Author Betty Friedan once said in her book The Fountain of Age, “Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.”
That view is evident in the programs and activities that United Active Living offers residents. Our philosophy promotes healthy and active aging. And that means endless opportunities to continuously learn new things. For many, this period of life might be the first time they have found the freedom to pursue interests that were set aside for family and career.
“All of our programs and activities have a purpose,” said Reyna Bruckner, fitness and program coordinator. “They have to be interesting and fun, but they should also be thought provoking and challenging. We want to make sure that when residents come here to live that they continue to find purpose in their lives.”
United’s programming is unique in that it offers a wide variety of experiences. Rather than just having one exercise class, for example, there are a number offered, and at various levels, from sitting and wheelchair exercises to weight bearing workouts in a well-equipped gym.
“Our programs are tailored to meet your needs, whether you’re an absolute beginner who has never exercised or you are someone who has exercised your whole life and are quite fit,” said Reyna. “Fall prevention is also an important focus for us. We want to maintain their independence for as long as possible because falls in older adults can be very serious so exercising regularly can reduce the seriousness of a fall.”
Healthy Aging is Paramount with Residents
Reyna points out that activities are open to anyone, and evolve as resident interest changes. Residents make suggestions about the type of activity they would like to see, and Reyna incorporates those interests into the programming. “I don’t create the programs and the residents simply show up. It’s the residents who come to me with what programs they’re interested in, what they want to see. They bring newspaper clippings to me of plays that they want to go see or classes that they want to take. It’s really resident driven. They make the choices and I facilitate their needs.”
At last count there were more than 60 activities and programs available to residents in March, plus special events such as Easter brunch, birthday parties and TED talks. Community partnerships also offer experiences outside the community that many residents may not have been exposed to before. Mount Royal University offers university courses open to residents, and supports organized trips to the pool and fitness facility. There are visits to Heritage Park, the Calgary Philharmonic, music, dance, painting, sculpture and writing, and professional artists come by to give in-house workshops.
Dr. Gene Cohen, a pioneer in the work around creativity and aging, said that research “vividly demonstrates that when the brain is challenged through our activities and surroundings, it is altered through the formation of new synapses (contact points between cells). More synapses means better communication among brain cells and increased opportunities for new ideas connecting.”
It’s clear that the health of residents confirms Dr. Cohen’s findings.
“One of the things that I really love is to see a resident come in who has been isolated in their home, and hasn’t had that social interaction or that sense of community,” said Reyna. “As they come into this community, other residents and the staff reach out to welcome them. They become involved in the activities and programs. It is such a wonderful thing to see their faces knowing that they’ve found that sense of community again.”
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United is changing the conversation around aging. From our innovative United Minds (memory care) program to professionally staffed art studios and extensive creative programming, our communities offer more than you might expect. If you have questions or topics you would like us to cover in future blogs, let us know.