Pin on Pinterest

It is amazing to witness the power of music on the lives of seniors living with Alzheimer’s. Often, seniors will remember old times, exhibit powerful emotions, act playful and come to life. Recent study results show music can boost production of “happy hormones” such as melatonin, prolactin and more, resulting in elevated moods. In addition, the therapeutic use of music by board certified clinicians can reduce stress and agitation, as well as help with engagement and memory recall. Understanding the tremendous effects music has on memory care residents, Waltonwood Cotswold offers an integrated music therapy program in collaboration with Roots and Wings Music Therapy, local music therapy private practice, and Queens University of Charlotte. Two music therapy students from the Queens University of Charlotte Department of Art, Design and Music visit Waltonwood Cotswold under the supervision of their professor every Thursday and practice clinical skills and build competency through their clinical training program. During these therapy sessions, the students lead the residents through a playful yet extremely powerful program that connects memories, bypassing any cognitive impairments, while also providing social interaction. In addition to this intergenerational therapy session, a board-certified music therapist from Roots and Wings Music Therapy works with memory care residents throughout the year. This therapist uses evidence-informed techniques during bi-weekly sessions in order to maintain residents’ cognitive and physical skills while sustaining a social connection using music as a meaningful and accessible platform.

“Playing instruments or simply listening to music has numerous emotional, mental and physical benefits,” said Leah Nash, executive director at Waltonwood Cotswold. “Our residents really enjoy anything music related, and we believe that by combining music therapy sessions with the intergenerational aspect we create something powerful. The interaction not only helps the seniors, but the students also experience tremendous benefits. We are thankful for the relationship we have with Roots and Wings Music Therapy. They introduced us to Queens University of Charlotte and helped us create this meaningful partnership.”

One of the many activities the seniors engage in during the music therapy session with the students is the co-creation of a musical product. The students hand residents instruments and encourage them to participate in a song creation. The song creation activity gives them a sense of community and shows them skills they might have never used before, like playing an instrument. During the other part of the session, the students have the Waltonwood Cotswold residents listen to music from a time when they were younger, which helps bring back memories and emotions. The students learn these professional techniques in their academic and clinical courses at Queens University of Charlotte and they practice implementing them at the senior living community.

“The weekly music therapy sessions at Waltonwood are 45 minutes long and are part of a clinical training program for our students, who get graded on their treatment planning, facilitation skills, and musicality,” said Varvara Pasiali, Ph.D., MT-BC, associate professor and interim director of music therapy for Queens University of Charlotte. “The sessions are sweet and fun to watch, and they are also enjoyable for the students and the residents. There are endless amounts of activities the seniors can engage in, and we are grateful to have our students showcase and better their skills at the senior living community.”

Studies show that loneliness plays a significant role in cognitive decline, which is why the senior living community provides daily activities for the residents to engage in to ensure that positive social interactions are happening around the community. Waltonwood Cotswold offers comprehensive and quality care for seniors living with dementia, and their individualized care increases the residents’ quality of life by supporting their physical, emotional, and intellectual needs. 

Pin on Pinterest

Millions of people across the country are celebrating Women’s History Month. It was established in 1987 to recognize the contributions women have made to improve the lives of people around the world. Whether they are doctors, engineers, soldiers, nurses or stay-at-home mothers, there are countless women who deserve to be honored this month. Irene Shoemaker, 92, resident at Waltonwood Cotswold, is a Charlotte native who dedicated most of her life to providing education to local children, specifically first-graders. Shoemaker was a public school teacher and after her retirement she taught in a preschool until the age of 80. Many people, including Shoemaker, agree that teachers don’t often receive the recognition they deserve. It may seem easy to some, but first-grade teachers play an important role in children’s lives. At the beginning of every school year, they have a classroom full of students who most of the time don’t even know how to read or write. Teaching these skills to developing children is crucial, as they can help shape their future. Shoemaker worked hard every day to provide the best education for her students. Today, she has advice for other teachers impacting the lives of children.

