Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Benefits of Collaborative Programming with Senior Living Communities

“Come on!”

“No pressure!”

“You can do it!”

Those are just a few of the phrases you’ll hear thrown out in the last round of the Semi-Annual Corn-Toss tournament held between seveBral CCRCs in Indiana every spring and fall. This is one of many multicommunity events that NIFS fitness center managers put on every year. Sometimes events are competitive (such as corn-toss, water volleyball, or pickleball), and sometimes they are more educational (wellness seminars). A lot of coordination is involved (scheduling, transportation, food, and so on), but it’s always worth it!

ThinkstockPhotos-510313194.jpgHere are some of the ways the residents reap the benefits of collaborative programming with senior living communities outside of their own.

1. It’s an opportunity to make new friends.

It seems like making new friends only gets tougher as we get older. With social media, email, and easy modes of transportation, it’s so easy to keep up with the friends and family we already have in our lives, so why would you bother meeting anyone new? Study after study has shown that a healthy social life has amazing, positive effects on lifespan/longevity and quality of life.

Collaborative programming between communities creates a situation that facilitates new friendships because residents already know they have something in common. If everyone in a room is playing in a Euchre tournament, a resident can guess that the person sitting next to them at the table enjoys playing cards. Voila! Easy icebreaker! It’s also fun to see residents who consistently participate really getting to know each other. They start to make friends with residents at new communities, but also with neighbors who perhaps they hadn’t really known.

2. Staff can share ideas while residents experience a new way of learning.

As fitness staff, we spend a lot of our time trying to teach people about how to be healthy. We give advice about fitness and nutrition and staying active, but after a while, it can start to sound a little like a broken record. For residents, hearing about the same health/fitness topics from the same people means sometimes it’s in one ear and out the other. These collaborative events provide a great opportunity for residents to learn from someone else who has a different teaching style. Sometimes, hearing the same good information presented in a new way can be all it takes to make the advice “click” for a person.

3. Competition drives participation.

This doesn’t hold true for everyone, but at many communities, competition drives participation. If residents know they are practicing for a tournament against a “rival” community (however they may define that), they might be more interested. This not only means more participation on the day of the competition, but also leading up to the competition. And who knows, maybe during one of those practice sessions residents will see a bulletin board for your next fitness incentive and decide to sign up for that, too.

***

Multicommunity programs are fun and educational, and build camaraderie among residents. Whether informative or competitive, they are a great opportunity to learn from each other and about each other, and they always lead to a fun time.

Does your community regularly participate in collaborative programming with other communities?

Whitepaper+Wellness Culture

Topics: participation senior living communities CCRC Programs and Services programming competition

Improve Your Senior Living Exercise Program: Focus on Chronic Disease

ThinkstockPhotos-585600458.jpgThe benefits of regular activity for individuals throughout their lifespan is clear through the many (many, many) studies that outline how much movement is enough and which elements of health are improved with activity. However, despite the research, people in the U.S. still simply don't get enough activity to sustain health benefits, and the rate of inactivity in the older adult population is even more startling.

Sedentary behavior as we age can be linked to chronic diseases like arthritis and heart disease. Although these conditions are common in older adults—and in many cases, regular exercise can help individuals manage those health issues—seniors often feel limited by their chronic illnesses. If you're having trouble growing participation in your community exercise program, you might be missing this important audience. Improve your senior living exercise program and focus on chronic disease to address these health concerns.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Help Residents Manage Chronic Illness with Exercise

  • Arthritis: Exercise is one of the most crucial options for arthritis management. Regular activity helps lubricate the joints and can help reduce overall pain and stiffness that is often present among individuals with arthritis. Moreover, obesity is a risk factor for the disease, and increasing physical activity levels can help better manage the debilitating symptoms of arthritis.

