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Querencia at Barton Creek Raises Awareness to End Alzheimer’s

October 4, 2017

For the millions of Americans impacted by Alzheimer’s disease every day, it’s more important than ever to raise awareness. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, the disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, and Texas currently ranks fourth in the number of new cases and second in the number of deaths from Alzheimer’s disease. With these sobering statistics in mind, the senior living community Querencia at Barton Creek is joining the fight against Alzheimer’s as they prepare to participate in the upcoming Walk to End Alzheimer’s on Saturday, October 7. The community is proud to announce that so far it has raised over $10,000 which will be donated evenly between the Austin Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association and the Darrel K Royal Foundation this year. During the past year, residents and team members at the senior living community have been hard at work holding various fundraising events to show their support for those living with the disease and to prepare for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Recently, Querencia residents and team members participated in the community’s annual Pet of the Year contest. The ongoing tradition allows individuals to vote for their favorite pet by donating to the Alzheimer’s Association. Through this fundraiser alone the community raised $5,000. It’s through fundraising events like the Pet of the Year contest that residents like Edith Royal feel inspired by the compassion and dedication of their fellow residents as they contribute to the cause.

“At this point in life it is common to know someone who has been affected by memory loss, particularly Alzheimer’s,” said Royal. “It’s vital that as a community we do what we can to make people aware of this disease and really see the importance of knowing exactly what lies ahead. As we age, our most prized possessions are often our sense of self and our memories, especially those of our loved ones. By actively raising awareness and seeking solutions for this disease we can do our part to ensure that no one needs to face living with memory loss.”

In addition to the Pet of the Year contest and personal donations, the community also holds its annual casino night. The events have a widespread impact on the community, with support from residents and team members as well as their families and those in the local Austin area. The community is particularly excited for the walk, which will be the highlight of this year’s fundraising and awareness efforts. For resident Judy Reynolds, it’s activism like this that is incredibly personal, as her own husband lived with Alzheimer’s disease.

“Being part of a community that sees the importance in raising awareness for Alzheimer’s is such a blessing,” said Reynolds. “As the number of people being diagnosed is increasing, it’s more important than ever that we work together to get the word out about how important this cause actually is. Being involved in fundraising and taking an active role has been meaningful for me and my family, as we understand the significance of what other families are experiencing with their loved ones. I’m proud to be able to contribute to a cause that directly impacts the lives of seniors and their families.”

“At Querencia, it’s incredibly important for us to do what we can as a community to raise awareness for Alzheimer’s disease,” said Nate Weyand, executive director of Querencia at Barton Creek. “We see many of our resident and families facing this disease every day, and we are dedicated to doing what we can to join them in the fight. We’re proud of everyone who has contributed to the cause and who stands with us in our efforts to raise money toward finding a cure.”

Senior Residents of Querencia at Barton Creek Prepare for Solar Eclipse

August 17, 2017

The senior residents of Querencia at Barton Creek are anxiously awaiting the day when the first total solar eclipse in 99 years moves across the United States. The celestial event is captivating the nation as many prepare to observe the natural phenomenon on Monday, August 21. As the light of day fades briefly from view, Querencia will host a “Solar Eclipse Viewing Party” to commemorate the event – complete with lunch, a live band, and, of course, NASA-approved eclipse glasses to safely watch the sun disappear in shadow.

For Querencia residents Ruth Ann McGarry and Peggy Uselton, this once-in-a-lifetime event is one they don’t intend to miss. The senior living community began planning for the event after McGarry recommended that everyone should have the opportunity to view the eclipse and join in on the fun with their own solar glasses.

“My son sent me a pair of solar glasses so I could see the eclipse to its full effect,” said McGarry. “Once I had the glasses in my hand and thought about how significant this event would be, I knew that everyone here at the community should have the chance to witness this rare occurrence. It’s remarkable that the path of totality, the area where the moon completely blocks out the sun, will make landfall exclusively in the U.S. for the first time since 1776! The national excitement surrounding the eclipse has upped the anticipation, and I know it’s something we will all be talking about for a long time. I remember the first time I saw an eclipse and marveled at the wonders of our universe. I know this will be very similar, and I can’t wait to be able to recount the experience.”

