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Melissa Orth, president and CEO of The Legacy Senior Communities, is pleased to announce the expansion of its services through The Legacy at Home with the addition of hospice services. The Legacy at Home is one of the largest not-for-profit home health providers in Greater Dallas. The Jewish-sponsored agency offers comprehensive Medicare-certified home health care, personal assistance with daily living, and hospice services with the same level of distinction and professionalism that has defined its parent organization, The Legacy Senior Communities, for 65 years.

“With the addition of hospice services, we can now deliver the full continuum of care for the Dallas community. Our retirement communities and home health agency offer all levels of care and anything a senior would need,” said Orth. “Each person’s end-of-life journey is unique, and hospice services will offer seniors and their families compassionate care when they need it most. We are privileged to meet with families to provide comfort and peace so they can focus on time together and honor the wishes of loved ones.”

“We’re proud to offer the first Jewish-sponsored hospice program in Dallas,” said Dot Haymann, chair of the board for The Legacy at Home. “Our customized hospice services will reduce pain and anxiety through symptom management, provide emotional support for the entire family, advocate for last wishes, and give those we care for more quality days. With an accomplished team of caring professionals, we bring decades of experience and a wealth of resources to provide high-quality, patient- and family-centered hospice care wherever the patient calls home.”

“We believe in a team-oriented approach to expert medical care, pain management, and emotional and spiritual support tailored to the patient’s needs and wishes,” said Jessica Haecker, executive director of The Legacy at Home. “Even if it is just a shoulder to lean on or a hand to hold, we seek to support and care for patients and families during their hospice journey.”

The Legacy Senior Communities is a Jewish-sponsored organization deeply committed to its heritage and honoring Jewish traditions. The organization is accredited by the National Institute for Jewish Hospice, which ensures that staff and volunteers are trained in the full spectrum of Jewish traditions, beliefs and customs associated with death and mourning. However, The Legacy at Home provides all faiths with exceptional services that honor all spiritual beliefs.

“We provide quality care tailored to each patient and their family in order to respect the needs, desires, traditions and faiths of all those we serve,” said Elise Power, Jewish community liaison for The Legacy at Home Hospice. “It’s an honor and a privilege to care for those at the end of life’s journey and to help families accept the loss of their loved ones.” 

“In my experience, patients and families often feel overwhelmed after receiving a terminal prognosis,” said Susan Veasey, director of Hospice Service for The Legacy at Home. “Families often come to us uncertain of what lies ahead, and during our initial conversation we have the opportunity to create a space where difficult conversations can occur and fears can be relieved through the decision to choose quality days. Often, you can feel the tension break in the room when a patient and their family is at peace with the decision to choose hospice. For most, that moment occurs when they realize they don’t have to go through this alone, as our compassionate team of experts will be walking alongside them. That’s why I do what I do – because I believe hospice means a greater quality of life.”

The Legacy at Home hospice is dedicated to those it serves. With every relationship, families can expect the same level of expert and compassionate care that has defined The Legacy Senior Communities since 1953. Services are covered by Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance plans with a hospice benefit, or private pay. For more information about our hospice, home health, personal assistance services or to schedule an appointment, please call 972.244.7700 or visit thelegacyathome.org.   

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The Legacy Senior Communities believes in the importance of celebrating shared traditions that create a bond across generations. It’s for this reason that the not-for-profit community recently gathered together to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Passover with its residents, their families and staff. Each year, the observance is a deeply meaningful experience for the entire community to come together, and this year was no exception. The Legacy Willow Bend, Plano’s first and only life care retirement community, held Seders in independent living, assisted living and memory care. Additionally, The Legacy at Home, The Legacy Senior Communities’ not-for-profit home health care agency, delivered macaroons with a heartfelt Passover message to their Jewish clients in observance of the holiday.

For those like Monty Strauss, a resident of The Legacy Willow Bend, participating in this year’s Passover felt like coming home. Strauss and his wife, Jane Weiner, moved to the community at the end of 2018 and have enjoyed the connection among Jewish residents at The Legacy Willow Bend. According to Strauss, when looking for a place to live, the couple knew they wanted a home where Judaism was prevalent and where they could fully experience their faith. Since moving from Lubbock, Texas shortly before Hannukah, the couple has been able to celebrate various observances surrounded by other Jewish couples and friends, and they have enjoyed every minute of it.

