 is tough -- there are so many I’d like to attend.

Then, there is the expo, where providers of all sorts of products and services set up booths and offer giveaways. I think some people go just for the goodies. I actually like to see what’s new in the industry and if there are things we can implement at our facilities or partnerships we can make. This is often where I collect information to share with our support group.

There is plenty of time for you to register for this event, too. The deadline is April 10. You can register online or download the brochure and registration materials athttp://www.alzwi.org.

If you are a caregiver – family or professional – or someone who works in the industry, you should attend this conference. I highly recommend it!

Feb. 10 blog: Squeals for Hilltop Grand Village

The word is getting out about Hilltop Grand Village. The work being done on the building every day must be helping.

I am amazed each time I go out. I make a point to get there once a week to take pictures and video. Invariably, I am delighted by what I see. There even have been times I’ve driven by and squealed out loud! “Ooh! A wall!” “Ooh! The roof is going on!” “Ooh! Trusses!”

Well, you get the idea.

I don’t usually squeal when I actually go there to document it. I’m too cold. It’s often a frosty, chilly or windy day when I make time for a visit. I’ve been out in the snow, tromped through snowbanks to get from the parking lot to the walking path and frozen my fingers trying to get my iPhone to zoom.

I even bought gloves with the touch-sensitive finger tips so I don’t have to take them off – but it doesn’t always work.

It doesn’t take too long, though. I know where my marks are to get the same overall shots, and then I do detail stuff, depending on where the action is at.

It’s about time I got a peek inside, too. The windows were going in last week, and as soon as the doors are in, they can heat the south wing and start interior work. Last time I was actually onsite, about half the roof trusses were up. Now the south wing even has shingles. As the snow melts, you can see the green roof!

Last week, the walls were starting to go up on the one portion of the building that will be two stories. Our offices will be on the second floor in the main section of the building. I also could see the metal frame of the port cochere – the covered driveway at our main entrance.

August is coming quickly. We’re still operating under the assumption we’ll be open for residents by Aug. 1. Look at how quickly January flew by! And there is a lot for us to do on our end, too, to be ready.

The port cochere frame is visible in front of the second story, where

offices will be located. The dining room gets a roof, at the right.

If you get a chance, take a drive past on Highway 54. Or, stay warm and watch our videos on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6H-73YAFm0KKsj23UW-LaA or follow our progress on our Facebook page by liking us athttps://www.facebook.com/HilltopGrandVillage.

January / 2016

Jan. 29, 2016 blog: Getting it right for Google

Like Alice, I feel like I’ve gone down a rabbit hole.

It started with an Internet search. Anyone who’s ever done an Internet search knows it can lead you right to your destination, or take you so far off track you don’t remember what you wanted in the first place.

Part of my job is digital. I set up social media for Hilltop Affiliates Inc. and keep it updated regularly. I set up Google+ pages for our facilities. I’ve optimized our listings in the obvious places. But I was floored by the number of websites out there with business information.

One leads to another -- to another. I found a list of a bunch. Then I found a list of a bunch more.

My current list stands at 45, and I know there are more. These are the easy ones.

Fortunately, we’ve not had our main phone number change. And generally, the business listings contain Hilltop in the name. But it’s my goal to get Hilltop Affiliates Inc. listed accurately in every place I can.

Most of the time, it’s just a matter of my time to claim a business and correct or add the appropriate information. There are a few that are linked to a paid-only option to correct content. I bristle at that, on principle, if nothing else.

So why bother with all of these websites when most people just Google or use the search bar in their favorite browser to search online?

Because they all are connected.

Google just doesn’t use Google to determine your placement in a Google or, apparently, even what information is shown. It also searches dozens of other sites to filter your information and determine what is most accurate about your business. If you don’t have updated information on every website, you might be confusing Google and hurting your business in the process.

Sometimes I wonder where the information came from originally. I see the same misspelling of Hilltop Ravenwood over and over. The website often is close but not quite right.

One downside to all of this is having to register with all of these websites to claim our listings. I started a spreadsheet to keep track of them. It’s easy to forget which ones I’ve worked on and which still need attention.

There are businesses that will do this for you. But they charge up to hundreds of dollars per month. I’m also hopeful that once I have them corrected, they’ll stay that way.

It does seem to be a never-ending process, though. Once I’m done with Hilltop Affiliates, I’ll start on Hilltop Home Care. And then it will be time for Hilltop Grand Village. My adventure down this particular rabbit hole will continue for the foreseeable future.

Jan. 15 Blog: Security at work

Drilling. Pulling. Positioning. Checking placement. Setting in place.

No, we didn’t turn into a dentist’s office this week. We installed security cameras.

Anthony Walter from All Electric LLC with help from Randy Neibauer installed cameras at our facilities. It meant climbing into the attic on a super cold day, but Anthony said it still was better than being outside on a sub-zero day.

To install cameras, you choose your location, check to be sure you can reach it through the attic, drill holes to run the cords, pull the cords from the office to the location, mount and connect the camera. You can adjust the camera to get your desired angle and view. We used cellphones and shouting to give direction. “A little to the left. Now down. Good!”

Installing cameras also became a group activity. Everyone wanted input on location, angle and technique for installing. Anthony was patient with all of us and got the job done.

He did so well, that when he installed at our second location, he put up more cameras in half the time.

The system we purchased is pretty intuitive. What I couldn’t figure out with the electronic manual I was able to find in the online forum. There’s one aspect I have yet to master, but it’s not absolutely necessary. I think I need another cord to get it to work.

This little device is all it takes to run a security system.

We wanted a security system to better track who is in our facilities. It could help if a resident tries to exit. It provides a layer of security.

It also captures one of our employees who joked she’d dance when she was in view of the cameras. So far, I’ve seen a couple of moves. It’s good to have fun when you can. We even used it to figure out the mystery of who took the fire extinguisher off the wall.

Hopefully, we won’t need to use the recorded footage often. We’d like smooth sailing at our facilities. But it’s good to know it’s there if the need arises.

December / 2015

Dec. 23 blog: Christmas at Hilltop Part 2

So I got this idea to do a Christmas video. It started when I was taking pictures as Shelly and the residents started to decorate. I was taking photos of ornaments still in boxes, stars yet to be placed, lights not yet strung. I knew how pretty the trees, especially, would be once they were decorated.

Yet, I was strapped for time and couldn’t stick around to photograph every aspect of the tree decorating.

But I still wanted to share our finished work with you.

So, I spent a little time taking videos of some of our trees and entrance. Then I supplemented with photos of ornaments and decorations.

