College Park Retirement Blog

We never grow too old to laugh, or to savor life’s little moments. The way we respond to stimuli may change through the years, but it’s always possible to find joy in the present moment. That’s why a good senior living community focuses, not only on physical health and wellness, but quality of life, too. Like author Phillip Pullman said, “After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.”

That’s why many retirement communities are starting to incorporate storytelling as a way to engage seniors with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Instead of focusing on the stress of recalling facts and details that might be just out of reach, storytelling is a more expansive process that embraces the imagination. That creates an easy way for seniors to share their thoughts, feelings, sense of humor, and even distant associations, without as much pressure to fulfill expectations, social roles, and keep track of shifting memories.

One of the major benefits of assisted living is the opportunity to socialize, communicate, and avoiding the isolation and loneliness that can limit seniors quality of life. Storytelling is a great way to include memory care patients in the community and help them avoid becoming withdrawn from the stress of word acquisition and recalling names, dates, or other details.

Indianapolis dementia care activitiesThe process works like this: a trained professional, or even just an enthusiastic caregiver, can show individuals or groups pictures of people, animals, or different situations. Participants can then be invited to imagine a world around each image. What are the people in the pictures are doing? What their lives are like? A man in a business suit, for example, might be imagined to be on his way to work. Or residents might picture him on a top secret spy mission. Or headed home to his family. The possibilities are endless—as diverse as the seniors participating in the exercise.

Participants might not be able to tell you the name of their former coworkers, but they may remember how they felt about their business partner and ascribe that to the man in the photo, for example, or give him some of the same characteristics. Talking through those possibilities provides a great topic of discussion that is not only a cognitive workout, but keeps residents grounded in the present moment.

Similar storytelling exercises can incorporate music or even dance—anything that uses seniors’ natural creativity to share what they’re thinking and feeling with their friends and loved one. You could try painting or drawing what a song makes you see or feel. Or take a trip to a local museum and talk about what the people in the portraits on display are thinking about, while they were being painted. There are so many different possibilities, and such simple activities can have a surprisingly big impact on retirement home residents’ sense of agency and joy.

Written by: Meghan O’Dea

Published in Memory Care

memory care indianapolisThere are many theories as to why human beings evolved to play, listen to, and love music. Some think it was a way males to attract mates or for mothers to sooth children. Others think music has always been the way we communicate oral history or stay awake on guard shifts around the camp fire. One thing’s for sure, scientists have found evidence of musical instruments that are over 40,000 years old. There are specific centers of the brain that are primed to not only respond to music, but stimulate other areas of the brain and body when music is playing.

At all ages and stages of life, we as humans have a developed a profound affinity for music. Babies who have not yet learned to talk will giggle, babble, and dance when listening to their favorite songs. Anyone who has ever had a toddler knows how much little ones’ love to repeat their favorite tunes over and over. As adults, we love to turn on a song that matches our mood after a bad day or amp up a workout with a motivating playlist. And as seniors, music can help us stay in touch with our long and middle term memories, which provide much needed access to parts of the brain that often slow down or shrink with age.

All sorts of cognitive stimulation are crucial to those living with memory care disorders. That’s why many memory care facilities are carefully designed to minimize potential of confusion, to have bright, stimulating colors, or to even evoke familiar settings from residents’ pasts, like old soda shops or mid-century towns. Many who work with dementia and Alzheimer’s patients recommend surrounding those affected with familiar objects—favorite clothes, pillows, photographs, and other personal affects. Even if the senior is having trouble remembering certain details, like who is in the photo, it still has positive associations.

Because dementia and Alzheimer’s can affect language processing, memory, and the ability to handle daily routines, it can be very isolating. In addition, studies have identified self-perception of loneliness and isolation contribute to the buildup of amyloid in the brain, which is linked to dementia, linking to a lack of socialization and stimulation. That’s where music can come in. Because music is quite possibly such a huge part of the human experience because it enhances communication, emotion, and memory, it is also a great way to bridge the social gap that many with memory disorders find between themselves, loved ones, and caregivers. Caregivers of those with dementia often find themselves feeling someone isolated, too. Music can be a point of connection that eases the stress and strain for everyone involved.