“Having the opportunity to experience Passover here at The Legacy was a wonderful experience,” said Strauss. “Our faith is the foundation of who we are, and being able to share and observe occasions like this surrounded by other members of the Jewish faith in such a natural way has been incredibly meaningful. While observing Passover, it was funny to reflect on the simplest of things, like how difficult it was to get matzah in Lubbock. However, here at The Legacy we had access when we needed it. Being in a community of people who worship in the same way is special and is a reminder that Judaism is more than a faith, it’s a community.”

Rabbi Jeffrey Leynor, led the Seder for independent living residents and their families. The independent living dining room was filled to capacity, with Rabbi Leynor and participants reading responsively the historical account of the Israelites’ flight from Egypt and the celebration of their escape from bondage. Lita Marishak led the Seder for residents in memory support with assistance from Susan Ginsburg of Adat Chaverim, while Eli Davidson led those in assisted living.

“Anytime we have the opportunity to gather together as a community is incredibly meaningful,” said Paul Michaels, chair of the board for The Legacy Willow Bend. “Celebrating Passover is a deeply moving experience, and we value the moments when we can express gratitude for the blessings we share. Commemorating our Jewish traditions is what truly sets our community apart, and it’s an honor to participate in these shared celebrations.”

During each of the Seders, participants commemorated the ancient story of the Israelites’ deliverance from slavery and captivity in Egypt with the traditional prayers and songs. A traditional Seder plate displayed symbolic food items that correspond with elements of the story of the exodus from Egypt.

“At The Legacy Senior Communities, we believe in the importance of honoring all Jewish holidays and the shared traditions that define who we are as an organization,” said Melissa Orth, president and CEO of The Legacy Senior Communities. “As always, it was deeply moving to see those we serve and their loved ones – including our non-Jewish residents – participate in a timeless tradition that’s been shared for generations and celebrate the past as we move towards the future.”

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It’s difficult for many people to imagine the scale of the atrocities committed during the Holocaust, as they are far removed from life today. However, for Holocaust survivors and their loved ones, the memories of the past are often far too close. It’s because of the horrors of the past that it’s more important than ever to ensure those horrible acts are never forgotten and never repeated. Holocaust Remembrance Day, or Yom HaShoah, is observed each year in honor of the approximately 6 million Jews who perished as a result of the actions of Nazi Germany during World War II. In anticipation of Yom HaShoah, the residents and team members of The Legacy Willow Bend will pause in remembrance of those lost during a special ceremony to dedicate the senior living community’s daffodil garden on Sunday, April 28 at 1:15 p.m. Local Troop 380 Eagle Scout Seth Dauber planted the garden as a gift to the community for his project to earn his rank as an Eagle Scout.

“As a Jewish-sponsored community, we understand the importance of sharing meaningful observances like Yom HaShoah with our residents,” said Laura Levy, executive director of The Legacy Willow Bend. “A few of our residents are survivors or have family who were impacted, and we believe it’s important for all of us to remember those who were lost and those who survived so we never forget what happened. Seeing young people like Seth Dauber who are doing their part to learn from the past and carry forth a legacy of kindness and hope reminds all of us there is good in the world and that the atrocities of the past will not become a part of our future.”

Dauber began the nearly two-year process of planning and executing the creation of the garden, which included preparing the beds and the bulbs with the help of The Legacy Willow Bend maintenance team. He decided to contribute to The Daffodil Project, a national program to build a Living Holocaust Memorial by planting 1.5 million daffodils around the world to commemorate the 1.5 million children who were senselessly murdered in Nazi-occupied Europe. The project was immensely meaningful for Dauber, who is Jewish and was driven to do something special for the Jewish community.

“When I started working on my project, I knew that I wanted it to be meaningful for the Jewish community and honor those impacted by the Holocaust,” said Dauber. “It’s important for those of my generation to learn more about our history and to understand it so the past is not repeated. I’m excited to see the project completed and happy to see the number of flowers that bloomed this spring. It was a big endeavor, and seeing the outcome is rewarding.”

The community will gather together for the special ceremony to dedicate the garden and to recognize Dauber for selecting The Legacy Willow Bend as the location to implement this meaningful and lasting project. Rabbi Jeffrey Leynor will lead the ceremony and commemorate the event and family members of survivors will share stories. Rivka Altman will be one of those individuals, sharing the story of her grandfather, Mike Jacobs, who survived the Holocaust and went on to play an instrumental role in founding the Dallas Holocaust Museum. The ceremony will highlight the importance of remembering and what it means to have a living memorial and never forgetting.

