Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Water Volleyball Tournament Is the Definition of Active Aging Week 2018

Active Aging Week is always an exciting time for the NIFS Active Aging team. Our team members work hard to create opportunities for the residents ranging from sports, recreation, and trivia to meditation, education, and beyond with the goal of celebrating a positive view of aging. NIFS staff members across the country went above and beyond this year to encourage residents to step outside of their comfort zones and celebrate actively aging all week.

This spirit was most certainly demonstrated by the water volleyball tournament that took place between our senior living sites in Chicago, IL, and Lincolnwood, IL this year. I had the opportunity to speak with both Ruth, the NIFS Fitness Manager at Lincolnwood, and Leah, the NIFS Fitness Manager at Chicago, to see how the day went. Check it out!

NIFS | Seniors playing water volleyball

Q: What inspired the idea of a water volleyball tournament between Lincolnwood and Chicago?

Ruth: I really wanted to put together more activities between our Illinois sites, and water volleyball seemed like a great way to get our residents together and get to know the other community. Leah did a great job of getting her residents to practice and actually come with their A game this year. I really would like to host chair volleyball tournaments to include Wyndemere as well since they don’t have a pool.

Leah: Last year, Lincolnwood came to the Chicago site to play water volleyball. We assembled a team for the event without ever practicing. The Lincolnwood players told the Chicago players that they “skunked us,” and that didn’t sit so well with our competitive residents. A rematch with Lincolnwood was one of the first requests I received when I started in Chicago last March. From there it was just a matter of timing, and we thought tying it into Active Aging Week was a great idea!

Q: So, let’s get the obvious question out of the way…who won?

Leah: I’m proud to say we brought the Poinsettia Trophy home this year. We had several residents who had played last year say they would only play this year if we practiced first. I put four practice times on the schedule, and the players enjoyed it so much they requested two additional practices. They were taking no chances this year and their hard work showed…we “skunked” them!

Ruth: Yeah, yeah they beat us...this year! We have an ongoing water volleyball group here at Lincolnwood that meets on Saturday mornings. They have a team resident leader, and honestly they were overly confident this year and really didn’t play to their full potential. Nonetheless, we loved having the Chicago team here and enjoyed the time together since we do a lunch afterwards as well.

Q: What do you think the residents enjoyed the most about the tournament?

Leah: Play is one of the best things you can do for your mind, body, and soul; and unfortunately, it seems like we lose sight of that as we age. This tournament gave our residents the opportunity to reconnect with their younger selves, become part of a supportive team, play, and have fun! Our team is a competitive bunch. They were jumping, leaping, and diving for the ball. One resident told me after the tournament that being on this team was the best workout and the most fun she had had in years.

Ruth: Definitely promoting water volleyball is a way to reach out to our residents as another form of exercise beyond the standard fitness classes. They love the competition aspect and really enjoy developing as players, regardless of their age! Many of them played volleyball throughout their life.

Q: Were there any surprises? Anything that stands out from the day?

Leah: My residents were shocked and not too happy to find the beach ball at Lincolnwood was quite a lot bigger and heavier than the ball we have at Chicago. It really threw the team off during the first game (which is the only game we lost at the tournament). It was fun to see them adjust their style of playing.

Ruth: We actually were equally surprised last year when we had to play with a smaller-version volleyball; perhaps we need to come up with an in-between ball. I think the biggest surprise for us was how prepared the Chicago players were, their setups were definitely practiced.

Leah: There were many highlights of the day, but the thing that stood out to me most was the game-winning point of the final game. There was so much tension in the air as our resident made the final serve. When the ball dropped to the water and scored the final point, the Chicago residents just erupted with a cheer. On our way home the team asked if we could continue to play once a week and open it up to all senior living residents. It is now on our schedule every Wednesday at 1 pm!

Ruth: The good news is that our players surprised me by not being upset over the loss; they embraced the camaraderie among both communities. They also appreciated the positive comments regarding the pool size and the luncheon, but they are excited about next year and heading back to playing at The Clare.

Q: Do you have any advice for fitness staff who want to host a similar tournament in their community?

Leah: I definitely recommend having a few practices before playing an actual game and communicating with the other facility about towels and water. The site in Chicago provides towels at the pool, but Lincolnwood does not, so I was thankful Ruth let me know that in advance so we were prepared.

