It’s been exciting to watch my staff push on the leading edge of expanded fitness
programming for residents in assisted living (AL), and memory-care environments for the senior living communities we serve. Over the last decade, significant progress has been made in exercise options for residents in independent living (IL); fitness centers, equipment, and scope of services have all evolved. Unfortunately, progressing those options throughout a Life Plan community to all residents has remained an afterthought both from an amenity and programmatic standpoint. The IL residents at a community often have a fitness center, pool, robust group fitness calendar, and individualized services available to them and in many cases as they transition to AL or other areas of care on campus the drastic decline in available options shifts them from a professionally managed health and fitness program by an exercise physiologist to chair-based exercise classes lead by activities professional.
If you’re ready to take a closer look at the exercise program you provide for residents in licensed areas, these three questions are a great place to start:
Top 3 Questions to Ask Yourself about Fitness Options in assisted living and memory care:
- Whether you work in a standalone AL or memory-care community or CCRC, families inevitably ask about the physical activity options that are available to mom and dad beyond billable rehab services. They understand the importance of keeping the mind and body in motion as part of a daily lifestyle. Does your community have a good answer for these questions that demonstrates robust options that are purposeful and executed by trained staff?
- In licensed areas, residents often have rehab services more readily available to them and that might seem like an easy solution. How do you support residents when they are discharged after 6-8 weeks of therapy and eliminate the revolving door of improved function à discharge from therapy services à proceed to decline due to lack of physical activity options à then back in therapy again?
- If you are a CCRC and you currently have a robust fitness program for your IL residents, how do the residents’ options compare in terms of amenities, programs and services, and qualified staffing as residents move through the continuums? Having a continuation of offerings can be a great comfort as residents transition from one continuum of care to the next and it’s a great demonstration that the lifestyle they buy into in IL truly carries with them with whatever level of care they might need on campus.
Your answers to those questions may leave you with program and service gaps to fill. In our 12 years working in senior living, we’ve developed best practices in exercise with residents in assisted living and memory care for:
- Group fitness class offerings beyond basic chair exercise classes taught by the activities staff
- Individualized services including personal training and fitness and balance assessments
- Dedicated exercise equipment and spaces
- Enriching wellness-based programming opportunities
Want to learn more? Join us in March 2017, when we host a workshop showcase some of these best practices and to provide training and tools for activities professionals to enhance the work they are doing serving the health and fitness needs of residents in AL and memory care.
We have two more blogs planned to spotlight what else you can learn in our Exercise Through the Continuums workshop. Even if you can’t attend the event, you won’t want to miss the series where we help you outline how to make the best use of available resources for a fantastic fitness program. Subscribe below to stay up to date!