Author Archives: MsMerrill

It’s Pets Month at Merrill Gardens

April is our month to celebrate the many wonderful felines and canines that live at our communities. We asked our residents to share some stories of their four legged friends. It was tough to get any interesting comments out of the four legged friends, as they mainly gave us a bunch of confused stares (and a couple of barks).  Luckily, our human residents were a lot more talkative!

Here are the first set of stories we’d like to share.

Sophie and Pumpkin & Batman
Merrill Gardens at Campbell, CA
Merrill Gardens at Campbell, CA
Sophie is a pre-nursing college student and the yoga instructor at Merrill Gardens at Campbell. This spring she wanted to take a trip to New York to visit her family, but needed a temporary home for her bunnies, Pumpkin and Batman. The Merrill Gardens community volunteered to take care of the fluffy creatures, where they received constant attention and were loved (nearly) to pieces by the residents, visiting family members, and people on tour visiting our community for the first time. Needless to say, the bunnies were a delight and are invited back anytime to visit. We promise to always have carrots stocked up, just in case!

Bob & Dixie with Gizmo
Merrill Gardens at Willow Glen, CA
Merrill Gardens at Mountlake Terrace
Bob, Dixie and Gizmo have lived in the community since day one. Gizmo and Bob have a standing lunch date each day, followed by a long walk. Gizmo’s favorite part of the walk?  Sitting and watching the traffic go by!  While those two are on their afternoon walk, Dixie cooks Gizmo her dinner.
Bob got Gizmo at two and a half, and she’s now ten. Gizmo is unique in that she’s smaller than your normal Pekingese, her paws are shorter, and in another obstacle towards her getting a basketball scholarship, Gizmo cannot jump at all. Bob’s grandkids gave Gizmo her name after the movie Gremlins, and it fits her perfectly.

Peggy & Jim with Enzo
Mountlake Terrace,
A Merrill Gardens Community, Seattle

Peggy and Enzo
Enzo is the only dog that resides at Merrill Gardens Mountlake Terrace. He belongs to Peggy and Jim. One special note about Enzo is that he’s never left alone, because he tends to worry.  So another wonderful resident, Sandra, takes care of him everyday during the lunch and dinner hours so his parents can eat in the dining room together. This is just another great example of how residents in this community care for one another!

Lea with Moses & Frankie
Merrill Gardens at First Hill, Seattle
Lea Black has been a Merrill Gardens resident for more than three years, where she takes care of her silver Persian cat Moses and her blue-silver son, Frankie. Both cats love to cuddle on the couch with their mom, watching the birds and big cats on Animal Planet. Lea speaks five languages, including Hebrew, which is how Moses got his name. He’s named for the term Moishi, which means teacher. Francis is named after Saint Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals.

Theresa and Noble
Merrill Gardens at Gilroy, CA
Merrill Gardens at Gilroy
Noble is a fantastic companion whose antics bring laughter and enjoyment. If Noble wanted to (and could get around the paperwork), he’d likely have a great career ahead of him as a personal trainer! He’s Teresa’s workout partner and chief fitness motivator– encouraging her to exercise and take him for walks.


Myrtle and Muffin
Merrill Gardens at Albertville, AL
Merrill Gardens at Albertville
Myrtle and her cat Muffin have been companions for six years. The two joined up when Muffin showed up at her house one night, making a clatter outside. She heard a knocking, scratching and meowing. When her husband opened the front door to investigate, the little rascal bolted inside. Muffin’s been with her ever since.

One of Muffin’s cuter qualities is her human-like ability to pout. When this cat is told “No,” she turns around and sits on the armchair with her back to Myrtle like she is mad– until her owner finally gives in (which is most of the time).

Stay tuned for more stories of cuddly companions from all our Merrill Gardens communities.

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Meet The Vet – Tips For Moving Your Furry Friend Home

PART 1 of 2

Did you know you can move into Merrill Gardens and bring your pet along with you? From puppy dogs to parakeets, you can find many furry friends living at Merrill Gardens with their owners.

Today, meet veterinarian Mark Freiberg, who is here to share a few tips for moving your pet into a new home. This is Part 1 of this series. If you have additional questions, email us or leave a comment below, and we’ll get the answers for Part 2.

Dr. Mark Freiberg

Dr. Mark Freiberg graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in Zoology. He attended Washington State University and added a degree in Animal Science and graduated from Washington State College of Veterinary Medicine in 1977. After briefly practicing he founded the hospital now known as Veterinary Specialty Center in Lynnwood, WA. He later founded Animal Emergency Service of Kirkland, WA.

He became the owner of Rose Hill Animal Hospital in 1992. In 1996, he merged his two practices and was a founder of Pet’s Choice, Inc. He obtained board certification from the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners in 2001. He has remained as medical director of VCA Rose Hill Animal Hospital after Pet’s Choice, Inc. merged with Veterinary Centers of America.