I’d be sure to clarify the rules with the players before the game.

Ruth was kind enough to coordinate a buffet lunch after the tournament so all of the players got to enjoy a lunch together. Timing wise, we allowed 30 minutes between arriving at Lincolnwood and starting the game, and 30 minutes between the last game and lunch. We could have done 20 minutes between each instead because our residents transitioned more quickly than expected. In addition to the Poinsettia Trophy, Ruth also prepared a laminated certificate for the winning team, which we framed and will hang in our pool area. The residents are extremely proud of the certificate and have brought their grandkids in to show them.

Ruth: Ditto on the above. Have those rules laid out in advance so all the players understand before the tournament and set up practices months to weeks before the actual game! It really is just a fun way to bring communities together and showcase NIFS’s work in providing programs that continue to encourage a “healthy lifestyle” for both the mind and body to equal active aging!

Thanks for sharing, Ruth and Leah!

To learn more about partnering with NIFS to manage your senior living community, click the link below. 

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Topics: active aging week, competition adding fun to senior fitness activities calendar senior living exercise and aging senior living activities water

Is an electric wheelchair really "taking the easy way out?"

NIFS | wheelchair challengeThere isn’t anything easy about it. Residents were put to the test during Active Aging Week 2018 by completing an electric wheelchair obstacle course. An electric wheelchair is quite an intimidating assisted device that many residents around the building use to navigate the building. This was a great chance to see how residents could handle themselves in a situation where an electric wheelchair might be a last effort chance to remain independent and mobile.

The primary goal of this activity was for residents to see how life felt in someone else’s shoes for a moment. Electric wheelchairs aren’t always an ideal way to get around. Sure, it might get you from point A to point B in a shorter amount of time, but they often get looked down upon for “taking the easy way out.” Is it really the easy way out? The only easy thing about it seemed to be the fact that one could sit down in the process. Residents were quick to find out how much dexterity and fine motor skills are involved in steering this battery operated device.

Cones were set up in a large circle in the center of the room. Residents were instructed to drive around the circle as close to the cones as possible. When they made it the entire way around, they turned into the circle between two cones, without hitting them, and circled the cones in the opposite direction. Following the completion of the change of direction, the residents were instructed to pull between two cones that were located against the wall. This exercise was designed to simulate pulling between two chairs at the dinner table. They had to stop before the wheelchair crashed into the table (in this case, the wall). Then they had to back up as straight as possible and drive back to the starting position to exchange with the next resident in line.

All of the residents noted how fidgety the steering component was on the device. It didn’t always move in the exact manner they intended. The wheels are located in the back of the chair, which produces a much smaller turning radius that threw the residents for quite a loop. Some had trouble with speed control. Some had trouble with backing up. Everyone had their own complaints or pains about using the wheelchair for those 5 minutes.

Overall, the consensus was the same. Everyone enjoyed the experience, but knew they didn’t want to use the chair full time. Each person spoke about the stigma that came with using an electric wheelchair in public. Many residents would jump to the other side of the room when someone approached them in the chair because they thought they were too dangerous. Now the hope is that people will be more considerate and thoughtful towards those residents confined to a chair for mobility and independence.

NIFS can to help initiate activities like this at your community! Click below to download our quick read on how outsourcing your community fitness center might be the right move.  

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Topics: active living senior living activities active aging electric wheelchair active aging week,

Active Aging Week: Planning for a Successful Week of Programs

It’s that time again! Our team has been working hard to get ready for Active Aging Week 2015. We’ve changed things up a little bit this year. For the past few years we’ve done a friendly competition between Active Aging sites for the week. This year, we’ve set a goal as a team and we’re competing against ourselves to get our highest participation yet!

Read on to find out about some of the most exciting senior wellness elements of this year’s Active Aging Week.

Multiple Dimensions of Wellness

For us, the goal of Active Aging Week has always extended beyond just encouraging our residents to be physically active. This year is no different. We’ve planned events focused on physical wellness, but also social, intellectual, vocational, and emotional wellness. It’s so important to understand how each dimension impacts a person’s health and lifestyle. After four years of participating in multi-site programs, the residents appreciate the variety as well.