Listening to a loved one’s favorite songs can literally make them feel young again, lighting up old memories, feelings, and associations. Listening to music together can also provide talking points that are free from the mundane of daily routines and medication schedules. You can dance together, draw pictures of what the lyrics and sounds make you feel or think of, or chat about the musician, the rhythm, etc. You can even sing along!

Studies and stories from memory care providers have shown that even deeply withdrawn patients can become quite animated when their favorite songs are played, sharing details and opinions about the music when they rarely speak up on any subject. While not everyone is guaranteed to have such a dramatic response, it is amazing to see how music can affect us at all stages, and the way it can bring joy to everyone from youth to seniors.

Published in Memory Care
Thursday, 27 April 2017 16:20

What Does Your Retirement Look Like?

Tennis Player Pete Sampras once admitted that retiring from his athletics career was “a work in progress.”It took him time to figure out what he wanted the years of retirement to look like. Perhaps you feel the same way, trying to figure out what to do with all the time and space in your life. Retirement is a major life change, and it can be hard to leave the routine of your career and family life behind. For Sampras, he realized he needed the structure in his day even if he wasn’t still training and competing. For you, finding a sense of continuity and purpose might look a little different. Here are a some ideas for how you can decide what you want your retirement to look like:

Like Pete Sampras, you probably have a pretty good idea of what has worked for you in the past. That’s one of the many beautiful things about aging. Perhaps it isn’t structure you crave, but some other aspect of your pre-retirement life. Reach back as far as you need to—even as far back as childhood. If you once loved horses, perhaps you could spend time volunteering at Agape Unbridled Hope. If you once enjoyed mentoring your employees and leading a team, you could consider aiding an after-school program. If, like Sampras, you miss structure, perhaps you should develop a new routine that shapes your day. Or if you are glad to leave your old schedule behind, you can work on shaking up your current routine by trying out new things.

Indianapolis retirement living

Trying new things is a clinically proven way to increase your sense of happiness and satisfaction. You can take up a new hobby or try a new game like gardening, pokeno, billiards, or trivia. You can check out new eateries in Indianapolis, like Metro Diner Greenwood. Explore new places like Punch Bowl Social, which features bowling and bocce, if you like a little exercise along with your meal. Activity is also a great way to work something new into your day, whether it’s Tai chi, Laughter Yoga, or a stroll somewhere you haven’t visited before, like the Monon Trail or Indianapolis Cultural Trail.

There’s so much to do in beautiful Indianapolis, especially if you want to combine recreation with staying active. Take a walk through the National Art Museum of Sport and learn something new about how athletics are treated in art. Or explore the many acres of the Conner Prairie Interactive History Park. Staying active is beneficial for maintaining overall health and for general well-being. The World Health Organization recommends older adults exercise not only for their physical health, but cognitive well-being, too. One study by the NCBI showed a 37% reduced risk for cognitive decline in seniors who met minimum recommended exercise thresholds. The better you feel, the more time and energy you can dedicate to making retirement everything you dreamed it would be.

Remembering the past can also be helpful for defining your future. The act of remembrance itself can reduce stress and anxiety, according to a number of studies. Recounting either out loud or in a diary, scrapbook, or audio recording can not only reconnect you with your own sense of history and continuity, but be a wonderful way to share your story with friends and loved ones. One can also reminiscence to help you work through roadblocks, such as painful or challenging moments in the past that might be holding you back from what would let you live the way you want to live now. And by revisiting the past, you can strengthen your sense of self and identify how you want to spend your time, now that you have it in abundance.

Community is also essential to finding a sense of purpose. To be surrounded by other caring friends and neighbors helps reduce your stress. It’s always easier to meet your goals when you have support, and especially that of other people making the same life transition you are. Not only that, community can offer the same health benefits as exercise. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that recreation with loved ones can help seniors avoid the cognitive decline that comes with isolation. So, why not collaborate with those close to you? Go for a walk together, swap stories, or make a weekly date to volunteer together. With all of Indianapolis to explore, it can help to have a friend to take on the city. If you’d like to learn more about how Morningside of College Park can help you meet your goals, call (844) 511-3456 now.