I try to keep most of our videos to 2 minutes or less. In this fast-paced, want-it-now society, no one wants to watch a long video. And yes, 4 minutes is long. But, this video felt like it would be rushed at 2 minutes. Aren’t the holidays meant to be a time to slow down and enjoy?

So, I found a 4-plus minute song and set about editing the video to match it.

The music was a bit of a challenge. I have some royalty-free music I use for a lot of our videos. But I didn’t have Christmas music. I did an online search, but when you search “royalty-free music,” it’s not necessarily no cost. Then I remembered I’d used a song in the past for a video, and it only required attribution in the video in order to use it.

I went back to our video to find the information, went to the website and found a bunch of royalty-free free music, including holiday music. Yes! I found a pretty version of “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear.” Many thanks to Kevin MacLeod at incompetech.com. He and Creative Commons get the credit in the video for the use of the music.

The trouble with a 4-minute video is its size. While not a big deal on a computer, on my iPhone, it’s a pretty big file. Too big to email, apparently. And I didn’t have my cord to connect to my laptop to drag it directly. But, I was able to use the cloud to transfer it. A few minutes later, it was uploaded on YouTube, watch it here. It also will be on our Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/HilltopAffiliates.

So, take a few minutes and go watch our “long” video. Merry Christmas from all of us at Hilltop!

Dec. 11 blog/Christmas at Hilltop

Since the end of November, Shelly Anderson, our activities coordinator, has been decorating for the holidays at Hilltop. She and her helper elves – the residents – have set up multiple trees, strung garland and put up decorations to make our common areas festive.

We have some beautiful decorations on our trees. Each one is themed by color and ornament. We have white trees with gold decorations and blue decorations, green trees decked in red and green and plenty of Santas, snowmen and angels.

We’ve planned parties for residents and their family members. We had our first recently, complete with a visit from Santa, music with the accordion ladies and treats from our cook Becky. Shelly found cute cardboard props to do photos with the residents. They include a snowman nose, reindeer antlers, a Santa beard and more. We got some really cute photos with them. It’s neat how everyone enjoys doing fun photos for the camera!

Christmas also means cards and presents. Those jobs have fallen to me.

I ordered bright lime green mugs for our residents as gifts. We encourage them to drink a lot of water, and this will help to each have a dedicated, no-spill mug with an easy-to-hold handle that fits every cup holder imaginable. I bought printed cellophane sheets and ribbon and packaged a mug and hot cocoa mix for each resident. Well, technically I’ve wrapped 31 and have another nine to go!

I also thought it would be a good idea to send Christmas cards to residents’ families and some of our business contacts. I should have thought of it in October or November when I could have had some cards printed with a special message. Instead, I had this thought in December, so I was relegated to buying cards and writing them all out by hand. Fifty-some cards later, I think I’m nearly done. Hopefully, it’s the thought that counts, right?

The downside to all this wrapping and card writing is that I really don’t want to go home and do my own. The gifts I have yet to buy won’t need to be wrapped until right before Christmas, so I’ve got time. I do enjoy wrapping.

And maybe I’ll get around to cards next week. Maybe. If you don’t get a Christmas card from me this year, you’ll know why.

November / 2015

Activity Ideas for People with Alzheimer's Disease or Other Dementia


Active Ideas

Toss a ball, beach ball or balloons around

Rake leaves

Take a walk

Sweep the house or sidewalk

Play horseshoes


Play hockey

Play croquet

Play basketball


Craft Ideas

String beads

String Cheerios for edible necklace or for the birds

String popcorn for tree

Color pictures (adult coloring books for sale, lots of options online)

Make a scrapbook

Cut pictures out of magazines or old cards and make collage

Cut up old calendar pictures and make into a puzzle

Make holiday cards

Make holiday crafts. Visit pinterest.com for numerous ideas

Make a family tree poster

Make and play with playdough

Finger paint

Decorate a pumpkin

Make a picture frame out of Popsicle sticks

Ask them to teach you a hobby they loved, such as knitting or sewing


In the Kitchen

Make homemade lemonade, orange juice or smoothies

Make donuts

Make cookies

Bake homemade bread

Bake a pie

Pop popcorn

Make a fruit salad

Make homemade ice cream

Make a sandwich

Make a cupcake and decorate


Household Chores

Plant seeds indoors or outdoors

Wipe off kitchen table

Fold grocery bags

Fold laundry

Weed the garden of flowerbed

Clean and put silverware away

Water plants

Wash windows or a car



Listen to music

Ask about favorite old books, movie stars, or songs

Sing old songs

Ask them to expand on a memory when they have it

Talk about their brothers or sisters

Look at family photographs

Reminisce about first day of school

Talk about a great invention

Talk about favorite sport activities that they played while growing up, or as an adult

Talk about favorite sports teams, and wear some team clothing

Finish favorite sayings

Look at pictures in comic book

Recite favorite nursery rhymes

Ask about favorite pet

Ask about favorite sports hero

Cook favorite family recipe

Talk about favorites of summer, winter, fall or spring

Talk about favorite vacation


Self Care

Brush or comb on another's hair

Manicures or pedicures

Rub lotion into one's hands or feet

Do a facial

Learn a new massage technique



Fine Motor Skills

Sand wood

Count trading cards

Clip coupons

Sort poker chips

Roll yarn into a ball

Sort buttons

Sort nuts and bolts

Sort items by color or size

Sort coins in jars

Sort playing cards

Cut pieces of paper for scrap paper



Play dominoes

Play with tops or jacks


Crosswords or word searches

Dice games

Math fact flash cards or math games

Bingo of any sort

Look at maps and name locations

Trivia (name presidents, famous events, really anything)

Play Hangman


Candy Land or Chutes and Ladders

Memory games


Other Ideas

Read out loud chapters from books, poems or plays

Have a friend visit with a well-behaved pet

Write a poem together

Have an afternoon tea party

Look through the pages of a clothes catalog

Eat a picnic lunch outside

Write a letter to a friend or family member

Plant a tree

Feed the ducks

Blow bubbles

Take care of a fish tank

Put bird seed out for the birds

Play a musical instrument

Keep a journal together

Nov. 19/Activities for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia

If you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia, whether your loved one lives at home or in a care facility, you might wonder what to do for activities. What will your loved one enjoy doing?

“People with Alzheimer’s and dementia can do everything you can, with a little patience and time,” said Shelly Anderson, activities coordinator for Hilltop Affiliates Inc. Anderson plans and facilitates daily exercise and activities at Hilltop of Pepper, our memory care facility, and Hilltop Alpine Terrace, our traditional assisted living facility. Anderson was the guest speaker at the November Alzheimer’s caregiver support group meeting.