[Related Content: Pick your arthritis battles: how exercise can help]

  • Heart disease: Heart disease is one of the biggest causes of death in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that about one in every four deaths is attributed to heart disease. More people exercising later in life can help reduce the number of individuals with heart disease through the management of blood pressure and blood glucose, and decreasing LDL cholesterol.
  • Metabolic Dysfunction (type II diabetes and obesity): Type II diabetes and obesity are two closely related diseases in which the body is in metabolic dysfunction. Exercise can help maintain proper body weight and help regulate blood glucose and insulin levels to make the body more efficient.
  • Cancer: Exercise has been shown to help lower overall cancer risk among a variety of different forms of cancer. Studies have shown a 30 to 40 percent reduction in breast cancer risk among women who perform moderate to regular exercise.
  • Hypertension: Exercise can help lower systolic blood pressure significantly through moderate-intensity physical activity. Try breaking up exercise into three bouts throughout the day lasting for at least 10 minutes each to receive blood pressure–lowering effects.
  • Depression: Exercise can have a beneficial effect on personal mood. Studies suggest that group exercise classes can help reduce symptoms of depression by 30 percent or more in exercising older adults. The modest improvement in depressive symptoms can help maintain an overall greater vitality later in life and help prevent negative feelings or thoughts that are common with aging.
  • Dementia: Dementia is a disabling condition affecting many older adults. With a wide range of mental disorders categorized as dementia, there is a great need to understand how to prevent the condition. Exercise is one prevention strategy that can help slow the mental decline. One study showed a 37 percent reduced risk and a 66 percent reduction in risk of dementia when older adults performed moderate-intensity exercise, suggesting every adult ought to exercise to help lower the risk of mental decline and to help prevent mental disability later in life.
  • Insomnia: Certain medications and life events can prevent the body from proper sleep. Higher levels of physical activity can help tire the body enough to place it in a position for restful and lasting sleep. Avoid strenuous exercise two hours before bed to obtain these benefits, and aim to meet the daily activity recommendations.

Need help ramping up community exercise programs to reach a broader audience? Find out more about NIFS consulting service where we bring our expertise to your community.

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Topics: diabetes heart disease cancer sleep senior living arthritis hypertension dementia depression exercise program CCRC Programs and Services chronic disease

3 Questions to Ask About Fitness Options in Assisted Living and Memory Care

ThinkstockPhotos-509493160.jpgIt’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:

  1. 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?
  2. 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?
  3. 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.

NIFS Workshop: Register Now

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!

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Topics: senior living senior fitness assisted living NIFS Workshop CCRC Programs and Services exercise through the continuums

How NIFS Staff Spend Their Time In Senior Living Fitness Centers

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We are often asked by prospective senior living clients how NIFS staff spend their time in senior living fitness centers mangaging the fitness program. Using our monthly report data and through some Q&A with our staff, we pulled together the data below. The information is based on several client settings where we provide one full-time employee to manage the client’s fitness program.

IL Occupancy

# of Group Fitness Classes/Week

Hrs of Group Fitness Class Instruction/Week

Exercise Prescriptions/Month

Senior Fitness Test/Month

Other Appts/Month 

328

13

7.5

64

2

87

158

8

4

8

3

62

307

10

5

5

50

39

268

17

10.5

17

4

39

493

8

5.5

11

5

71

265

5

4

58

0

41

260

8

6

9

23

87

238

5

2.5

54

2

14

Average

9.25

5.5hrs

28

11

55

The following points of clarification provide more information about this data:

This data set does not include the one to two additional classes per week that many of our staff are teaching in AL/health center environments. That could easily represent an additional one to two hours each week excluded from the time outline above.

We don’t typically recommend classes that are longer than 45 minutes for this audience, both from an endurance standpoint (for some) and from the perspective that the lifestyle calendar is typically really full and we don’t need to take up more time than necessary when members have many other things to be doing. We want exercise to be as attractive and as easy to fit in as possible, and it’s quite appropriate to expect a solid, effective workout from a 30-minute class.  

At most of these locations, there is at least one outside instructor teaching a specialty format class like Zumba Gold, tai chi, etc. These above figures represent what our staff teach as part of their 40-hour work week.  

Here’s how the math breaks down on hours per week for all of the services above for NIFS fitness management (as averages):

  • 5.5 hours per week teaching.
  • 28 exercise prescriptions per month = 7 per week at 90 minutes per appointment = 10.5 hours per week.
  • 11 fitness tests per month = 2.75 per week at 60 minutes per appointment = 2.75 hours per week.
  • 55 other appointments per month (orientations, blood pressure checks, etc.) = 14 per week at 15 minutes per appointment = 3.5 hours per week.
  • Roughly 20 to 25 hours per week spent directly providing these kinds of services, allowing another 15 to 20 hours per week for program development, recreational activities like Wii Bowling, coordination/collaboration with other departments, meetings, and reporting or other administrative tasks.

