While the COVID-19 pandemic has put a pause on Rittenhouse Village at Portage’s outings with residents, the senior living community has made a push to provide activities that are not only fun and engaging for residents, but also ones that promote an overall healthy state of mind during this difficult time.
Kim Scott, Director of Celebrations at Rittenhouse Village at Portage, has been hard at work creating a plethora of activities seniors can enjoy safely at the community. Focusing on the Six Dimensions of Wellness, Scott and her team have based the events and activities on ensuring residents are stimulated and engaged with their mental and spiritual needs.
“It could be spiritual, emotional, or mental activities that have actually helped us get through a difficult year,” Scott said. “We’ve done yoga and meditation, and we recently did a more spiritual activity of making vision boards.”
“These activities were really eye-opening for me,” Scott continued. “In my mind, we’ve been through a lot. Our residents haven’t been able to see their families, so they have had a lot of grieving to do this past year and have been feeling a lot of difficult emotions. Doing this spiritual and emotional wellbeing activities helps uplift them.”
Residents are still able to enjoy their longtime favorite activities like Bingo, cards, movie nights, and morning exercise. But as the pandemic has pushed on, Scott has introduced new and creative activities to the seniors. The vision boards allowed residents to find pictures of things they loved and things they were looking forward to doing again after the pandemic was over and decorating a board with those things. Along with the vision boards, Scott thought up of new, out of the box things to do.
“Kim has done an absolutely incredible job and has been so creative with what we can do here,” said Danielle Balek, Senior Lifestyle Counselor at Rittenhouse Village. “For the New Year, Kim had the great idea of decorating plates with the residents’ frustrations and grief from this year and then putting them in pillowcases and smashing them with hammers!”
“At first, they weren’t sure if they would enjoy that, but once they got into the activity and reflected on the past year and things they wanted to leave behind, it turned into a really cathartic experience,” Scott said. “Some residents really went to town!”
Other activities have been more educational, like the TedTalk series residents have come to enjoy. One TedTalk in particular prompted residents in a discussion afterward to reflect on what their idea of happiness was, allowing them to explore how happiness comes from helping others, volunteering, and being part of a tight-knit community.
“Just talking in a group like that and helping them to focus on themselves and be mentally healthy during this time has been so beneficial for them,” Scott said.
Balek emphasized how while being a community and a family has always been Rittenhouse Village at Portage’s message, that has been more important now than ever before.
“We’ve always said that this community is a family in every way possible,” Balek said. “We spend time together and do all of these activities and events just like a family would. Even when new residents move in and they have to do a 14-day quarantine, we gown up and do one-on-one activities with those residents so that we can get to know them, and so that they are not alone. It’s that sense of family, which is exactly what a community is."
In the upcoming months, residents can look forward to some educational events like the Armchair Travels, where residents can “travel” to different countries and learn about their customs, history, and culture. Residents will also get to sample traditional foods and dishes found in that country.
“We’re also going to celebrate Benjamin Franklin’s birthday by learning about his life, his inventions, and what he accomplished as one of the country’s founding fathers,” Scott said. “We will do more spiritual activities that focus on laughter. We want to do laugh yoga and watch some funny YouTube videos and tell jokes together because laughing is so healing.”
For more information about Rittenhouse Village at Portage, please visit their website at https://www.rittenhousevillages.com/rittenhouse-village-at-portage/.