The Power of Friendship in the Elderly

card game

We all know that friendship is a wonderful thing in life.  But, did you know that multiple studies support the important role it plays in health and wellbeing as you age?

Friendship and socialization has been linked with enormous health benefits.  On the other hand, being lonely has been compared to smoking a pack of cigarettes a day because of its detriment to your health.  Even people facing serious health defects, who had a good network of friends, did well physically compared to others who lacked socialization. 

Friendship can even boost your immune system!  Good sleep and heart health are also facilitated by friendship.

Friendship has an added benefit in that people around you can help encourage you in healthy habits, such as exercise.

Having a close friend is powerful in fighting stress and depression, according to   Strength of social bonds even in other primates, has been seen to be a leading factor in longevity. 

In a study of almost 300,000 people, friends were found to be even more important than family in well-being and functioning.  Friendship is a powerful impetus for good in the sphere of both physical and mental health.  Strain in friendship has been found to lead to impaired health.  Feelings of loneliness, on the other hand, can increase with age.  It’s even said that the importance of friendship grows as you get older.

It is sometimes difficult for elderly people to make friends.  They are often not as able to get out and about, and sometimes face disabilities that place limits on them.  At the same time, it is well-known that reduced social contact is harmful.  However, this is often overlooked in circumstances when elderly people live alone at home.  Physical contact is so important.  If you have a loved one who struggles with loneliness, remember the importance of physical contact.  Outings are also helpful in lifting mood.  Prolonged solitude can be detrimental.

Friends provide support that even family members may not be able to give.  They may be going through a similar difficulty, dealing with there age-related limitations.  They can relate with you in a special way, unlike adult children who have not yet gone through the aging process as you are.  Additionally, an older person can gain from wisdom and insight a friend in their own peer group can offer.

It has been found that friendships are more effective in wellbeing among the elderly even than close family!  For one thing, younger family members are often busy with their own lives and have limited time to devote to an aging parent or relative. 


Getting Corny: Tips for Blanching Corn

Who doesn’t love a tasty ear of corn, fresh from the field?  It can be a little messy, but boy, is it worth it!

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to keep that tasty goodness throughout the year?  Actually, in a way, you can!

While some people like to take the quick and easy way out and freeze ears of corn whole, blanching and cutting corn off the cob has some definite benefits.

There’s kind of a science to it, and it works better if you have your system ready.  I was reminded of that recently, when we got a pickup truck load of corn in last week.  The Wald family from East Grand Forks always generously plants a section of their land in sweet corn for us.  Mid-August, we have come to expect a phone call say that the corn is ready, and asking when they can bring it in. 

We used to usually bag the corn raw on the ear, and freeze it that way.  This year, we went a different route.  Many of our residents have dentures and have trouble eating it off the cob.  Also, cutting it off the cob saves a lot of freezer space!  Blanching kills enzymes that diminish corn quality over time in the freezer, so that’s what I did.

In this blog, I’ll share some things I’ve learned from reading, experience, and even insight from others, in case you’ve got some extra corn you’d like to put up for winter enjoyment.

When I was a kid, our family friends on a farm south of us had an abundance of corn to salvage.  We picked a bunch and formed an assembly line: husking, blanching, and cutting it from the cobs.  I remember my mom putting the kettles in the bathtub of cold water to cool!

Fast forward quite a few years…(and yes, I have done corn in the meantime!)

Last week, we got all the corn husked and de-haired by around 10 in the morning.  Beforehand, I marked several zip baggies: “Corn – 8-16-21, so I could save time and hassle later. 

I got two big kettles of water boiling and added several ears (about 8 or 9) of corn to each one.  I am learning that I maybe shouldn’t do so much corn at a time because it took a while to return to boiling.  Once it was rapidly boiling again, though, I timed it for 3-4 minutes before turning off the burner and putting the ears into an ice bath I had prepared. 

The ice tended to melt quickly, unfortunately, because it was crushed ice from the kitchen.  I had to make multiple trips back and forth for fresh ice during my corn blanching marathon.  I kept dumpling and refilling a large plastic bin we have on hand for bussing dishes.

After the fact, a friend of ours said that she used to fill cardboard milk cartons with water to freeze for this purpose.  I’m going to try this next time!  Larger ice chunks won’t melt so quickly.  The purpose of the ice water bath it to stop the cooking process on the corn that has been removed from the blanching kettle.  Another idea I found is to fill plastic bags with water and freeze them.  I’m trying this also.  This should make my life easier tomorrow when I attack another batch of corn that came in. 

Now, for the cutting process!  A trick I have found very helpful, which our former activity assistant told us about, is resting your ear of corn on the middle of an angel food cake pan, and cutting the corn off that way.  It really works slick!  Another person who was helping us last time used an electric knife to cut off the corn.  This worked well for her. 

After we got a bunch of corn cut off, I would scoop it into gallon sized double seal freezer bags, and seal, trying to push as much air out as possible.  It was kind of juicy, and I also avoided getting excess fluid in there.