Anderson works both one-on-one with residents and in groups. She has found that some exercise is better one-one-one or else people lose interest. However, batting around balloons or soft balls is a favorite for the group. “I could do that every day” as an activity, she said. Residents like to roll, toss or kick balls. You can use a hula hoop, laundry basket or an indoor basketball hoop to play basketball.

Anderson uses real hockey sticks and a child-size soccer goal with balls to play hockey. She brings in a croquet set and lets residents hit the balls back and forth. Sometimes, they use plastic cups as targets.Halloween bernice.jpg

“You can do pretty much anything,” she said.

Anderson shared a list she compiled from online suggestions for activities. They include active ideas, crafts, in the kitchen, household chores, reminiscing, self-care, fine motor skills, games and more. While not everyone will enjoy household chores, if your loved one was a homemaker, she might like to help fold clothes or wipe off the table.

Anderson finds most people like to do activities that involve cooking – and eating. “Even if people don’t like the activity, they still like to eat,” Anderson said. Food activities also can be good for a group. Different people can help measure and mix. If it’s something like cookies or cupcakes, everyone can decorate his or her own.

“Have them teach you a hobby or craft they still remember how to do,” Anderson said.

“If they still talk about a memory, ask them about it. Expand on it,” she said. Reminiscing can be a good way to redirect someone who might be anxious or upset about something.

Music is another way to jog memory, Anderson said. Many people love music. Their faces light up when they hear it. Try dancing, even if your loved one is in a wheelchair. Listen to Saturday morning polka music on the radio or find music your loved one enjoys.

Try a game, like “What’s in my suitcase?” Plan what you’d pack for a trip to the beach or to a rodeo. This can be a good group activity, too.

Repetition is OK, Anderson said. If your loved one enjoys puzzles and wants to do the same one over and over, it’s OK. Doing the same activity every day is fine – if your loved one enjoys it and wants to do it.


Blog post, Nov. 17/Wisconsin Rapids will be a dementia-friendly community

The dementia-friendly community concept is rolling out across Wisconsin, in a grassroots wave. At the heart of many communities is the Aging & Disability Resource Center, an agency serving elderly and adults with disabilities, helping connect people with resources.

The ADRCs, as they are called, were tasked earlier this year with leading the charge toward dementia-friendly communities as part of the Dementia-Capable Wisconsin initiative. I learned more about what’s happening in Wisconsin Rapids during the United Way of Inner Wisconsin’s Supportive Community Health Services Roundtable meeting. Erin Johnson of the ADRC of Central Wisconsin updated us on the progress.

The goal of dementia-friendly communities is to make people with dementia feel safe and accepted in their communities. People with dementia report barriers in their daily lives. They worry about getting lost or encountering negative reactions from others. They might be socially isolated, feel shame, have low self-esteem or be depressed.

There are 100,000 people living in Wisconsin with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia. That number is expected to double by 2030 and double or triple again by 2050. Most of those people will live outside of assisted living facilities like Hilltop. They will live at home or with family members.

In a dementia-friendly community, people who work at local businesses, agencies and organizations we use on a daily basis would be trained on how to identify, approach and interact with people with dementia. This will help people feel more comfortable, knowing that their daily interactions will be with people who understand them. It also will help employees be more comfortable, knowing they’ve been trained to act appropriately and provide an important service to customers.

Stores, restaurants, banks and other businesses and agencies can participate in employee training. The ADRC-CW has set up an initial meeting for anyone interested in being part of the planning group on Dec. 7. If you’d like to participate, let me know, and I’ll get you in touch with the right people. This group will help ensure proper materials are chosen or created, that training is organized and conducted and that businesses are approached and encouraged to take part.

It’s exciting that this concept is coming to Wisconsin Rapids and that we can be a leader in our state.

Blog post, Nov. 12/Dementia-Capable Wisconsin

I listened in on a Wisconsin Department of Health Services, or DHS, webinar recently on Dementia-Capable Wisconsin. Sessions were held around the state, and if you couldn’t attend in person, you could listen online, which is what I chose. (https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/dementia/index.htm)

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it turned out to be an overview of where we are at as a state when it comes to dementia. Some of it I was familiar with, having attended some conferences this year and done some research.

Some key topics addressed were the Music & Memory program (which is fascinating and deserves its own blog post at some point, and which we’d love to do at Hilltop); dementia-friendly communities; dementia training opportunities; and the dementia-friendly employers’ toolkit.

The neat thing about most of these programs is how they are growing organically, from the ground up, not the top down.

Wisconsin was the first state in the country to take on Music & Memory program, and it took off like wildfire. DHS intended to introduce it to nursing homes, and what they found was many more wanting to add it, writing their own grants to get funding and finding creative ways to start the program. Music & Memory creates individual playlists for residents and provides that music on an iPod with headphones. Residents can listen to the music they grew up with and remember, to help put them at ease and to make them feel better. The results can be amazing. (Watch “Alive Inside,” a documentary about how Music & Memory came to be and the lives it has transformed. http://www.aliveinside.us/)

Dementia-friendly communities are springing up across the state. DHS has encouraged communities to take the program and make it their own rather than having it be a government program dictated to communities. There are different takes on it in different places. A toolkit helps provide specific information to specific businesses, for example restaurants or stores.

The employers’ toolkit was put together because most caregivers are still in the workforce. DHS wanted a way to reach them, and it made sense to get to them through work. The toolkit provides resources and helps business owners understand what their workers might be going through as caregivers and how to help them.

After working in a memory care facility and co-facilitating the Alzheimer’s caregiver support group, it’s good to see so much happening in our state to address dementia. It’s good to know there are more resources out there.

Blog post Nov. 6/My first ground-breaking ceremony

We had glorious weather for our ceremonial ground-breaking Nov. 3, 2015, for Hilltop Grand Village. It was 70 with sun and a breeze. It aided in our event’s success, I’m sure.

Remember, this is Wisconsin -- November in Wisconsin. Some years, we have snow in October, so 70 and shirt-sleeves is a gift.

This was my first ground-breaking. People think if you work for a newspaper you cover a lot of ground-breaking ceremonies. But most are just that – ceremonial. The work usually has begun (which is true for Hilltop Grand Village), and it’s a chance for company leaders and employees to share the project in a public way with financial folks, architects, builders and local dignitaries. It’s a great way to kick off the project. And it’s just something you do. It’s expected, I guess.

It also was my first time planning one. After kicking around some ideas, I went online to figure out what other people do. Turns out most ground breakings are pretty standard, but we wanted ours to be uniquely ours.

