Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Navigating the Dining Options at Your Senior Living Community

So you moved to a retirement community! Raking leaves is soooo 10 years ago. Who needs a lawnmower—not you! Snow is just a pretty decoration because you don’t have to shovel it, or in some cases, even clean off your car. Some do miss these seasonal outdoor chores, but many don’t.

ThinkstockPhotos-120726908_1.jpgThe biggest change, however, is the fact that you no longer have to think about what’s for dinner, or lunch, or even breakfast. What a joy! My husband and I have the same exact conversation every day at around 5:30pm: What’s for dinner? I don’t know. What do you want? I don’t care. What do we have lying around that I can toss together quickly? I don’t know, eggs, a salad? And we end up usually having a salad, maybe with an omelet. Easy, but sooo boring.

The Many Choices in the CCRC Dining Room

When you move in to a senior living community, you are sure to take advantage of the wonderful food options. Blueberry pancakes on a Tuesday? Why not! You would probably have a boring bowl of cereal, but not now. You can have eggs Benedict, grits and toast, and sausage. What’s for dinner? I bet it’s the soup of the day, a salad, an appetizer, an entrée, and a dessert. Oh and the desserts. No graham crackers or dry cereal for you! No sir! Cakes, pies, a wide selection of ice cream, Jell-O, crème brûlée, pudding, the works! Oh and lunch. You can have a cheeseburger or a BLT every single day if you want to.

It’s no wonder that many put on what I like to call the “Freshman 15.” Just like when we went to college, we had this amazing buffet of options every day, and who am I to turn down these delectable items? I want to get my money’s worth! So I eat everything that is offered to me. But there are plenty of healthy options. You just need to practice a tiny amount of restraint with an eye toward weight management, and learn how to navigate the menu.

Choosing Healthy, Nutrition-Packed Dining Options

Easy enough. Here are my tips:

  • Avoid the sauces. Try to stay away from stuff with lots of sauce on it. Always get the sauce on the side. Dip your fork in the sauce then in your food. That saves a little bit of calories.
  • Eat more salad. Make a salad your entrée twice a week, instead of the side for your main course. Practice the same restraint with the salad dressing that you do with sauces. Even if you LOVE Parmesan peppercorn dressing, dip your fork in the dressing first and then stab it into your salad.
  • Keep veggies healthy. See if you can get your vegetables steamed or roasted, without sauce or butter on them, with maybe a squeeze of lemon and salt-free seasoning.
  • Increase your fiber. Fiber helps you feel more full and has lots of healthy side-effects. Pick whole-grain items off the menu, like brown rice, quinoa, wild rice, and whole-grain breads. Stick with sweet potatoes and skip the baked potato if possible.
  • Enjoy healthy fish dishes. Look for the catch of the day and get it broiled or blackened, and always ask whether they prepare it with lots of butter or oil (and skip it if they do).
  • Indulge occasionally. And finally, dessert. As hard as this is, choose two days a week that you can treat yourself to dessert, and see if anyone at the table wants to share it with you. Often the serving you get is really meant for two or even three, so don’t try to scarf it all down by yourself. I also suggest saving your dessert, taking it home, and having it for breakfast! Your body does a much better job of burning calories during the day, and by the evening your metabolism has begun to slow down to prepare for sleep. (Do you know how sumo wrestlers gain so much weight? They eat a big meal, about 2,000 calories, and then go right to sleep.) And who doesn’t love chocolate cake for breakfast? 

So enjoy the easy life; you have earned it! Just don’t get too carried away with the food options. You are in this for the long haul, and if you eat sensibly, get a little exercise, and get involved with programs and activities at your new home, you will truly make your new life the best it can be!

Create a culture of wellness at your community, click below to learn more!  

Whitepaper+Wellness Culture

Topics: nutrition weight management senior wellness senior living calories fiber dining food

Senior Living: Four Tips for Improving Your Resident Exercise Program

Truly, one of the things I love about working in senior living is the passion employees have for serving the residents who live in their communities. Despite variation in the physical spaces’ amenities, decor, and size, the culture of caring about the residents is consistent. The people who work in senior living are genuinely committed to getting to know their residents as a means of helping them live exceptionally well.

Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised by this, but the other half of my career is spent in corporate

wellness, where the bottom line often drives the conversation. And while I think employers do care about their workforce, that’s not their starting point for investing in any wellness initiative. So when I work with senior living communities on improving their programming ThinkstockPhotos-529580019-1.jpgand activities for residents, I’m often surprised at what an afterthought their exercise amenities and services are. The clear appetite to provide residents with the very best options for living just doesn’t square with what’s in place for resident exercise at the community.

 If this disconnect resonates with you and you’re looking to make a change, consider
improving your resident exercise program with the tips below as ways to live up to your commitment to build active living options for your residents.

 

1. Provide staffing in your exercise program.

Residents will not (I repeat, will not) use your exercise equipment and spaces without the right leadership in that area of the community. It’s not sufficient to simply offer exercise classes, nor is it adequate service to have a trainer in the gym a few hours per week to offer assistance on the equipment. You can hire your own manager, or you can work with a fitness management company like ours. For more information on how get exercise leadership right in your community, check out some of the blogs we’ve written on the importance of staffing.

2. Review and update your group exercise equipment when you can.

Fitness equipment isn’t cheap, but the items used for group classes are far less expensive than the capital equipment in the fitness center. For $5,000, you can buy one new treadmill, or you can buy a classroom worth of new resistance chairs. There are a lot of practical tools that group fitness instructors can use in classes to make them more interesting and more effective for the residents, and they aren’t that expensive. In your next budgeting cycle, make room for a few of these options:

  • Small weighted balls: Sets of the 1.1# and 2.2# work well.
  • Airex balance pads: Buy enough for each person in balance class to have one.
  • BOSU: Buy a few to use in stations on a strength or balance class.

3. Establish a cross-referral system between your fitness center and your therapy group.

If you have qualified staff in your fitness center and there is not already a relationship between that individual and your therapy team, building a bridge between the two is low-hanging fruit on the improving-services tree. Check out this quick read to learn why we believe integration of therapy and fitness is important for resident well-being.

4. Take a hard look at all of your senior wellness initiatives and how fitness folds into that set of programming.

It should be woven in seamlessly among other programs and services designed to engage rather than entertain your residents. If all programming is being carried off in silos, it’s time to take a fresh approach. If participation in programs and services is represented by the same handful of residents, it’s time to re-envision your offerings. If the activities calendar looks pretty much the same as it did last month, last quarter, and last year, it’s time to breathe new life into what you’re offering. Download this quick read for a series of questions you can use to evaluate the quality of your wellness programming

Find out how to evaluate your program

Topics: exercise group exercise senior wellness senior living active living senior fitness staffing

Residents Expect More from Senior Living Community Exercise Programs

ThinkstockPhotos-535515241.jpgI got a call from a resident of a senior living community the other day. She told me that she’d been thinking about how her community could do better with the exercise program it offers. She saw a lot of potential to build on already successful offerings, and she’d been working with a resident team on this idea. Over the last several weeks, she’d been all over our website and decided it was time to talk about how we might be able to support her team’s goal to report on options to improve the community’s exercise program.

This woman was sharp! She had a good understanding about what was available to them, what was working, and where they needed to progress. Specifically, she told me that the classes were well liked and that didn’t necessarily need a change, but she also noted these common issues:

  • The pool is largely empty except for the regularly scheduled water aerobics classes.
  • The fitness center is typically unused because residents don’t feel like they know how to use the equipment to their benefit.

She had grabbed our quick read on how to grow participation in your aquatics program, and that’s when it hit her: she knew it all came back to staffing—that having qualified fitness staff running the community’s exercise program was central to its success.

Your Current Residents Expect More—and They’re Telling Their Friends

So if you’ve been focused on other competing priorities at your community and the exercise program is an afterthought running quietly in the background, now would be a good time to give it a second look. Because your residents are already doing that; and you can bet that if your current residents have a radar for what’s possible, your prospects do, too.