I read somewhere that you can create more of a vacuum seal by submerging the bag in a bowl of water with just a small space in the zipper unsealed.     This didn’t work well for me, though, because the bags, filled with corn, were more bulky than flat.  Tomorrow, I might try and see if I can’t flatten the filled bags out more. 

Most people don’t freeze corn in gallon size bags, but when you’re serving 30-40 people at a time, it makes sense. 

If you’re doing smaller bags, a trick one can try is freezing them flat on a cookie sheet, which saves space later.  You can just take them off the cookie sheet once they’re frozen and put them in a plastic grocery bag. 

One thing to keep in mind when freezing corn is not to put too much in a small freezer at once, as the freezer will be overworked. 

I hope some of this is helpful to you if you decide to get corny this summer!

A Shocking Experience

Annie’s Anticks – Episode 2:

Listen as Sister Elaine shares a story of one evening when she was filling in for one of the other Sisters at St. Anne’s, doing aide work.

Annie’s Antics

Annie's AnticsWe’re happy to bring you a new series on our “St. Anne’s Scoop.”  Annie’s Antics will share stories from humorous happenings at St. Anne’s (both old and new locations) over the years.

We hope you enjoy them.  Feel free to pass them on to anyone interested in a good story and a good laugh!

Click on the videos below and enjoy!

Episode 1: “Play That Piano!”
In this clip, Sr. Rebecca retells a story from decades past.  Feel free to comment and/or share!  


Before They Wake Up!

We’ve share here before about the four little plum trees Sr. Christina started a few years ago.  They are now about five feet tall!  It’s truly amazing how life works, how one can put small little plum pits in the ground, and in a few years (and some TLC), you have trees.  They’ve grown so much since just last spring!

This afternoon, our trees got their spring haircuts, before coming out of their winter dormancy (that is: we pruned them).

This will prevent branches from growing into the trunks or competing with other nearby branches.  It will also, hopefully, help stimulate growth.

In pruning trees in mid-March, we hope to avoid sending them into shock.  When they “wake up” in a few weeks, they’ll be neatly trimmed for the season.

Tree A After
Tree A After
Tree A Before
Tree A Before
Tree B After
Tree B After
Tree B Before
Tree B Before
Tree C After
Tree C After
Tree C Before
Tree C Before
Tree D After
Tree D After
Tree D Before
Tree D Before

It will be exciting to see how they grow this summer!  Stay tuned!

A special thank you to our volunteer, Cindy Flath, for her great work!

Who is She? Our Lady of Częstochowa

Our Lady of CzęstochowaRecently, a long-time friend of the Sisters at St. Anne’s donated a couple of items here which had belonged to his deceased mother.  One was readily recognized as a carving to the Last Supper.  The identity of the other piece took a bit more investigation.  

Although not well-versed in Polish art, Sr. Christina mused, “I wonder if that isn’t Our Lady of Czestochowa, the Black Madonna.”  Her dark completion and the painting’s antique, iconic style were definite clues.

With a bit of research, this initial conclusion was confirmed.  The tell-tale scratch marks on Mary’s right cheek solidified the speculation.  Actually, as the story goes, thieves were attempting to vandalize the painting.  Among other things, they stabbed at the face of Our Lady.  We are told that, despite multiple attempts to undue the damage wrought by these villains, the marks have remained.  

This is not the only interesting tidbit connected with this image of the “Queen of Poland.”  Legend has it that St. Luke actually painted the image on a table made by St. Joseph, which would date the piece back to the first century.  St. Helena, who identified the True Cross on a voyage to the Holy Land, is said to have brought the icon back with her.  Historians, however, are more likely to trace the painting to the sixth or ninth centuries.  Whenever its origin, it may well be that the painting was passed from family to family in royal dowries until it made it to Poland!

Another legend around the painting states that Prince Ladislaus was taking the prized depiction of Mary somewhere, when, suddenly, his horses stopped, refusing to go any further.  He took this as a sign that image was to remain at that exact location, Częstochowa.

There are some variations in these legends, and some accounts tend to blend together.  We do know that the image probably came to the place whose name it took on sometime in the 1300s.

One may wonder why the image of Our Lady is so dark.  Smoke and soot damage probably account for this distinct characteristic of the painting.  Interestingly, some make the connection of the black color with a passage in the Song of Songs, where the beloved is described as “black and beautiful.”

In the 1430s, it was painted over because of severe damage it had undergone at the hands of vandals.  The restorations which have occurred over the centuries have remained true to the original content, but the style changed with the time. 

One of our residents, originally from the Warsaw (North Dakota) area, was familiar with her, and even recalled the damage to the face on the painting.



Senior Housing at St. Anne’s

It’s been quite the year, hasn’t it?

But, one thing we’ve hopefully all gained is a greater appreciation for the blessings we do have: Family and friends, our health, and a place to call home.

At St. Anne’s Living Center, we’re all kind of like family to each other, and there’s always a friend or two around to visit. So, if you’re look for a caring living environment, a place to call home in your retirement years, check out St. Anne’s!

Visit us online at or call 701-746-9401.