“It was an honor for our community to be selected and join in making the garden a reality,” said Rivae Campo, volunteer coordinator for The Legacy Senior Communities and granddaughter of Holocaust survivors. “We enjoyed having Seth on campus as he prepared the garden and are humbled by his dedication to ensuring the memory of those affected by the Holocaust. We hope that by commemorating the garden and sharing the impact Seth has had on our community, others will be inspired to think of ways to better their communities and our world.”

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When it comes to making an impact on those around them, the residents of The Legacy Willow Bend, Plano’s only life care retirement community, regularly seek new opportunities to create change and help others. Recently, the residents have focused their efforts on going green. The entire senior living community is participating in recycling and other environmentally friendly activities to make Plano a more beautiful place. From staff members to residents, the senior living community is coming together with a common purpose to positively impact the environment with its “green initiative.” Recycling efforts are well underway after residents attended an informational program hosted by the City of Plano Commercial Recycling Division. The educational session taught residents ways they can recycle in their apartments and take the first steps to making The Legacy Willow Bend more environmentally conscious.

“Our number one step as a group was to educate the residents and get them on board,” said Maggie Armstrong, resident chair of the green initiative committee. “We knew that residents would be the frontline and the ones who would actually get this started. To kick things off, we had a representative from the City of Plano come and explain what can and can’t be recycled and explain what this would look like. The importance for all of us rests on our ability to leave a cleaner footprint on the world and bring everyone together for a common purpose. Our recycling efforts have been going well, and we’ve received positive feedback so far. Everyone has really gotten on board, and that’s what makes this possible.”

With the initiative moving forward, the committee’s next phase involves taking residents and team members on a tour of Plano’s new recycling facility. The tour will help residents get a better understanding of how they can improve their recycling efforts. In addition, the community is slowly integrating other efforts to leave a greener footprint. Styrofoam containers used for to-go meals and by staff members in their break areas will no longer be provided. Staff members are encouraged to bring reusable beverage containers, and the dining team is moving toward paper products for to-go containers. The entire community has also been tasked with thinking of ways they can conserve electricity and water when not in use. All efforts are viewed as opportunities to work together as a community and create a better world for future generations to enjoy.

“It’s incredibly encouraging to see how The Legacy Willow Bend is working to become an environmentally sustainable community,” said Kim Flynn, commercial recycling coordinator for the City of Plano. “It begins with little steps, and The Legacy Willow Bend has done that beautifully by embracing recycling and demonstrating how easy recycling can be.”  

“At The Legacy Willow Bend, we understand the power behind even the simplest efforts to make our world a more beautiful place,” said Laura Levy, executive director of The Legacy Willow Bend. “We’ve encouraged our residents and team members to work together and do their part to make our green initiative a success, and we’re proud to see how everyone has taken to the task. It’s exciting to see how our community is learning to pursue more environmentally friendly and ecologically responsible decisions and lifestyles, and we hope others are encouraged to try their hand at going green.”

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When it comes to the ultimate dining experience, consumers today are looking for the next best meal where the food is not only good to eat but Instagram approved. It might come as a surprise to find Plano’s best-kept dining secret is at The Legacy Willow Bend, Plano’s only life care retirement community, where the dining team has fostered an overall experience by catering to residents’ preferred tastes and desires. Since the senior living community opened its doors 10 years ago, dining services has provided modern restaurant-style dining that only recently has found its way into the rest of the senior living industry. While it might seem standard to offer such services, The Legacy Willow Bend takes accommodation to the next level, knowing that residents are used to five-star dining and expect high-quality service. In addition, the dining staff works to meet requests from residents, even going so far as a trip to the local grocery store for ingredients. Such accommodations are rare, even in comparison to the restaurant industry where substitutions are seen as an annoyance. According to Mark Brown, director of dining services at The Legacy Willow Bend, this attention to residents’ dietary preferences is only the beginning of the community’s philosophy and much goes into ensuring each resident’s needs are met.

“From the very beginning, our philosophy has been to cater to our resident’s individually by getting to know what they want from their dining experience,” said Brown. “We make it a priority to customize our offerings for each resident by creating memorable and delectable dining options. Personal requests are always answered, and we work to give those requests recognition. For instance, a resident came in regularly and asked for a custom salad during lunch. Other residents started requesting the same salad, so we made it a permanent staple on the menu and named it after the resident who created it. The residents make the rules when it comes to our kitchen.”