“Educating children was one of the most rewarding things I have done in my life, right after being a mother,” said Shoemaker. “I have always loved children, so deciding what career path was the best for me wasn’t hard. Women play an important role in everyone’s life, and I need them to remember to work hard and always do their best in everything they do. Be the example and inspiration to younger generations.”

Shoemaker was married for more than half of a century, raised three children, and is a caring grandmother to her four grandchildren. Her son, Steve Shoemaker, comes to Waltonwood Cotswold at least five days a week to have lunch with her. Steve says his mother is an example of a hard-working woman who always went out of her way to provide for her family. Steve believes growing up in an environment where education was valued encouraged him and his siblings to get their degrees and have successful careers.

“My mother was a wonderful teacher because she knew how to combine affection with her teaching skills,” said Steve Shoemaker. “She and all the women out there deserve to be recognized for their hard work and dedication to our society. I believe it is important to lift up the women who have made an impact on our lives.”

“Irene is one of the many amazing women living at the community who have so much to share with younger generations,” said Leah Nash, executive director of Waltonwood Cotswold. “Seeing the relationship she has with her son and the way Steve admires her is inspiring to all of us. We hope Irene’s story will serve as a reminder to all teachers that their dedication to changing the lives of students doesn’t go unnoticed.”

Pin on Pinterest

Every love story has its own unique beginning. For the Mareks, it all started on a New Year’s Eve in 1952, a day Ruth Marek, 90, likes to remember because her friends set her up on a blind date. It was the day she met her husband Joseph, 94. They fell in love and were married a year later. Ruth and Joseph Marek, now residents of Waltonwood Cotswold, moved to Charlotte from Bloomington, Ill., to be closer to their son after Joe was diagnosed with dementia about a year ago. Despite all the difficulties and changes that come with this condition, Ruth talks about her husband in such a sweet tone it can make anyone’s heart melt. Today, she is opening up about the struggles they have confronted because of dementia, and she shares the inspiring love story behind their long and successful marriage.

“I noticed the forgetfulness about a year ago, and the hardest part is knowing that it won’t get any better,” said Ruth Marek. “At first, I thought maybe I would be able to take care of him on my own, but it became more difficult as each day passed. It is hard not waking up next to him every morning, but I go see him and have lunch with him every day. We still live together, I’m in assisted living and he’s in memory care just a few steps away. He remembers much from the past, maybe even better than I do. It is the short-term memory that gives him trouble, but that comes along with dementia. It is comforting to know that he is getting the best care possible. Sometimes we just have to except things the way they are and be happy.”

Joe, originally from Wisconsin, worked as a civil engineer with the Illinois Department of Transportation for 37 years. He loves poetry and likes to recite his favorite poems to his family. Ruth believes one of the keys to a successful marriage is to have similar interests, like a love for country music, not the country-pop kind. Throughout their 64 years of marriage they experienced a lot, including the loss of their daughter Erin and their 23-year-old grandson, but they have been blessed to have one granddaughter and two great-granddaughters. Everything the couple has done, they have done as a team, including battling this debilitating condition. Ruth says one of the most important things in marriage is communication. She believes it is essential to handle difficult conversations and address issues as they arise instead of holding them in. Ruth is grateful for the loving relationship she has with her husband.

“When deciding to get married, make sure your partner is somebody you get along with well and somebody you can trust,” said Ruth Marek. “It is also important to realize that we can’t expect everything to run smoothly right away. Marriage is a long process that requires team work. Be there for each other and never forget to show your appreciation for your partner.”

“Ruth and Joe have such a beautiful relationship together, it is heartwarming to watch them spend time with one another in our community,” said Leah Nash, executive director of Waltonwood Cotswold. “Their love story is truly inspiring, and we are thankful they decided to move here together. We look forward to providing the best care possible and the needed support to their entire family.”  

Singh currently owns and operates 10 other Waltonwood Senior Communities in Michigan and North Carolina and has several other communities in development and under construction in North Carolina and the Washington, D.C. metro area market. 