What Are Some Benefits Of Pet Ownership?

Pet ownership is fantastic for people of all ages.  They give us love, physical companionship (as well as training challenges!), and do not ask anything in return. Pets allow us to focus on things different from our daily stresses and worries by helping us release our own endorphins so we feel happier without even knowing why.  They ask nearly nothing in return.

What Is The Best Way To Introduce a New Pet Into a New Home?

Thirty percent of a dog’s cognitive ability is dedicated to sense of smell. Introduce them to the home one room at a time. A dog can tell what has been in each room as well as when it was there. Their sense of smell is tens of thousands of times more acute than ours and you can bet they’ll have a lot of sniffing around to do in your new digs! A cat’s sense of smell  is not nearly as good as a dog’s, but it’s still much better than ours.

Is There Anything Specific We Should Do When Introducing a Pet Into a Home With Other Pets?

If you’re adding another pet to the pack, the best way to introduce them to the new environment is to keep them separate from other pets as best you can for the first few days. This is the best way to help get everyone acquainted, learn boundaries and acclimate to the new environment.

Anything Specific About Introducing a Dog Into a Home That Already Has Other Dogs?

Well, both dogs and cats have more of their brains devoted to olfactory recognition – that means both have great senses of smell.  But dogs tend to make mistakes when they are anxious and new odors make them anxious.  It is a protective physiologic action and once they realize that the new odor doesn’t represent a threat they can get on with the real work of finding out who is alpha.  Dogs don’t care who alpha is, they simply need to know. They get confused and anxious when they do not know.  Therefore after a week or so of introducing the new smell they could be encouraged to interact under supervision.  It might take a few “conversations” to determine the pecking order.  That is not bad or good, it simply is something that needs to happen.

What Does Your Typical Day Look Like?

I have a busy schedule with appointments all day long.  It’s not unusual for me to see over twenty pets and their owners in one day!

Can You Tell Us About Your Pets? 

My wife and I are both suckers for rescue animals. We have two German shepherds, Rose and Pippa. Rose is a rescue that my wife found on the side of the road after receiving what was an incredibly devastating blow to the snout from a previous owner.  My team and I were able to put her back together and she hasn’t left my side ever since. Pippa is a retired bomb sniffing dog that was awarded a purple heart after coming home from Afghanistan.

We also have six (technically five and three quarters) cats, Art, Carl, Snoop, Sarah, Jane and Riley. Riley only has three legs, but we round up!

Do you have questions about moving your pet into Merrill Gardens? Leave us a comment here or on our Facebook Page. Dr. Freiberg will answer your questions for Part 2 of this series.

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Healthy Living Tips From Our Nutritionist

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Merrill Gardens is committed to providing a dining program that exceeds our resident’s expectations. Our restaurant style dining rooms are the heart of our Anytime Dining program and we serve fresh, cooked to order meals all day long from 7a.m. to 7p.m. Our Dining Services team works with a variety of resources to ensure that the meals we serve at each of our communities meet our high standards.

Today our dietician partner, Jon Williams from Crandall Corporate Dietitians, is providing an inside look at our nutrition program with tips to stay healthy and active!

Jon partners with Merrill Gardens to provide the very best dining experience for residents. A member of his team visits each community multiple times throughout the year and conducts a Quality Assurance Audit. During these audits, the dietitian and the community dining team work together to ensure that we are achieving our meal service standards. In-service training is also provided for team members on food safety and menu planning. In addition to auditing each community, the dietitian will also meet with residents who have nutritional concerns, or need help navigating our menu.

What goes into planning a menu at Merrill Gardens?

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All our menus are planned, tested, & prepared by Merrill Gardens chefs. Because there are communities in various parts of the country, Merrill Gardens has created menus to reflect the tastes of the residents in those regions. People who live in the south will have certain favorites while people who live in the Pacific Northwest will expect a slightly different menu. When developing menus, the chefs consider seasonal foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, along with resident preferences and current culinary trends. After the menus are developed, they are sent to Crandall for a complete nutritional analysis.

What tips do you recommend for staying active and healthy?

Dancing At Merrill

Our biggest tip is to avoid fad diets. We recommend eating foods that are low in saturated fat, higher in unsaturated fats (such as olive oil) and avoid preservatives. Stay away from high sugar drinks, such as sodas because sugar can lead to weight gain and diabetes. Be active by exercising in a way that you can enjoy it. Walking is a great option for seniors and provides numerous health benefits. The key is to be consistent and try to exercise at least three to four times per week. Consult a doctor if you have medical condition that may prevent you from exercising.

What constitutes a balanced meal?

