Active seniors pose a challenge – in the best way
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Residents recently donated dog food for a local animal shelter. Joy Parker, activities director and volunteer coordinator, shows off the collection with Alfie the dog.[/caption]
The era of the “front porch folks” in senior living has virtually faded away. In their place are the active seniors, people who don’t stop doing their favorite hobbies or visiting their favorite places after they move into a senior living community.
It has changed the way places like Rolla Presbyterian Manor approach activities — often for the better, said Joy Parker, director of activities. Today, residents have much more say in the programming provided.
“Every person is different,” Joy said. “When someone moves in, we see what they like to do, what fits with what we already offer, or what we can add they might like. That’s our number one priority.”
This month, we’re celebrating the hard work and dedication of our activities staff in recognition of Activity Professionals Month.
Supporting Joy are activities assistant Megan Jones, transportation aide Denise Maciel, and a small platoon of volunteers.
Activities are closely tied to wellness, Joy said, so her staff focuses on experiences that address residents’ physical, social, spiritual and emotional needs. That includes encouraging people to try something new on occasion. She said it’s usually more successful when a fellow resident recommends an activity, rather than a staff member.
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Activities assistant Megan Jones accompanied residents, including Maggie Nelson, to a local Veterans Day celebration.[/caption]
Gone are the days when residents were expected to attend every party or performance.
“It can be kind of a challenge now to the activity department, to fit many more needs. But we never, ever push anybody to do something they don’t want to do. We treat them with respect,” Joy said.
The ever-more independent residents are often happy in their solitary pursuits. However, our staff and volunteers try not to let solitude turn into isolation. That’s why they reevaluate their offerings at least once a quarter. Joy searches constantly for speakers, musicians and other performers. She found that a great number of residents enjoy jazz, so she’s scouting for a live band to play.
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Students from Missouri S&T often come to participate in group activities at Rolla Presbyterian Manor. Here, Phyllis Hutchison gets to know some of the volunteers.[/caption]
The activities calendar includes plenty of outings as well, such as enjoying local restaurants and live theater, and going fishing.
Joy said having the university in town is a great resource for programming and for volunteers. Students from sororities, fraternities and service organizations visit often to do everything from playing games to gardening to the annual Spring Fling dance. That’s when the swing dance club comes to perform and dance with residents.
Presbyterian Manor has teamed with the local senior companion program for several years, which recently increased the number of volunteers coming here from three to five.
We hope you’ll take a moment to show your appreciation to all of our activities staff and volunteers this month.