Keeping residents engaged is good for health

Photos by Daniel Vasta/The Herald
St. Charles resident Marie Betz visits with her 3-month-old great-grandson, Owen Tempel of Jasper, left, and great-granddaughter Camille Hochgesang, 1, of Celestine, center, along with family members Betty Jenkins of Jasper, left, and Alli Tempel of Jasper during Family Night at the health campus in Jasper on Thursday. "What we try to do is bring what is outside, inside," said Executive Director Todd Maki. "Just to have that community and camaraderie with their families." 


People tend to enjoy the company of others.

There aren’t many who want to live in isolation from the community, and that’s also true for residents at senior care facilities.

“If they just sit here all day long, they are going to get depressed,” said Anna Faulkenberg, a life enrichment director at Scenic Hills Care Center in Ferdinand. “You get them out in the community or bring the community in, their eyes light up.”

Residents who move into facilities like Scenic Hills still have opportunities to be involved in their community. Staff at the facilities provide a host of activities to get them out and about.

Recently, Scenic Hills took male residents to Shoney’s for a men’s hour, which is a socialization activity. There are also picnics and fishing excursions. Residents also get to plant flowers and vegetables through the Campus in Color programs when the weather warms up.

“We take the residents over to Family Roots and let them pick out the flowers and plants,” Faulkenberg said.

Facilities also invite community members to come and visit residents through various programs. Community members have church and mass services with residents. School children visit with residents. There are also Bible studies, evening meals that are open to families and group outings.

Director of Life Enrichment Sherri Byers, left, dances with St. Charles resident Richard Fischer during Family Night at the health campus in Jasper on Thursday. "If you're not making them smile at the end of the day, you're not doing your purpose," Byers said. The event included dinner and live music for the residents.

Several facilities, like St. Charles Health Campus in Jasper, hold card games and community bingo activities. St. Charles also has rummage sales, arts and crafts shows, a yearly retreat, ladies night events, and happy hours with residents and their families, said Terri Fritchley, a life enrichment director at St. Charles. They take residents out on excursions — like dinner and shopping — twice a week.

The Waters of Huntingburg keeps the roster of activities full and varied. Along with church services and bingo games, the facility has members of the Huntingburg Veterans of Foreign Wars come in and host cornhole games. The Huntingburg Public Library does craft activities with residents. The facility has excursions, like shopping and visiting casinos. And many volunteers visit to pamper residents: such as doing their nails and hair, performing musical programs and singing with them at karaoke activities.

“We don’t want them to think that they can’t do those things they used to do just because they moved here,” said Lindsey Burger, marketing director for The Waters. “We want to continue to offer those choices to our seniors. We want them to have the quality of life as they did before.”

Residents at the Northwood Retirement Community in Jasper get to volunteer their time for public service, such as making dog treats for the Humane Society and filling backpacks with needed items that are ultimately given to children in low-income families. This year, the facility will celebrate its 50th anniversary with an open house in May, which also brings in the community to interact with residents, office manager Jennifer Wilson said.

“They want to interact and give back to the community as much as they can,” Wilson said. “They still deserve quality of life.”

Brookside Village in Jasper offers a variety of programs for residents, many of which are open to residents’ families, activities director Brenda Poselwait said. Children visit and present programs. The facility has a pen-pal program between residents and middle schoolers, as well as opportunities for students to come in and talk to a resident about his or her life.

All directors agreed that keeping residents engaged with the community is good for residents’ health overall, and encouraged people in the community to get involved and socialize with residents.

“They’re not coming here to die. They’re coming here to live,” Faulkenberg said. “That’s what we want to do for them. We want to make sure they still have the same opportunities that they had when they were at home, to be able to do them here.”

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