Senior Living, Workforce Engagement

Increasing Resident Engagement through Lifestyle Activities

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Between our jobs, family, friends, home responsibilities, leisure time, and on-demand entertainment, it’s never been easier to have a few days slip by in the blink of an eye. Our schedules are so packed it can be hard to think about what a weekend with no plans would be like. Often times, this isn’t the case for seniors in assisted living communities. There is a lot of time that residents will have scheduled or use for themselves, but it’s up to the Activity Director to fill those down times with something to do. These activities are sometimes expected to be extensive field trips, expensive guests, or to have something scheduled for most days of the week. While having the time or resources to do everything residents want to see from their Activity Directors (ADs) would be ideal, the fact is, more times than not, this is not the case. In this week’s blog, we’ll be looking at how ADs can save time and provide more engaging, person-centered activates for their residents.

The Needs of the Many

While trying to provide activities and programs for as many people as possible is a noble pursuit, it might not be ideal for all of them, especially if they are vision or hearing impaired. There are activities that apply to lots of people, but just because you can plan these activities, doesn’t mean you should (looking at you 3pm bingo). Planning a full schedule that isn’t appealing to some of your residents could potentially worsen feelings of social isolation or depression. Instead, try to find out how your residents spend their free time and craft relevant activates based on preferences.

Leverage Technology

One of our past blog posts was on how integrating technology into senior living communities could benefit both staff and residents. Specifically, the TSOLife program can act as a time-saving measure for Activity Directors. All of your residents’ stories, preferences, and resident profiles are housed on the TSOLife platform and with searchable content, planning personal activities around the seniors in your community flows just a little bit smoother. Additionally, our service works with technology that your staff and seniors already know how to use like smartphones and tablets.

Provide the resources

Sometimes, the job of an AD isn’t to plan events or outings, but rather to provide seniors with the resources to plan their own activities. It’s important to help your residents be as autonomous as possible, letting them plan and carry out activities on their own. Working with local libraries to bring in new books every month is a great way to stir up some excitement as well as offering up opportunities for residents to take activity planning into their own hands. Aside from books, also think about a common area with computers, puzzles, or movies as resources to stimulate independent action.

Involve the Community

Getting the community involved is a two-pronged plan that could help you schedule different kinds of activities. Having your residents volunteer their time is both refreshing and meaningful. Helping with light activities like gardening and knitting for other organizations could help seniors feel more connected to a sense of purpose. The second facet of volunteerism is pulling in people to volunteer time in your community. They can help out in a number of ways even if it's just chatting and engaging with your residents. Drawing people into your community may not be the easiest thing, but positioning their volunteered time as a growing and nurturing experience can help. Ask volunteers about their interests to see if there’s potential to build any activities from them. Engaging both seniors and volunteers is a great way to keep people invested in your community.

Activity Directors often have too much to plan and manage with a budget that doesn’t reflect their overall ambition. By personalizing activities through tech, providing opportunities for autonomy, and getting the community involved, ADs might be able to streamline processes a bit more, saving time and money for your community.

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Tech Integration in Senior Living

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Technology adoption and senior living may not be completely  synonymous at the moment, but we’re facing a shift in assisted living communities that might call for more tech with the ultimate goal of improving quality of life. For this reason, it’s important for us to to consider implementing new technologies into communities to benefit both staff and seniors.

Technological Considerations

There’s no question that technology has become an integral part of our everyday lives, especially as applications shrink in size and become wearable. In the senior living space, technology like this is thriving, although adoption rates may not reflect a proactive state. Among seniors ages 65 and up, roughly four in ten are smart phone users and almost seven in ten are daily internet users. As we see an increase in the use of technology throughout elder communities, we have to adjust not only to accommodate changing lifestyles, but also to improve the care that we can offer.

With the accumulation of data, caregivers would have more opportunities to provide effective care for their residents. From wearable tech that can offer up health insights through biometric data, to smart shoes to help guide the visually impaired, the goal of implementing newer devices into senior living communities is to provide better, accurate, and more proactive care.