“Both of my sons have always had an interest in astronomy, and, because of that I’ve followed along with them over the years,” said Uselton. “I’m excited to witness the eclipse and be a part of such a scientifically historic event. I remember seeing my first eclipse as a child and watching it through a pin hole in a shoe box. There was something special about the anticipation of waiting for the shadow to fall, and I know this experience will be similar.”

In anticipation of the eclipse Querencia will hold an astronomy evening with retired astronomy and physics teacher Ken Vanlew on Tuesday, August 15 at 7:30 p.m. Mr. Vanlew visits the community monthly to view the night sky and discuss astronomical events with residents. During the evening, residents will learn more about the eclipse and discuss any observations made by leading astronomers and scientists during the celestial event. This program is an extension of Querencia’s desire to provide residents with opportunities to continue learning, particularly about the world around them.

“We’re all looking forward to the opportunity to witness a moment in time not fully experienced by others in the U.S. in almost 100 years,” said Nate Weyand, executive director of Querencia at Barton Creek. “The total solar eclipse is a once-in-a-lifetime event, and we are proud to experience it with our residents. For a few minutes, we will all look up at the sky as one, with the ability to reflect on the beauty of our universe and the place we each hold in it.”

Querencia at Barton Creek Launches Artist of the Month Program to Inspire Residents to Explore Their Creative Sides

July 24, 2017

With an abundance of artists living in the community, Querencia at Barton Creek recently launched a resident-led Artist of the Month program to provide resident artists an opportunity to showcase their best and favorite pieces. The featured Artist of the Month displays his or her work in a public space for all residents and visitors to admire.  Resident Jack Puryear created the program to highlight the talents of his friends and neighbors who live at Querencia. The goal is to inspire all who see the installations of paintings, drawings, sculptures, carvings, and other works to try something new.

“Since we started the program, we have received tremendous positive feedback,” said Puryear. “We had two residents, Dotty Brooks and Elaine Leander, who taught art classes and contributed to the arts program at the community. Art is meant to be enjoyed, and for many of the artists in the community this is the first time they’ve shared their work with an audience. By having a space within the heart of Querencia to showcase the talents of our artists, we have the ability to encourage others to explore their creative sides.”

During the month of July, lifelong artist Ethel Harvey, 92, is displaying her favorite and most recent paintings. For Harvey, art has been a consistent interest and love throughout her life. Growing up in New York surrounded by a family of artists fostered a creative ability in her which would take her around the world as a commercial artist. Her personal passion led to a rewarding career. Harvey and her husband even spent 30 years in Israel, where they worked on a number of projects, including a model of the city of Jerusalem. Today, Harvey captures the moments happening outside her door and regularly paints in Querencia’s art studio, capturing scenes of life at the community. Additionally, residents commission Harvey to create graphite portraits of their family, friends, and even a pet or two. 

“Painting is something that has always been a part of who I am,” said Harvey. “No matter where I was in the world, I always connected with it. Whether I was working on a professional or personal piece, I enjoyed it; and I think that has kept me passionate about art all of these years. Here at Querencia, I am now surrounded by a number of individuals who have shared that passion, and that’s a gift in itself. It’s very exciting Querencia supports the Artist of the Month program, and I’m honored to be a part of it.” 

Recent studies show that having the opportunity to create art of any kind can help seniors by triggering the creative areas of the brain. Through the time and focus spent painting, sculpting and drawing comes a sense of creativity which can relieve stress and improve mood. Because of this, many seniors find moments of joy and a sense of accomplishment through creating art.

“We are inspired by our artistic residents like Ethel who pursue activities that are stimulating and beneficial to themselves and those around them,” said Nate Weyand, executive director of Querencia at Barton Creek. “Art is something that each of us can relate to in one way or another, and we hope that by showcasing the work of individuals in our community we can encourage others to pursue artistic activities as well.”