Written by: Meghan O'Dea

Published in Retirement Communities
Wednesday, 30 March 2016 17:05

Spring Weather Benefits Seniors

“The air was full of sun and birds,
The fresh air sparkled clearly.
Remembrance wakened in my heart
And I knew I loved her dearly.

The fallows and the leafless trees
And all my spirit tingled.
My earliest thought of love, and Spring's
First puff of perfume mingled.

In my still heart the thoughts awoke,
Came lone by lone together -
Say, birds and Sun and Spring, is Love
A mere affair of weather?”

-Robert Louis Stevenson

Spring is a wonderful time at Morningside of College Park…the trees become green again, flowers start to bloom, and the warmer weather is a welcome change after a chilly winter. With the changing seasons also comes opportunity to explore nature and take advantage of outdoor activities.

There are many benefits to Seniors who spend some time soaking up the sun’s rays, as long as you are mindful of physical limitations and the risks associated with overexposure to the sun. Here are a few benefits:

Vitamin D-
The body needs sunlight in order to produce Vitamin D, which is particularly beneficial to seniors. This is because it is a building block for healthy and strong bones. Not only that, but studies are now showing a direct correlation to Alzheimer’s, cancer, and osteoporosis among those who don’t get enough Vitamin D.

Decreased Stress-
A lot of people are familiar with Winter Depression, and the anxiety that can come along with it. While scientists haven’t firmly concluded what causes this seasonal mood change, they have confirmed that most people who suffer from it feel better after exposure to bright light. Spending time in the sun each day can help lower anxiety and increase happiness. According to Alfred Lewy, MD, a seasonal affective disorder researcher at the Oregon Health & Science University, the best time to take advantage of the sun is first thing in the morning because it helps to reset your circadian clock.

The best way to take advantage of the spring weather and sunshine is by getting out in it! There are so many things to do outside, but here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Take a morning walk dailyIndianapolis retirement community
  • Spend some time planting in the garden
  • Take up bird watching
  • Take the grandkids to explore Monument Circle or the Cultural Districts
  • Browse through a Farmers Market, like Indianapolis City Market
  • Do some spring cleaning to spruce up your space

However you plan on spending your time in the sun, be cautious and aware of how the sun affects you. To avoid skin damage, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke, prepare in advance: wear light clothing and a hat, always apply sunscreen, stay hydrated, and avoid being in direct sunlight during peak hours (10 am-4 pm).

Exerting yourself too much in the sun can lead to cramped muscles, heat rash, swelling of extremities, exhaustion, and heat stroke. While you can protect yourself from the sun’s rays, it is more difficult to stay protected from the heat itself. Morningside of College Park offers a cool respite from the heat. “The lobby is now a great place to mingle with friends and neighbors and get acquainted,” says Jo Cowan, Executive Director.

So whether you are outside soaking up the sun, or inside cooling off for a bit, enjoy the new growth that spring brings to Morningside!

To learn more about Morningside of College Park, call (844) 511-3456.

Written by Kristen Camden

Published in Active Senior Living

Many seniors feel apprehensive about getting online, worrying that they won’t have the tech skills to successfully take advantage of computer resources. According to FastCompany, a neuroscientist at UCLA found that when he observed “12 tech-savvy and 12 tech-ignorant people use search engines while inside an MRI machine”the result was“more neural activity in the noggins of tech-savvy users.”Not only does the Internet open you up to a host of new possibilities, the process of learning something new can have a positive effect on your brain—great news for those who are interested in staying in tip top mental shape.

There are host of other benefits to making use of the Internet. It’s easier than ever to connect with others around the world in just a few clicks or a few keystrokes, from family a few states away to new pen pals as far away as Japan or Norway. Even ten or fifteen years ago, the majority of adults weren’t online. Now 87% of American adults regularly use the Internet, logging on to converse over email and social networking sites, look up information using search engines like Google and Yahoo, keep up with the news and their favorite TV programs, or connect with other people who have common interests, like NASCAR, baseball, sewing, chess, and more.