Philanthropy

Thursday’s event has quickly become a favorite for many participants. Each year, we reserve Thursday as the day we focus on vocational wellness and giving back to the community. Each site gets to choose a philanthropy that they want to work with that day. Some sites donate clothing or food, some sites write letters to troops or veterans, and other sites use the opportunity to raise money for an organization. For each site, this is an important day where residents get to help out a cause that’s close to their hearts. 

Across the Continuum

The first year we put together an organized, multi-site Active Aging Week program, it was really just geared toward residents who resided in the independent-living sections of the communities. Since then, we’ve expanded the program to include assisted living, skilled nursing, memory care, and even employees. Each day’s events include elements that can either be extended across the entire community or easily adapted so each area can have its own version of the event. This has been especially nice for residents who’ve moved from independent living on to another area; now they aren’t missing out just because they transferred to a different level of care.

Personality

One of the great aspects of Active Aging Week year to year is that across the country our residents are participating in the week’s events together. Another awesome feature of the program is how easy it is to adapt to the personality of the residents within a particular community. Each site is handed a week-long program outline that includes some details to make the week run smoothly. From there, the rest is up to the NIFS manager and staff. They get to be creative in their implementation of each day’s events, and it’s a great opportunity to tailor everything to the residents at each individual community. This is one of the reasons Active Aging Week has been such a successful program for our sites. The planning and preparation are important, but the care, creativity, and attention to detail that’s given by each site manager is what really makes it special, and that’s what attracts residents to participate year after year.

Are you planning anything creative for Active Aging Week this year?

 

Topics: senior wellness active aging senior fitness active aging week,

Active Aging Week: What does it take to plan a successful event?

aaw14Active Aging Week is fast approaching! Our staff started planning this year’s events months ago - I’m talking work groups starting back in early April. We wait patiently for the ICAA to roll out the annual theme and then the creative geniuses of our staff get to work. As we continue to fine tune the last details of the events coming up on September 22-26, staff and residents alike are excited and the buzz of Active Aging Week is in the air! Read on to learn why we put so much advanced planning into our week of events:

  • It Takes a Village: for an over the top successful Active Aging Week, we’ve learned that the more involvement we include from different community staff, the better! When residents hear about various staff and departments being involved in the planning of the events, they won’t be able to resist getting caught up in the buzz and excitement. As we map out our events for each day of the week, we flag which programs could benefit from the added skill sets and passions of other community personnel (not just your activities and fitness staff) as well as resident volunteers. We then spend time working with these folks on their creative ideas and how they can contribute to the program in a way that is meaningful and fun for them! When you plan well in advance and can speak with staff about how they could volunteer, you have time on your side to coordinate this additional layer of community involvement! 
  • Set Your Event Apart: our staff have annual planning calendars of the various fitness and wellness programs they already offer to residents each month of the year. It takes an additional effort from a planning standpoint (what can we do that is fun, creative, innovative, etc.), but also from a marketing standpoint to help Active Aging Week rise above the rest. It’s a lot of work (fun work mind you, but work none-the-less) planning daily events, so we like to take it to a new level to make sure we get the participation!
  • Diversify “Active” Offerings: when residents hear “Active Aging Week” it’s important to help them identify that the week isn’t just about those who are physically active. As we map out our day to day plans for week, we reflect on the eight dimensions of wellness and ensure that each one is touched on in some way or multiple ways throughout the week’s events. This can span more resident interests and abilities than simply focusing on physical activity options alone. It’s important to recognize residents for being active in the community in a way that is meaningful for them so don’t overlook these opportunities to diversify your program options.
  •  Add Some Friendly Competition: residents often ask our staff what kinds of programs and participation NIFS has established at other communities - they can’t fathom that any community could be as active as theirs (insert our sly smile here…) During Active Aging Week, we report daily participation totals in the events we plan for a friendly competition amongst the communities we serve. Staff report daily standings on a printed display board and communities are able to see how their participation fairs to other communities (scores all are weighted of course to account for varying occupancy levels). Residents truly rally together inviting their neighbors to events to best represent their community’s active lifestyle. Collaborate with neighboring senior living communities or create an internal competition with a focus on daily participation goals!

Whether you are offering a small or large scale Active Aging Week this year, kudos for your efforts in supporting an active and engaging lifestyle for the seniors you serve. Best of luck for a successful year!

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Topics: senior wellness programs active aging week,