Fitness and Aging

Exercise is an important aspect of both physical and emotional well-being. While it’s only one part of the overall wellness spectrum, we try to offer something for everyone at Brandon Oaks. Lead by our Wellness Coordinator, Susan Bryant, the Health and Vitality Center boasts land and aquatic classes, a full-service gym, yoga studio and heated pool with spa. “Land classes are the most popular, but the aquatic run a close second,” says Susan. {You can see a schedule of all of our land and aquatic classes here}

Many new, and old, residents visit with Susan to set personalized fitness goals and plans throughout the year. “Residents are eager to continue or start exercising when they come to Brandon Oaks for a healthy and happy lifestyle,” Susan adds. The National Council on Aging recommends classes moderate exercise for at least 30 minutes a day and muscle strengthening activities for two or more days per week to remain healthy. If classes aren’t what you enjoy, the gym is always open and has many cardio and resistance machines available for use.

Although January is a popular time of the year to set resolutions, make fitness a lifestyle change. “Making exercise a priority in your routine will help you maintain your independence and stay motivated,” Susan stresses. Get moving and keep moving!

The Light of the Holidays

The holidays are typically a time of joy, merriment and family. However, for many people, it’s the first holiday they will celebrate without their loved one, such as their spouse.  Many of our own residents experience this uncomfortable and saddening milestone.

We know this is common to those even outside of our community. Each year, our chaplains host a special “Longest Night Service”, honoring those who have passed during the year and showing support to those who are still grieving. We spoke with one of our full-time chaplains, Rev. Kathleen Miko, about some ways to make the holidays a little easier after a loss.

Rev. Kathleen Miko

What inspired you to start hosting the “Longest Night Service”?
Rev. Kathleen Miko: There were so many people I saw lose their spouses the first year I was here. There were so many activities and festive celebrations but none of them were participating. I wanted to find a way to let them know, they aren’t alone. Over the years it has brought together people going through similar emotions and allowed them to build a stronger support network within the community.

What suggestions do you have for someone who is celebrating their first holiday season without their loved one?
Rev. Kathleen Miko: Grief can wash over you at any time and it’s ok to grieve, there is no timeline on grief. For the first holiday season, expect to be sad and frustrated. However, do not try to dismiss the person that is gone from your thoughts. Do something in honor of them, for example, set a place for them at the table or put up their favorite decorations. Make it a celebration of them.

How can other be supportive to someone who has lost a loved one? 
Rev. Kathleen Miko: Just be there to listen. Let them talk, even if they say the same thing over and over. No two people grieve the same way. Invite them to your celebrations, but accept their declines and politely invite again (without being pushy). Let them know they are loved. Don’t expect them to enjoy the holidays as much as they used to, their lives are completely different now, but they can still experience joy and happiness, which will come in time.

This year’s Longest Night Service will be held on Thursday, December 21st at 4:15pm in the Chapel. 

The Pets of Brandon Oaks

We love our pets at Brandon Oaks!

We spoke with some of our residents, and their furry companions, about life here!

Adria & Don Casey & Nash

How did you and Nash meet?  Through a Washington, D.C. Weimaraner rescue group. We knew we wanted an older dog, because a puppy would have been too much, so we started looking for another Weimaraner (we have always loved the breed). We came across the adoptable pets from the Washington, D.C. rescue group, and that is where we found Nash. He had been rescued from West Virginia after being found outside, living in a pen, after the floods in 2016. He went up to Don, sat down in front of him and raised his paw. So we like to think he chose us. We still cannot believe how good of a dog he is. He is calm, doesn’t bark or lick people and he is just perfect for us and our life here at Brandon Oaks.

Have you both been lifelong animal lovers?  Yes! We have bred and shown Weimaraners for years.

How important was it that Brandon Oaks accepts pets? Very important. We lost our last dog a few months before we moved to Brandon Oaks, but we knew it wouldn’t be long before we would have another dog in our home.