Existing Tech

Since the technological landscape is in a constant state of motion, adoptability becomes a crucial factor in successful implementation. In a 2017 study conducted by the PEW Research Center, researchers found that among seniors, the majority of them felt a lack in confidence when setting up and using new electronic devices, but that once they’ve established a level of understanding they “engage at high levels with digital devices and content”. So how can we leverage tech that seniors and caregivers already use?

Striking the Balance

The gathering of data and use of new technology is likely to garner concern from some seniors or caregivers. Because of this hesitation, we have to find ways of bringing in newer systems that mesh well with people’s values and lifestyles as they are.  The TSOLife program strikes the balance between personal human connection and newer technologies. Simplicity for seniors and caregivers is another large contributing factor in the programs success rate. Our easy-to-use application helps provide opportunities for more engagement for residents and more efficient processes for caregivers.  This has lead to a high adoption rate among seniors in the communities we've partnered with. 

Implementing newer applications to make lives easier is the ultimate goal. Taking full advantage of the devices community members already use is a great way to ensure a higher adoption rate and better processes. 

How To's and Tips, Senior Living, Workforce Engagement

Why Families Choose a Community

Looking for assisted living community

Looking for assisted living communities to house your loved ones is never an easy decision, especially with all of its moving parts. Considerations could range from how much (or how little) care they’ll need, proximity, activities, and a host of other things to think about. While it’s important to make sure potential residents and their families like your community, it’s also important to make sure that you have the capacity to care for them. In this post, we’ll discuss some of the top things families look for when choosing an assisted living community and how we can help make yours more appealing.

Changing Needs

There are so many different facets of change when it comes to the aging process, it can be difficult to keep up with all of them. From mental and physical changes to nutritional changes, residents in your care, as well as potential residents, need assurance that their needs can be met as they change. To see some of the needs that families could be looking for, check out AARP’s caregiving checklist for insights.

Staff Turnover

This is one of the more important aspects families may want to know about: how often does your community go through staff? If there is a revolving door of caregivers, it could be reflected in the quality and quantity of the care they’re able to provide residents. We’ve mentioned before that the industry average for caregiver turnover is around 42%. Communities that have trouble with staff retention tend to give more generalized care to their residents, which could contribute to lower resident satisfaction as well as caregiver job satisfaction. The TSOLife platform can help lower turnover by providing opportunities to staff to forge meaningful connections with their residents.

Staff-to-Resident Ratio

A community’s staff to resident ratio is directly influenced by staff turnover rates; the more staff you have coming and going, the less caregiver face time residents will get. Each state has its own standards for what the minimum ratios are between caregivers and seniors under their care. In Florida, the minimum staff to resident ratio is 1:20 for CNAs and 1:40 for licensed nurses. By helping to increase staff in assisted living facilities, the TSOLife program can positively impact the ratio of workers to residents. Families and potential residents alike both want to see more quality time spent with caregivers, which we can help ensure through both storytelling and through useful resident profiles.

Staff Training and Personality

Another important aspect sought after by families looking for assisted care is the overall training and personality of the staff, from dining staff all the way up to community directors. Yet another facet to caregiving that ties in with staff retention, having well-trained and satisfied staff comes with time and vertical movement in your community. The longer you can hold onto any given staff member, the more likely they are to make lasting impressions on your residents.

Activity Diversity

Along with a genuinely good place to live, prospects want to see how they’ll be spending their time in your community. Our platform is a great alternative to traditional community activities and helps residents open up about their lives and preferences. By getting to know their residents better, caregivers can offer activites tailored to what seniors under their care actually want. Additionally, residents who participate in our program could potentially alleviate any late-stage depression through the means of life review therapy. Potential residents and families ultimately want to see that it’s not just a place to live, but also a community to be part of.

 

There are so many other aspects to consider when looking for an assisted living community, but what we’ve covered are a few of the heavier topics that people want to see. The TSOLife program can help your community be more effective in the care that it provides, while also drawing in new residents and staff alike.