Eating a balanced diet starts with knowing how many servings of each food group you should consume. Below is a meal pattern for individuals 51 years or older. When considering the food groups, also consider variety within each group. For instance, it is best to consume a variety of fruits & vegetables as each color or pigment provides specific health benefits.
Each day seniors should consume the following:
Milk: Two or more cups per day.
Meat Group: Two to three servings per day.
Vegetable Group: Three to five servings per day.
Fruit Group: Two to four servings per day. Include a source of vitamin C daily.
Bread and Cereal Group: Five to six servings of whole grain enriched or restored per day.
A bedtime snack should be considered, which consists of two of the following four food components:
1) Fruit or fruit juice
2) Whole grain or enriched variety crackers
3) Variety of cookies
4) Meat, fish, poultry, egg, peanut butter
More information on serving sizes can be found on USDA’s

Can you tell us your favorite nutrition fun facts?

One gram of sugar equals one sugar packet. If you see 60 grams of sugar on a nutrition label, you now know that is equal to 60 packets of sugar. That is a lot of sugar!

Eating rice & beans provides us with a complete protein that contains all nine essential amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and aid in muscle development within our body.

What is your favorite healthy meal?

One of my favorite menu items is an Italian Taco made with sautéed lean fresh ground turkey. The tacos are topped with a diced tomato and garlic mixture (including olive oil), low-fat mozzarella cheese and fresh basil. Add a side of vegetables and you have a meal. The garlic and olive oil are important for your heart and taste great!

Looking for more great information from our partners? Stay tuned on our blog next month!

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Creating A Cookbook

The Creekside is cooking up a storm! The residents published a cookbook filled with tasty homestyle recipes. From grandma’s cookies to lasagna, the cookbook contains so many delicious dishes.

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Everyone worked hard to find the very best recipes. The book even includes a few family secrets!

After the recipes were chosen, residents helped create the book with a computer publishing program. The next step was combining them into a beautiful bound book.

Here is everyone posing with the finished product. Way to go team – we are so proud of what you created!

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Looking for a great dinner tonight? Try Rita’s Spaghetti Sauce – yum!

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We can’t wait to try this one out at home. What are your favorite dishes to cook?

To stay updated on Merrill Gardens events and activities, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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Taste of Merrill Gardens – Meet Geoff Davies, Vice President of Dining Services

Today kicks off our new monthly series, “Meet The Leadership Team At Merrill Gardens”. This month, we are bringing you an interview with our Vice President of Dining Services, Geoff Davies.

About Geoff:

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Geoff Davies is an industry veteran with years of experience in the food and hospitality industry. Geoff was born and raised in England and went to college at Lancashire – Beatle’s country near Liverpool! Geoff started his journey completing a four year apprenticeship in England in hotel restaurant management and food service.

Shortly after, Geoff joined the team at the Fairmont hotel in Dallas, Texas. Geoff’s next move brought him to the Westin Hotel where he worked for over 18 years.

Prior to becoming the Vice President of Dining at Merrill Gardens, Geoff worked with Sunrise Senior Living as West Coast Regional Director. In 2009, Geoff was named the Vice President of Dining Services at Merrill Gardens.

What is Geoff’s role at Merrill Gardens?

Geoff’s role as Vice President of Dining Services is to motivate the culinary teams to ensure they are offering residents appetizing, nutritious meals prepared in a safe and sanitary environment. He sets the vision for the dining programs and works closely with the chefs at each community. The goal is to wow residents with the service and choices in the restaurant style dining rooms. Geoff also does extensive menu research so that each community is serving residents the choices they desire. With 26 communities, the menus are also designed to reflect regional choices. Residents in Alabama may have different favorites than residents in Seattle and our menus reflect those options. You can count on Geoff to bring the very best to our dining programs across the country.

What does your typical day look like?

Geoff’s schedule varies each week and each day is an adventure. From flying to visit communities, to cooking, to talking to residents, Geoff keeps the dining program running smoothly.

What makes the dining program at Merrill Gardens special?

What makes dining at Merrill Gardens special is the exclusive Anytime Dining program, which means residents choose when and what they would like to eat. Our dining rooms are open from 7am to 7pm serving made to order meals and we have a great environment encouraging choice. Dining at Merrill Gardens is just like dining out at your favorite restaurant!

What is your favorite dish?

Geoff’s favorite meal is hot soup with crisp bread and salted butter.

What is one of the most popular dishes for residents?

In Seattle, our most popular dish is fresh salmon. Our residents love this local favorite.

How does Merrill Gardens ensure quality food and balanced meals?

Menus are reviewed for nutritional balance and Merrill Gardens offers detailed nutritional data from Sysco’s IMPAC system. At Merrill Gardens, we focus on quality and freshness using the very best seasonal fresh produce, meat, and seafood.

