What was the first Thanksgiving really like?

November 22, 2017

The First Thanksgiving

... /file_thumbview/74644769/1In 1620, 162 people set forth from Plymouth, England with the intent to settle in the New World. Their journey on the Mayflower was 66 days long. They settled in the area we now know as Cape Cod, MA. Most of the Pilgrims spent the winter on the ship, and more than half of them died that winter. The next spring, they met Samoset and Squanto, two Native Americans who taught the Pilgrims many things such as how to plant corn and which plants to avoid eating. The first Thanksgiving was a three-day feast with Pilgrims and 90 Native Americans from the Wampanoag Tribe celebrating together in the fall of 1621.

While there are no written records of eating turkey, there is a record of four men going “fowling” before the feast, and they caught enough fowl to feed the group for a week. There are records of the Wampanoag tribe bringing the deer. They probably would also have had eels and shellfish such as lobster, mussels, and clams, as well as Indian corn and cornbread. They would also have had the following foods available at that time in history: dried beans and peas, pumpkins, squash, chestnuts, walnuts, beechnuts, hickory nuts, turnips, carrots, onions, lettuce, spinach, radishes, plums, melons, and grapes. There is a good chance that many of these foods were served at the first Thanksgiving since they were available.

Read this article and more in our November newsletter.

Tips to Prevent Memory Loss

November 10, 2017

Stay Active to Stay Sharp: Small Changes to Combat Memory Loss

Group of old people walking outdoorHave you ever had the name of an acquaintance or restaurant on the tip of your tongue but not been able to recall it when you needed to? As frustrating as this can be, it is a natural occurrence that most people experience from time to time. Minor lapses like this are not typically a cause for concern; however, memory loss naturally increases with age and can become more pronounced as the years advance.

Fortunately, much research has been devoted to discovering how to combat deteriorating memory, and has resulted in some simple recommendations to help keep it at bay. Here are a few tips:


Several studies present convincing evidence that staying social is strongly linked to staying sharp. In one study, those who had regular social interactions were twice as likely to avoid symptoms of dementia and memory loss than those without them. A byproduct of socializing is the ongoing learning and discovery of new topics and interests that accompanies engaging with others. Keeping your brain active and building new connections is one way to preserve memory, so talk to your neighbors at  dinner and during activities. Not only are you likely to form some friendly bonds today, but your brain will thank you tomorrow.

Take a Stroll

The University of British Columbia published a study that measured the effects of taking regular walks on blood pressure and cognitive performance. The study showed that those who incorporated walking into their lifestyle demonstrated more efficient thinking skills than those who did not. It is thought that dementia may be linked to lack of blood flow to the brain and that regular physical activity – such as walking for one hour, three times a week, can improve necessary blood flow. The same researcher emphasized that if walking regularly is overwhelming, start small – just a short walk once a week, and gradually build from there.

Catch Some Zzz’s

After incorporating walking into your weekly routine, you may find that you are more tired at bedtime and able to sleep more soundly. This is great news when it comes to combating memory loss! Studies show that deep, uninterrupted sleep is precious time for the body’s nocturnal systems to go to work. These tasks include making creative connections, regulating decision-making, and organizing and filing away memories for future recall. It is recommended that older adults, just like their younger counterparts, get a full 8 hours of sleep per 24-hour period to ensure that the brain has time to work through these crucial processes.

If lapses in your memory are becoming more persistent or interfering with your day-to-day life, consult with a medical professional to determine if there is an underlying cause or for alternative courses of action. With a lifetime of treasured people, places, and experiences stored in your memory, it’s worth it to make the effort to ensure that they can be easily recalled for years to come.

Read this article and more in our November newsletter.

Resident Spotlight: Marge Harger

November 1, 2017

Marge Harger: Lifelong Educator and Light-Hearted Friend

1Marge Harger is a bit of a jokester. When I visited her to conduct this interview, I arrived at her front door and gave a knock.

“I’m coming!” I hear from within the apartment.

I wait a moment.

“Still coming!” she shouts, closer this time.

I smile, and wait another minute.

“I’m really on my way!” she says, opening the door with a broad grin.

After politely inviting me in, we get started. Marge was born in Chicago, Illinois and lived there for her entire upbringing, graduating from Northwestern University with a degree in Education. Upon graduation, her job search took her west, all the way to Whittier, California, where she began her teaching career. Aside from a stint early in her career as a United Airlines stewardess, teaching remained Marge’s lifelong profession.

“I just love children,” she says. “When I taught at Stanford Elementary in Palo Alto, the kids were the children of Stanford professors. They were so
curious, so engaged. They really loved to learn and they seemed to also love me.”

It’s no secret to see what the children loved about Marge. She’s sharp and funny. A good storyteller too. Marge tells me about how she met her beloved husband, Donald, who was himself a Stanford University graduate and lifelong teacher.

“We met at a party thrown by a mutual friend,” she says, “and just 9 ½ years later, we got married!” she laughs.

