The Southern Berks News
Surge of hope for seniors
Exercise opportunities blossom with access to vaccinations, lifting of state restrictions
At Sanatoga Ridge Community near Pottstown, there has been a recent increase in traffic in the community center and fitness rooms now that members of the independent senior living community have had the opportunity to be vaccinated in conjunction with the lifting of some state restrictions.
“I call it a surge of hope now that our activities have started back up,” said Michele Beaujean, Sanatoga’s director of Resident Life.
The most recent newsletter that went out this month included updates on many activities that will resume along with the facility’s phased approach to opening up the community center.
“Our yoga director had their first class today,” Beaujean said. “They will be meeting a few times a week.”
The community center where the classes are held serves as a social hub. Ever since people started getting vaccinated, Beaujean has seen increased activity with people being more relaxed about being out and about now that the fear factor of not isolating has lessened.
“We saw quite a few people coming through today and they were very happy,” she said.
“Some who have been extremely cautious and have been completely isolating themselves have gotten both of their vaccinations and now they are out and about — it’s like a huge, big sense of relief.”
Outdoor physical activities
As for some outdoor physical fitness opportunities Sanatoga offers, one includes a marked one-mile walking path throughout the wooded area in the community.
“We just put in our newsletter this month to get people out walking again,” she said. “There are definitely more people out walking — it’s very encouraging to see.”
Beaujean shared the importance of getting community members moving that exceeds the physical benefits. She and her staff have had conversations over the course of the last few months centered on ideas to get them moving.
“Aside from their physical health, it’s for their emotional and mental well-being as well,” she said. “We are encouraging them to schedule a lot of things outside as much as possible”
Low-impact water aerobics
As for the summer season ahead, Beaujean said that community members are looking forward to low-impact water aerobics being offered again when the pool opens back up.
“That’s quite popular,” she said. “There are social aspects for them as well and it’s good for them to get out.”
Beaujean expressed relief and excitement around their present offerings and what lies ahead after a year of tough restrictions endured by seniors.
“It has been such a long, hard road out there, especially for the older community,” she said. “It will be important for them to get out again and have community.”
The same goes for Keystone Villa at Douglassville where its activity director in the personal care building makes exercise a big part of her activity program.
Kathy Undercuffler’s approach has been to mix it up, have a good time and have residents work different muscles, along with getting the opportunity to see one another.
“During the quarantine we were doing activities in the hallways,” Undercuffler said. “Every day I was doing something different to get them moving.”
One day was seated yoga, another seated dance, along with games such as one called ‘noodle ball’ that involves hitting a balloon with a swimming pool foam noodle.
Important to get moving
In the course of the past year, Undercuffler found it wasn’t difficult to reach her goal to get them out of their room at least once a day to get some movement.
“With my background in exercise I had the knowledge to know it was important to get them to move,” she said. “They didn’t need much encouragement — the isolation was really hard on them.”
Originally the classes were offered on each floor once a day, but since restrictions have been lifted they are now offered in their activity room that wasn’t in use during quarantine.
“We have a nice, big activity room,” Undercuffler said. “Now we are all together.”
At this week’s chair yoga class Undercuffler had 20 people participate.
“Watching them do these movements just warms my heart,” she said. “They work so hard and do whatever I ask them.”
As for other encouraging news from Keystone, earlier this week they were able to resume offering their first lunch outing in a year.
“We went to Red Lobster,” Undercuffler said. “We go out once a week and we haven’t been out since last March. It was really nice to get them out and be normal.”