Hilltop Grand Village will offer resort-style living for independent seniors. It will offer amenities people likely don’t have at home and activities you might find at resort hotels. It will look like a resort and function like one, too. So, if you were having a ground-breaking for a resort, what would you have? Something classy, right?

Hilltop Grand Village also will have an indoor streetscape where residents and guests can find our many amenities as well as plenty of places to gather and share in our community. It’s nicknamed Broadway, so opening night on Broadway, you’d have a red-carpet event.

The concept was decided.

It actually was easy to find a red carpet and velvet ropes – a family member used them for an event and had them in storage. We pulled together champagne flutes and wine glasses, gold flatware and red table cloths. We bought sparkling wine and cheesecake, and Altmann Construction provided cheese and sausage trays, crackers, water and soda – and the golden shovels. The final touch was swag bags. While they didn’t rival the ones guests get at premieres, they were pretty and provided some tasty and useful treats to our guests.

We had enough special guests in attendance that we did two rounds of tossing shovels full of sand for the cameras. Smiles and applause all around.

The only thing I didn’t take into account was the noise at a construction site. We weren’t planning long or detailed remarks, and our group would be small enough I didn’t anticipate the need for a microphone and loud speaker. Fortunately, River Cities Community Access attended and videotaped the event. Jesse Austin brought a microphone to be able to capture our speakers on video. You can see (and hear!) that video (and ours) here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL5VlE-nL4JOZy2Kc6xMQbLP-yXMRL7Wwn

All in all, it was a successful event. And now I can say I’ve not only been to a ground-breaking ceremony, I’ve planned one.

October / 2015

Oct. 30 blog post: Breaking ground

The third time was the charm when I went to the site of the future Hilltop Grand Village to take pictures. The previous two times it was raining and overcast. But the third time, Oct. 22, was nice. It was warm and the sun was out.

The third time I had to park and walk a bit because a big piece of equipment blocked the “road.” It’s more of a path where vehicles drive, not really a road.

I’ve been taking photos and videos from the front of the property along Highway 54 to chart our progress. Workers began clearing the site Oct. 19, and within a couple of days had progressed quite a bit.

The smell of fresh-cut wood hung in the air. The huge piles of mulch were testament to the work under way. Bulldozer tracks lined the black earth, but it was pretty level. It was easier to see where the new facility will go. It was quite different when it was just a wooded lot, tucked behind Home Depot. Now it’s looking like a construction site, ready for our new resort-style senior living complex.

It’s been in the planning stage for quite some time. So long, in fact, that it doesn’t seem quite real that it’s finally happening.

I’ve spent some time in the past few days making plans for our upcoming ground-breaking ceremony. Having never done this before, it’s a learning experience. We have to make decisions about who to invite and what we should serve and how we should commemorate it. It’s like party planning, but for a short gathering at an outdoor venue. Fortunately, the weather forecast is good for this time of year.

Good weather should help construction as well. We hope to be open by next August for residents to move into our resort-style senior living apartments.

You can follow our progress on our Facebook page for Hilltop Grand Village, https://www.facebook.com/HilltopGrandVillage.

Oct. 22 blog post: Hilltop's first-ever hay ride

We couldn’t have asked for a better day for our first-ever Hilltop hay ride.

When we planned this outing at Hilltop Estate – more than a month ago – we weren’t sure about the weather. October can be fickle. Just because the calendar says it’s fall doesn’t mean it won’t snow.

We forged ahead with an idea to host a hay ride at the Estate, where we have land to traverse, a tractor, trailer and places to gather. It’s a beautiful property, with white picket fences, three horses, a dog and plenty of trees. We planned what we could do to make it fun for everyone. We bought 25 pumpkins from a local grower to decorate. Someone brought a nice corn shock. We made paper flower bowls to hold our treats.

The day finally arrived, and after a good deal of preparation, it was a great success.

Chief among our blessings was the perfect day. We didn’t need coats, although those who were just sitting appreciated a light blanket, hat or jacket. The hazy sun was warm and the breeze cool. It stoked the fire for roasting hot dogs and marshmallows. We ate apple pumpkin bread, puppy chow, toffee bars and pretzels. We drank hot cider and coffee.

Shelly, our activities coordinator, dressed as a scarecrow and brought along her photo booth supplies. She encouraged everyone to wear funny hats and props to have their photo taken. We got some fun shots of residents, their families and even some staff members.

Several of us sang songs around the campfire, relying on our memories to get the words right to songs we sing every couple of weeks with Chuck the Piano Man. The old-time music is embedded in the memories of many of our residents, but some of us are only learning the words now. We did pretty well on standards like “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain” and “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad,” but we weren’t as sure with “Don’t Fence Me In.” We muddled through.

The highlight of the day, of course, was the hay ride. We helped residents onto the trailer to be seated on bales of hay. There was room for a couple of wheelchairs, too. Once full, it was off for a slow putt around the property, past the house, down the hill, through the horse pasture and back.

We filled the trailer three times for rides. Even staff members and volunteers took a turn. It was relaxing to ride around in the afternoon sun, the hum of the tractor leading us.

As with all good things, it came to an end. It was time to go home or back to work. We picked up and packed up and called it a day – but a very successful one. I’m betting this won’t be the only Hilltop hay ride -- perhaps the first of many.


Watch the video of the Hilltop hay ride and outing here.

Learn how to make paper flower bowls with this video.

Oct. 16 blog post: Autumn in Wisconsin

We put away the patio furniture this week. We still have to take down the canopy from the garden area, but we need to get out the ladder to do it. We’ll put away the plant hangers when the mums purchased by a resident’s family member finally succumb to the frost.

The bushes and perennials we planted this year all survived summer. Hopefully, they will make it to spring. The rock beds sprouted more weeds. That’s a never-ending job, it seems. They can wait, though. Soon, they’ll be covered by a blanket of white.

Inside, the windows are closed and the heat is on. Fall items decorate walls and shelves. Our activities have featured apples, pumpkins, ghosts and jack-o-lanterns.

When we come indoors, we kick the leaves out of the way, but some still follow us. Our housekeeper vacuums and sweeps them up. The wind swirls them back in front of the doors again for the next time they are opened.

We’re planning the first-ever Hilltop hay ride at Hilltop Estate. It will be a chance for residents and family members to enjoy time together, featuring a hay ride, songs around the campfire, a photo booth area, treats and more. I purchased a couple dozen pumpkins this week to decorate outside. Someone else is bringing corn shocks. We’ll make our “famous” napkin flower bowls to hold pumpkin apple bread and other treats.

