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Engaging Activities Bring Joy and Boost Wellness

Engaging Activities Bring Joy and Boost Wellness

While some older adults are apprehensive about moving to a retirement community, it’s a misconception that life in a senior living community is boring or uneventful. Although they may fear losing their independence or becoming isolated, older adults living alone are often much likelier to be sedentary or lonely than those residing in a senior-living community.

The importance of staying active and social only increases as we age. That’s why at Christian Health, we encourage all of our residents to continue pursuing their passions and hobbies, learn new things, and remain active and engaged by fostering a vibrant, social atmosphere in each one of our many communities.

An active lifestyle has many health benefits for older adults. Physical activity promotes healthy bones, boosts mobility, and increases strength, endurance, and balance, which are all important factors in preventing falls and injuries. Staying fit and healthy also increases energy, improves mood, and helps prevent many serious health issues, such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

Additionally, engaging with others regularly and participating in stimulating or creative activities are essential for mental wellness. Life in a retirement community provides older adults with constant opportunities to interact with their peers and make new friends. Regular socialization promotes a sharp mind and good memory, as well as decreases the chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia.

Our collective mission is to ensure we cultivate a fulfilling, engaging, and fun-filled experience for each one of our residents to effectively foster their physical, mental, and spiritual wellness. Across our many senior-living communities at Christian Health, our dedicated activities directors and team members work together to develop robust monthly calendars packed with diverse activities to entertain, engage, and inspire residents.

There is something for everyone at Christian Health. From The Vista, our premier continuing care retirement community, to Longview, our beautiful assisted living community, to our independent senior-living communities in Wayne, Siena Village and Summer Hill, residents enjoy a vast variety of exciting activities, fitness classes, festive parties, live entertainment (everything from magic to musical performances to stimulating lectures) and exciting excursions.

At Hillcrest, our independent-living-plus retirement community on our primary campus in Wyckoff, the activities are chosen with individual resident preferences in mind. “We focus on the needs and wants of the residents,” said Patti Lombardi, Activity Coordinator at Hillcrest. “We have a resident council once a month where they provide suggestions. We always try to give them what they want.”

For example, the community recently introduced the classic backyard game corn hole after residents overwhelmingly requested it. “They were very excited!” said Patti.

The fun-filled calendar at Hillcrest features bingo games, movie nights, sightseeing outings, live entertainment, trivia, exercise classes, and social soirees, such as a monthly birthday celebration for all residents born that month. Annual themed parties, such as a patriotic summertime BBQ and an Oktoberfest celebration, include special on-theme meals and games, and residents are often encouraged to attend wearing garb inspired by the party’s theme.

Tailoring the activities to residents’ requests and interests ensures they enjoy a fulfilling, fun, and interesting lifestyle. At The Vista, the events committee provides Teela Ferriola, Resident Services Coordinator, with direct feedback from The Vista community on what types of activities, classes, or outing destinations they’d like to see on the schedule. All events and activities are posted on an app, where The Vista residents can register their attendance, reserve their spot, and rate the event, which they often do quite highly. The Vista’s events have an average rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars on the app.

“The Vista offers a wide variety of activities and events in wellness categories that include emotional, environmental, intellectual, physical, social, spiritual, and vocational,” said Teela. “Not only do we host a large quantity of diverse programs for our residents to choose from, but I like to make sure these events are of high quality and listen to the residents’ feedback.”

“Teela has created a program filled with everything a resident could ask for to keep them entertained, informed, and exploring new avenues of interest,” said Jeanne Keely, Vista resident and Chair of the Events Committee. “She is open to new ideas and always shows that she wants to try new options that a resident may suggest.”

Vista residents always have something to look forward to on their activity calendar. The Performing Arts Center features a rotating schedule of live music, various lectures and presentations, comedy acts, magic shows, and movie screenings; the fitness center offers an extensive schedule of fitness classes and wellness programs, including several new additions featuring expert instructors from Valley Health Lifestyles; and a variety of social activities and group gatherings encourage residents to mingle, socialize, and make new friends.