Sometimes there’s a hurdle in understanding just what a fitness center manager should be doing. I suppose that varies by community, but for a staffing organization like ours, we have clear expectations and supports for how NIFS staff spend their time in our client’s fitness centers

Maybe you think this kind of astute observation by residents isn’t happening at your community. That might be true, but before you make that assumption, consider how the resident with whom I spoke shared her observations with a prospective resident.

She told me that she had invited a friend to dine with her recently who was not a resident of the community but who was shopping for a senior living environment he could call home. He asked her if there was anything negative about living there. She said she couldn’t come up with negatives (which is great!), but then she told him about how they could do better with their exercise program (which is not so great).

And this isn’t the first conversation I’ve had like this where a resident found our organization and reached out to see whether and how we could help.

Review Your Wellness Programs along with the Fitness Offerings

For what it’s worth, your entire wellness initiative may need a review—it’s rare to have a strong exercise program and a weak holistic wellness offering. It’s also unusual to have your holistic wellness program be strong while your exercise program suffers. Wellness and fitness go hand in hand.

[Read More: What to do when traditional senior living activities falls short]

If you’ve been waiting to address your exercise program until the residents complain, it’s time. Begin your investigation on possibilities by downloading our quick read below designed to help you quickly evaluate your overall wellness program. It highlights some broader wellness areas as well as specific exercise program components. Share it with your team and start a conversation about how to do wellness better in your community.

Find out how to evaluate your program

Topics: senior wellness senior living senior fitness senior living community resident wellness programs exercise program

Senior Living Community Has a Blast Raising Money for Alzheimer’s

pbrown.jpgOne of our clients put the Alzheimer’s walk on center stage this year, and the residents responded with gusto! Paul, NIFS fitness center manager at Meadow Ridge, knew he wanted to create programming around the area walk from a fitness perspective, but he was also interested in building a synergistic event that involved both employees and residents, many of whom have been personally touched by a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease.

It was their first time raising money for a cause, and they weren’t sure what to expect in the way of participation. But with thoughtful planning and a team effort, this year’s event was a success. Here’s a rundown of how they executed a $4,900 fundraiser for Alzheimer’s disease research on their very first try.

Paul initially set out with a personal brainstorming session to consider options and overall structure of what he wanted to offer. With that outline in hand, he met with both the administrator and the executive director. By the end of that meeting, they had a variety of fund-raising ideas on the table. Most importantly, he had the support of the resident health services director and the activities director to pull off the plan throughout the month of September.

Building Excitement

Paul started with a letter to the residents about what was coming. He mentioned the community’s support of the Walk to End Alzheimer’s in their area, and provided some basic facts about the impact of the disease. He provided a teaser in the letter to pique their interest and encourage them to watch for another communication outlining how they could get involved.

He followed that letter with another print communication announcing himself as the captain for the Meadow Ridge walking team, and invited residents to participate in either a walk at Meadow Ridge or the three-mile designated Walk to End Alzheimer’s in their area. He also outlined information about how to make a donation and included an envelope complete with a receipt for tax use and a return label on the front. All they had to do was write the check, seal the envelope, and return it to the receptionist.

Two days after the second letter went out, they hosted a root beer float day. That was a brand new activity for Meadow Ridge, and it successfully inspired recollections of childhood for participants. At the float-making station, they had reminders about making donations using their envelopes, and they also had a donation jar. They quickly raised almost $300 in cash at that 90-minute event. 

ThinkstockPhotos-537612271.jpgFund-raising Events

The next week the community offered two different fund-raising events. The first was a resident-only bingo party where the cost to play was $5 per game. Of course, great prizes were offered to those who won each game. They also held a 50/50 raffle with employees. This event raised $206 in total, where $103 went to the winner and $103 was donated to the Alzheimer’s Association.

The last week included a raffle for 30 different prizes for home services like gardening and housekeeping. There were also dinner-for-two prizes and opportunities to win a personal assistant for a day. The grand prize was dinner for three residents with the community owner. Some of the prizes were internal services offered by Meadow Ridge staff, while others were from outside vendors who wanted to participate in this important event.

A Big Success

In the end, they had participation from about one-third of the residents, and a team of 79 residents and employees joined in on the walks for a total of 64 miles. And to top off all of the enthusiasm around this fund-raising, the Alzheimer’s Association recognized the community for their creative efforts.