Of course, the flip side to how much the internet brings us together is that it can also connect you to bad people who might want to take advantage of you. While it’s easier than ever to reach out to friends and family, it’s just as easy for criminals to reach out to you in hopes of getting money, your personal information, or even steal your identity. However, there are some simple steps you can take to keep cyber criminals at bay.

Email With Care

First and foremost, you should treat your email with the same care you would your mail or postoffice box. Just as you get unwanted junk letters in real life, you may get spam messages in your email box from strangers. Some scams that online criminals run online are similar to those run through the mail or on the phone—telling you that you’ve won a lottery prize, for example, or posing as a fake charity. Just as you’d be cautious under other circumstances about sending money to strangers or unverified causes or potentially illegitimate businesses, you should be even more so online.

Pick an email program with a strong spam filter like Microsoft Outlook or Google Mail—this will protect you from many inappropriate messages and reduce the number you need to deal with yourself. When you set up your email account, create a strong password that will be hard for anyone else to guess or crack. For example, “123456”is a common password that would be easy for a hacker to figure out because so many people use it. The same for things like your children or grandchildren’s names, “password”or “PW”or even “letmein.”You should use a mixture of symbols, numbers, and both upper and lower case numbers to ensure you have a strong password.

Trust Your Inner Skeptic

Criminals often create stories that seem so wild you couldn’t possibly make them up. People have fallen for all sorts of tall tales, from Nigerian princes trying to find their way home to messages from the supposed Sheriff’s office telling them a missing person’s report has been filed on the recipient’s behalf. Other common tricks include seemingly innocent, minor requests, like trying to find a good time to call you, or simply asking if you’re ok. If you don’t know who sent the email, simply give them a call or check in personally to find out if they originated the conversation. It takes some of the convenience out of staying in touch, but it’s totally worth it to avoid giving scam artists even the slightest details to go on. Never download a file attached to an email if you don’t know who it’s from. The file could be a computer virus that will make your device run slower or will find personal information like credit card or insurance account numbers and send it to the scammer.

A Little Common Sense Goes a Long Way

You never know who’s looking when you post online, and what you say can stick around a lot longer than you think. Friends of friends might see what you post on social media, private details linger on message boards, and you can’t take back what you write. Once it’s out there, it’s out there. So be especially guarded about sharing anything you wouldn’t write down and hand to stranger, or the kind of information you run through a shredder at the end of the month.

Enjoy a Wider World

Despite digital dangers, the Internet has a wealth of opportunities to stay connected and involved in your community and interests no matter your age. Don’t feel intimidated by the possibility of living an online life, instead embrace a new skill, and take proper precautions so you can surf the web with confidence. As with any new skill, it may take time to feel as comfortable and confident as you do in real life, but soon you’ll have street smarts for the World Wide Web!

Written by Meghan O'Dea

indianapolis retirement livingMaking a move from a longtime home to an Indianapolis Assisted Living Community can be frightening for seniors, but it actually offers a lot of benefits that might not be apparent at first. Explaining these things can go a long way toward making the senior feel better about the transition.

For most of us, home represents independence and privacy in our minds, but these things are not necessarily lost in the move.

What does get lost is much of the hassles of living alone. Most retirement communities give residents the option to modify a space to make it feel more like home, including moving furniture and personal items.

The spacious apartments at MorningSide of College Park offer individually controlled heat and air, large bathrooms and full kitchens for independent retirement living. Our top of the line “Waterford” apartment provides 1,160-square-feet including two bedrooms and two baths.

Our Assisted Living program is more about providing services to help with dining, bathing, dressing, grooming, toileting, medication reminders, housekeeping and laundry, and mobility. MorningSide staff help straighten the senior’s apartment daily, wash dishes, take out the trash, wash and dry or iron personal laundry.