Of course, this all adds up to autumn in Wisconsin. We’re sad to see summer go, but the normal march of time turns the seasons. Let’s enjoy this cooler, prettier time, perhaps with a glass of spiced cider by a fire, and toast what lies ahead.

Oct. 6 blog post: Birthdays are a big deal

It’s almost like you go backward in time as you age.

When you are a child and understand what a birthday is, you look forward to it. Being another year older is a good thing. You proudly tack a “half” onto your age as soon as you realize this is a possibility. Until you are an adult, you are striving to be older.

It probably helps that birthday parties are cool. You get cake, ice cream and presents, and everybody makes a big deal out of our day.

After you’re 21, there really isn’t another magic number you’re trying to reach. So you kind of coast. Once you hit adulthood, the appeal for birthdays slows. Birthdays might be a time to celebrate, maybe you go out with friends. Your parents and close friends might still send a card or gift, but most of your birthday wishes are just that. Parties aren’t a big deal unless you’re hitting a milestone and someone throws you a surprise party.

Most birthdays just pass you by until one day you realize you’re getting older and you can’t do anything about it. You can lie about your age, but someone, somewhere will know the truth. And at some point, you’ll probably look your age, too.

You probably don’t even have a party. If not for Facebook, would anyone even know it’s your special day?

And then something beautiful happens. Birthdays get to be a big deal. People who are lucky enough to reach older adulthood tend to look forward to their birthdays. They are proud to tell you exactly how old they are, the year they were born and probably anything else you’d like to know about their lives.

Maybe it’s because you start to have birthday parties again, with cake, candles, singing and cards. Maybe you’ll even get a gift or two and lots of good wishes.

You can go back to your childhood, when birthdays were fun and you couldn’t wait until the next one. That’s the way birthdays are at Hilltop. It’s a special day to celebrate. Here’s to the next one!

Lucille celebrates 96 years with a special birthday cake.

September / 2015

Blog post: Walk to End Alzheimer’s

I took part in my first charity walk recently. At least I think it was my first. I might have done something in college, but I honestly don’t remember. And if you can’t remember, it didn’t happen, right?

In all seriousness, I didn’t hesitate to get involved with the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s held Sept. 19 in Plover. I’ve become more involved with the Alzheimer’s Association since coming to this job in January. I attend the monthly caregiver support groups sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association. I serve as a co-facilitator and take notes from our guest speakers’ presentations for our newsletter. I attended an Alzheimer’s Association state conference earlier this year to learn more about all aspects of this disease.

So, when I got information about the walk, I thought Hilltop should be a part of it. I had to get an OK from my boss. Fortunately, she’s fine with pretty much anything I suggest -- especially if the price is right and I’m willing to do any legwork. Done and done.

There is no charge to participate in the walk. Our team and any members were expected to seek donations for the Alzheimer’s Association. Through the generosity of family members and friends, I was able to hit my personal goal, and our team raised a percentage of our goal. I’m not sure of our final total, because at least one person made a donation the day of the walk.

We were a little skimpy on walkers. While several people were interested in participating, it was a busy weekend, and life got in the way. I walked along with the spouse of one of our residents. We had a nice talk as we walked the two-mile route. The sun was shining. It was a good day to get out for a walk. We had an honorary team do a 3-mile route out of town at the same time -- to be with us in spirit, even if they couldn't be there in person.

As with so many work activities, I took some photos and video. One of my personal tweets garnered 18 favorites and several retweets. (Please follow us on Twitter @1Mystique1 and @HilltopWR.) I wanted to put together a video of the experience for our Facebook page. Videos do pretty well there, and it was a nice experience. (You can watch our video on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZYyM9P7XcY or Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/733813290059083/videos/vb.733813290059083/856199224487155/?type=2&theater. You can follow us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel.)

The walk was a family-friendly event. There were lots of kids in strollers and even some dogs on leashes. Everyone was orderly and seemed in a good mood. There were plenty of purple shirts – you got one for raising more than $100. Some families made their own shirts to remember a loved one. One family dressed in matching purple wigs and capes to honor their “super hero.” We enjoyed free doughnuts and coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts before the walk, and a lunch was served afterward. Volunteers welcomed us back to the village park plaza after the walk with signs of support, plenty of waves and smiles and even some cowbells.

Next year, I hope to have a bigger Hilltop team take part. Maybe we can wear matching purple shirts or capes. I’m holding out hope for the capes.

A selfie in my purple walk T-shirt. Next year, a cape?

Shake, shake, shake senora!

The activity idea wasn’t mine. A co-worker found it in a magazine.

It was to celebrate Mexico’s Independence Day, Sept. 16. It included the history of the day, a craft idea and a snack idea. Everything revolved around Mexico’s flag colors – red, white and green. My co-worker set everything up, but she had to be out of the office during our regular activity time. So, I took over leading the project, with help from staff members and my son, who volunteers once a week at Hilltop.

We made maracas.

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Our maracas have different designs.

They are simple and fun. You decorate paper bags (we used markers and colored pencils in green and red), add rice, beans or anything small and dry that will shake inside the bag, roll the top and add a couple of staples. Shake, shake, shake to your heart’s content.


This bag is styled on the Mexican flag.

I created a a streaming music channel on my phone of Mexican music to accompany us. We made our maracas. The music and maracas made me thing of the Harry Belafonte song, “Jump in the Line,” which I had to look up from the lyrics, “Shake, shake, shake senora.” I found it on YouTube and started it.

I shook maracas. I got residents to shake maracas. I sang. I danced. I got my teenage son to shake a maraca and smile at his goofy mother.

Six minutes later I’m wondering if this song will ever end. Somehow I managed to find a 7-minute, 21-second version. I finally stopped it. I’d had enough shaking.

I don’t know what the residents thought. Maybe that I was silly dancing around and shaking paper bags with rice. The staff members gave me some odd glances. Maybe they were jealous of my great talent at shaking paper bags and acting goofy. I never said I could sing or dance well. If they were job requirements, I’d be out. Fortunately, no one really judges you here.

And sometimes, it’s all fun and games at work – literally.

Watch our video

Making maracas video

Dementia help guide

Even before I officially joined the Hilltop team, I was invited to be part of the Supportive Community Health Services Roundtable, an initiative of the United Way of Inner Wisconsin. It’s a relatively new group, organized to address unmet needs in the community related to health services. Angela Loucks, chairwoman of the roundtable, suggested it might be a good fit in my new position. As a representative of assisted living, she assumed I could help speak to possible needs we witness.