The whole thing was such a hit, they are already dreaming of what they can accomplish next year!

Related: How One Senior Living Community Got Focused on Brain Fitness

Our staff put their creative ideas into their programming to help increase resident participation, click below to see how you can improve your programs.

 Improve your programs >

Topics: walking senior wellness senior living Alzheimer's Disease activities

Why Hiring the Right Trainer for Your Senior Fitness Program Is Vital

Let’s face it, personal trainers are pretty ubiquitous these days, and it’s easy to understand why. The industry doesn’t have licensure (yet), and there are a lot of inexpensive and easy-to-obtain “personal trainer” certifications available that allow fitness enthusiasts with little knowledge about how the body works to earn a distinction as a personal trainer.

The scary truth about hiring a personal trainer for your senior living community is that the typical consumer doesn’t necessarily know what to look for in a qualified fitness professional. Unfortunately, the I-paid-them-and-they-certified-me individual looks equally competent alongside the individual who has a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and who has earned and painstakingly maintains an industry gold-standard certification.

While hiring an exercise professional for your senior living community fitness program is a very buyer-beware proposition, the rewards for making the right staffing choice can be great.

The right fitness professional is a major benefit to the residents.

MMFC1.jpgThis is really what it’s all about, right? You want a passionate, capable, competent, self-starter running the exercise program in the community. You need someone who will

  • Coordinate the group exercise program (the fitness specialist should be teaching at least some of the classes).
  • Initiate and execute on health-related programming both in the fitness area as well as in partnership with other departments in the community.
  • Promote and provide important services like exercise prescriptions (writing individual exercise programs for residents) and senior fitness testing, as well as follow up with residents to offer updated exercise programs and repeat testing as appropriate.
  • Track participation by individuals and reach out to nonactive residents to invite them into programs.
  • Manage the fitness space, including ensuring amenities are well stocked and equipment is in good working order.
  • If your personal trainer isn’t doing these things for you, it’s worth spending some time to re-envision what’s possible in your exercise program. Your residents deserve regular access to diverse classes that respect and challenge them physically. They will participate more if a fitness professional is available to customize exercise plans for them and to help them evaluate their progress along the way. And having a point person who is tracking the participation data and is constantly innovating will draw in more residents who wouldn’t engage without a personal invitation.

The right fitness professional is a major benefit to your business.

This is a tough one. Community leadership seems to have a difficult time making the leap from status-quo group fitness classes and the occasional trainer to establishing a manager for a robust fitness program. Maybe that’s consumer driven, and today’s residents, for the most part, aren’t balking at the outdated model. Maybe the lack of change is rooted in where fitness falls on the priority list.

Yet, with the right fitness center manager on board, you can free up your activities director to actually create person- and purpose-centered activities instead of tracking down a substitute for the group fitness instructor who just bailed on a class. You also send a distinct message to prospects and current residents that healthy living is central to who you are. And because so many communities are still operating on the outdated “group fitness + occasional trainer” model, you clearly distinguish your senior living community from the competition.

If you’re ready to start tapping into these benefits, you can either hire your own fitness center manager for the community, or partner with an organization like ours (NIFS fitness center management) to start improving the fitness program for your residents.

 Senior Fitness

 

Topics: CCRC senior living nifs fitness management staffing senior fitness personal trainers nifs fitness center management

Balance and Fall Prevention: How to Fall and Get Back Up Safely

ThinkstockPhotos-494387335.jpgMarch is Balance and Fall Prevention Month for the National Institute for Fitness and Sports (NIFS) Active Aging sites. Although this is an important component of exercise for all age groups year round, NIFS spotlights balance and fall prevention for a month-long program and showcases the various challenges and solutions to balance issues, as well as how to stay ahead of the balance curve.

Our senior living communities provide educational presentations and handouts for residents to help with fall prevention. One such handout is a home safety checklist to ensure that your surroundings are as fall-proof as possible. The Home Safety Checklist can be a great resource to make safe changes around your home by doing things like making sure small rugs and runners are slip resistant, providing good lighting—especially in hallways, passageways between rooms, and other heavy-traffic areas—and keeping exits and passageways clear. These are just a few of the suggestions. What else has worked for you?