Such attention to diners’ tastes has greatly influenced the dining team and how they create meals that provide a delightful experience while infusing fresh and nutritious ingredients. The kitchen is well-known among residents for combining fresh fruits and vegetables with hearty meats that, when paired correctly, offer quality flavors with a nutritious twist. Brown and his team focus on the perfect balance. The dining team, led by the community’s new executive chef Roberto Madrid, designs its menus to cater to all palates, allowing for residents to make the final decision.

With an extensive background in the restaurant and hospitality industries, Madrid has the experience and understanding of what’s required to assure that The Legacy Willow Bend’s high expectations for fine dining is maintained. Madrid’s experience has varied throughout his career, having learned about the quality demanded in hospitality-centered dining at Westin Kierland Resort and Villas, as well as the speed required in the restaurant industry as executive chef of the Sumo Maya in Scottsdale. Additionally, he brings with him extensive knowledge about dining services in North Texas after overseeing operations for Big Beat Dallas and from running his own business, Culinart LLC. At The Legacy Willow Bend, food is more than something to be had, it is an experience, and Madrid’s background will allow him to continue to meet this expectation.

“If our residents request a vegan meal, we’re going to make that happen,” said Brown, “We believe in providing variety that allows everyone choice and promotes healthy habits. One side of our menu changes daily, while the other changes quarterly. We accommodate off-the-menu requests as well. We believe it’s all about being open to what the resident wants and making the overall dining experience special.” 

One of the most important aspects of dining at The Legacy Willow Bend focuses on the community’s commitment to the Jewish faith. As a Jewish-sponsored community, The Legacy Willow Bend believes the importance of observing Jewish traditions, and that includes traditional meals. In addition, the community also provides kosher dining, with an entirely separate kitchen for kosher meal prep. Food is a reminder of who we are and where we come from, and the dining team believes in highlighting tradition. Emphasis is also placed on the importance of family and community, with weekly Sunday brunch provided for residents and their loved ones to gather and enjoy a buffet of delicious offerings. The menu also features fresh breads and desserts made daily by the community’s in-house bakery and pastry chef. Residents also have the ability to book the private dining room where they can host family meals for any occasion, with various options available for catering the event. Whether it’s family-style dining or a four-course meal, the dining team will meet each resident’s wishes.

“Food provides a sense of comfort and familiarity associated with memories of the people we love and where we’ve been,” said Laura Levy, executive director of The Legacy Willow Bend. “We want residents to know this is their home, and they can have those types of experiences whenever they want. We do not have many limitations here at The Legacy Willow Bend, our job is to go above and beyond to ensure our residents have a meal that leaves them satisfied. Our staff is trained with hospitality in mind and believes in delivering excellence and superior service every day.”

“At The Legacy Senior Communities, we strive for excellence in all areas of care and service, and the dining program at The Legacy Willow Bend is a prime example of that philosophy,” said Melissa Orth, president and CEO of The Legacy Senior Communities. “When looking at dining, we don’t hold ourselves to the industry standard, we hold ourselves to our own high standards to match the expectations of those we serve. The kitchen is often the heart of a household, and we’re proud to offer residents delicious dining that inspires personal connections and conversations each day. We will certainly infuse this same focus and standard for excellence in dining at our new community under development, The Legacy Midtown Park.”

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Residents, their families and team members at The Legacy Willow Bend     (a life care retirement community in Plano) recently gathered together in observance of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. In addition, The Legacy at Home delivered traditional honey cakes to its Jewish home health care clients as a way to wish them a sweet new year. The Legacy Senior Communities is the not-for-profit parent company of both organizations. As one of the holiest days in Judaism, Rosh Hashanah begins the Days of Awe, a 10-day period when Jewish people reflect on the previous year by repenting for any sins they committed.

 

 

 

"Rosh Hashanah is a time for us to come together each year as a community to reflect on the previous year and anticipate the beginning of a new year ahead," said Laura Levy, executive director of The Legacy Willow Bend. "We are thankful for the opportunity to share this special occasion with our residents and their families as we celebrate the hope of new beginnings."