How To's and Tips, Senior Living, Workforce Engagement

No One is Looking at Employee Retention Like This

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Employee turnover is plaguing the senior living industry. According to recent surveys, the annual rates of staff turnover in assisted living range from 21% to 135% across states and reach a national average of 42%. This means increased costs and lowered community-wide satisfaction. It can even decrease occupancy.

When faced with this challenge, senior care providers are encouraged to offer competitive wages, proactively recruit, improve training, and provide a comfortable work environment, among other tangible things. Yet, no one is making substantial strides in increasing staff retention.

That’s why we need to look at employee retention through a new lens.


Organizational Commitment

Organizational commitment  is closely linked with staff turnover. Employees that are committed to their jobs are less likely to quit and perform better; it’s even a better predictor of turnover than job satisfaction. So how do senior living providers foster organizational commitment?

Organizational culture.

Culture is not just marketing ploy for companies. The power of its influence shapes how staff perceive their jobs and their commitment. Establishing an organization that values morale, teamwork, and participation in decision making doesn’t happen overnight. If being intentional about your company’s culture isn’t on your radar, Entrepreneur provides an article on building a strong company culture here.

 

Interpersonal Relationships

A common thread among employees in this industry is their fondness of the residents, and this unique relationship with the seniors can actually translate to job commitment. When staff engage with residents through meaningful conversation, a bond is created that directly contributes to retention. The residents become more than patients: they’re extended family. And saying goodbye to family is much more difficult than leaving for transnational purposes.

A study looked at employees who were considering leaving their jobs compared to those who actually quit. On the basis of their ranking of reasons for staying and leaving, the study suggests that “stayers” appeared to assign more importance to the intrinsic or people-oriented rewards of their jobs, such as relationships with residents, feelings about caring for sick people, and relationships with supervisors. Further, their fondness of the residents was a prominent reason for them staying, as exemplified by the typical comment: “they [residents] wrap around your heart”.

However, with all the must-haves in senior living, the stress of meeting regulations and staying compliant, and ensuring residents are happy and healthy, making time for “meaningful interaction” often slips through the cracks. That’s why it is critical that staff integrate these interactions into their daily routines. Simple tools and technology can help promote purposeful conversation.

Because of the therapeutic and cognitive benefits, there is a huge emphasis on storytelling for seniors. However, storytelling also gives context into the resident’ lives, and helps the staff view the residents as more than a task, they’re a grandfather/daughter/successful entrepreneur/world traveler with a rich history behind them.

Strong bonds and residents who feel celebrated mean happier employees. And happier employees stay longer.

 

Looking at Employee Retention in a New Light 

With the projected care staff shortage and the increasing need for services related to the growing elderly population, a focus on staff turnover is critical in meeting the needs of the aging population.

The success of your senior living organization greatly relies on your ability to attract and retain employees who are passionate about carrying out the company’s resident-centered philosophy into their daily routines.

A focus on increasing organizational commitment and employee-resident connection might be the missing link in your staff retention strategy.

 


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TSOLife (The Story Of Life) focuses on preserving legacy and passing down life stories for future generations. We help senior living communities leverage technology to capture, preserve, and share the life stories of the residents in their care. It fostering purposeful engagement and providing a precious keepsake for the families.

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Preserving Memories, Storytelling, Senior Living

Capture and record the stories of World War II veterans —  before it's too late

The guy piloting the landing craft got as close to the beach as he could. I was up by the ramp when it went down. Let's get the hell out of here! Bullets were flying all over. You had to get off and keep moving, because if you didn't, you were a dead duck…

“June 6, 1944, is a day I’ll never forget,” said William E. D'Huyvetters, a 90-year-old World War II veteran. He recalls hitting Omaha Beach on D-Day in his interview here.

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Stories like William’s are lost before they’re ever recorded. Everyday, World War II veterans are dying, and with them are stories of terrors and triumphs. According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs, an average of 362 WWII veterans die each day and it’s estimated that only 350,000 United States Veterans of the original 16 million Americans who served are still alive. The youngest of these heroes are in their late eighties, and some are more than 100 years old.