Have a suggestion for a new menu item? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

Stay turned on our blog next month to meet another great team member at Merrill Gardens!

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Passport To France Dinner

This month we are celebrating great food at Merrill Gardens! And what better way to celebrate than with a trip to France in our very own dining room?

The Creekside (Seattle, WA) hosted a delicious night of French fare at their “Passport to France Dinner”. The gang had a great time complete with themed decorations, rich French food, fine wine, and warm company.

Our residents and team members came out for a night of fun and donned their best French apparel. We even had a mime in attendance who put on quite a performance.

Here are a few photos of the fun. Bon appetit!

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Want to learn more about the dining program at Merrill Gardens? Stay tuned on our blog for an upcoming interview with our Vice President of Dining Services.

To stay updated on Merrill Gardens events and activities, connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Love Blooms At Merrill Gardens

Love is always blooming at Merrill Gardens. Over the years, we have seen so many wonderful stories about love, life, and friendship.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, here are some of our favorite memories.

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You May Now Kiss The Bride – Merrill Gardens at Florence (AL)

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It’s never too late to fall in love again! Lorene Hill & Fletcher McGee were unexpectedly shot by cupid’s arrow when they met at Merrill Gardens in Florence (AL). The two love birds became friends after both of their spouses passed away and they got to know each other while participating in daily activities and enjoying outings together. After a year courtship they were married in the community flower garden as residents, family and friends celebrated their special day. Merrill Gardens at Florence (AL)

Love At Albertville (Albertville, AL)

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Margaret who lives at Merrill Gardens at Albertville (AL) was just 16 when a young man sat behind her in church and pulled her hair. It was their first meeting and he said: “Our eyes have met. Our lips not yet. I love you honey. I’ll get you yet!” Later that night he asked her to marry him. Eventually she agreed and they were married for 70 wonderful years!

A Valentine’s Dance In Kirkland (Kirkland, WA)

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Our lovely dancers showing off their skills at last years Valentine’s Day celebration!

Love At Queen Anne (Merrill Gardens at Queen Anne, WA)
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Frank and Nancy both moved into the community when it first opened. Neither of them expected to find love but they got to know each other when Frank asked Nancy to dance at a community event and the rest is history! They fell in love, got married on November 8, 2007 with the reception held at Merrill Gardens. He is now 91 and she is 87 and they say they have a new lease on life.

Happy Valentine’s Day from our family to yours!

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Celebrating The Super Bowl At Merrill Gardens

We had a great time celebrating Super Bowl Sunday 2014! Our communities hosted game day parties filled with enthusiastic fans and great bites to eat. We loved seeing all of the team spirit by residents and team members! From spirited scarves to green hair, we cheered on the Seahawks in style!

Here are a few of our favorite shots:

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We are so proud of our hometown team, The Seahawks being crowned Super Bowl Champs! Here is how we celebrated at Merrill Gardens at Renton Centre (Renton, WA)

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We can’t wait for the 2014 football season! Looking for more Merrill Gardens news and activities? Find us on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram.

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Merrill Gardens at Lafayette – Opening Spring 2014

Merrill Gardens at Lafayette (CA) is scheduled to open Spring 2014. Construction is underway and we are making amazing progress each week. We can’t wait for the building to be completed and are very excited to meet our new residents.

Our new community will be situated between Berkeley and Walnut Creek in Contra Costa county. Merrill Gardens at Lafayette is conveniently located near great shopping, movie theaters, outdoor recreation areas, dining-out options, hospitals and high-quality medical practices.

An array of amenities will be offered including underground parking, full kitchens and washers and dryers in most apartments, a well-appointed library and lots of comfortable meeting areas. A private dining room will be available for special occasions and residents will enjoy a modern fitness center and free Wi-Fi throughout the building.

Take a look at our progress!

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Want to learn more ? Call our leasing office at (925) 298-2779 or email to schedule your visit. We look forward to hearing from you.

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Merrill Gardens Roundup – January

Though the weather outside is frightful, the fun at Merrill Gardens never stops! As we bundle up this winter we have been hosting special visitors and events. Here is what we have been up to this month!

A Visit From Alabama’s First Lady

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Mrs. Dianne Bentley, Alabama’s First lady came to visit us at Albertville! Merrill Gardens at Albertville (Albertville, AL)

Our Pen Pals Stopped By

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Our pen pals came by to visit Merrill Gardens at Kirkland! We loved spending time crafting and swapping stories. – Merrill Gardens at Kirkland (Kirkland, WA)

Cooking Classes In Kirkland

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We’re cooking up a storm in Kirkland! We hosted a cooking class making coconut macaroons with a chocolate kiss – yum! (Merrill Gardens at Kirkland, WA)

To stay updated with more Merrill Gardens activities, follow along on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram.

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