Senior Residents Reflect on Their Experiences in Honor of Querencia’s 10th Anniversary

June 20, 2017

The residents of Querencia at Barton Creek are celebrating a milestone as the SQLC retirement community reaches its 10-year anniversary. The community has touched the lives of many families, and those who work and live there are proud of the success. For residents who were some of the first to call Querencia home, they have shared countless experiences over the past 10 years. For each of these charter members, the anniversary is a unique opportunity to look back on the fond memories of their first days as residents of Querencia. Today, they continue making new memories as they explore life and everything the senior living community has to offer. Most recently, residents and staff enjoyed various events and activities throughout the community’s anniversary week, including a talent show, choir concert and an evening of dinner and dancing to commemorate the special occasion. With the observance of the anniversary, residents and team members are looking back on what brought them to Querencia with hope and excitement for the future.

“My husband Bob and I moved into Querencia on July 12, 2007 as charter members,” said Jean Durkee, resident of Querencia. “When we first heard the plans for the new community we knew it would be the perfect change for us. As soon as we arrived, everything was a new and exciting adventure, and everything was taken care of, which allowed us to relax and enjoy our time together. Bob always said it was like living on a cruise ship that didn’t rock and didn’t dock. Every day was a holiday full of new experiences and friends, and it’s surprising to look back and think that it’s really been 10 years. Querencia has been an incredible place to call home.”

For the Durkees, Querencia seemed to be the natural fit for the couple, as they were both quite active and immediately signed up to join various resident committees, including the Resident Council and the Plant Operation and Landscape committee to continue serving others and become more involved in their new home. Additionally, the activities and events hosted through the community’s lifestyles department allowed for memories to be made laughing with friends and celebrating holidays and other momentous occasions. Durkee fondly remembers the very first of the community’s many events, when Bevo himself made the trip from the University of Texas to the community. Jean was even able to hop up on the longhorn for a photo, which ended up being the couple’s Christmas card that first year. Bob Durkee passed away in December 2011, four years after moving into Querencia. However, Jean knows that in many ways Bob had prepared for this when they moved into the community.

“I believe he always knew that I would be well taken care of here at Querencia,” said Durkee. “I am surrounded everyday by a loving and caring group of friends who make me feel safe, comfortable and at home. I’m incredibly fortunate to live in a place where I am encouraged to grow and live life to the fullest each day. The last 10 years have been absolutely incredible, and I can’t wait to see where the road leads next.”

Nadia Sharp, director of lifestyles at Querencia, started at Querencia the day the doors first opened on June 18, 2007 as lifestyles coordinator. According to Sharp, at the time she had no idea what she was getting herself into or what the future would hold. The only thing that was certain was that the people who had interviewed her were friendly and passionate about what Querencia was going to be, and it was with this knowledge that she took the plunge and never looked back. It didn’t take long for her to realize she was where she belonged. Once she got to know the residents, heard their stories, learned their backgrounds and got to know their families there was a sense of purposeful connection to the community. She took a job and turned it into a passion that continues to thrive today.

“Over the last 10 years the residents and team members here at Querencia have become my second family,” said Sharp. “My daughter, who is four years old, loves to visit Querencia. I know she enjoys her time here because she can see what a magical place it is. Being able to share Querencia with my own family has been extremely special. Querencia is more than just a retirement community, it’s a place that we can all call home.”

“Having the opportunity to celebrate our community and the residents has been a wonderful experience,” said Nate Weyand, executive director of Querencia at Barton Creek. “An anniversary is a time to reflect on the joys of the past and see how you’ve grown, with a look to the bright future ahead. Celebrating our 10th anniversary was the perfect way for us to thank our residents and staff members for what they make possible and remind them of everything that is still ahead. We are lucky to have a community that treats each other like family and provides support and compassion. If the last 10 years are any indication of what the future holds, I can’t wait to see what’s ahead.”

Veteran Residents of Querencia Reflect on The Service of Fallen Soldiers During Memorial Day

May 10, 2017

For the majority of Americans, Memorial Day is the signal of the coming summer, and a reminder to give thanks to the men and women throughout history who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. However, for World War II veterans Mark Clement and Jack Puryear, both residents of Querencia at Barton Creek – an SQLC retirement community – Memorial Day is a time to remember the men they served alongside, especially those who never made the return trip home. While time can erode the lesser details of war, the heart remembers the comradery shared between the two veterans and their fellow servicemen and the images of war that are never forgotten.