As it turned out, the group already had a focus when I joined earlier this year: creating a dementia-friendly community.

Some communities in Wisconsin are working toward the same goal. Recently, the Aging & Disability Resource Center-Central Wisconsin has been tasked by the state with taking the lead on creating a dementia-friendly community, so the roundtable might instead focus on creating an age-friendly community, which would overlap in some ways but be broader in scope.

But in the process of discussing dementia needs, Angie noticed she was learning about a number of different resources and wondered if they were compiled in some form for families. She suggested putting together a dementia help guide for families.

The brochure would be styled like the Help Guide for South Wood County, a brochure that provides resources to people who need financial assistance. The Help Guide answers questions about how to apply for unemployment, how to find child care, how to get help with rent or utilities, how to get food or learn new skills to find a job – among many other topics. It’s easy to use and chock full of good information.

So, what would we put in a dementia help guide? Caregivers at our Alzheimer’s support group suggested where to get cheaper medical supplies, how to handle taking away a driver’s license, transportation options and respite care. Angie wants to include information about the support group, our memory cafes (there are two!), ADRC services, Park Place Adult Day Services and memory care facilities.

She also plans to include a card to cut out, like this one.

It’s something a person can give to a server at a restaurant or a store clerk, for example. The back features community resource information.

What would you include in a dementia guide in our community? What resources exist that we should highlight? What questions do you have that the guide could answer? You may call Angie at 715-421-0390. Thank you, in advance, for your assistance.

Baby therapy blog post

We had a young visitor at Hilltop. She’s got blue eyes and dark hair – what there is of it. She’s beautiful, and she brings out the best in all of the residents.

She’s the 3-month-old daughter of a co-worker. She came dressed in a pink, summery outfit, bright-eyed and wiggly. She easily won over the hearts of everyone – staff members, residents and family members of residents.

“I hear there’s a baby here,” said the wife of one of our residents as she came into the office. She wanted a turn to hold her, too.

We all did. We cooed and touched and oohed over her. We let her grasp our fingers in her tiny hands, and we held her tiny feet in our big hands.

We couldn’t get enough of her.

She’s a very pretty baby.

But it was more than just that. There is something about children and babies that appeal to us. It’s a rare person who isn’t intrigued by little ones. Our residents love it when staff or family members bring in their children or grandchildren. It might be their size or the energy they exude. It might be the memories stirred of their own children.

Even the next day, one of the residents at the Estate was gushing about the baby who came to visit, about how beautiful she was and how special it was to see and hold her.

While the residents in our memory care facility might not remember her visit, the joy they experienced in the moment is priceless.

That’s why we said we need baby therapy at least once a month. While our residents enjoy it when pets visit, they really love it when a baby visits. I guess the only trouble is babies grow up. But we’ll treasure their visits as long as we can.

August / 2015

Virtual dementia tour

I put on dark glasses that blocked my vision. I put in ear buds that chanted gibberish and wailing sirens. I put on too-big gloves, one inside out. I put plastic inserts in my shoes that poked me constantly.

Then I went into a darkened room with a strobe light flashing and attempted to complete several tasks, spoken to me quietly in quick order.

Uh, what?

I fumbled around, remembering the tasks, but not able to complete them all because I couldn’t find what I was looking for. Where were the towels?

I have the advantage of a good memory and the ability to block out noise and pain – at least temporarily.

But for people with dementia, this distorted reality might be too real.

Stoney River Memory Care in Marshfield provided the session for members of the Wood County Coalition Against Abuse Interdisciplinary Team recently. The purpose of the I-Team is to increase awareness surrounding the topic of abuse and neglect of elders and adults at risk in Wood County, to coordinate efforts of various agencies that respond to abuse and neglect and to facilitate the development of better resources and preventative efforts. We meet quarterly to learn and share. We have different guest speakers and topics each time.

The virtual dementia tour is meant to simulate what a person with dementia might be experiencing. The shoe inserts mimic foot pain or chronic pain, and they make you more unsteady. The glasses distort and darken vision as might be the case with eye problems in elderly people. They also alter your “normal” reality. The gloves make you fumble more – you’re less sure of your grip and have trouble with fine motor skills. The ear buds that provide constant noise distract from the task at hand. They make it hard to hear instructions, just as hearing loss can make it hard to hear people’s voices.

We were timed as we did our tasks, although our results weren’t revealed. I think the timing was meant to encourage us to keep going and wrap up our tour – not that anyone would want to stay longer than necessary.

We knew we were only in that situation for a short time. We were doing it willingly.

People with dementia don’t have that luxury.

The women who offered the tour said they encourage family members to take the tour to get an idea of what it’s like for their loved ones with dementia. They said people sometimes break down, realizing how difficult it would be to live like that.

The tour should help caregivers – both family and professional – understand the importance of speaking slowly and clearly, making eye contact, only giving one task or suggestion at a time, showing what you want accomplished and taking into account pain and confusion.

The virtual dementia tour gave me a better understanding for what it might be like to live with dementia and a greater appreciation for caregivers. If you get the chance, I strongly encourage you to take a tour.

Read our other posts here or at http://mystiqueathilltop.blogspot.com/

New memory cafememory cafe 2.jpg

A new memory cafe will start  in Wisconsin Rapids in September, offering people two opportunities each month to gather.

Memory cafes are designed specifically for people experiencing early stage dementia, mild memory loss or cognitive impairment, and for family and friends of those affected. They offer a chance for discussion, information gathering, refreshments, camaraderie and creative fun.

The first memory cafe, the Wisconsin Rapids Memory Cafe, began in June. It continues at 10:30 a.m. the first Friday of the month at McMillan Memorial Library.

There is no cost to attend. The next meeting will be Sept. 4.

For more information, call Karen Bradbury, RN, Park Place Adult Day Services, 715-422-2795.

Latest blog post -- Aug. 18

Other duties as assigned

Everyone jokes about "other duties as assigned" on their job description. Usually it’s meant to cover the minutia  of a job that can’t be easily captured in broad statements.

I’ve learned in my new job that it means a whole lot more.

Even though I have an office job doing community relations, research and project work, I do a lot more. That’s the nature of assisted living. We move furniture, we clean and fix things, we plant shrubs and flowers (and water them when it doesn’t rain), we paint walls and stain wood. We joke about other duties as assigned.

Recently, I was assigned to remove a wallpaper border from a resident’s room and then put up a new one. I finally picked a day to dress down and tackle the project.

