Over the past 5 months, we’ve had the pleasure of interviewing recreation professionals to learn more about their first-hand experiences in senior living. Our Welbi Heroes all come from different walks of life, but what they all have in common is their dedication to improving the lives of their residents. From them, we’ve learned all about the amazing ways that recreation programs help older adults live happier, healthier, and more fulfilling lives. Here are our top 10 ways that recreation benefits older adults, as told by recreation professionals themselves!
Recreation programs allow older adults to explore their interests and try new things. Sometimes, the results can be life-changing! Our Welbi Hero Jennifer Nash told us about a resident at the Crofton Manor who discovered his love for writing poetry at age 99 when he joined the writer’s club. “Now he thinks and lives in haiku,” Jennifer said. “He just loves it!”
A comprehensive recreation program addresses all aspects of healthy living, which includes taking care of both our physical and emotional health. Fortunately, recreation professionals like Robyn Heaney have found ways to address both aspects at once by making exercise fun! Robyn’s residents at Marina Point love to get active through dancing.
“It’s really improved their balance and their mood,” Robyn shared. “It’s a great thing!”
Many people believe that older adults don’t contribute to society, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Residents at our Welbi Heroes’ communities prove this ageist stereotype false with all the incredible ways they give back to others. Whether they’re raising money for Habitat for Humanity, partnering with local food banks, or riding the Big Bike for Heart and Stroke, these older adults know the fulfillment that comes from helping those in need!
You’re never too old to have new adventures! With special outings and events, scenic drives, and day trips, recreation keeps life fun and exciting for older adults. And recreation professionals are the ones that make it happen. Jacqueline Siemens loves to take her residents at Berwick on the Park on road trips in beautiful British Columbia.
“I once drove the bus from Kamloops to Nanaimo and we overnighted,” she said. “It was a blast! It was such a fun time with such a great group of people.”
Recreation professionals are experts at bringing people together. They know all about their residents’ likes and dislikes, their interests, and their backgrounds. When they know that two of their residents have something in common, they’ll be sure to introduce them to each other during a social event or program. Bonding over an activity that they both love is the perfect opportunity for new friendships to flourish!
Nothing makes recreation professionals happier than helping their residents follow their dreams! For them, being part of that special moment when a resident achieves a lifelong goal makes all their efforts worth it. Jennifer Nash told us about a resident who had always wanted to ride the Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish, B.C., and finally got her chance.
“She told me, ‘I waited ninety years to do this!’ She was just so happy that she finally did something like that. And that’s what we’re supposed to help them do.”
Recreation professionals provide older adults with experiences that they will fondly reminisce about for years to come! Jennifer Wasden loves to wow her residents at Sunridge Gardens with the elegant soirees she plans for them. “It’s all about the music, and the champagne, and the hors d’oeuvres,” she said. Jennifer and her residents celebrated 10 years’ worth of Sunridge memories at the community’s anniversary gala this year!
“That’s a big thing,” Jennifer said. “10 years in a home they’re proud to be a part of.”
For many older adults, accessibility concerns prevent them from fully participating in their communities. A lack of public transportation and poor walkability in the neighbourhood can lead to older adults being isolated at home. Recreation professionals plan their programming from start to finish with their residents’ comfort and safety in mind.
“Programs can be adapted to meet individuals where they’re at,” said Jacqueline Siemens.
“It’s just a matter of doing the legwork to figure out how to make it work.” With the help of recreation professionals like Jacqueline, older adults can continue enjoying all that their community has to offer!
Seniors have so many stories to tell, and recreation professionals are always happy to hear them! Recreation professionals like Rachelle Rowland come up with creative ways to help their residents share their stories with others. Rachelle began interviewing her residents to shine a spotlight on the amazing people who call City View home.
“Getting to know the residents and hearing their stories makes it all worth it,” Rachelle shared.
All the recreation professionals we interviewed told us the same thing: for older adults in senior living, the recreation team is like part of the family! We think Jennifer Wasden put it best:
“We are the next closest thing to family to our residents. When they have a bad day, we hear about it. We’re here to laugh with them. We’re here to cry with them. We’re here to comfort them. That’s so, so important to be that person for them.”
We hope that these stories from our Welbi Heroes inspire you! Recreation professionals play such an important role in their communities, and the ways they benefit their residents far exceed what’s on this list. Make sure to check out our full Welbi Hero interviews and sign up for Welbi’s newsletter for more Activity Professional content. Welbi is always here to support you on your journey to bring wellness to your community!
Wendy studies English Language and Literature at the University of Ottawa, where she has won numerous awards for her writing.
Katie is a member of Welbi’s Customer Experience team! She has a background in communications and recreation and is passionate about older adults, exercise, coffee and people.
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