Miami Valley retirees aren’t letting their age slow them down thanks to options offered by local communities
By Scott Unger
They say age is just a number and Dayton retirement communities are proving that true, as more residents are staying youthful with additional exercise and dining options and a larger use of technology in their everyday lives.
Residents are expanding their workout regimens to include strength training, Tai-chi, yoga and even boxing, while dining options focus more on locally sourced and organic foods.
“People are more educated about the products and the ingredients and have more concerns about how it’s affecting the environment,” Bethany Village Chef Eric Williams says. “They’re more focused on local, how we can obtain food from local farms.”
While one resident at Bethany Village donates homegrown herbs to the kitchen, nearby Spring Hills Senior Community features community gardens that contribute farm-to-table options that emphasize heart-healthy choices.
Fitness has become such a popular option at Bethany Village that a new aerobics room is under construction to accommodate larger classes.
There are currently over 300 active members in fitness programs, which range from chair-based range of motion classes to the Rock Steady boxing program, designed for patients diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.
“Boxing is one of the most intense forms of exercise there is,” Exercise Specialist Alex Sheets says. “We know that intense exercise is good for those with Parkinson’s at kind of slowing the progression for the disease and also kind of helping their symptoms.”
Although boxing is the main component, the program also emphasizes stretching, conditioning and flexibility and provides residents a chance to work out some aggression.
“Most people are kind of weary (at first) but once they put the gloves on, not only does it help them physically it’s also kind of that emotional outlet, too,” Sheets says. “They’ve been dealt a bad hand and they get to beat something for an hour.”
While residents quickly adapt to more exercise and dietary options, the use of technology can be more of a challenge for the elderly, but use is increasing.
Brookdale Senior Living Dayton uses Intouch touch-screen technology for residents in a variety of ways including exercise, entertainment and communication with relatives.
Designed for assisted living, the Intouch program allows residents to access music, games, brain quizzes, exercise routines or Facetime to connect with relatives at the touch of a button, says Brookdale Lead Concierge Amy Pobuda.
“It’s very simplified so they can use it,” Pobuda says. “They can walk right up to the computer and touch country music and there will be 30 country music songs that just play.”
Use of technology at Bethany Village is wide ranging and largely dependent on age and how much certain options benefit residents, according to Vice President of Residential Services Judy Budi.
While use of email and cell phones has greatly increased in the last decade, residents are hesitant to embrace certain technologies because they have been cautioned against potential scams by phone or online.
To increase use, Bethany Village partners residents with younger helpers in small groups to learn technology, with the hope that word will spread of its effectiveness, Budi says.
“Once you do use it a few times you’re going to be more comfortable with it and those that are more comfortable are going to champion it for other residents,” she says.
“We try to listen to what our residents say they need and then respond to that and educate them and give them options so they can grow in their knowledge and education so in five years from now or eight years from now everybody is using voice activated something or other in their apartment.”