We’ve talked a lot on these pages about the benefits of exercise for seniors, in everything from disease prevention to managing chronic illness to improving cognitive function. At LCB we prioritize physical activity as one of our Four Pillars of Engagement – the Physical, Social, Cognitive, and Emotional foundations of the “whole-person” approach that defines our communities. At the forefront of this effort are our Engagement Directors, who work hard to create and nurture a suite of programming that’s as diverse and varied as our residents. We recently asked a few of them to speak to the physical aspect and how it plays out in a few LCB communities.
The Lighthouse At Lincoln in Lincoln RI is focused on what we call our Reflections programming, devoted exclusively to seniors with cognitive impairment and dementia. “Our resident population is quite diverse in age, profession, and cultures,” says Lighthouse Engagement Director Jody DiRamo. “We have retired military officers, nurses, atomic engineers, school teachers, homemakers and farmers.” Part of what unites them all, she says, is compassion and relationship building –and much of that takes place through the movement portion of their day. Exercise is known to release endorphins that make people feel happy and strong; Jody sees residents that exercise together as sharing a sense of accomplishment and purpose, and feeling more engaged as a team as a result.
Physical activity also increases neural activity, and strengthens concentration and focus. So in the morning Stretchacize class at Lincoln you might see residents counting their weightlifts in Italian, German, French, or Portuguese. “Seniors who have never spoken these languages are counting to 20 within a few weeks,” Jody points out. Their morning Tai Chi classes are set to music that has sound frequency patterns designed to stimulate memory and other brain functions, easing into an isometric strengthening program tailored to different musical beats and genres.
Up in Middlebury VT, LCB’s The Residence at Otter Creek is home to Independent Living, Assisted Living, and Reflections Memory Care residents. Engagement Director Courtney Allensen oversees a vibrant exercise program that’s designed to engage seniors at all stages of physical and cognitive function, and meant to adapt as they progress. One illustration of this approach is their water movement program. “We offer three levels of Aqua Classes at Otter Creek,” Courtney explains: “Guided Aqua, for residents who have been “landlocked” for a while and need a very low ratio of resident to associate support; Gentle Aqua, and Aqua Aerobics.”
So for the guided level, think walking in the water, safe pool entry and exit skill building, and basic water play. Gentle Aqua introduces light aerobic movement for seniors who have better balance and mobility, and Aqua Aerobics steps up to a full aerobic class. “It’s always a great pleasure to watch residents graduate from one program to the next, because you can see their confidence grow with each step!” says Allensen.
Questions? We love them! Call us anytime at (339) 206–8979 for more information or to schedule a visit.