At Longview Assisted Living, the priority is providing a supportive environment for older adults who need assistance with daily activities and promoting an active, stimulating lifestyle to keep the residents engaged, reduce stress levels, improve mobility, and boost emotional wellness. Residents enjoy exercise classes, challenging brain games, arts and crafts, socials, singalongs, and comforting pet therapy services to encourage them to live as independently as possible.

Nickesha Ivey, Director of Engagement Services, Activities, and Reception at Longview, emphasized how essential it is to offer a wide variety of physical, cognitive, social, and emotional activities for resident enjoyment and wellness. “Staying active and engaged in activities is really important and beneficial to the overall health and well-being of our residents,” she said. “As activity professionals, we will continue to develop and provide a wide range of meaningful activity programs that meet their individual needs and interests.”

Habib Sayde, a Longview resident, lived alone before moving to Longview. The community’s engaging, social atmosphere helped Habib thrive and enjoy a busy social life, making friends easily and partaking in the various activities offered. “He has a better social life than me!” joked Habib’s nephew Greg Nejmeh. “He was introverted, but since he’s been at Longview, he’s flourishing and being more social. He’s as vibrant as I’ve known him to be in 60 years.”

At Holland Christian Home, activities are tailored and designed to meet all resident needs and ability levels. Special events and offered activities include musical entertainment, exercise classes, lectures, off-site trips, book club, worship service, music and pet therapy, and festive themed events for the residents to gather together and enjoy.

Kathe Carrero, Director of Activities and Volunteers at Holland Christian Home, and her team plan the calendar based on input from the residents, suggestions from family members, and their own creative ideas gathered through the years.

Kathe’s background in art therapy inspired her to implement the community’s Art Appreciation program, which includes artist biography lectures and Paint & Sip classes, where the residents can express their creativity on canvas. “They’ve really created some amazing pieces,” said Kathe.

On a monthly basis, residents enjoy off-site excursions, such as shopping trips, museum or historical site visits, shows, lunch trips, and picnics. Theme weeks are a favorite among the community, such as Cruise Week, where residents dress up in colorful cruise wear and have fun with an itinerary of various cruise-related activities, food, and music.

Like all of our communities at Christian Health, ensuring residents are happy and fulfilled with activity programming is important at Holland Christian Home. The residents offer suggestions on what they’d like to see on the calendar through a quarterly roundtable discussion group and an activities satisfaction survey.

“Everyone has a purpose – ours is to make their days as happy as possible,” said Kathe. “Residents enjoy many of the activities and are always so appreciative to our team for planning and implementing them.”

At Siena Village and Summer Hill, our independent-living communities in Wayne for adults age 55 and older, the service and activity coordinators organize a broad calendar of activities to appeal to all ages and abilities, including exercise classes, musical events, movies, games, educational presentations, and luncheons.

“The activities we provide at Siena Village and Summer Hill are one of the many things that set us apart from other independent senior-housing communities,” said Laura Koblitz, Resident Director.

Because the population is ever-changing, activity programming is thoroughly customized based on resident assessments and feedback. Health and wellness activities are chosen for residents based on their ability levels and common health issues found in the community, which is determined through the needs assessment process conducted when each resident moves in and then periodically updated.

Residents are of course welcome to provide suggestions and share ideas for activities directly to the team or through the activity surveys. Siena Village also has an active resident committee that gets together and plans additional resident socialization opportunities, including fun day trips and weekend dinners.

"It's a great, great place to be,” said Amy Scott, a Siena Village resident.

The two communities also host various annual seasonal celebrations, including a Mardi Gras bash with a live jazz band, St. Patrick’s Day luncheon, BBQ, and festive Christmas party.

“It gives us all fun events to look forward to celebrating together,” said Laura.

Learn More About Christian Health’s Vibrant Communities

Christian Health strives to ensure that our residents are happy, healthy, and fulfilled through our extensive and well-rounded activity programs. If you think an active, social lifestyle at one of our communities is right for you or your loved one, please call (201) 848-5200 or visit to learn more! We can’t wait to welcome you home.