Pin on Pinterest
Intergenerational Activity at Waltonwood Cotswold.

Maintaining physical and mental health is important for people of all ages, but it’s especially critical for older adults. There are many reasons why seniors should exercise regularly and try their best to stay fit. Exercise can help maintain or build muscle and bone strength as well as reduce risks of cardiovascular disease. However, staying fit doesn’t always mean only participating in physical activity. Preserving mental health is just as important as physical health. To address the needs of the whole person, Waltonwood Cotswold offers rich programming for senior residents, including a number of different activities such as outings, crafting events, aromatherapy, music therapy, pet therapy, and a wide variety of fitness classes to keep residents engaged both physically and mentally. One of the major highlights of each month is the chance to participate in pet therapy, in which vendors bring various animals to the community for the residents to interact with. In addition, the Waltonwood Cotswold team realizes that the interaction between generations has many benefits for seniors, which is why they invite children from local schools for various intergenerational events and activities.  

“Our residents have many options to choose from when it comes to maintaining their physical and mental health,” said Leah Nash, executive director at Waltonwood Cotswold. “Our team works diligently with residents, family members, physicians and other health care professionals to customize activities and lifestyle to preserve the independence and safety of each resident. We recommend that regardless of where seniors live, it is crucial to incorporate many opportunities for socialization, wellness and new experiences.”

Studies show that regular interaction with animals brings many benefits, including a calming effect and a reduction in depression. For this and many other reasons, the senior living community regularly partners up with a local farm which brings different rescue animals to the community. Residents have the chance to interact with them as well as learn more about them. Many residents had pets throughout their lives or grew up on farms, so this activity triggers a number of nice memories. The senior living community also brings in a therapy dog on regular basis.

“We make sure the residents find intellectual stimulation and an overall sense of well-being every day in our wide variety of events, activities and celebrations,” said Kensey Rash, life enrichment manager at Waltonwood Cotswold. “We believe socialization is a critical part of seniors’ lives because it not only gives them a sense of purpose, it also stimulates their minds and improves their quality of life.”

Waltonwood Cotswold offers diverse activities to ensure that every resident can choose among many favorites. The Forever Fit program, a comprehensive health and fitness program addressing the physical, mental, and social needs of the residents, is extremely popular. There are multiple classes every day, from chair exercises with weights to meditation. To get a glimpse into the residents’ backgrounds and their level of physical activity, the senior living community offers individual time with a fitness coordinator for each resident during its “One-to-One Fitness” class, which helps residents meet personal physical activity goals.

Singh currently owns and operates 10 other Waltonwood Senior Communities in Michigan and North Carolina and has several other communities in development and under construction in North Carolina and the Washington, D.C. metro area market. 

Pin on Pinterest

Thanksgiving reminds us to give thanks for all we have, such as family, friends, life experiences and more. It is also time to get together with our loved ones and enjoy a good meal and other family traditions. Thanksgiving is about more than just food, and that’s why J.C. Rowe, 90-year-old resident of Waltonwood Cotswold, recommends one of his family’s traditions around the holiday. He suggests going around the table and discussing why each person is thankful. Rowe, who spent over 42 years in law enforcement and eight years as the mayor of Forest Acres, S.C., devoted his life to helping others. A former police chief, Rowe was recently inducted into the SC Law Enforcement Hall of Fame Meritorious. He is originally from Georgia, and has two brothers and a sister who still live there. He lived for some time in Brevard, N.C., where he started a first rescue squad, the Transylvania County Rescue Squad, to help hikers in the mountains. With Thanksgiving around the corner, Rowe shares some of his family’s traditions to inspire people of all age to give thanks all year long.

“I love Thanksgiving because all of our family gets together, and it is a fun time,” said Rowe. “I am not a turkey person, but I still enjoy the food, especially fried pies that I used to eat when I was growing up which my daughter is learning how to make for me. We decorate the Christmas tree, tell stories and enjoy the time we have together. I am such a proud father, grandfather and great-grandfather, and we remind each other to be thankful for what we have and for the love we have for one another. Every day I am grateful for the career I had because it gave me a lot of great opportunities. I am thankful for everyone who helped me throughout my life, especially my family.”