It came off pretty easily. I was able to peel back the top covering, spritz it with water and scrape off the backing. Soon I was ready to put up the new border. I held it up to see how it would look. The walls are painted three colors: taupe on the bottom, cream where the border had been, about eye level and little above, and a pale lavender above to the ceiling. I held up the pine cone border over the cream. It looked nice, but I wanted to be sure. So I called in a co-worker. She agreed it looked nice. She even held it up so I could stand back and look. Yup, we thought it would go nicely with the colors and theme of the room.

I’ve taken down a lot of wallpaper in my life. Layers of it, sometimes, over rough plaster walls. It tests your will. After all, if you start to remove the paper, you are committed. It’s not a job you can leave half done.

But I’ve never put up wallpaper. Neither my husband nor I particularly like it. (See note above about removing the nasty stuff.) So, when it came time to put it up, I asked a co-worker if she thought I should use the water method alone or the border adhesive we had in storage. She said she’d only ever done it with water. I knew I’d have to paste on the adhesive, and you still need to book it, so I thought using water would be easier.

She said she’d help when I got to the long stretches when it would take two people to handle the job.

I measured and cut my first piece, wet it in the sink, booked it for the required two minutes and put it up with a wet sponge. It went up pretty easy. I worked my way around the room, doing the smaller sections, leaving the two lengths for the end.

I opened my last package and started to measure the long pieces. I dithered over where to cut it for the seam on one end. I measured for my final piece so I’d have everything ready to go when my co-worker got back to help.

There wasn’t enough. I was almost 3 feet too short. Grr. I didn’t think we had any more in storage. What to do?  I could seam the long wall and maybe repaint the short one so it’s one color without the cream border. I couldn’t come up with other solutions. Try to match it? I did find a match online, so maybe that’s an option.

My co-worker came back, and I shared my dilemma. She said she’d check to see if we happened to have more in storage. “Let’s leave it until Monday,” she said. I agreed.

A few minutes later she came back in the office as I sat looking at wallpaper borders online.

At about the same time realization was dawning on me she asked, “Is it upside down?”

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Rats. I made a face. It was. At least according to the pictures online. The straight edge should go at the top – as if you were placing it against the ceiling as a border. I’d turned it around. I thought it looked like a shelf with pinecones resting on it.

She started to laugh. I apologized. She thought it was funny. “Now you have a story to tell your family when you go home tonight,” she said.

“Yeah, that I’m an idiot,” I said.

Everyone who stopped to see what I was working on during the afternoon probably thought I was clueless, too. They told me it looked nice. Maybe they were just being nice. Poor girl, they thought. She doesn’t even know how to hang wallpaper.

Oh well. I still think it looks nice this way. But it is an excuse to take it all down and find enough of a border to cover all the walls.

That would be another duty as assigned.


New blog post -- Aug. 11

The things they bring me

Two residents stopped in the office. One was holding two small, clear bowls, stacked, with four large tortilla chips in the top bowl.

The resident holding the bowls set them on my desk and proceeded to take out the chips, telling me about a business deal in southern Wisconsin that wasn’t working out. He explained how I needed to fix it or fire the guy. The chips were the product, which he wasn’t happy about.

As he headed for the door, I asked if he wanted to take the chips with him. No, he said. His companion looked at the chips hungrily but didn’t reach for them either.

So, they sat on my desk for a while.

A little later, the first resident returned and left me a pizza crust as well. He had snacked on his leftovers from lunch out with a family member or friend. I guess I was the depository for leftover food that day.

I cleaned up the leftovers and took the dishes to the kitchen. It’s just one of the things they bring.

People with dementia act in different ways. Some tend to walk a lot. Some ask the same questions over and over. Some forget where their rooms are and go into other residents’ rooms. Some forget that items belong to them.

We have several residents who tend to pick up items and move them around. We find odd things in odd places. Some of those misplaced items wind up in the office where we collect them until we figure out where they go. Staff members usually can identify someone in a photo to get it back to the right owner. We recall who collects knickknacks or who has outdoor decorations in their room. Eventually, items are returned. We know some things will move again, but that’s OK.

Some things go missing. Clothing, slippers, TV remotes. Glasses, dentures, hearing aids. Those are little more troublesome. Sometimes they turn up in the wash – literally. One day we found someone’s dentures in the box for newspapers. Those waited on my desk until someone could figure out their owner.

It’s always interesting what they bring. Arm-chair covers. Books and magazines. Lamp shades. Baskets. Flowers. Cups. Bowls.

And, apparently, tortilla chips, too.


New blog

Mystique Macomber, community relations director, has started a blog about working at Hilltop. Read it here. It’s also posted below. http://mystiqueathilltop.blogspot.com/

Assisted living surprises

I started my new job in January. After more than 20 years in the newspaper business, I made the switch to health care. I’m the community relations director for Hilltop Affiliates Inc., a group of assisted living facilities in Wisconsin Rapids.

I pretty much knew what I was getting into. I knew what my boss expected of me – what challenges I’d face, what my role would be. Like any new job, there was a learning curve. Still is, as a matter of fact. I’m learning all the time. Part of my job is to research projects and information for our business, so I spend a lot of time on the computer, reading everything I can and watching the occasional video about more topics than I thought possible.

I enjoy my new job, very much. It’s better hours, less stress, a LOT fewer emails. I can choose which project I’ll work on at any given time. I usually have several things going at once, so I can switch back and forth as information is discovered or the mood strikes.

I’ve learned so many ins and outs, it’s amazing to me. I know more about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia than I thought possible – and yet I’m certainly not an expert. I am fascinated by the brain, though, and I read every story about every study that comes out.

There have been some unexpected things about this job, too.

The biggest surprise was how much I’d get to know our residents. I share an office at our main building. Unless the vacuum is running or someone is in a private meeting, the door is open and the residents, family members and guests go by and sometimes come in. I see them in the halls and sitting areas. I say good morning at breakfast and goodbye when I’m leaving. I get to know them during activities and when they need some attention.

I enjoy their smiles and greetings. I know they don’t remember my name, but I call them by name, usually each time I see them. Names are sort of a touchstone, although no one has told me that. But it’s a way for them to remember who they are when other names – Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa – no longer have the same meaning.

I also didn’t realize how much I’d sing. I never had to sing at the paper – except the very rare party when we planned to make fools of ourselves. Now I’ve been singing so much I could join a choir. I’m not a singer. I can carry a tune. I can harmonize. I’ll sing in a crowd or at church. But I don’t think I have a nice singing voice. My voice is unusual, and I think it’s a little disconcerting when I sing. But the residents don’t seem to care. They love their sing-alongs, and I’ve been pulled into leading them a little more often lately. They usually are old-time songs. Some are new to me, but old hat for our residents. Others I remember from elementary music class. It’s surprising how the words to something like “America the Beautiful” will stick with you.

