Detroit Symphony Orchestra Performs for Residents

Since 1887, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra has been performing to the delight of audiences at the Detroit Opera House, Orchestra Hall and venues (including Carnegie Hall!). And this year, residents at American House Senior Living Communities had the opportunity to experience an amazing performance of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra at home!

Approximately 75-100 residents attended recent Detroit Symphony Orchestra performances at the American House West Bloomfield and Southfield locations, enjoying the musical talents of string bassist Stephen Edwards in a private setting. Along with a pianist, Stephen Edwards performed a half-hour rendition of classical pieces while residents listened intently.

“It was very well-received by our residents,” said Fran Marable, American House Regional Director. “Many residents were former music teachers and one woman used to play in the Detroit Symphony Orchestra many years ago.”

Fran said bringing the Detroit Symphony Orchestra to American House was another way to bring value and community to residents’ homes and to continually enrich their lives.

“Music’s got the power to heal, it’s got the power to create memories, it’s got the power for enjoyment,” Fran said. “All of those things are important and it’s important for us to do things in which those various elements will be enjoyed by our residents.”

Kareem George, the managing director of community programs at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, agreed.

“We think it’s so important to give the largest cross-section of our community the opportunity to experience chamber music and the DSO in a very intimate setting,” Kareem said. “For seniors, sometimes it’s not possible for them to make it to a concert.”
The Detroit Symphony Orchestra launched its Neighborhood Residency Initiative in the fall of 2011, bringing chamber music concerts into the community at non-traditional venues.

Kareem said American House has been a great partner in the initiative, allowing the Detroit Symphony Orchestra the opportunity to perform some great concert work.

But really, the relationship has been a win-win for everyone — especially the residents.

American House residents enjoy so many varied activities and outings (including a trip to a concert at the Dearborn Ford and Community Arts Center!) that there’s never a dull moment. Wondering what other fun things are going on? Give us a call — or check us out on Facebook and Twitter — and we’ll fill you in!

Resident Activities Impact Several Generations

The person who said senior citizens sit around all day playing cards and knitting obviously never knew anyone who lived at American House. Just ask Angie Kadowski, the activity director for American House Village Senior Living in Rochester Hills: Her residents do more — so much more!

“We’re out there in the community, not just sitting around,” Angie said. “They’re also shattering every myth about senior living.”

So, what kinds of things are these seniors doing? They are mingling with other generations, getting involved in the community and sharing their knowledge and experiences.

Living history

How would you like to learn about history from someone who lived through it? That’s what more than 100 sixth grader students at Holy Family Regional School in Rochester got to do in April when they had the chance to listen to Mr. Murphy talk about his experiences in World War II.

Angie knew she had a gem in Mr. Murphy, a resident who was a radio man and a gunner in the war. So she contacted the school to share her “treasure trove of information.” Mr. Murphy visited the students and told them what it was like to be on a B-17 during WWII, taking part in 34 missions — including the Battle of the Bulge.

“The kids were so impressed,” Angie said. “I don’t think anyone anticipated the magic that took place there. The kids were so enamored and hung onto his every word. We couldn’t get him out of there!”

Mr. Murphy, who will be 90 years old May 21, left such an impact on the students that he received more than 100 birthday cards from them!

Are you smarter than a 5th grader?

With the use of spell-check becoming second nature to kids these days, it may seem as though spelling has become a lost art. But, thanks to some very special senior citizens, a class of fifth grader students learned how fun and educational an old-fashioned spelling bee can be.

On April 18, a bunch of residents at American House Village Senior Living in Rochester Hills took a trip to Auburn Elementary School in Auburn Hills to team up with some children for a spelling bee. Each resident was partnered with a student and the contest began.
“I think the kids figured out pretty quickly that the residents were the ‘go-to’ people so they didn’t get knocked out,” Angie joked.

The principal of the school, along with the director of Village of Rochester, were judges as the senior citizens and students tackled spelling some words together.

“It was really fun to see the kids and the residents interacting with each other,” Angie said.
Unfortunately — or perhaps fittingly — there was not a winner because they ran out of time before the teams were narrowed down enough! But, Angie said both she and the principal are looking forward to teaming up for another spelling bee next year.

Live at American House

In addition, other community activities include visits from Girl Scouts and first grade students planting flowers! This kind of intergenerational connection contributes to a strong sense of self-worth, Angie says.

Each American House location has a wide variety of activities to engage residents with the community. Give us a call today — we’d love to tell you more and set up a tour.

Exercise for Seniors

Do you think exercising only happens in a gym with tons of expensive and complicated equipment? Or that it’s only for those without arthritis or other body aches and pains? Think again!

You, too, can easily exercise. And you can have fun while doing it!

The answer? Tai chi.


