Introducing wellness initiatives can feel intimidating at any age, but for older adults who don’t feel as capable as they once did, integrating new habits can feel especially daunting. Add the toll of moving from familiar surroundings to an entirely new environment, and wellness programs can feel like a bridge too far.
Meadowood’s Fitness and Wellness staff start with this in mind. They recognize new residents need time to adjust. Rather than overwhelming new residents with all the programs available to them, they prefer to use these transition periods to get to know new residents personally. This gives them time to establish a foundation of trust that helps residents feel confident, secure, and maybe even willing to give one of Meadowood’s many wellness activities a try once they settle in.
This winning approach hasn’t gone unnoticed. The International Council on Active Aging (ICAA) and NuStep recognized Meadowood with the 2021 Beacon Award. The Beacon is awarded to communities that successfully foster a wellness culture and environment that supports wellness for all who live and work there. Wellness is typically defined by seven key dimensions: emotional, physical, intellectual, social, spiritual, vocational, and environmental. These dimensions improve a resident’s quality of life when nurtured and prioritized as a whole.
Collaboration is Key to Creating an Award-Winning Wellness Program
While the wellness staff has gotten a lot of credit for bringing innovative ideas to Meadowood, they insist many of the ideas come from the residents themselves. When residents share ideas for things they’d like to do, the staff sees it as an opportunity to get creative and figure out the right approach to bring their ideas to life.
The enthusiasm for wellness that is palpable throughout the community comes down to everyone being part of the process, making these programs feel less like checking the box on activities more like having fun engaging in things people love.
“We collaborate at Meadowood,” explains Becky Anhorn, Director of Fitness and Wellness at Meadowood. “Wellness doesn’t just come from the Fitness and Wellness department but runs through the veins of the whole campus—in the aesthetics of the grounds to promote being outdoors, in environmental services prioritizing cleanliness, in dining providing healthy food options, and in health services by meeting medical and mental health needs. We work together to create the ideal wellness environment.”
Wellness is Part of the Meadowood DNA
The path to wellness isn’t new to Meadowood. In fact, it’s been part of their DNA for decades, starting with two residents who began a single exercise class in the activities room more than 30 years ago. Since then, the fitness and wellness programming has expanded year after year. Now their signature wellness program, MeadoWell, includes more than 45 classes a week in more than 8,000 square feet of dedicated wellness space, attended by hundreds of residents and many staff.
The whole community collaborates to bring the MeadoWell framework to life. Becky and her team believe every member of the community has a voice—and they listen. Staff gather each week to discuss wellness trends and brainstorm new ways to engage both residents and employees. They get valuable feedback from residents and employees about new classes they’d like to see, and they figure out how to modify them to suit all levels of ability. For example, a recent influx of younger residents drove the implementation of more challenging fitness classes and a variety of social events, such as spin, boot camps, and traveling happy hours. Other request-driven offerings include special four-week classes like Shadowboxing, Golf Rx, Ballet Barre, and intellectual pursuits like Spanish Club, Brain Games, Theater Club, and Table Talk events.
Wellness is Not One-Size-Fits-All
Meadowood has discovered that making wellness feel accessible to all comes down to making activities fun. This means getting to know residents on a personal level. In this way, they can take a holistic approach to integrating wellness into each resident’s life. Understanding that one size does not fit all is what makes Meadowood best-in-class when it comes to wellness.
As the older adult population continues to expand, senior communities can significantly impact the health and quality of life. Beyond simple classes or activities, effective wellness programs must permeate the environment as a mindset and daily pursuit for residents and all levels of staff. Beacon Award winner Meadowood Senior Living is undoubtedly helping to lead the way.