I’m not surprised how much I enjoy my new job, though. In this blog, I’d like to share some insights into my job and our industry. Assisted living isn’t well understood until you’re in it. Dementia is a vague illness until it threatens your family. So, come along on this journey with me. You might be surprised at what you learn.

July / 2015

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June / 2015

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Fresh breakfast for seniors made by Becky at Hilltop Affiliates. Fresh blueberries, strawberries, oranges, peaches, bananas and cottage cheese with a German sour cream twist.


Recipe for German Sour Cream Twist


3 1/2 cups sifted special for bread flour

1 tsp. salt

1 cup shortening (part butter)

1 pkg. active dry yeast

1/4 cup warm water

3/4 cup thick sour cream

1 whole egg and 2 egg yolks, well beaten

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup sugar


Sift flour, salt into mixing bowl. Cut in shortening. Dissolve yeast in water. Stir into flour mixture with sour cream, eggs, vanilla. Mix well with hand. Cover with damp cloth and refrigerate 2 hours. Roll half of dough on sugared board into an oblong, 8x16''. Fold ends toward center, ends overlapping. Sprinkle with sugar, roll again to same size. Repeat a third time. Roll about 1/4'' thick. Cut into strips 1x4''. Twist ends in opposite directions -- stretching dough slightly. Put in shape of horseshoe, if desired. Repeat with rest of dough.

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Bake about 15 minutes or until delicately browned. Take from baking sheet immediately. Makes about 5 dozen.


May / 2015

Videos on YouTube        

Hilltop has created a YouTube channel with videos from our facilities. You can check them out at the link below. Enjoy!



April / 2015

Alzheimer’s Support Group

Here is the calendar for the remainder of the year for the Alzheimer’s Support Group. Mark your calendar.

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Memory Cafe is coming to Wisconsin Rapids!

Memory cafes are designed specifically for people experiencing early stage dementia, mild memory loss or cognitive impairment, and for family and friends of those affected. They offer a chance for discussion, information gathering, refreshments, camaraderie and creative fun.

There is no cost to attend. The Wisconsin Rapids Memory Cafe will meet from 10:30 a.m. to noon the first Friday of the month at McMillan Memorial Library. The first meeting will be June 5. Mark your calendar!

For more information, call Karen Bradbury, RN, Park Place Adult Day Services, 715-422-2795.

Volunteer Recognition Breakfast

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Hilltop nominated Chuck Huhnke for recognition at the 24th annual Volunteer Recognition Breakfast, on April 14,  hosted by the United Way of Inner Wisconsin Volunteer Center (www.uwiw.org) and Daily Tribune Media (www.wisconsinrapidstribune.com). His “fan club” includes Fran Anderson, from left, Agusta Beaumont, Mystique Macomber and Joyce Huhnke.

The Longest Loss: Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia National Program Offered Locally

Information provided by Ministry Home Care

The Hospice Foundation of America's 22nd annual Living with Grief Program titled "The Longest Loss: Alzheimer's  Disease and Dementia" will be presented on Wednesday, April 22, from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. (registration begins at 12:30 p.m.) at Ministry Saint Joseph's Hospital's Mother Frances Streitel Conference Center, 611 Saint Joseph Ave., Marshfield.

The pre-recorded program is moderated by Frank Sesno, director of the School of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University. When the diagnosis is Alzheimer's disease or other dementia, grief doesn't wait for death. Grieving can begin in the doctor's office when patients and families receive confirmation of illness. Over a span of what may be a decade, multiple losses associated with Alzheimer's disease or dementia become a pervasive part of everyday life for millions of patients, their families and friends. After the death, survivors' grief may be complicated by the nature of a lengthy disease process that has changed their relationship with the deceased. Through a combination of candid, compelling interviews and live, in-studio discussion, experts will identify how medical and social service professionals can best help patients, families and themselves cope with loss and grief associated with these progressive illnesses.

Mr. Sesno will lead the panel of noted authorities that includes: Charles Corr, PhD, former chair of the International Work Group on Death, Dying, and Bereavement and current caregiver; Kenneth J. Doka, PhD, MDiv, professor of gerontology, College of New Rochelle and participant in 22 Living with Grief programs; Nancy Pearce, LISW-CP, licensed gerontological social worker with expertise in communicating and connecting effectively with persons with dementia; Peter V. Rabins, MD, MPH, director, Geriatric Psychiatry Program, Johns Hopkins and co-author of "The 36 Hour Day," a widely used guide for lay caregivers of people with Alzheimer's or other dementias; and Kathie Supiano, PhD, LCSW, FT, F-GSA, associate professor, and director of Caring Connections: A Hope and Comfort in Grief Program at the University of Utah College of Nursing.

This special event, open to everyone in the community, is sponsored by Ministry Home Care - Hospice Services. Participation is free and no pre-registration is necessary. For more information, call Ministry Home Care at 800-397-4216.

March / 2015

Health Care Power of Attorney: An important document for everyone

People in the assisted living community know the importance of power of attorney when it comes to caring for loved ones. But how many of those family members, guardians or staff members have a Health Care Power of Attorney for themselves?

Everyone older than 18 should have this important document filled out, signed and witnessed in case he or she becomes unable to make his or her health care decisions.

The document names a person’s chosen agent to make health care decisions should they become incapacitated. Parents can make health care decisions for their children younger than 18. But did you know, in Wisconsin, even spouses can’t make health care decisions without this document or a legal guardianship? Instead, a family member would need to seek guardianship through the court at a cost of several thousand dollars and possibly valuable time in the care of the individual.

Some things to know about the power of attorney for health care:

·         The document only will be activated if you are incapacitated. Two doctors must examine you and certify that you are not able to make your own decisions.

·         A living will does not grant authority to an agent to make your health care decisions.

·         The Health Care Power of Attorney document must be witnessed when you sign it by two people who are not related to you by blood or marriage. Ask neighbors or friends to be witnesses.

·         Choose as your agent someone who will follow your wishes. Take time to discuss with that person your health care wishes pertaining to life-sustaining procedures and equipment, organ donation, long-term care placement, pain alleviation, religious preferences and more.

·         The documents are free. You may download them at https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/forms/advdirectives/f00085.pdf. You also may pick up copies at Riverview Medical Center. Riverview also offers a free, one-hour Health Care Power of Attorney workshop the first Wednesday of the month at 9:30 a.m. in the lower level conference room, 410 Dewey St. Call 715-422-9359 for more information.

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