 

 

 

In observance of the holiday, The Legacy Willow Bend hosted morning services for residents and their families led by Rabbi Jeffrey Leynor in independent living and Eli Davidson in assisted living and memory care. During the service, they heard the sounding of the shofar the ram's horn as the call to repentance. Immediately following, those in attendance participated in Taslich. They tossed breadcrumbs into the outdoor water fountain, symbolizing a release from their sins of the past. Residents and their guests also enjoyed apples dipped in honey to symbolize a sweet year ahead.

 

 

 

"Whether it's with our residents at The Legacy Willow Bend or our clients at The Legacy at Home, I find it rewarding to come together and celebrate our Jewish holidays and traditions," said Elise Power, Jewish community liaison for The Legacy at Home. "By bringing the Greater Dallas Jewish community in to observe the holidays with us, we all experienced a sense of heartfelt fulfillment and joy."

 

 

 

"At The Legacy Senior Communities, we treasure our longstanding tradition of observing Jewish holidays together as a community," said Melissa Orth, CEO of The Legacy Senior Communities. "We are honored to come together alongside those we serve to commemorate Rosh Hashanah through religious services and home visits. Rosh Hashanah is a time best spent together with family and friends as we reflect on the past year, and we were thrilled to share this experience across our organization."

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As part of American Artist Appreciation Month in August, The Legacy Willow Bend is honoring the artists who call the senior living community home. Artists such as Ruth Litwin, 85, and Artyce Colen, 88, both enjoy the benefits of creating something uniquely their own. For Litwin, it's the peaceful process of painting or the power found in creating a sculpture, and for Colen the joy found in the concentration of cutting a design into a piece of wood. Litwin's work has been featured around the world most prominently on display in U.S. embassies. Today she continues to paint or sculpt at her leisure, in addition to work as a print maker, finding joy in the simplicity of creating for herself. Like Litwin, Colen is accomplished in her own right as her work has been displayed in galleries across the country, and continues to create at her personal studio, where she can be found three times a week working on her next creation. By sharing their stories of success, these talented artists hope to inspire others to try something new and highlight the fact that anyone can become an artist at any age.

Litwin calls herself a late bloomer because she didn't pick up a paintbrush until nearly age 40, but she had a lifelong desire to try painting. Litwin began her artistic journey by jumping right into a painting class, before moving on to classes for sculpture and picking up private lessons to hone her skills. Litwin saw her work displayed in galleries and U.S. Embassies around the world when she was part of the Art and Embassy program in Washington D.C. for eight years. Additionally, she sculpted the "Eternal Light" displayed in the sanctuary at The Legacy Willow Bend. The Dallas Holocaust Museum Center for Education and Tolerance will soon display her art as well. The piece was commissioned in remembrance of those lost in the Holocaust, and as a promise to ensure a better world for future generations. The sculpture, titled "Grasping for Life," is a deeply personal piece for Litwin that the museum will showcase.

"I've worked very hard to achieve the success that I have," said Litwin. "It's been a joy over the years, and I can't imagine not having art as part of my life. Art was something I always wanted to pursue but never had the time for while raising a family. When I started, it was like a piece of myself had finally found what it was looking for. Art provides me with a sense of well-being that allows me to create and express myself. There's an incredible sense of pride in making something and seeing others enjoy it, and every single piece that's left my studio over the years brings me a sense of pride and fulfillment."

Similarly, art has provided Artyce Colen with joy since she was a little girl, though she's come quite a long way from coloring books and childhood drawings. Colen majored in art during college, but like Litwin, she waited until her kids were grown before picking up her paintbrush again. She began with oil painting and took classes to get back in the habit, and it wasn't long before she started working in her own studio again. Like many artists, Colen's preferred mediums have changed over the years, and she now finds her true passion in woodworking. After deciding to begin woodworking, she signed up to take classes to learn the fundamentals and proper use of the tools. She was one of just a few women in the classes, and her classmates endearingly made comments when she collected bits and scraps of wood to take home for practice. Today, Colen can often be found at her studio designing various pieces that range from elaborate hanging pieces to small decorative boxes and other designs. Recently, she started painting them to further expand on the overall design.

"When I'm working on a piece I block out the world," said Colen. "I get lost in time and lose track of what's around me as I concentrate on the piece in front of me. More than a few times my husband called the studio to remind me that I have to come home. I go to my studio a few times a week, mostly because I have the overwhelming need to work. I cut and paint each piece myself and insert the screws that hold the bigger ones together. It's quite the undertaking, and it provides an immense sense of pride knowing that I've made something that will last beyond me. It's difficult to give it away, but I know that if I didn't then no one would be able enjoy it as much as I have."