Rowe was married to his wife, Kate, for 52 years, and she was his biggest cheerleader, supporting him in everything he did. He has one child, two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren who all live in North Carolina. In his free time he enjoys wood crafting, and he even sold some of his work to other residents, local families and staff members at Waltonwood Cotswold during the community’s recent fall festival. All the proceeds went to the Alzheimer’s Association. He has always enjoyed helping others in every way possible. Rowe says he has many reasons to be thankful, including one of his brothers who calls him every Wednesday and Sunday to check on him. People who know Rowe describe him as a happy and grateful person. He always advises others to work hard and use common sense in everything they do. Today, Rowe is asking younger generations to pause and remember to show their appreciation for others on a daily basis.

“Everyone has reasons to be thankful, sometimes we just have to be reminded of them,” said Rowe. “It is important to remember the people who helped us over time and show appreciation to them. Be thankful for your parents and those who love you and always try to surround yourself with good people.”

“I think showing appreciation and acknowledging our blessings should be part of our daily lives,” said Leah Nash, executive director of Waltonwood Cotswold. “We are grateful for having J.C. at our community because he is such a kind and generous person, and he reminds us of the importance of expressing gratitude every day.”

Singh currently owns and operates 10 other Waltonwood Senior Communities in Michigan and North Carolina and has several other communities in development and under construction in North Carolina and the Washington, D.C. metro area market.  

Pin on Pinterest

In honor of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, Waltonwood Cotswold recently partnered with Charlotte Jewish Day School and hosted a heartwarming intergenerational activity. Recently, third graders visited residents of the senior living community, enjoyed traditional treats and sang Rosh Hashanah songs in Hebrew and in English. In addition, the children made Shana Tova – which means have a good year in English – cards with the residents for them to keep as a memory of this gathering. During this event, Jewish residents and students shared their past experiences of celebrating Rosh Hashanah with their family and friends. Waltonwood Cotswold also hosted an educational activity for the non-Jewish residents prior to the students’ visit to discuss traditions connected to this holiday. This ensured that everyone enjoyed the children’s visit and understood the significance of all the activities.

“This was such an inspiring and meaningful activity. The children and our residents had so much fun during this visit,” said Leah Nash, executive director at Waltonwood Cotswold. “We realize how important this holiday is for our Jewish residents, and we wanted to make sure they had a chance to commemorate it in this unique way. We hope to host the students again in another wonderful intergenerational activity.”

Some of the non-Jewish residents had a chance to learn more about this holiday, honor it and spend time together with the children. Children and Jewish residents exchanged experiences of celebrating Rosh Hashanah with their families, and everyone enjoyed traditional treats. This event demonstrates how Waltonwood Cotswold continues to enhance residents’ lives through community involvement and fun educational activities. Studies show that by engaging with younger generations, seniors experience better physical health and improve their overall well-being. Waltonwood Cotswold always looks for ways to remain active in the community and connect with people of all ages.


“Sharing Jewish holidays with others is so important to all of us, especially since we live in a small city,” said Channie Weiss, 3rd grade Judaica teacher at Charlotte Jewish Day School. “We love opportunities like this one where we can share our Jewish pride with other Jewish residents.”


Singh currently owns and operates 10 other Waltonwood Senior Communities in Michigan and North Carolina and has several other communities in development and under construction in North Carolina and the Washington, D.C. metro area market.  

Pin on Pinterest

Waltonwood Cotswold, a senior living community, celebrated its one-year anniversary this month and shared their excitement with the residents, their families and the people who make it all possible. The community partnered with many businesses and organizations to positively impact the lives of the residents and the local community over the past year. Recently, in honor of their first anniversary, Waltonwood Cotswold hosted a free celebratory event, and the public was invited to come out and celebrate one year of success. There were refreshments and live musical performances by Sarah Marin, who sings and plays cello, as well as Christine Robinson, who plays violin. During the event, donations were made to the Alzheimer’s Association under the Waltonwood Cotswold team’s name at the walk later this year. In addition, guests had the opportunity get a sneak peak of the senior living community.

