The Benefits of a Senior Living Community: Activities and Programs

For many seniors, moving to a retirement community or assisted living community means enjoying the worry-free lifestyle that comes with not having to maintain a home. It also means increased opportunities for physical fitness, socialization, learning and spiritual wellness through the community’s activities program. (Read more for photo slideshow of activities)

Related: The Benefits of Living at a Retirement Community  

While activities are an integral part of resident life, COVID-19 has impacted many of the regularly scheduled activities, programs and events at our senior living communities over the past several months. Despite these changes, our team members have been thinking of new and creative ways for our residents to enjoy life while practicing social distancing. In fact, some of the most popular activities Concordia residents have enjoyed recently include hallway bingo, wave parades, virtual painting parties, mobile snack and happy hour carts, gardening and dance parties – to name a few. In addition to modified activities, residents have also been video calling loved ones through apps like FaceTime and Skype. Here are just some of the ways our residents are staying active, engaged and connected while COVID-19 social distancing restrictions remain in place.

Concordia of Fox Chapel, a memory care facility in Cheswick, Pennsylvania, implemented a more personalized approach to senior activities since COVID-19. Activities Coordinator Kelly Ellena explained, “We have been engaging residents with one-on-one activities including reading stories and poems, reminiscing, talking about our families and writing to them. One can see how that brightens up their day. We have been keeping up with our crafts, balloon volleyball, and bingo sessions in very small groups. Even though it has been so hard not seeing our loved ones here, some have had the opportunity to enjoy their window visits; others are taking advantage of our new foyer face-to-face calls while others are Skyping with their loved ones. Best of all, we have been taking advantage of the nice weather as we have been bringing small groups out for personalized social hours. Our one-on-one connections allow us to tailor activities and discussions to meet the individual needs of our residents during a time that can be c
onfusing to them.”

Concordia at Sumner, a continuing care retirement community in Copley, Ohio, made some new twists to the activities program by handing out special treats to residents each week on the mobile “happy hour cart.” Traci Sturm, Independent Living Program Coordinator, also shared, “On Mother’s Day this year for our annual Mother’s Day Tea, instead of cancelling the event, we made some adjustments and delivered all 105 ladies at Sumner a boxed lunch.”

Highpointe at Rebecca, a retirement community in Allison Park, Pennsylvania, recently put a creative spin on holiday activities for the residents. “One creative activity we did with the residents of Highpointe was on Easter,” Resident Coordinator Julie Spirnock said. “We provided sheet music and had residents sing along from their apartment doorways. We had one of our residents start the song on the PA system and everyone joined in.”

At Concordia Village of Tampa, a continuing care retirement community in Tampa, Florida, residents have enjoyed “brain fit” activities including therapeutic coloring, dancing, hallway bingo and more. Retirement Living residents also took part in a virtual painting party, following an art class led by a few staff members that was broadcast from the campus chapel to each apartment.

Concordia of Cranberry, a personal care community, tailored the craft activities to accommodate small groups and embraced the warmer weather so that residents can enjoy gardening outdoors. “Residents received a flag and put them outside for Memorial Day Weekend,” Activities Assistant Beth Schultz said. “Hallway races with different cardboard cutouts and small group crafts are also a hit.”

At Concordia at Cabot, a continuing care retirement community in Butler County, Pennsylvania,   residents have voted hallway bingo as a favorite activity in addition to hallway trivia and dining room dances. “We’ve had hallway Olympics, a traveling circus, hallway dance parties, trivia, singalongs and much more,” Skilled Nursing Activities Director Brandy Muth said. “We even had a campus-wide singalong to ‘You are my Sunshine’ and residents at the Lund building and the Haven Apartments came out on their balconies to sing.” (See video here, shot by a friend of Concordia!)

At Concordia of Monroeville, a skilled nursing and personal care facility,  residents were able to show off their competitive spirit during a virtual Wii Bowling Tournament. “Our personal care Wii Bowlers took the Gold Medal in the Senior Helpers Virtual Will Bowling Tournament in March,” Activities Director Joan Santora said. “The tournament is local to Greensburg, PA and surrounding areas. We competed against 12 other senior care facilities in the personal care category.”

Concordia at Rebecca Residence, a continuing care retirement community in Allison, Park Pennsylvania, changed the regularly planned activities to accommodate small groups. Recreation Director Stephanie Mazur noted, “We’ve been doing a lot of different room-to-room activities while practicing social distancing. Residents have been enjoying the different crafts we offer in their rooms and small groups. We’ve also had a resident accordion player stroll through the halls twice a week at dinner time so residents can enjoy music.”

Concordia of Franklin Park, a personal care community near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, recently surprised residents with an outdoor concert. Activities Director Veronica Guerrini explained, “We had a special surprise at our facility. Patrick McKinley [a family member of one of our staff members] played Amazing Grace at various spots on campus. Residents were happy to open their windows and enjoy the sound. There were lots of smiles and some tears.” Residents have also been writing to their friends in different parts of the building through the campus “pen pal program,” playing hallway bingo, enjoying games and treats from the mobile hallway cart each day, taking part in online exercise classes, watching weekly viewings of different online streams from the Pittsburgh Zoo and museum tours and more.

Concordia at Villa St. Joseph in Baden, Pennsylvania, also implemented a personalized approach to activities, and residents have been enjoying hallway sings, snack carts and crafts (to name a few). “We have put on our thinking caps and are being as creative and flexible in light of all the restrictions placed on Nursing Home residents during this time,” Activities Director Chris Gebhart said. “One benefit to this stay at home (room) order is that we have witnessed some residents attending hallway programming who would typically decline group programming. Every Friday we take a snack cart around, room to room, while passing out treats. The Activity Department has a full schedule of FaceTime/Google Duo calls, where we maintain communication between our residents and their loved ones. This is most beneficial to the family members to be able to see that their loved one is cared for and happy. Even for our new admissions whose family members may have never stepped inside CVSJ before, we have provided virtual tour
s of their loved one’s room to help ease some anxiety. We may not be able to welcome in our family members and volunteers at this time, but the CVSJ family has definitely accepted the challenge of all hands on deck.”  

These are only a few of the many activities our residents have been enjoying. Be sure to check out the photo slideshow below of a bunch of these very activities in action at our facilities! (Click thumbnails to enlarge)

To keep up with the latest activities happening at all of our communities, connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for daily updates. To learn more about our senior care and health services at our locations in Western Pennsylvania, Eastern Ohio and Tampa, Florida, visit the care levels and services page of our website or call us at: 724-352-1571. If your loved one is a resident at one of our facilities and you would like to set up a video call, please contact the facility directly. A list of our facilities and contact information can be found here.

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