How to Prevent Injuries When Falling

The objective of NIFS Balance Challenge is to prevent falls, but let’s say you suddenly find yourself falling. Remembering these tips and safely practicing how to fall can be the difference between a bruise and a broken bone:

  • Never try to prevent the fall itself. Instead, stay relaxed to prevent further injury.
  • Bend your knees, or crouch, during a fall.
  • Turn/twist your body so you can fall onto the outside of your lower leg first. If you cannot twist your body, NEVER try to catch yourself with your hands as it can break your wrists.
  • Instead, smack the ground with your hand(s) to lessen the impact of the fall.
  • Roll onto your backside to allow the muscles to dissipate energy and lower the impact force.

Fear is often the biggest obstacle when it comes to falling. Having a game plan and practicing the correct falling form can train your body how to safely fall and maximize injury prevention.

[Read More: How one resident's fall inspired a whole community]

 

What's Next After You Fall

  • After a fall, you are probably feeling shaken up and scared. Take a moment to make sure you are alright and that nothing is broken. Wiggle your fingers and toes and then begin to feel other parts of your body as you regain your bearings. If you are feeling okay, remember these helpful tips for safely getting up from a fall:
  • Roll over naturally to your side so your stronger arm is facing up.
  • Place your inside arm on the ground at chest level and place your outside palm on the ground to lift your upper body.
  • With both hands flat on the ground, lift your hips from the ground so that you are on all fours.
  • Crawl to the nearest, most steady piece of furniture (such as a chair, couch, or countertop).
  • Place both hands on the furniture and use your stronger leg by placing your foot flat on the ground in front of your body. 
  • Pull yourself up slowly; sit, if possible.
  • Do not let anyone lift you unless they are trained to do so.
  • Use your pendant or make noise for help if you cannot get yourself up.

These are just a few of the topics that the professionals at NIFS present at senior living communities across the country. This education folds in well with weekly balance classes and individualized balance exercises that are available year round for seniors. 

Download our whitepaper to see how we have evolved our programming in community fitness centers.  Residents need more than a simple balance class, do more for your residents.  Click below to get started.

Find out how we help residents improve their balance >

 

Topics: senior wellness active aging senior living balance fall prevention injury prevention

Active Aging: Using the Fitness Freeze to keep visit numbers up

fitness_freeze1.jpgEveryone is planning their holiday vacations and parties. As the manager of a fitness center, your job is about to get just a little tougher. This time of year it’s incredibly difficult to keep the attendance up in the fitness center. I think a lot of members think they can just “put it off” until January 1st and that it’s not that big of a deal if they miss a few weeks of workouts. Unfortunately for those people, there can be major losses after just two weeks of skipping workouts. According to this article, it only takes two and a half to three weeks of inactivity to start seeing strength declines; and losses in cardiovascular fitness can happen even more rapidly.

So, in order to combat those declines in our Active Aging sites, we’ve created the Fitness Freeze program. The basic idea of the program is as follows:

Members earn a snowflake for each week where they exercise three or more times. This can include attending a group fitness class, working out in the fitness center, or exercising on their own somewhere else. At some sites, residents can earn a “bonus” snowflake by completing an assigned task such as a scavenger hunt, an express workout, or trying a new machine or exercise. As members earn their snowflakes, the manager will hang them up throughout the fitness center. The effect is thrilling. Each fitness center becomes a “snowy” wonderland as more and more residents earn their snowflakes.

It’s a fun, simple program that has proven extremely effective in our Active Aging sites. Last year was the first running of the Fitness Freeze program and it resulted in:

  • 11% increase in the total visits from November to December 2014 compared to the same months in 2013.
  • 8% increase in members gained from November to December 2014 compared to the same months in 2013.
  • 26% increase in the number of appointments held from November to December 2014 compared to the same months in 2013.

Our team has set even higher goals for the 2015 Fitness Freeze and I can’t wait to see the results! How are you keeping your members motivated during the holidays?