The passing of the WWII generation

World War II veterans are a diminishing demographic, and it’s important to capture their stories now, while they’re still with us. This generation holds the stories of bloodshed and sacrifice - the stories of things they had to endure to be here today.

There are numerous benefits to storytelling. By starting the conversation with the Greatest Generation, we’re giving them the opportunity to share wartime experiences and life advice for future generations. We only have a short period of time until WWII is complete history.

Capture these stories

Fortunately, there are initiatives in place to capture these stories before it’s too late. One of which is the Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project which collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans.

However, a program like this doesn’t need to be government-backed. One 19-year-old made it his mission to film interviews with the remaining WWII combat veterans. With the support of donors, Heroes of the Second World War has been able to interview 849 men.

Go out of your normal social circles, venture into senior homes and talk to your elderly neighbor. If you have the privilege to work at a senior living organization, you probably hear these stories daily. A Legacy Preservation Program initiates the conversation and ensures these stories are preserved for generations to come.

When you’re speaking to a veteran, you tend to forget that the person who they were. That person in the picture, that handsome kid, is the same man 70 years earlier. It almost seems like it’s the story they’re telling of someone else. When it hits you, that you’re talking to the same person, it’s a combination of joy and sadness - this kid went through hell, just so that we could be here.

It means a lot to these veterans to create a relationship with you and feel valued. You can see the youth come out of them when they have a good conversation and they have the opportunity to reminisce for a few minutes.

You don’t need to go searching for celebrities. There are plenty of real-life heroes just a phone call away.

 


 

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TSOLife (The Story Of Life) focuses on preserving legacy and passing down life stories for future generations. Inspired to capture the stories of the veterans in your care? We help senior living communities leverage technology to capture, preserve, and share the life stories of the residents in their care. Let's talk!

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Introducing the TSOLife Legacy Preservation Program

This month, we introduced the TSOLife Legacy Preservation Program, a first-of-its kind technology program that makes capturing and preserving life stories simple for users who don’t want to write the stories out themselves. Designed with senior living organizations in mind, the program lets the staff record their seniors telling life stories and preserves them on our family-facing Engagement Platform. By empowering the community to capture these stories, the seniors feel celebrated and families are given a precious keepsake that they'll cherish for generations.

Request a demo here to see for yourself how simple the tool is.

Our Story

The senior living industry seemed like an instinctive fit for TSOLife from the company’s very beginning. Senior living communities, in-home care providers, and hospices are full of individuals with incredibly rich life stories, many of which have never been shared, let alone documented. And too often these stories are lost before they’re ever recorded.

But it wasn’t until our newest team member came on board – someone who had grown up and worked with assisted living communities – that we were able to find the perfect product-market fit. He was explaining to us a specific relationship he had built with one of the seniors, Dave, a Navy Seal veteran, who would share the same war stories repeatedly. One day, Dave’s family visited, and the granddaughter had no idea that her grandfather had even served in the military!

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These situations were not uncommon. The staff heard these incredible stories in everyday interactions, but there was no simple way to document and share these narratives with the families who rarely had the chance to sit down and ask these type of questions.

The TSOLife is the bridge between the caregivers hearing the stories and a grandchild being able to listen to them.

So, with this technology, we developed the TSOLife Legacy Preservation Program, providing these communities the tools and technology to be able to capture and record their life stories.

Senior Living is Changing

The senior living industry is growing at over 4.7% annually, and with a vast range of options for senior care, the need to differentiate from the competition is crucial to attract families. And wellness programs are one of the key differentiators assisted living communities are utilizing to attract prospects, elevate current resident satisfaction, and engage families. And daily bingo won’t do the job; outdated approaches no longer work with today’s families.

According to J.D. Power’s analysis of senior living communities, "Communities that provide exceptional service are rewarded by their customers becoming brand ambassadors, positively speaking about their experience with an average of seven individuals. For those that fail to meet expectations, customers turn into brand assassins, speaking negatively about the brand to an average of 13 friends, relatives and colleagues.” And referrals are key when gaining prospects.