Tai chi (sounds like tie-chee) is an exercise from China that has been around for thousands of years. It essentially combines aspects of karate, yoga, aerobics and Pilates. It is often referred to as “meditation in motion.”

Anyone can learn tai chi and benefit from the smooth exercise. Tai chi uses the focus of karate without the combat; the breathing of yoga without the twisting and turning; the cardiovascular benefits of aerobics without the impact level and the strength-building of Pilates without the pain.

Ideal for seniors, tai chi is very low-impact and easily modifiable to your own comfort level — and needs no equipment. Plus, tai chi is a very versatile exercise: It can be enjoyed inside or outdoors, alone or as a social exercise in a group environment.


Recently, studies have determined that tai chi improves symptoms in those who suffer from arthritis and Parkinson’s disease. In general, tai chi makes sense for senior citizens because it has many health benefits and minimal risk. It’s also known to bring pain relief, reduce stress and lower blood pressure.

Tai chi lowers blood pressure by improving something called arterial flexibility, or the “ability of an artery to expand or contract as blood pressure changes,” according to a recent article in The Atlantic magazine. According to the article, the more flexible arteries are the better one’s overall cardiovascular health. Poor arterial flexibility is a predictor of impending heart and circulation problems, according to the article.

Regular strength-training exercises (using weights, sit-ups and push-ups) help improve muscle tone — but studies show senior citizens in particular may not benefit from this as these exercises also lead to stiffening of the arteries. Tai chi isn’t touted as a strength-training exercise and may prove to be most beneficial for seniors.

One study compared two similar groups of senior citizens — those who regularly practiced tai chi and those who didn’t. The ones who did displayed greater flexibility in large and small arteries, plus greater muscle strength and lower blood pressure.


At American House, we have indoor and outdoor areas where you can practice tai chi — by yourself or in a group. Call us today to learn more about all the amenities we have to offer to keep you in the best of health!

~An article on the study was published in The European Journal of Preventive Cardiology and will also appear in a future print edition of the journal

How To Lead a Longer, Healthier Life (Plus 10 Longevity Tips)

As you sip your morning orange juice, there’s a surprising indicator on breakfast table that could indicate how well you’re preparing yourself for a long and healthy life.

No, it’s not the actual orange juice — although one of the keys to living a long and healthy life is good nutrition, which includes having a healthy breakfast each morning. And it’s not necessarily the food you’re eating, either.

Take a close look at the glass holding the orange juice. How would you describe it? We don’t mean is the glass tall or short or colored or clear. We’re interested in how you view the orange juice in the glass. It’s the age-old question: Do you view the glass as half-full or half-empty?

We all know leading a healthy lifestyle full of nutritious foods, physical activity and regular doctor check-ups contributes greatly to how long we’ll live. But did you know your outlook on life has a big impact as well?

According to information from Harvard Medical School, optimism is linked to longevity. A U.S. study of nearly 7,000 students who took comprehensive personality tests in the mid-1960s determined that, in the next 40 years of tracking those individuals, the most pessimistic people had a 42 percent higher rate of death than the most optimistic people.

Another study, in Holland, evaluated 941 senior citizens between the ages of 65 and 85. The optimistic folks had a 45 percent lower risk of death during a nine-year follow-up period.

If a smile and a positive thought helped you lead a happier, healthier and longer life, wouldn’t you try to smile more? At American House Senior Living Communities, we give our residents plenty of reasons to smile and be positive — from bringing in the Detroit Symphony Orchestra {{link to other blog post}} to offering beauty salons on site and so much more. We have many varied social activities to ensure you’re always looking at the glass as half-full. Give us a call and schedule a tour today and we’ll leave you smiling all day long.

10 Tips for a Longer Life~

  1. Incorporate physical fitness, good nutrition and emotionally-satisfying relationships into your life.
  2. Have a purpose in life. Seek valued roles as you age (on average, those who moved to active retirement communities lived longer than expected).
  3. Seek active learning opportunities to challenge your mind.
  4. Nurture positive, supportive relationships and find ways to stay connected to others.
  5. Embrace resilience during life’s transitions. Use humor to aid adaptation in age-related challenges.
  6. Don’t smoke or drink in excess.
  7. Avoid sitting or being sedentary for extended periods of time throughout the day.
  8. Regularly eat seven or more vegetables and fruits per day.
  9. Avoid gaining substantial unnecessary weight.
  10. Wear your seatbelt and don’t engage in high-risk behaviors like reckless or drunk driving.

(~10 tips courtesy of Peter A. Lichtenberg, Ph.D., ABPP Director, Institute of Gerontology Director, Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute Professor of Psychology and Tom Rifai MD Medical Director, Metabolic Nutrition & Weight Management Course Director, Harvard Medical School – online Lifestyle Medicine CME for Metabolic Syndrome Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine, Wayne State University)