"At The Legacy Willow Bend, we believe strongly in the importance of the arts and the benefits they can provide in our lives," said Laura Levy, executive director of The Legacy Willow Bend. "Having accomplished and talented individuals such as Ruth and Artyce as a part of our community is incredibly inspiring, and we are proud to celebrate their accomplishments. Art means something different to all of us and offers a sense of connectivity with the world, and by celebrating those who bring it into the world. Ruth and Artyce are prime examples of two amazing ladies who have accomplished their dreams. We love seeing many of our residents participate in art classes, even if it's the first time to try it. We hope that these ladies' stories inspire others who thought of picking up a brush or learning to mold clay to try something new."

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Elise Power has been named Jewish community liaison at The Legacy at Home, part of Plano, TX-based The Legacy Senior Communities.

The Jewish-sponsored agency provides comprehensive Medicare-certified home healthcare and personal assistance with daily living to seniors. Power’s appointment comes as the agency seeks to further develop and maintain Jewish connections in the Greater Dallas community.

Power has more than 30 years of experience in the healthcare and home health industries. She also has a personal connection to Legacy Senior Communities: her late father was a resident of Legacy Willow Bend, the company’s life care retirement community in Plano, TX.

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 735,000 Americans will have a heart attack this year. Commonly thought of as a man’s disease, heart disease is the leading cause of death for one out of every four women. Many women are unaware of the symptoms – especially for a heart attack – and don’t understand how they can be affected. A sobering statistic, and as a result, The Legacy at Home - the largest not-for-profit home health provider in Greater Dallas - is working to ensure the successful implementation of heart-healthy practices for those they serve in their homes through home health and private duty caregiving. The team works daily to help clients not only implement the plans put in place by their physicians, but to better their understanding of how they can further improve their health. This is particularly beneficial for female clients who are often unaware of how heart disease can affect their health for the long-term. It is interactions such as this that Karen Webb, LVN for The Legacy at Home, knows well as she interacts with clients daily.

“With better awareness, women can take the necessary steps to improve their heart health,” said Webb. “Diet and exercise are always the most important factors, and making the necessary changes can have a dramatic impact, especially for patients with a history of heart disease. At The Legacy Senior Communities, parent organization of The Legacy at Home, we do what we can to equip our clients – male or female – with the information they need to learn more about the disease and how they can be impacted. We do this by providing informational pamphlets, personalized diet plans, and information on symptoms.”

Webb finds that as they continue to educate clients and their families, it’s important for female patients to be at least aware of the potential dangers of decisions related to their health. According to the American Heart Association, while heart disease is the number one killer of women in the U.S., the majority of women affected often credit their symptoms to less life-threatening conditions. As a result, it’s more important than ever to know the signs of a heart attack in women. Here are the most common symptoms:

  • Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. The pain may last more than a few minutes, or go away and comes back.
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  • Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
  • As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort, but women are more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.

Women who experience any of these signs should call 911 and get to a hospital right away.

“The Legacy at Home is dedicated to ensuring our clients are surrounded by a team that is constantly working towards their success,” said Charlene Bishop, administrator of The Legacy at Home. “Many of those we work with have a prior history of heart problems, and because of this we find it necessary to take an aggressive approach to making sure our clients are successful. It’s with this in mind that The Legacy at Home has extended our awareness and prevention efforts to include team members of The Legacy Senior Communities. Those we serve look to us as an example and we hope to show them how important we take this topic. Recently, we even organized and ran blood-pressure checks and exercise classes for team members across the organization and plan to continue initiatives which will benefit associates in the future.

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As the flowers and chocolates of Valentine’s Day are quickly replaced by shamrocks and Easter baskets, it’s a reminder of how fleeting love can be. However, it’s fair to say the couples living at The Legacy Willow Bend retirement community are a testament to the meaning of true love and commitment as they reflect on their love stories. These couples are reflecting on years filled with laughter, change, hardship, compromise, trust and love as they navigated the adventure of marriage. Stephanie and Tom Jones are approaching their 36th wedding anniversary on May 14. Martin and Ruth Litwin recently celebrated their 66th wedding anniversary on February 10.

