News from The Highlands

Residents help Highlands of Topsham go greener

Our compost shed made headlines. Read the Times Record’s full story.

Getting Fit is Popular at The Highlands

One key to life longevity is staying healthy and physically fit. The residents at The Highlands of Topsham are living proof of this. Now, thanks to the recent expansion of our campus fitness center, they are even more enthusiastic about it. The newly enlarged and improved space was recently completed and it offers so much to choose from: A heated, indoor swimming pool with a salt water filtration system, workout equipment including two treadmills, two stationary bikes, an arc trainer and universal weight machine, as well as classes and personal training are available for our residents to use. Other amenities include lockers, a shower and changing areas.
There is now a large studio with a cushioned floor and full length mirrors where our personal trainers hold strengthening classes using exercise bars, resistance bands, handheld free weights, stability balls and other balance enhancers and exercise mats.
We are also able to provide more group classes now, including Tai Chi, Yoga, Aqua Aerobics, Group Fitness and Chair Classes. A brand new Balance program has recently been introduced and has been very popular with our residents.
“Now we can really focus on the body and mind,” says Brenda Lacombe, Fitness Coordinator. We can close the door, dim the lights, and not have all the noise from the equipment.” Brenda is one of the two fitness coordinators for The Highlands and is ecstatic with all the changes, particularly the addition of another 540 square feet containing a studio which can be closed off from the rest of the space. “We can now have everything going on at one time!” she says. “People have access to the exercise machines, I can have a class going on, and other people can use the pool without stepping over those in the class.”
The salt water pool offers many benefits, and is ideal for individuals suffering from arthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic pain or other bone and joint disease. It also provides greater buoyancy than a chlorine pool and makes your skin feel silky soft.
Normally, about 5% to 6% of the population in a retirement community uses a gym. At the Highlands, 45% of our residents take advantage of the Swimming Pool and Fitness Center. We encourage our residents to maintain an active and fit lifestyle; they do exercise a lot when they come here!
You can also enjoy staying active by joining the Highlands Outdoor Group (HOGS), a resident driven club for folks who love to hike, exercise, bike and plan a variety of outdoor activities.
Our Fitness Department has two full-time personal trainers, both professionally trained and certified, and a master Yoga teacher who has 30 years’ experience working with seniors. The benefits of regular exercise include:

*Increased vitality and strength
*Improved mood and sleep
*Better balance and flexibility
*Reduced risk of heart disease
*Decreased risk of diabetes, cancer, arthritis and other debilitating conditions
*Chronic aches and pains may disappear
Skeptics looks no further than our 91 year-old Ping Pong champion, Flossie W., who divides her exercise time between walking daily and strength conditioning! So, if your goal is to lead a healthy, active lifestyle as long as you are able, join us at The Highlands.


Retirement community residents supply non-profit with essentials

When those in need turn to local food banks for help, it’s not always just food that they need. Other essentials, like toilet paper, personal hygiene items, and laundry soap, are not covered by food stamps. That’s why seniors living at The Highlands, Midcoast Maine’s premier retirement community, stepped up to help.

A month-long collection program of these non-food and yet essential items culminated when Highlands staff and residents literally stuffed a 24-passenger bus. The piles of toilet paper, soap, toothbrushes and other necessities were simply amazing. “We did something similar at Christmas,” said Highlands resident Sue Backhouse. “And that was just with our neighborhood collecting, so we thought ‘Why don’t we do this campus wide?’ So we did, and it took off like gangbusters!”

Karen Parker, Executive Director of the Midcoast Hunger Prevention Program could not be more pleased, knowing how much the assistance benefited the approximately 1,300 families in eight area towns which the non-profit helps every year. “We find they’re really juggling their budgets, working two or three minimum wage jobs and just can’t make ends meet. It’s all a juggling act, so anything we can provide helps alleviate stress in so many areas of their lives.”


Day-long fundraiser for Alzheimer’s Association

The Highlands, Midcoast Maine’s premier retirement community, turned the longest day of the year into a fun day, as well as a fun way to raise donations and awareness of a disease which more and more seniors and their families are living with: Alzheimer’s. The Highlands hosted a big fundraiser for the Alzheimer’s Association, with fun, silly, and healthy things to do throughout the day. No sadness, no regrets here, just living for the moment and for the smiles generated by the fun.

The day included a pet parade, games, demonstrations, karaoke, morning yoga stretching, and even a pie-throwing contest with the Director of Maintenance being the prime target. The Highlands’ own singers, “The Highlands Chorale”, filled the air with music, and “North of Nashville,” winner of the 2015 “Country Act of the Year” award, performed.

The day was so much more than a day of fun. It provided an opportunity to come together to honor and just celebrate the moment with those living with this insidious disease, and those family members and caregivers who walk every step of that journey with them. “We encouraged everyone on our campus, including our independent residents, to become involved,” said Lisa Secone, Wellness Coordinator at The Highlands. “Because of so many people now being diagnosed earlier with Alzheimer’s, there’s a surge in the numbers of those living with it. It could be any of us…or a neighbor, friend, relative or co-worker. We were glad to have this opportunity to just enjoy a fun-filled summer’s day.”

French Consul General Presents Award to Topsham Vet

World War II Veteran receives Legion of Honor award from French Government

TOPSHAM, Maine – Nearly 71 years ago a young Army warrant officer was doing his best to keep himself and his buddies alive during the infamous Battle of the Bulge. “Fortunately, I didn’t get killed. I guess I was just lucky, that’s all…just plain lucky,” says now-94-year-old Samuel Alderete with a shrug. The French government begs to differ, however, and by decree of President Francois Hollande his country is appointing a “Chevalier” of the Legion of Honor to Alderete.

Fabien Fieschi, Consul General of France will come from Boston to bestow the honor on Sam Alderete on Tuesday, July 14, 2015, at 1 pm. This will take place in Topsham at The Highlands, where Alderete is now a resident. Ceremonies will be held in the Holden Frost House, located at 7 Academy Lane, just off of Frost Lane on the Topsham campus. Alderete will be joined by his family, friends, Highlands residents and dignitaries.

“This is a big deal for him,” says his daughter, Mary Alderete, “and it’s taken me a year to get this together. He’s excited and this is huge, but he has never talked about his war service with me.” Alderete isn’t one to brag about his Army years from 1940 to 1971. “In my 30 years-plus of service I experienced many good days and some not so good, but they were all instructive.”

Some of the not-so-good days involved hitting Utah Beach with the 980th Field Artillery Battalion three days after D-Day. With their big 155 millimeter gun, Alderete’s unit fought their way across France, helping to liberate that country after 5 years of occupation. They entered Belgium, and then the Ardennes Forest, surviving the infamous Battle of the Bulge before pushing on across the Rhine and into Germany. He would later experience combat in Korea as well and retire a major, followed by decades in Europe as a civilian with the State Department. But, it’s his time as a young 20-something soldier on the European battlefields which is being recognized on this day.

Alderete has already received a Bronze Star, an Army Commendation medal with cluster, a Meritorious Service Medal and 11 other medals. However, on his application for the Legion of Honor, Alderete was asked to list any specific heroic actions and participations in battles and missions. His answer? “Nothing heroic. Just soldiered in combat.”

© The Highlands 2015