Senior communities, assisted living centers, and nursing homes provide a plethora of activities and opportunities to keep their residents from feeling isolated.
Robyn Radtke, activities and social services director at St. Luke Living Center, said one activity residents have several times a week is a rabbit named Bailey who comes to work with an employee.
“He’s here at least five days a week,” Radtke said. “The residents just love him. A lot of them just like to look at him and others like to hold him. They’re very disappointed when he’s not here. They very much enjoy him when she’s able to bring him in.”
Special holiday activities are also held.
Last week, residents got to enjoy an Easter egg hunt with children kindergarten and younger.
Resident John Garrard played his harmonica for the gathering youngsters waiting for the hunt to begin.
Soon after the hunt was opened, children scampered throughout the facility, spotting eggs on chair, railings, and tables. The outdoor courtyard also had eggs hidden in the grass and on statues.
“Every year’s event is different,” Radtke said. “Sometimes we have a lot of kids and other years not so many. We try to do something for each holiday. It may not always involve the outside community.”
Between holiday special events, residents get to have a baking day most Fridays.
“They do most of the work,” Radtke said. “They enjoy bringing recipes for us to try. That’s something they really enjoy.”
Community volunteers come entertain the residents as well.
Anita Hancock comes to play the piano or her harpsicle. Ralph Noriega comes monthly to play guitar.
“They really enjoy and look forward to him,” Radtke said.
Weekly activities include devotions, hymn sing-alongs, prayer groups and worship services.
More seasonal activities include outings to drive around the county, visit the auxiliary store, have lunch out, and the like.
“We like to try new things,” Radtke said. “Sometimes we try something and they don’t like it so we don’t try it again.”
Penni Funk, director of life enrichment at Parkside Homes in Hillsboro, said the center has a wide variety of activities geared for its span of residents ranging from retirement duplexes to nursing home patients.
“We have all kinds of outside people come in and perform for them,” Funk said.
Performers have included a magician, Tabor College singers, a home school families’ choir, and a saxophone player are some recent performers.
Preschool classes come share classes and teddy bear days with residents.
Hillsboro High School FFA will bring a petting zoo to Parkside April 26.
“We have a lot of stuff going on all the time,” Funk said. “Our goal is to make them as much ‘at home’ as possible.”
Bonnie Sawyer, director of Marion Assisted Living, said besides regularly-scheduled visitors such as Noriega and ministers, residents enjoy outings suggested by staff and by individual residents.
“We do all kinds of different stuff,” Sawyer said. “It’s whatever the resident needs and what comes up.”
Daily exercise times and crafts, activities and games help keep residents busy and entertained.
Holidays are always marked by special activities, some open to the public and others only for residents, Sawyer said.
“Our biggest thing is a family potluck right before Thanksgiving,” Sawyer said.
Having a family potluck before the rush of the holiday season allows more family members to attend, she said. But families can still come on the holiday itself.
“If they want to come in on a holiday, all they have to do is let us know ahead of time so we can plan for that number,” she said.
Wendy Buchanan, onsite manager at Homestead Senior Residence at Marion, said a monthly potluck is a favorite activity.
“Everybody comes out and brings a dish,” Buchanan said. “We prepare the main dish and they prepare something to have with it.”
Summer brings more activities.
“For the main holidays at the end of the year, we have a great big holiday for everyone,” she said.