By Alexander Germanis
From our very first days on earth, we are encouraged to be active. From infancy to adulthood, the physical benefits of being active are drilled into our minds by parents, teachers, and doctors alike.
Building muscle, strengthening bones, and keeping the circulatory system clear are all crucial to living long, healthy lives, but there are far more benefits to regular activity—and far more ways to be active that do not necessarily require calisthenics or lifting weights.
At Snyder Village, all forms of activity are not only encouraged, but they are also aided, planned, and developed by tireless activity coordinators. Whether a resident is living independently, in assisted living, or in nursing care, living an active lifestyle is at the forefront of enjoying longer, happier lives.
The Spice of Life
Regardless of how much daily help a resident may need, all get the attention of their respective lifestyle directors. Retirement Community Lifestyle Director Adrianna Tuszynski, Traditional Assisted Living Activity Coordinator Ashley Gipson, and Health Center Lifestyle DirectorAmanda Yetter are all in tune with the specific activity needs of their seniors.
“I try to schedule activity outings to meet the needs of my residents,” Ashley Gipson says. “I ask them what they want to do each month and I take everyone’s suggestions into consideration when planning our activity calendar.”
“In the Retirement Community, they are all pretty independent, so we do what any ‘typical’ person would do,” Adrianna Tuszynski puts in. “We’ve got a monthly potluck that is well attended. We try to offer many opportunities for socialization as that is something that this population may lack access to.”
On the nursing care side of things, Amanda Yetter sometimes needs to think outside the box. “There are a lot of misconceptions in regard to senior living care. It’s not all about Bingo—although we do love our Bingo!” she says. “Our Activity Department’s overall goal is to ensure that whatever individuals ‘used to do,’ we will help them continue to do, even if that means adaptations or modifications need to be done. One example is reading. Many begin to lose their hearing and vision, so we offer large print or audiobooks.”
While other diversions, such as visiting entertainers, are also brought in for the residents, if there’s one thing all residents have in common, it is enjoying a little trip out on the town. Adrianna says the best trips tend to have one similar theme. “They seem to love anything that involves food,” declares Adrianna. “We do a lot of out-to-eats.”
Whether the residents of Snyder Village are engaging in a friendly game, are going out on the town for a bite, or are just enjoying time with one another, each activity serves a deeper purpose. The lifestyle directors understand the benefits their seniors can glean from these activities are as varied as the activities themselves.
“Activities can help seniors in so many ways that we don’t always think about,” Ashley points out. “The phrase, ‘use it or lose it’ goes for seniors even more than young adults. Staying active and participating in physical activities can decrease the seniors’ risk of falls, lowers their risk of certain medical issues and diseases, and helps promote them to stay independent for longer.”
There is an appropriate level of physical activity for every resident: dancing, outdoor walks, shopping, trips to the zoo, and active games such as cornhole or balloon swat, to name just a few.
For those who may want to work up a bit of a sweat, “Our specialized workout classes are aimed towards senior populations,” Adrianna says, with a focus on meeting them at their particular ability level.
Physical activity makes up only a fraction of the activity necessary to maintain a holistically healthy life, however. Spiritual, social, and mental health are all linked; therefore, all are emphasized.
“I have always found it to be important for seniors to stay connected with their community and maintain healthy relationships with others,” Ashley states. “We enjoy some of the following social activities: dining out, ice cream socials, playing games, and going to church services together.”
The social interaction goes a long way in not only aiding with cognition but in fighting depression, as Amanda explains: “A person that has social withdrawal is more likely to be depressed, which impacts their recovery after a significant incident, such as a stroke or a broken hip, as well as impacts those that live in a nursing facility long-term.”
“We aim to offer many socialization opportunities,” adds Adrianna, “and find that even the smallest activities are a great segue to helping facilitate that.”
Aiming for this holistic approach is also vitally important in the two unique memory care programs at Snyder Village. Designed to offer specialized care for those with cognitive impairments such as Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, the Snyder Village Memory Care calendars are filled with activities. Their programs cover nine activity areas: physical activity, cognitive stimulation, spiritual/religious activities, service, sensory stimulation, community involvement, arts/crafts, social/recreation, and family involvement. Each activity is specially designed to slow or minimize the decline of cognitive function, all while providing a form of entertainment for the resident.
Like Christmas Eve
Anticipation of something fun is not an emotion felt only by little children. When certain events are forthcoming, the residents of Snyder Village all feel that familiar spark. “They are always excited to see when the new calendar comes out where we will be going,” confirms Adrianna.
“This summer alone we have visited Fon du Lac Farm Park, numerous area restaurants, Luthy Botanical Gardens, Central Illinois Riding Therapy, Meat at the Strip car show, Hotrods and Hamburgers, and concerts in the park. We love to be out and about!” Amanda agrees. “We also love any activity where children are involved, and we have been blessed with families that have joined us in a variety of activities this summer.”
“We are looking forward to going to Hooked on Fishing in East Peoria this month,” Ashley adds. “And we are going to the Botanical Gardens in Peoria towards the end of this month.”
Even when staying in, there are activities galore to enjoy and toward which to look forward. There is a well-stocked fishing hole on campus where the residents can cast their lines, and a puppy parade is scheduled for August 25th.
“We’ve started up an open tech hour where residents can come to ask questions and get help with technology,” Adrianna shares. “This has been helpful to give residents the opportunity to personalize their devices, fill out important documents that they were unsure how to access, and stay in touch with loved ones.”
Residents can also request new activities in which all can share. “I have a resident who used to bake cakes for a living,” Ashley says. “So, we now have a baking/cake decorating class every month and that resident helps me lead the class. Planning our calendar this way gives everyone a chance to show off their talents to others and gives them a sense of still living in the community when they get to be the one teaching others.”
Living Newton’s Law
Newton’s First Law of Motion says that an object in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted upon by an external force. At Snyder Village, however, the external forces of Adrianna, Amanda, and Ashley are all working to keep their residents in motion.
With each outing, social gathering, church meeting, or game, the residents experience different forms of activity designed to address every aspect of their health. But more than that, staying in motion brings them closer together, helps them form new friendships, and keeps them in touch with loved ones. Staying in motion helps the residents of Snyder Village not only experience life, but to gain new life as well.
Snyder Village is located at 1200 East Partridge Street in Metamora, Illinois. If you would like to tour the village, please call us at (309) 367-4300. If you would like to see more of what Snyder Village has to offer you or a loved one, please visit us on the web at www.snydervillage.com.