“We can’t believe it has already been a year since we first opened our doors,” said Leah Nash, executive director of Waltonwood Cotswold. “This anniversary means a lot to all of us and we are so thankful for the support that the community of Charlotte has shown us. We look forward to many wonderful years to come.”

Waltonwood Cotswold prides itself on delivering dynamic offerings designed to meet the variety of preferences, interests and needs of the residents who live there. This tailored approach ensures that the unique needs of each resident are met, giving them a sense of purpose, dignity and fulfillment. Over the past year, the senior living community hosted various educational events, facilitated philanthropic projects such as a school supply drive to support students and promoted healthy lifestyles through different activities. For one health initiative, the senior living community shared recipes for healthy smoothies and provided tips on how to help seniors feel their absolute best. The senior living community has partnered up with multiple organizations and local schools to create opportunities for volunteer work, intergenerational events and activities. Waltonwood Cotswold is always looking for ways to give back to the community. In October, the Waltonwood Cotswold team will participate in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s and help raise awareness and funds for this disease.

 “The past year has been extremely successful for Waltonwood Cotswold,” said Nash. “It has been an honor to work here and be part of a team that truly offers such a high standard of care for its residents, and I look forward to continuing to develop relationships with seniors and families. We are thankful for everyone who helped us make this happen.”

Singh currently owns and operates 10 other Waltonwood Senior Communities in Michigan and North Carolina and has several other communities in development and under construction in North Carolina and the Washington, D.C. metro area market.  


According to recent research, over the last ten years the cost of school supplies and fees for elementary school students has increased by 88 percent. Since families are spending more money on school materials, many times they can’t purchase everything on teachers’ wish lists, and teachers end up buying classroom supplies out of their own pockets. To help alleviate the burden on teachers and kick off the new school year right, Waltonwood Cotswold senior living community is excited to host a supply drive for Billingsville Elementary school. Billingsville Elementary has a long history of serving the children of Grier Heights and the surrounding community. The public is encouraged to drop off supplies at Waltonwood Cotswold (5215 Randolph Road in Charlotte) now through the second week of August. The school is requesting the following items: yellow highlighters, dry erase markers, Clorox Wipes, Band-Aid’s, paper towels, Sharpies, hand sanitizer, plastic spoons and Ziploc bags (quart and gallon size). Residents and team members will deliver the items to the school on August 17. 

“I am thrilled that Waltonwood Cotswold reached out to us and offered to host a supply drive,” said Dianne Burke, new teacher mentor at Billingsville Elementary School. “It was such a nice surprise, and everyone is thankful for the generosity of the residents, families and team members. The cost of school supplies adds up quickly, so every donation will really make a difference.”

Studies show that most teachers pay out of pocket for supplies. Most spend nearly $500 a year, and one in 10 spends $1,000 or more according to the Education Market Association. Waltonwood Cotswold decided to organize the public drive to help teachers get through the start of the year and hopefully save them some money. This partnership with Billingsville Elementary is one of many examples of how the senior living community always seeks ways to have a positive impact on the Charlotte community.

“The goal of this supply drive is to have a positive impact on Billingsville’s students and their overall learning experience,” said Leah Nash, executive director of Waltonwood Cotswold. “We hope the public will support our effort so that we’ll be able to give children and teachers what they need for a successful start to the school year. We are excited about this newly formed partnership with Billingsville Elementary, and our residents are already looking forward to presenting donated items to the school next month.”

For members of the public who have questions about the school supply drive, please contact Kensey Rash at or 704-496-9310.

Pin on Pinterest

Across the U.S., people of all ages have fallen in love with smoothies as a delicious way to include fruits and vegetables in their diets. With this popular trend in mind, Waltonwood Cotswold has chosen to feature a signature smoothie on its hydration carts during March in observance of National Nutrition Month, allowing residents the choice to include this yummy option in their daily diets. The senior living community’s talented chef, Michael Norman put together a smoothie recipe that takes into account the dietary needs of the residents. This is because many seniors have dietary restrictions, such as low salt or sugar, and changes must be made to their eating habits in order for them to live healthier lives.