What is something interesting about Nash?  Nash isn’t a barker, but he makes this funny howling-like noise when we put on his harness to take him for a walk. We think it’s his way of telling us he is happy.

Where do you live on campus? The Village Homes.


Water Dixon & Charlie

How did you and Charlie meet?  I was at a stop light at the intersection of Brandon Avenue and Edgewood Street, right up the street from Brandon Oaks, and I saw a tiny orange kitten run across the street and he almost got hit by a car. He ran towards my car but didn’t come out of the other side. I got out and I could hear him meowing, so I asked the driver behind me to honk the horn if he came out when I started to move the car. Very slowly, I moved the car and cautiously made my way back to Brandon Oaks. When I made it back, I didn’t hear anything so I went back into my apartment. Later that day, I went out to eat with my family and we noticed a crowd gathered around my car. We went outside and my daughter-in-law got under the car and was able to get the kitten out. Animal control came and got him cleaned up, gave him shots, and neutered him. A few weeks later, I was able to foster him, but that turned into a permanent stay. I never thought I would have a kitten but Charlie is very special.

Have you been a lifelong animal lover? Yes, but I never had any pets.

How important was it that Brandon Oaks accepts pets? Truly, it wasn’t important when I first moved in, but I was grateful for it when Charlie came into my life.

Where do you live on campus? Dogwood Apartments. 


Pattie Hamilton & Peaches

How did you and Peaches meet? When I decided it was time to get
another dog, I started to look around at various breeders. I had Poodles before and just loved them so that’s what I focused on. I found a breeder south of
Atlanta (where I was living at the time) and went to see their puppies. When I went to visit, Peaches waddled over to me and jumped on my leg. I picked her up and she gave me tons of puppy kisses. It was love at first sight. That was 13 years ago and she’s been my daughter ever since.

Have you been a lifelong animal lover? Yes, yes and yes! I love all
animals and always have.

How important was it that Brandon Oaks accepts pets?  If they did not
accept pets, I would not have come here. I would never give up Peaches.

What is something interesting about Peaches?  Peaches is the star of the 5-book children’s series Peaches The Private Eye Poodle. She has been on book tours around the South where she signs her books with a little paw print. She has also visited elementary schools for book readings. She sees a camera and she starts posing – she’s a doggie diva.

Where do you live on campus? The Main Building.


Bille Murphree & Socks

How did you and Socks meet?  I adopted Socks from Angels of Assisi here in Roanoke.

Have you been a lifelong animal lover? Yes, especially cats! I have had both dogs and cats throughout my life, and I used to show a beautiful German Shepard.

How important was it that Brandon Oaks accepts pets?  Very, very important. I lost my husband a few months before I moved to Brandon Oaks. I adopted Socks shortly after his death and he helped me with that sudden loss so I can’t imagine not brining Socks with me.

What is something interesting about Socks?   Socks walks on a leash just like a dog, which people here thought was a little odd at first but now
everyone is used to seeing me take him out for walks. Even though he is an
indoor cat, I wanted him to be able to still go outside and chase a bug or roll in the grass without running off. He really enjoys it and he gets along well with the neighborhood dogs we see out and about.

Where do you live on campus? The Main Building.

Ben Burks, NHA Named Brandon Oaks Executive Director

Brandon Oaks is proud to announce Ben Burks, NHA, as the new Executive Director, effective September 25, 2017. Burks previously served as the Executive Director of The Glebe in Daleville, Virginia. As a high-performing executive in the senior living field, Burks brings 14 years of experience in the continuing care retirement community (CCRC) industry.

“We couldn’t be happier to have Ben join our team,” said Heather Neff, President and CEO of Virginia Lutheran Homes. Neff continued, “He brings with him a depth of knowledge in managing CCRCs, but, most importantly, the understanding that our residents are our highest priority.”

“I am pleased to be joining a community with such a stellar staff and solid reputation,” Burks said. “I look forward to becoming an integral part of the team and of the community,” Burks continued.