The TSOLife Solution

The Legacy Preservation Program is a key component to a company’s comprehensive wellness program - a perfect solution for senior living organizations looking to champion patient-first, holistic care in ways that families have come to expect. Best practice communities start with the mission and develop their wellness culture from that core foundation. At the same time, communities become more attractive to potential investors who see a forward-thinking organization. The TSOLife Legacy Preservation Program meets both mission and operational objectives.

What You Can Do with TSOLife

The Legacy Preservation Program begins with training material for the staff, so they will be able to conduct the interviews with ease and confidence, navigating those crucial conversations.

To capture the stories, users use the TSOLife mobile application. There’s two main features within the app, the first is an audio recording tool used to interview the resident. The staff member just selects the resident she’s interviewing, and has a conversation about the resident’s life, asking open-ended questions like, “What was it like growing up in Tampa or tell me the story how your husband proposed.”

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The second feature is called Magic Moments. This was designed with Memory Care Facilities in mind - residents who are not easily capable of recalling past life events. When a resident has a moment of clarity and remembers a memory from her youth, the staff member can pull up the app and capture the moment instantly

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Now going back to our friend Dave, imagine his caregivers having that conversation about his favorite memories, but being able to record it with the TSOLife app. Just hit send, and that audio is transcribed and organized into individual stories and preserved on our TSOLife Engagement Platform. We notify Dave’s family, saying “Hey, take a look at Dave’s life stories, look at this amazing activity that X Community did with Dave.” And the family simply clicks on the link and is taken to Dave’s personal TSOLife account. His grand kids can read his stories and listen to their grandfather’s own words recount his heroic stories as a Navy Seal.

For the Magic Moments, we combine all the videos taken of the residents into a seamless video and send it to the families once a month.

And for residents like Dave, his incredible life stories are captured and preserved for his family to enjoy today and cherish for years to come. There will be grandchildren and great grandchildren that will have the opportunity to hear the life story of their late family member, all because of the work TSOLife and Dave’s community are doing.

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We’ve already seen the effect TSOLife has on families, and now, when used properly, it can provide a relatively inexpensive way to attract prospects, keep families engaged, and foster meaningful relationships for senior living organizations. Pairing this program with a community that already offers extraordinary care and amenities, and your community can significantly elevate themselves above the competition.

To see how it works in action, schedule a free web demo today! Learn more about the TSOLife Legacy Preservation Program here.

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TSOLife Case Study: A Legacy Preservation Program meets both mission and operational objectives

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In today's world of senior living, assisted living communities are expected to do more with less. Families have come to expect amenities and care that go above and beyond, while staff are under significant financial and time constrains. Now, imagine if there was an affordable program that attracted prospecting families, elevated current resident satisfaction, and engaged families. That's exactly what the TSOLife Legacy Preservation Program does. 

Click here to view the case study

Understanding the need for communities to increase person-centered care and resident engagement in order to increase occupancy, the TSOLife Legacy Preservation Program was designed to do just that by pairing state-of-the art technology with face-to-face interaction. Our innovative technology makes the process simple and timely so that staff can focus on what matters most: the senior. Meanwhile, meaningful interactions are encouraged, seniors are engaged, and the resident feels celebrated and valued. 

The technology was designed with seniors in mind. For example, instead of requiring typing, which can be an obstacle for some people, the TSOLife mobile app converts spoken phrases to text, which is sent to family and friends, all of which is automated on our end. 

A TSOLife Legacy Preservation program is the embodiment of a community that cares for its residents. We've put together a case study that demonstrates how effective TSOLife is from a business's standpoint while highlighting the impact this program has on seniors and their families.

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To see how it works in action, schedule a free web demo today! Learn more about the Minerva System and the TSOLife Legacy Preservation Program here.

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How To's and Tips, Celebrating Life, Senior Living

5 Fresh Activities for Seniors in Assisted Living

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Seniors in assisted living want to stay connected to their interests and passions. Families want to know that mom or dad is in a good community. Activity directors want fresh, worthwhile ideas that will generate participation and enthusiasm.