As veterans of World War II, Clement and Puryear played roles in the moments of American history that still define our country today. Puryear spent the majority of his service as an aerial photographer for the U.S. Navy. He helped make pre-invasion maps of the South Pacific islands that made it possible for others, like Clement, to serve on the ground. Clement served as a second lieutenant in the fourth Marine Corp division in the eighth wave landing force on D-Day at Iwo Jima. He had his 20th birthday the next day! Puryear and Clement both served in Iwo Jima on D-Day without ever knowing of the other. However, it wouldn’t be until moving into Querencia that the two veterans would meet and discover this twist of fate. They have become great friends and even had the pleasure of traveling to Washington D.C. together as part of the honor flight program. Both men left home as boys and returned home as men, having witnessed the unimaginable facets of war. It is the sacrifices of the men with whom they served with that they wish to observe on Memorial Day. They share a hope that we will never forget the price that has been paid for our freedom, and never take such a gift for granted.

Querencia at Barton Creek to Host “Alive Inside” Screening In Coordination with Music and Memory Program

May 10, 2017

Querencia at Barton Creek, an SQLC retirement community, is pleased to invite the public to a special screening of the documentary “Alive Inside.” The film is a joyous cinematic exploration of music’s ability to reawaken the hearts and souls of seniors affected by memory loss and improve their quality of life. The 2014 Sundance Film Festival Audience Award-winning documentary showcases music’s ability to combat memory loss and restore a sense of self. The screening will take place on May 19 at 2:00p.m. at Querencia (2500 Barton Creek Boulevard in Austin) and will be presented by Stephanie Hoffman, vice president of education and training for the Texas Culture Change Coalition and regional director of the nonprofit MUSIC & MEMORY. Hoffman has been actively helping to pass legislation to ensure dignity and autonomy for seniors, and will lead a discussion and Q&A following the screening. Querencia recently became certified in the MUSIC & MEMORY program, and will begin to utilize the concept throughout its campus. Associates are looking forward to seeing how the program will benefit residents – especially those in memory support – when they are engaged through music which is customized to their personal preferences. 

Audiences will be introduced to men and women who are given the chance to be their full selves. The simple beauty of music returns what memory loss has taken away by restoring memories of hope and love. With an almost instant reaction, music awakens the heart and mind in powerful and emotional ways which are visible for all to see. “Alive Inside” documents the powerful emotional connection that we all have to music and how it relates to our life experiences and who we are as individuals. The film displays the unique connection we have to music and how its healing power can triumph when medication often fails.

“Having the ability to screen this film provides us with the opportunity to inspire the public and show attendees how the power of music can improve lives,” said Nate Weyand, executive director of Querencia at Barton Creek. “As you watch the film, you recognize the powerful emotional connection we all have with music, especially as it relates to events and times in our lives. We are happy to bring Cohen’s film to members of the Querencia community to show people how that connection can be used to battle memory loss in an unbelievably touching way.”

The film highlights the experiences of seniors around the country who have benefited from the simple experience of listening to music, and the film demonstrates the benefits of therapeutic music. The audience will learn that the brain ties music to memory, and that personalized therapeutic music enables the listener to reconnect, regain social skills and live a fuller life. They will see the benefits extend from the simple pleasure of activity to reduction in agitation and sundowning and even reduced needs for anti-psychotic medications.

MUSIC & MEMORY is a nonprofit organization which brings personalized music into the lives of individuals living with Alzheimer’s and other forms dementia through digital music technology to improve their quality of life. The organization trains caregivers on how to create and provide personalized playlists using iPods and other digital audio players which enable those participating to reconnect with the world through music-triggered memories.

“A love for music is something that we all share, and it’s something that we can all connect with on a deeply personal level,” said Joan Ford, director of sales and marketing at Querencia. “This film is a compelling example of how health care should address unique therapeutic strategies to improve quality of life. I’m excited to attend the screening of ‘Alive Inside,’ and I think we all will benefit from seeing the true power of music in this film.”

