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Senior living communities provide popular programs for residents

September 21, 2018

Seniors need to be stimulated mentally, physically and socially to maintain health. Mental stimulation is particularly important. The more mentally active a person is, the longer it takes for the onset of accelerated memory loss to show up, according to a recent study.

Because of this, senior communities have developed a wide variety of programs and activities to stimulate their residents.

“One of our most popular activities is chair volleyball. Our residents play twice a month and love it,” said Mary Green, Life Enrichment coordinator at Parkway Place, a Buckner Senior Living Community. “The game follows the basic volleyball rules with a few adaptations — the players don’t rotate after points, and there is no limit to the number of times the ball can be hit to get it over the net. There is lively competition, good exercise and lots of laughs each time our residents ‘hit the court’.”

Green said that occasionally they offer Dinner and a Movie, which has been very successful. They recreate the experience at movie-and-a-meal venues by setting up rows of tables in their auditorium. The house is always packed as they watch a popular movie. The residents get to munch on nachos, pizza, popcorn and soda. It takes their normal in-house movie experience to another level.

Treemont Retirement has an ongoing nutrition program with a focus on the health benefits of a whole food, plant-based diet. This is taught by nutrition professor Dr. Martica Heaner.

“We’ve talked about how unconventional approaches to nutrition are showing fantastic results for seniors suffering from chronic diseases,” said Nikki Andress, activity cirector at Treemont Retirement Community. “For example, those suffering from arthritis can significantly reduce pain by giving up dairy products, and those with diabetes can reduce or eliminate their need for insulin by upping the intake of whole fruits and vegetables and avoiding animal products.”

The residents have also created a meditation wall that features uplifting quotes that they’ve chosen. It serves as a place where they can reflect and focus on the positive things in their lives.

They work to fulfill wishes on resident outings, which can turn out to be very meaningful.

“We took a trip to Galveston and went to the beach. I honestly think our residents were having the most fun of anyone there, while feeding the gulls, playing in the water, posing for pictures — they didn’t want to leave,” said Andress.

Treemont residents also watch a TED Talk each month. Then, they discuss it afterwards as a group.

“None of the residents had ever heard of a TED Talk before, and they really love being able to learn from an expert in their field and engage in a lively debate with their neighbors afterwards,” said Andress.

TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks. TED started in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers many topics — from science to business to global issues in more than 110 languages.

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