Meaningful activities can combat against depression, a common risk in long-term, senior living. Physical activities are hugely important, but the importance of cognitive exercises and social interaction cannot be downplayed.

The problem is that most assisted living communities have a very small activities budget. So, when resources and abilities are tight, make sure your activities calendar is packed with energetic and meaningful activities that will generate the most participation and greatest impact.

We’ve put together a quick list of some of our favorite assisted living activities that can lead to purposeful discussions and meaningful interactions.

Life Story Workshops 

Workshops that encourage discussing and writing life stories provide the opportunity for seniors to preserve their memories and leave their legacies. Seniors will enjoy sharing happy memories and the “good ole’ days”, but even more, talking about difficult memories can turn into a positive experience and contribute to a stronger community. There are numerous clinical studies that show that sharing life stories can be therapeutic for seniors suffering from depression.

Organize a group sharing session with a weekly theme, such as “Christmas Family Traditions”, “Favorite Vacations”, or “Childhood Memories”. Check out these prompts for intriguing questions and themes that you can use for inspiration.

Small groups work best with this activity so that an intimate environment is created and trust can be built. However, if resources and staff are limited, have seniors with similar interests partner with one another, or showcase a select few residents each week, and give them the floor to speak.

Remember to keep the sessions casual so that the senior feels relaxed, but structure is key in ensuring a smooth activity and the most meaningful interactions.

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Intergenerational Programs

Intergenerational programs facilitate visits from younger visitors to interact with senior residents. True intergenerational programs are, as Nancy Henkin of Temple University says, “not nice, but necessary.” This is an opportunity to create meaningful and fun interactions. The residents have the opportunity to be surrogate grandparents to local youngsters while children are able to learn from their elders. 

According to Senior Lifestyle, seniors who regularly volunteer with children burn 20% more calories per week, experienced fewer falls, were less reliant on canes, and performed better on memory tests than their peers.

 Depending the cognitive and mobility levels of your community, arts and crafts, reading activities, puzzles and games, or even lunch dates are just a few of the intergenerational activity possibilities. This is also an opportunity for youth to teach basic computer usage, bringing residents closer to their families through email, Skype, sending greeting cards and so much more. 

Show-and-Tell

Do you remember looking forward to “Show-and-Tell” day in your elementary school class? Now, after years and years of collecting keepsakes and memories, show-and-tell can be an opportunity for rich stories to emerge from your residents and for memories to resurface that haven’t been thought about for years.

Seniors are encouraged to choose an important belonging and share the story behind it to the group. Whether this is an old photograph, family heirloom, or a grandchild’s drawing, seniors have a chance to share something meaningful about their past. The seniors feel celebrated and honored. 

Celebrate Their Heritage

Celebrating the tangible and intangible aspects of your resident’s culture and ethnicity can add to the uniqueness of the seniors and strengthen the community as a whole. Activities that promote greater understanding of your differences while encouraging a conversation will help you learn about your community.

In addition to celebrating diverse holidays and serving ethnic foods, your community can honor the intangible aspects that have helped shape the seniors you serve today. This can be done through cultural speakers, music, cooking and art classes, or story sharing.

Volunteering Opportunities

Service to others is one of the most intrinsically fulfilling opportunities you can provide for your residents. Besides the innate reward of helping others, volunteering promotes good physical and mental health and helps seniors pursue their passions in retirement.

While they may not be able to physically lend a helping hand, they can do good within the walls of the community by making blankets for a charity, writing cards for a children’s hospital, packaging or sorting care boxes, and more. Immobility does not eliminate volunteering opportunities. Get creative, partner with a local charity, and bring in outside volunteers. In return, not only will your seniors feel good about themselves, you’ll be fostering a culture of compassion – not just for the residents, but for the local community and beyond.

 


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TSOLife (The Story of Life) focuses on preserving legacy and passing down life stories for future generations. Our mission is that no grandchild should have to wonder what their grandparent was like. Our unique solutions create the most personalized way to pass down personal stories that families will share and cherish for generations.

Learn More!