Members of the public interested in attending can RSVP by (512) 610-9401.

Querencia at Barton Creek Donates Appliances to Blanco River Regional Recovery Team

March 22, 2017

In 2015, the Memorial Day and All Saints weekend floods changed the lives of hundreds of families in Blanco, Caldwell, Guadalupe, and Hays Counties. While the flood waters receded almost two years ago, many individuals who reside in the affected counties are still trying to pick up the pieces. With this ongoing need in mind, Querencia at Barton Creek, an SQLC retirement community, has joined forces with the Blanco River Regional Recovery Team to provide flood survivors with basic resources to refill their homes and start over. This ongoing partnership will provide home appliances and any other necessities to area families. When residents move to other levels of living in the community, or if they decide to clean out their closets or change appliances, they donate items to this organization. The Blanco River Regional Recovery Team was designed to assist with the long-term recovery of survivors from the Memorial Day and All Saints weekend floods.

“There is still a lot of work that needs to be done,” said Cynthia Jones, volunteer for the Blanco River Regional Recovery Team. “It’s absolutely a long-term recovery for these communities. This flood changed people’s lives in ways that far exceeded the damage, and we are dedicated to making sure everyone is able to get back on their feet. Having help from a community like Querencia makes recovery possible, and we’re so thankful for their willingness to help others.”

According to Nelda Rivas, director of housekeeping at Querencia, the senior living community has always been dedicated to assisting those in need by donating after various disasters over the years, and this particular incident hit close to home. That’s why providing appliances and other items felt like a natural fit. The community has donated refrigerators, dishwashers, clothing, food and other essentials.  

“The community has rallied to help our neighbors,” said Rivas. “It’s incredibly rewarding to know that we can make a difference and give people a head start on their new beginning. We’re very proud of all our residents and team members who have contributed. Since we started, we’ve donated over a dozen appliances, and we’re excited to see how many more we can give to those in need.”

“At Querencia at Barton Creek, we are proud to work with other local organizations to positively impact the lives of people who live in the greater community,” said Nate Weyand, executive director of Querencia. “We hope that by sharing the ongoing story of those affected by the floods that it will inspire others to get involved and rebuild these local communities.”

Senior Residents at Querencia Prepare For Annual Souper Bowl of Caring To Benefit Garza Independence High School

February 1, 2017

As football fans around the country prepare to watch the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons face off for Super Bowl LI, the residents of Querencia at Barton Creek – an SQLC retirement community – are gearing up for their own championship match to help Garza Independence High School fight hunger. The “Souper Bowl of Caring,” an annual donation event, brings communities across the nation together around the biggest sporting event of the year to empower local youth and help those in need. Querencia residents and team members will participate in the nationwide movement throughout the week in advance of this Sunday’s game by collecting monetary donations, hygiene supplies and nonperishable food items. All donations will then be delivered directly to Garza Independence High School on Monday, February 6. Containers for donations will be located in the community’s lobby and outside of the Limestone Café at Querencia (2500 Barton Creek Boulevard in Austin). Residents, their families, team members and the public are encouraged to donate.

Garza Independence High School serves at-risk students and works with them to ensure they are able to finish their high school education. This annual giving event centers on the year-long partnership between the senior living community and the high school. Querencia residents travel to the school once a month to mentor the children, help with school work, share stories about their lives and provide emotional connections that the children may not experience elsewhere. The volunteers often meet with the students in on-on-one pairings that allow unique bonds to form between the students and residents. The residents also give presentations on different subjects in which they have personal experience or expertise.

“Querencia is honored to support our local youth,” said Nate Weyand, executive director of Querencia at Barton Creek. “The partnership we have with Garza Independence High School is one that brings great joy to the residents, and because of that we want to do everything we can to show our appreciation. We’re proud to use the excitement around the Super Bowl to raise awareness and make a difference in the lives of others.”

Laughter Yoga Class at Querencia Helps To Enhance Residents’ Overall Physical and Mental Health

January 30, 2017

They say laughter is the best medicine, and for the residents of Querencia at Barton Creek – an SQLC retirement community – the old adage has become a word of truth for those who participate in the senior living community’s Laughter Yoga class.