It's not just about creative programming, how do you plan to take your program to the next level?

Download our eBook below for strategies to take your fitness center from vacant to vibrant!

Download Now

 

Topics: active aging senior living senior living wellness programs

Programs: The Way to their Heart is through their Stomach:  If you Feed them they will Come!

We have all been there, you spend hours and hours program planning putting together what you KNOW is a terrific program.  You included all the buzz words that get folks jazzed up and ready to participate like:  BALANCE-BOOSTING, ULTRA- EFFECTIVE, FAT-BURNING, MUSCLE-BUILDING, TONING AND STRENGTHING, EXCITING NEW CLASS.  You plaster signs all over the place, put notices in mailboxes and do just about everything short of hiring a skywriter to fly over and advertise for you.  The first day of your new class dawns, and you are filled with enthusiasm.  You are thinking that you really knocked this one out of the park, and that the room will be filled with eager new participants and people ready to “feel the burn” so to speak.

As you are setting up a sinking feeling sets in, a few people start to trickle in and you look up at the clock.  One minute till show time, so you figure, I might as well wait a minute, introduce myself to everyone and make sure they are set and ready to go.  A few extra minutes go by and you end up with a grand total of five participants.  Five.  For all that effort and work, you prepared for weeks prior to the new program, and this is the turn out you get.   Plaster a smile on your face and show just as much enthusiasm for the five brave souls who showed up as you would if 40 (who you hoped might show up) people were there and were just as excited as you are.

As the class wraps up, you ask yourself:  Self, where did I go wrong?  Were my advertisements boring?  Should I have hired a barbershop quartet to sing a jingle for me?  Would it have been a good idea to pull the fire alarm to see if people would just show up?  We have all been there, and are not immune to the crash and burn of a new program.  Sometimes no amount of advertising can give a program the boost it needs to succeed.  But I can tell you that one method has never failed me, ever.  And that method is… FOOD.   You provide any kind of food to the members and they will show up, in droves.

So what kind of options do you have?  Depending on your clientele you can range from mild to WILD…  Think of theme-ing the heck out of it.  Make it jive with your program, so what about Hula Lessons and Tropical Smoothies with Pineapple and Coconut Water?  Or how about Tai Chi with a Chinese tea tasting following (oolong, black tea, green tea, etc).  Get them up and moving in the morning with breakfast. Our favorite is our D.I.Y Oatmeal Bar.  It is cheap, relatively easy and really draws a crowd.  Set out a pot of oatmeal, and then a variety of fixin’s, from raisins and craisins to brown sugar, sliced almonds, and maple syrup, you can’t go wrong.

But really, any old food will do.  The next time you launch a new program, check the web for fun food ideas and see what you can come up with!

Evaluate your community wellness programs and see how you can incorporate offerings to help build vitality in your community.  Download our eBook below!  

Download our eBook: Build Vitality In Your Community

Topics: active aging senior living

Senior Living Providers: It’s time for more than group fitness

Every senior living community offers group fitness classes.  If you want to stand out from the competition, you have to offer more.

Good is no longer good enough.

So much in senior living is evolving, except for fitness.  The fitness industry itself is evolving, and rapidly, but many communities aren’t progressing to adopt new exercise equipment for older adults, updated staff-led services that increase resident participation, or smart data from the fitness program that can inform future decision making.

What about your community?  It’s likely that you are offering at least some group fitness classes that the residents choose from each week.  These classes in senior living, especially formats that specifically address balance training or brain health, are a must for any senior living community.  There’s a decent chance that your residents love their group instructors, and the report from your activities director probably notes that the classes are well-attended and well-liked.

There’s also a strong likelihood that you haven’t looked closely at your exercise program recently as a place where the community could position itself as a leader in your market.  Good is no longer good enough.  Good is a starting point; it doesn’t mean the exercise program for your members is complete. 

It’s time to do more than group fitness.

When prospective residents walk into your community for a tour, they see a welcoming, warm lobby area with social nooks for sharing a cup of coffee and the latest gossip or viral YouTube video.  On the tour, you show them contemporary dining venues with menus that make their mouths water. You talk about updated apartments, technology tools that help them stay connected to their family and the larger community.   