“Martin and I met in San Antonio while he was in the ROTC,” said Ruth Litwin. “He was in college at the time and I was still in high school, oddly enough we were even seeing other people. Our paths wouldn’t cross again for a couple of years, but when we met again it all kind of fell into place. I wouldn’t say it was love at first sight, it took some time to realize this was it, and I think that’s how it should be. We dated for seven months before Martin proposed, and now here we are 66 years later. I’ve found that having a sense of humor and a willingness to laugh even during the tougher moments has been so valuable to our marriage. Life is stressful, there’s always something you’re going to have to face with one another, and if you can do it with a little bit of humor it makes it easier. Life is wonderful, and we’re lucky to spend it together.”

“I’ve been asked the secret to a long marriage and it’s simple: I do everything she wants,” joked Martin Litwin. “Over the years, we’ve learned that it’s important to be open and honest with one another and truly dedicated to the person you’ve chosen to walk through life with. Both people have to listen and pay attention to their partner and be prepared to grow. Their needs and wants become your own, it’s no longer just about you and what you hope to achieve, but what you’ll accomplish together. Looking back on the life we’ve had, it’s hard to believe it’s really been this long, and I’m thankful for each moment. Life is an adventure, and you have to live it with the knowledge that each day brings something new. Marriage it one of the most difficult things you will ever take on, and you have to be prepared for that commitment. It’s a give-and-take that if done willingly makes the journey all the more enjoyable.”

Today, the Litwins are continuing their story at The Legacy Willow Bend, and often reflect on their marriage. The couple has found the most special moments in their journey revolved around their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Whether they were moving, tackling the always-challenging family vacation, preparing for graduations, births or weddings, each moment was filled with laughter and love.

The Litwins’ neighbors Stephanie and Tom Jones met after being set up by a mutual acquaintance. At the time, Tom did his best to dismiss his coworker’s efforts to persuade him to allow the setup. However, during a four-day sales conference they were attending he was slowly worn down and agreed to give Stephanie a call. Though Tom jokes about it, he made a point of telling his coworker there would be “trouble” if everything went poorly during the date.

“I admired the tenacity of our friend and thought if he’s this determined to make it happen then this woman must be something special,” said Tom Jones. “The first time she answered the phone I heard the sweetest French accent that I’d ever heard in my life and I’ll never forget the moment I glanced up at the second-story balcony as I walked toward the entrance of her apartment. It was then that I saw a beautiful goddess with flowing golden hair standing below a beautiful chandelier. The light reflected in such a way that it created an aura around her hair that I swear looked like a halo. My God, I thought, I’d seen pictures of angels, but never before had I actually seen one in person. It was then I said a little prayer which was, ‘God, please let that angel be Stephanie.’ I immediately added, ‘And God, if that isn’t her, can you please let that be her sister.’ When she answered the door and it turned out to be her, I said a silent prayer of thanks. We went to a fancy French restaurant for dinner, and I was absolutely smitten before the end of the meal.”

“It’s safe to say it was love at first sight for the both of us,” said Stephanie Jones. “That evening was something special as we sat and got to know one another and shared our stories. It was one of the easiest conversations I’ve ever had, it was simple and we didn’t have to pretend to be anything other than who we were. We had similar stories, we were both divorced and felt that we had nothing we needed to hide from the other even on the first date. We met at the end of October, were engaged by December and have been happy ever since. From the moment we met we’ve understood one another and have trusted the other completely. We’ve never been jealous and don’t allow a bad word between us.”

According to the Jones couple, in their almost 36 years of marriage they have never had a fight. They attribute this to their desire to always discuss what’s bothering the other and work it out immediately. One way they practice this is through their agreement to never go to bed angry. Every night before the couple goes to bed they make a point to discuss anything on their mind prior to sharing a good night kiss and holding hands before falling asleep. Stephanie and Tom believe that it’s important to be patient and honest with one another and willing to compromise.

“The life we continue to share is truly special and one that I wouldn’t trade for anything,” said Tom. “Both of us learned a long time ago that it’s not all about you and being selfish won’t make for a happy marriage. You’re not trying to one-up the other, but attempting to coexist in harmony. My advice to couples today would be simply to support each other and be honest. Marriage and relationships are so much easier when you can trust the other person. Unconditional love means sacrifice and that’s something that we’ve done daily throughout and will continue for years to come.”

“Love is often accompanied by spectacle and displays of affection, but we all know that it takes more to have a lasting relationship with your partner,” said Laura Levy, executive director of The Legacy Willow Bend. “We are inspired by the love stories we witness our residents live out each day and wish for everyone to experience the romance of a lasting relationship.”