August is National Wellness Month, a good time to reflect on what we can do to get stronger and healthier. But Doris Peck, a 20-year resident of Meadowood, doesn’t need a reminder to focus on wellness—she does it every day of the year. Since she moved to Meadowood with her husband at age 75, Doris has been active in the community’s wellness programs. Now a widow, she will celebrate her 95th birthday in November, and as the Meadowood program has grown over the years, so has her interest in fitness. “That’s just where I get my joy, I truly do,” she says.
In fact, when we spoke late morning, Doris had already participated in two activities. “I went to the pool at 7 o’clock, I had my exercise class at 9:30, and after lunch, I’m going to go for my walk,” she said.
Adapting Wellness Programs to the Times
Fortunately, Doris has not had to slow down her fitness routine during COVID-19, since Meadowood’s program has kept right on going—in a different form. “Right now, I’m doing a totally different schedule,” Doris says. “The wellness team is teaching outdoor exercise classes five mornings a week. A different team member teaches every day. It’s a big variety of exercises. I really like it! I do that every single morning.”
Other ways the staff is adapting the program to meet current conditions: videos and live-streamed classes. “The team also lent us weights that we can keep in the apartment while this is going on,” she says.
Doris gives Meadowood high praise for keeping residents and team members safe and secure during COVID-19. “I feel protected and taken care of here,” she says.
She’s also happy that Meadowood has been able to reopen the pool. “I do laps and water aerobics for about 40 minutes. We also have brand-new walking trails. I take those every morning that I can.”
“I’m making the best of the virus, I guess you might say that,” she adds.
Building Confidence Along With Muscle
One of the reasons Doris is able to be so active is the support of Meadowood’s wellness team. “Everybody on the team works so well together, and each one of them has their own specialties. If you want to participate in wellness, you have many, many choices,” she says.
She feels that being active at Meadowood has really increased her confidence. “When I was growing up, I was never into sports––I was the last one picked for the softball team,” she says.
But she’s developed confidence at Meadowood. She feels the community can do the same for any resident, regardless of where they’re beginning. “They’ll work with you and guide you to the right level,” she says.
Doris lives in the same second-floor Founder’s Village apartment she lived in with her husband, and although it’s not the closest to the fitness center, she enjoys the walk. “I don’t use the elevator either; I prefer the stairs,” she says.
Nurturing All Dimensions of Wellness
Although physical fitness is Doris’ number one priority, Meadowood gives her many options for fostering the other dimensions of wellness. “Our religious program has grown tremendously,” she says.
Doris also likes the lectures, where a professor from Penn might discuss Egyptian history, or a resident might share memories of a trip to an interesting destination. An avid reader, Doris also takes advantage of the Meadowood library. Then there are frequent movies on the Meadowood channel. “Somebody is always thinking of something to do,” she says.
It all comes together to enhance the well-being of Doris and the other residents. Her doctor, she confesses, is impressed by her good health. “I take no medication whatsoever,” she says. “I’m surprised sometimes about how I’ve kept going and doing what I do. It’s working out just fine.”
Doris often gets the comment, “Oh, you must have wonderful genes!” However, she says, nobody in her family has lived very long—except for her. It’s the work she has put in that has kept her healthy. But living a longer, healthier life is not really Doris’ purpose when it comes to wellness.
“I just do it because I like it,” she says. “And it has turned out to be a very good thing. It’s actually fun, it really is.”