“A smoothie may seem like a simple option, but the nutritional benefits are incredible,” said Norman. “Drinking fruit smoothies can help you reach the recommended daily intake of fiber, which is 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. One serving of fruit typically contains two to four grams of fiber, with blackberries, pears and apples having the highest concentration of five to seven grams per serving. The soluble fiber found in fruit helps slow digestion and may help control blood sugar and lower cholesterol; the benefits often speak for themselves. By providing an option like this, we give residents the opportunity to think about nutrition in a completely new way.”

According to Norman, there are six categories of fruits which contain a variety of vitamins and minerals: citrus, berries, tropical, drupes, pomes and melons. Each of these different categories provide various benefits that can aid in a number of ways, such as boosting the immune system or reducing blood pressure and fighting disease. In addition, smoothies can be modified to fit each person’s individual preferences, tastes and needs. A prime example is the base chosen for one’s drink. Creating your own smoothie means you get to choose a base of your liking. You can add water, cow's milk, soy milk or yogurt to the fruit in order to add bulk. The healthier options would include water, low-fat milk or low-fat yogurt, which will add flavor and nutrients without a huge number of calories. The water provides your body with fluid necessary for metabolism of food and transportation of nutrients, and the low-fat dairy contains calcium and vitamin D, which help your bones stay strong.

“When trying to lose or maintain a healthy weight, smoothies could be used as a meal replacement, not an addition,” says Norman. “For instance, drink a dairy-based smoothie for breakfast or drink a water-based smoothie as a snack. Fruit smoothies can be a healthy addition to any meal plan as long as you maintain portion control. Consult your doctor on how to best incorporate smoothies into your diet plan.”

“We hope that by showcasing how our community promotes healthy living, it will inspire others to make small changes for a healthier life,” said Leah Nash, executive director of Waltonwood Cotswold. “By providing our seniors with new and exciting options, we can demonstrate how seniors in Charlotte are living healthy and active lives and still enjoying delicious meals and smoothies.”

The community’s sweet banana berry smoothie is one of the most popular and it promises to shake things up. Here’s the chef’s secret recipe:


Sweet Banana Berry Smoothie



2 Cups Orange Juice

2 1/8 Cups of Strawberries

1 2/3 Cups of Sliced Bananas

¾ Cup Yogurt

½ Cup Milk



Add all ingredients to a blender, then process until smooth and no chunks of fruit are visible.

Keep Refrigerated below 41 degrees Fahrenheit. 


Nutritional Value per 8 oz. serving: 

Calories - 85.5

Fiber - 1.41 g

Protein - 3.1 g

Iron - 0.4 g

Calcium - 90 g

Potassium - 339 g

Phosphorus - 78 g

Pin on Pinterest

A local assisted living and memory care community is leading the charge this holiday season to make sure seniors throughout Mecklenburg County have access to food they need to continue living healthy, happy lives. Waltonwood Cotswold is raising money for the Mecklenburg County Senior Nutrition Program. Now through the end of December, the senior living community will collect monetary donations of cash, checks and coins which will provide low-income, homebound or other qualifying seniors with warm holiday meals. Waltonwood Cotswold chose this cause to support during the holidays because they have seen firsthand how these services benefit those who would have no other way to receive a warm meal. The team and residents want to make sure the program can provide these services to as many seniors in need as possible. We hope you’ll share this with the public and help a local organization that is caring for those who have contributed so much to the area. Waltownood Cotswold feels it owes these seniors their support. The senior living community opened recently and plans to support causes like this on an annual basis to continue giving back throughout the year.


Donations can be dropped off at the front desk of Waltonwood Cotswold (5215 Randolph Road) at any time during those dates. Checks should be made to the Mecklenburg County Senior Nutrition Program.