Twice a month, Leah Tunnell, a certified Laughter Yoga instructor, helps residents at Querencia find the benefit in laughter. While the idea of laughing as a form of exercise might seem strange, the full-body actions provide a mild cardiovascular workout that helps to strengthen and cleanse the lungs and stimulate blood flow throughout the body through the jiggling of the organs. While people of all ages can benefit from the classes, the exercises are especially advantageous for seniors. The movements are good for those with arthritis, allergies, diabetes, heart conditions and more. Additionally, laughter boosts the immune system and naturally lifts one’s spirits through the release of endorphins and dopamine into the body after only 10 minutes. Laughter is also a medically accepted form of exercise with proven mental and physical benefits, particularly for overcoming depression and promoting healing.

“The hardest part about a laughter class is learning how to get over your reservations when it comes to acting a little foolish,” says Tunnell. “You have to let go of your fear and be in the moment. While laughing is lighthearted, it’s also a proven way to improve your overall health and well-being. I’ll guarantee that anyone will walk away feeling better than they did before walking through the door after participating in a laughter yoga class.”  

For resident Ann Kirk, Laughter Yoga provides a sense of freedom from the pressures of everyday life. It gives her the opportunity to relax and find pleasure in the simple things.

“Hearing someone laugh is infectious,” said Kirk. “In that moment you have the ability to pause and take in the joy we experience in our lives. Being able to marvel at life and your own sense of self – even for a moment – is something that makes you feel better or whole. There has been plenty of research which shows that just 10 minutes of laughter equals that of 30 minutes spent on a treadmill. I don’t know about you, but I find treadmills very boring and would much rather spend my time laughing.”

According to Kirk, she has always lived an active lifestyle and has even taken traditional yoga classes since 1971. She says that while all exercise programs have their own unique benefits, Laughter Yoga offers a social benefit as well, as everyone sits or stands together in a circle feeding off of each other’s energy. She had never truly experienced this until she participated in one of the classes.

“When you first start going to Laughter Yoga it seems to be the oddest thing you’ll ever do,” said Kirk. “But the laughter is so real and contagious that you fall right in with everyone else, you just have to be willing to try something different. The activities are very childlike in nature and require a use of the imagination, and there’s great freedom in being able to act as a child with no judgement or demands from those around you.”

Querencia at Barton Creek adheres to the Masterpiece Living® Program philosophy that embraces healthy living at any age in all regards – physical, spiritual, social and intellectual. This includes the opportunity to help seniors remain active through engaging activities and programs, like Laughter Yoga.

“As a Masterpiece Living Center for Successful Aging community we do everything we can to make sure that the residents have access to the resources they need to lead healthy and active lives,” said Nate Weyand, executive director of Querencia at Barton Creek. “The Laughter Yoga program is yet another unique way of staying healthy physically and mentally, and it allows participants to engage with those around them. With the start of a new year, we all look for ways to enhance our overall well-being, and we hope that our Laughter Yoga participants inspire others to try something new and get active this year.”

Santa’s Helpers at Querencia Share Christmas Cheer with Children at Dell Medical Children’s Hospital

December 20, 2016

For many children around the world the countdown to Christmas morning is always one filled with excitement and joy. As many children and families were making their preparations for Santa to visit their homes this past Christmas, the children at Dell Medical Children’s Hospital were busy sending their letters with instructions on how Santa can find them on Christmas. With this in mind, the residents of Querencia at Barton Creek – an SQLC retirement community – helped Santa respond to letters received from the children at Dell Medical Children’s Hospital who sent their letters with instructions on how Santa could find them on Christmas Eve. Santa’s helpers at Querencia worked quickly to ensure the children knew their special letters made it to the North Pole on time.

The Christmas season is a special time of year that allows the opportunity to reflect on childhood memories and the holiday magic that is Santa Claus.

Querencia at Barton Creek wanted to help make sure the children of Dell Medical Children’s Hospital and their families were able to experience the wonder and merriment that comes on Christmas morning after a visit by Santa, even if they were unable to do so at home.


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Austin, Texas 78735
Phone 512-610-9400
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