When asked why the courtship was so long, Marge tells me that she and Donald, or “Don” as she affectionately calls him, went their separate ways
after initially dating, but always remained in touch. A moment of reflection a few years down the road prompted Marge to confide in a mutual friend that she missed Don. That friend took the news to Don, who immediately phoned Marge and asked for a date. This time around, it took only a short three months before wedding bells rang for the reunited lovebirds. A testament to the couple’s shared love of teaching and children, Marge invited her entire 4th grade class to her wedding to Don.

“Most of them came too,” she recalls, “It was really a fun time!”

Once married, a family quickly followed and Marge and Don had two children of their own, a daughter, Christina, and a son, Charlie, both still local to the Bay Area. Today, Marge has three grandchildren too – and enjoys frequent visits with them around Burlingame.

Relationships are central to Marge’s life. She enjoys having family nearby and is still connected to many longtime friends whom she visits with during lunch outings and at the Senior Center for bridge. When asked about her views on life, Marge says, “I am a peacekeeper, pretty easygoing. I just think
people should act with love toward one another.”

Her laid-back attitude has been a great fit with Sterling Court, where Marge has resided since March. “I like it here. Everyone is very friendly and
I feel very welcomed,” she says with an easy smile.

Read this article and more in our November newsletter.

Things You Didn’t Know About Halloween

October 26, 2017

Trick or Treat! 


What do you know about the origins of Halloween? Did you know that Halloween is derived from two words: “Hallowed Eve”? “Hallowed” means “holy” and did you know the Holy Eve of October 31 was originally for Christians, the sacred evening before All Saints Day? All Saints Day is still observed as a day of remembrance and giving of thanks for all the saints who have died. In some cultures, family members of the deceased go to the graves of their departed loved ones and enjoy a family picnic there.

Did you know that the ancient Celts carved out large turnips and put lighted candles inside to drive away evil fairies? When Irish immigrants came to America by the millions to escape the potato famine, they changed the carving of turnips to pumpkins.

Our tradition of trick-or-treating is a rather recent one, but centuries ago on the eve of All Saints Day, poor people went door to door asking for handouts of food, and their requests were granted in hopes a good deed would ward off evil spirits and the ghosts of those in the past.

Did you also know that Americans spend more money on Halloween than on any other holiday except Christmas?

Read this article and more in our October newsletter

Being Elderly in the Technology Era

October 15, 2017

You’ve Got Mail!


At 92, my Mom’s hearing was declining and it was very difficult for her to have a telephone conversation with any of her 4 children or 6 grandchildren scattered across the country. Luckily, technology offers many alternatives, and learning to use email for the first time was a saving grace in keeping those lines of communication open and flowing. She learned to type at a young age, having been a secretary after high school, so she had a leg up when it came to learning to email. With computer and keyboard in hand, I traveled across the country, set up her very first computer, gave her a few lessons, and documented every step to leave behind as an instruction manual. I also set up a free program where I could remotely log into her computer screen if she got stuck and needed help after I went home.

This is just one of many stories we hear about seniors learning technology for the first time later in life. What can seem daunting and downright frightening at first can turn into a new routine with amazing results. Looking forward to seeing new emails in your computer inbox can be energizing and purposeful – something to look forward to each day. Composing emails – just short sentences or many long paragraphs – gives a new meaning to the word “conversation.” You may find that you are even more in touch with family members than you have been by phone just because of the convenience of emailing at any time of the day. While you wouldn’t dream of calling your daughter at 4:00 in the morning, you might wake up and not be able to get back to sleep. It could be the perfect time to compose an email to her and she will be so delighted to read it when she wakes up.

With so many people on email, this may also be a great opportunity for you to look up some old friends from high school, college, the military, or workplace and reconnect with them. Won’t they be surprised when they see your name in their inbox! Here at Sterling Court, an internet connection is available in each apartment (carrier fees apply) but even more exciting, we are just weeks away from providing Wi-Fi (wireless service, pronounced as if rhyming the words Why and Fy) throughout the entire complex. This means that if you are using email wirelessly on your smartphone or on a laptop computer, you could compose the email while sitting outside in our beautiful courtyard, the library, or the lobby. You would not have to be in your
apartment, although you will be able to use Wi-Fi in your apartment as well. We will announce more details about Wi-Fi very soon.

Many of you are already successfully using email to stay in touch with family and friends. If you would like to improve your skills, or learn how to set up an email account for the first time, we offer computer classes every Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and can help you get started or answer your questions. Technology need not be overwhelming. If you embrace the idea, you may find a whole new way to “talk” to people all over the country and, for that matter, all over the world!

Read this article and more in our October newsletter.

Learn More

We can help with apartment availability and scheduling tours, or send an application for residence. Let us know what you are interested in learning more about and how we can help you!


850 N. El Camino Real San Mateo, CA 94401 Phone: (650) 344-8200 Fax: (650) 344-7395 sarah.stcharles@sterlingcourt.com

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