As the tour progresses through the community, you eventually arrive at the exercise room. (Or maybe you skip the exercise area because it doesn’t contribute positively to the lifestyle you’re selling.) And it looks old, maybe like an afterthought. The equipment is donated or dated, the artwork is original to the wall, the small collection of dumbbells have cracked vinyl or rusted edges, and the information on the bulletin boards is no longer current.  Worst of all, it’s a ghost town; no one is in there.

It’s a disconnect for the individuals on the tour.  And while that disconnect is real for your prospects today, it will be even more jarring for future prospects and adult children who are the savviest health consumers we’ve seen to date. Certainly, you can’t update all areas in your community at the same time, and there are many priorities ahead of the fitness space(s).  But that doesn’t mean a revitalization of the exercise program should be entirely off the table. 

You don’t necessarily need massive capital budgets to make improvements in your community fitness center.  And you don’t need to blow your operating budget to provide vibrant exercise-related programming to community.  But if you want to start using elements of your senior living programming to combat someday syndrome at your community, you absolutely have to do more than offer group fitness classes.

Find out how to do better for your residents.

Your prospects expect more than just classes on the calendar, your current residents deserve better, and NIFS can help you get there.  Find out more about how the right staff, the right services and the right equipment can positively and profoundly impact the exercise program you're offering your residents. Click below to find out more.

How Outsourcing fitness center management can work for your community

Topics: active aging senior living leading age

A Simple Walking Test to Predict Longevity in Seniors

If you follow our blog, you’ve no doubt figured out that we’re big fans of data. Our staff aren’t statisticians, but they do regularly measure the impact of their programming to better understand what’s working and why. They also do quite a bit of work gathering data with and for the individuals they serve; most commonly that information is gathered through a fitness evaluation.

Testing Senior Fitness

For our senior living clients, the Senior Fitness Test is the traditional tool we use. It includes assessments like a chair stand, a chair sit-and-reach, and a two-minute step test. (If you want a little bit deeper dive on assessments with older adults, read this article.)

It’s a quality series of tests that have been validated in the scientific literature, and the individual tests are safe to use on participants with a broad range of abilities. And it helps our staff set benchmarks with participants on their physical fitness. Sometimes it offers red flags that trigger a referral to therapy, but more often than not, it’s simply a starting point for the participant, and it offers an opportunity to establish fitness goals in connection with a personalized exercise program.

But many communities don’t have the benefit of a trained exercise specialist onsite, like NIFS staff, who can do that follow up with participants. Additionally, some equipment is required to perform the tests. Where budgets are a challenge, the equipment may not make it into the budget.

The Walking Speed Study

As it turns out, there may be another very simple way to look at assessments. Of course, the tests you give depend on what you want to measure, but if you’re looking for a way to measure longevity in your residents, a walking test may be all that’s needed. According to this study, walking speed may be a good predictor of life span across categories of age, race, and height, but it was found to be particularly useful at determining life expectancy for individuals who were functionally independent and who were older than age 75.

The study specifically looked at nine studies between 1986 and 2000 assessing community-dwelling adults age 65 or older. All participants had baseline gait speed data and were followed for 6 to 21 years. In clinical applications from this study, physicians working with older adults on treatment plans could use results of a simple walking-speed test to determine best course of treatment. But there are applications in your community setting as well.

Walking is a simple activity for most of us, but it requires the use of energy and the coordination of multiple systems within the body. Decreased mobility–gait speed–may be an indicator of a decline in those various systems and an overall decline in vitality for the individual. Thus, tracking changes in gait speed over time for your residents could allow your multidisciplinary team of community professionals to intervene as you start to track a decline for a particular resident.

You can download a simple toolkit for measuring gait speed here. With nothing more than a marked-off area, a stopwatch, and some math, you can be on your way to assessing your residents’ longevity.

Five Reasons to Choose NIFS

If you’re looking for more than a simple gait assessment to help your residents improve their fitness level, download our quick read below to see why senior living communities across the U.S. are partnering with NIFS to manage their fitness centers.

 

Topics: walking senior living senior fitness data longevity fitness for seniors