How does this compare to what your fitness staff is doing? Maybe your senior fitness program could use a boost in productivity to draw in more residents. 

If you’re in that place where you’re trying to decide whether it’s beneficial to staff your fitness program with a full-time employee, consider watching our staffing webinar by clicking below. 

10 Benefits to Adding Quality Staff Webinar

 

Topics: senior living communities productivity senior living fitness center nifs fitness managment CCRC Programs and Services

How we engage residents in senior living fitness programs

thumbs upRaise your hand if you love hearing stories about how your staff make a resident’s day, particularly when it occurs organically, if you will, by the employee simply being who she is.  I know…me too.  That’s why I couldn’t resist sharing these two stories in our blog and how we engage residents in senior living fitness programs. 

Our organizational structure is such that we hire exceptionally capable, qualified, and passionate staff who we train well.  When they’re ready, we set them off at their client location to do their work.  Certainly, we provide a host of supports, ongoing training, and other touch points, but it’s tough for me to keep track of their day to day challenges and victories when they are far flung in 22 states with more than 60 clients.  So when these two stories got back to me, I simply had to give this shout out!

Story #1

When we first start working with a new senior living client and we place one of our fitness center managers onsite at the community, we sometimes get pushback from a small group of vocal residents about the information we require of them prior to helping them with an exercise program.  Industry standards through the American College of Sports Medicine establish that sound practice involves gathering relevant health information, securing a signed waiver, and getting a medical release where appropriate.  If we get push back from residents, it’s typically with the waiver and a common objection to the industry standard language we use. 

This story comes from that exact circumstance where a small group of residents had protested our use of a release for the fitness program.  While we were in discussion with leadership at the community about NIFS practices, and how the community wanted to proceed, our manager, Ali, continued to do what she does.  

She worked with the early adopters providing senior fitness testing, individualized exercise programs and guidance, and continued to follow up with those participants about their progress and any questions they have.  She offered creative group exercise classes and continued to enroll residents in those programs.  She focused in on improving resident’s balance through both class and 1:1 settings, and she continued to help participants track their progress as their strength and balance improved. 

Meanwhile, the residents did what residents do.  They talked to their friends and neighbors.  Those who were engaged in the new fitness programming with the NIFS fitness center manager talked about how much better they felt, how they could tell their balance was improving, and how easy the manager was to work with. 

And then those initial naysayers started thinking that they might be missing out on something really positive going on in the community.  So, within a few weeks of raising strong objections to our paperwork, those most vocal opponents put aside their concerns, completed the paperwork, and started receiving the same positive health benefits that their friends and neighbors had been experiencing.  We’re grateful for the opportunity to serve more residents in the community, and I’m completely tickled that it all came about simply because the NIFS manager kept doing what she’s amazing at with those who were ready. 

Story #2

The second story is one of those “well, duh” moments.  The action our staff member took in response to a resident need is truly a no-brainer.  But I say that and I know that I may not have arrived at that simple action which has definitely resulted in improved quality of life for that individual.  Rachel made this resident’s day simply by being who she is – a creative problem solver who is passionate about helping the residents enjoy very active living.

When Rachel learned that one of their formerly regular participants stopped exercising, she wanted to get to the bottom of it.  Turns out, the resident was unable to use the check in scanner because of a low vision condition, so she simply stopped attending group exercise classes.  After Rachel learned about the barrier, she worked with the resident to place a small piece of adhesive felt to the membership tag and taught the resident how to orient the felt in front of the scanner for a successful check in.  That resident was able to feel her way to a successful fitness center check in and removing that barrier was enough to pull her back into group exercise classes twice each (and every) week.

I suspect you have your own ‘feel good’ stories like this – share them in the comments below to help spread the love!

Click below to find out how NIFS attracts and attains the industry's best fitness professionals. 

How we find great staff
Topics: active aging senior living fitness programs for seniors nifs fitness management staffing CCRC Programs and Services