Living alone in a house also potentially means other challenges that simply no longer exist for them when a senior transitions to a place like MorningSide: No more yard to mow, leaves to rake, snow to shovel, weeds to pull, light bulbs to change, or carpet to vacuum. Someone else takes care of these chores. At the same time, hobbies such as gardening are still possible.

With activities provided and new friendships-in-waiting, we vanquish boredom and set the stage for relationships. Games, visits from entertainers and trips to various destinations make the days of sitting home alone a thing of the past.

It’s also worth considering that MorningSide of College Park is a safe environment where seniors can relax and not worry about home invasions or aggressive solicitors. Retirement communities are also there with assistance if a senior falls or needs help in other ways. After decades of living in urban spaces, someone can finally feel safe because they can spend time alone living in a space shared with many others.

Apartment-style senior living is an ideal living arrangement for those who value their privacy but also appreciate the peace-of-mind that comes from having a helping hand. Call (317) 872-4567 to schedule a consultation and tour of MorningSide of College Park.

Written by Steven Stiefel

Published in Retirement Communities
Monday, 29 June 2015 15:09

Indy Seniors Beat the Heat this Summer

indianapolis retirement homeLate spring was very wet this year in Indianapolis, but now that the solstice has passed and summer is officially here, it looks like sunnier, hotter weather is ahead. That’s good news for an-yone who was beginning to feel like they had wound up in Seattle instead of Indiana, but it does mean some health and safety precautions need to be taken to avoid dehydration, heat exhaustion, and other seasonal maladies that can affect the very young, the very old, and anyone who spends a lot of time outdoors, from sports enthusiasts to outdoor pets.

The first trick to beating the heat is to stay inside. Plan activities like board games, scrapbooking, book club, crafts, or indoor exercise during the hottest parts of the day, from about noon to four in the afternoon. Staying indoors is also a great way to protect your skin from harmful UV rays during the part of the day when they are strongest. Save outdoor activities for the evening when it’s cooler— that’s a great time to tend to the garden, go to a baseball game, or take an after-diner stroll with loved ones.

Whether your summer fun is indoors or out, it’s crucial to stay hydrated. Elderly people and those with chronic illnesses are especially susceptible to dehydration for a variety of factors. As we age, our bodies naturally retain less water, and kidney function may be reduced. Some medica-tions can also compromise the body’s ability to retain water. Seniors also may experience re-duced thirst or trouble swallowing, affecting their desire for fluids. Sipping on water, rather than tea, coffee, or soda, throughout the day, regardless of cravings can keep you hydrated. In fact, by the time you feel thirsty, you are already critically dehydrated.

There are many more serious side effects of dehydration than thirst to be aware of. One of the benefits of being a Morningside resident is the caring staff members who are trained in identifying such symptoms and keeping residents healthy. However, friendly and family may want to take note, as heat exhaustion and dehydration can affect people of any age. Symptoms can include mouth dryness, infrequent urination or urine that is a dark or deep yellow, cramping in limbs, headaches, the inability to cry tears, a general feeling of weakness or malaise, low blood pressure, rapid but weak pulse, dry or sunken eyes, or change in pace of breath.

Spending time indoors out of the heat is a great way to reduce the chances of chronic or dan-gerous dehydration. Fortunately, Indiana is a great place to enjoy cool summer pastimes as much as fun in the sun. Grab a milkshake from Bub’s Burgers and Ice Cream after enjoying the exhibits and programing at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Eiteljorg Museum, Indiana Medical History Museum, or the the Museum of Miniature Houses. Walk through a local shopping mall or go to see a movie to get a few extra hours of relief from the heat.

Indianapolis is a wonderful place to enjoy summer fun. You can pack in even more enjoyment simply by being safe and aware about how to stay hydrated and keep cool when temperatures spike! 

Written by Meghan O'Dea

Published in Active Senior Living
Friday, 29 August 2014 12:19

Regency Morningside Offering Respite Care

Indianapolis retirement communityMorningSide of College Park is proud to offer Respite care among our services. Respite refers to short-term, temporary relief to those who are caring for family members who might otherwise require permanent placement in a facility outside the home. Respite gives family members a break and support so they can continue to take joy in providing care to their loved ones so they can remain at home.

MorningSide opened our new memory care unit, Reflections, earlier this year. “We offer respite for families who need somewhere for their loved one to be safe and cared for while they take a vacation, go to a business meeting, etc.  Our respite rooms are beautifully furnished and those who participate in our program receive the same love, care and support as our residents,” said Susan Albers, the Executive Director of MorningSide of College Park.

She said families feel comfort knowing they aren’t in their situation alone. “Many families have faced the challenge of seeing a loved one decline due to dementia.  There is a great deal of support, encouragement and care for both the person with dementia and his or her loved one(s) dealing with it,” Albers said.

The first step to providing compassionate care to those needing respite care is understanding what’s happening. It is such a challenge because often the people we love who become forgetful aren’t aware.  The greater opportunity is understanding. 

“The brain is amazing. The one thing it isn’t is a library,” Albers said. “I remember hearing a geriatrician speak one time about this. He offered the following analogy: ‘There is no Dewey Decimal System in our brain.  When our brain hears a piece of information, it stores it anywhere it can find a place.  As we age our brain becomes increasingly filled with all sorts of information, helpful or not. When we try to retrieve that information, it just isn’t there. Later — and it can be even hours or days — that word or name you were trying to remember suddenly pops into your mind. And you didn’t think you were still trying.  It just took longer to find!  All of that time your brain was searching.’

A person’s thinking process changes when they develop dementia. “The way they understand and communicate information becomes foreign to us, so it is hard for us to accept.  They find it hard to make decisions, put the correct combinations together or follow a process.”

She said some ways the staff at MorningSide can help include offering them a choice of two things (“Would you like to wear the green blouse or the yellow one?”). Or helping them make choices or cue them on a process. 

“And all through this transition, we as family members and friends are grieving the person he or she once was. The journey doesn’t have to be dismal. There are wonderful times to be had… especially if you don’t try to go it alone. A lot of stress is placed on a family that is facing a loved one diagnosed with dementia. As the disease progresses it becomes a 24/7 job. However, there are great opportunities for assistance and support.”

For a list of support groups, go to www.alz.org/indiana. For information about MorningSide’s Reflections Memory Care, please call us at (317) 872-4567 or see our website at http://www.morningsideofcollegepark.com.

Published in Memory Care
Friday, 30 May 2014 13:39

Making Your Next Doctor's Visit Count

Indianapolis senior livingMedical students learn the phrase "First, do no harm". As a patient, you can greatly help her Indianapolis physician do a better job of managing your care. 

Health care can be complex and confusing for doctors because they have so many patients with histories to keep straight in their heads and their records. It can even be confusing to the patients from across the state of Indiana to keep track of. 

Multiple prescriptions can mean a larger possibility for drug errors, for example, including drug-to-drug interactions; under- or over-utilization of a drug; duplication of therapies; and incorrect dosages.

Communicating clearly about your medical history with your doctors is essential to your wellbeing. 

Make the most of your time with your physician and leave knowing you have asked all of the right questions and are aware of next steps regarding your follow up treatment.

Keeping your health information all together, perhaps in a notebook or binder, to bring to your next doctor’s visit is critical.  All doctors’ names, phone numbers, copies of insurance cards, a list of current medications, etc. should be included in case these need to be referenced. 

Ask someone to come with you at your next appointment.  A friend or relative can ensure that you know when your appointments are and keep notes regarding doctor’s instructions.  They can also help you keep your medications in order.

Be sure to ask your doctor whether any of the medications that they have prescribed will interact in any way with medications that you’ve previously been prescribed. Failing to ask or share this information can have serious consequences. 

Lastly, don't be intimidated by your doctor. If have questions about anything you discussed during your appointment, don’t be afraid to ask if your doctor will explain it to you again.

Photo Credit: Walt Stoneburner via Compfight cc

Published in Active Senior Living

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