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Holistic Wellness

April 1, 2008
by Maureen Pearson
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Bringing wellness to elders
  • designed to help residents maintain their current activity levels

  • designed for residents who train or exercise daily

  • Elders moving into VMRC have a strong interest in the Wellness Center. Since 2003, 87% of new resident move-ins to VMRC residential cottages and apartments are active members of the Wellness Center. The heart of the Wellness Center is its workout room, complete with Keiser strength equipment, treadmills, NuSteps, and BioSteps. Other amenities within the Center include a 20-meter heated indoor pool and spa, aqua aerobics, yoga fusion, balance classes, and line dancing. Fitness and strength training programs follow guidelines established by the American College of Sports Medicine and all Wellness Center associates, instructors, and lifeguards are certified by one or more of the following organizations: American Council of Exercise (ACE), Aquatic Exercise Association (AEA), Arthritis Foundation, and/or the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). Wellness Center associates perform senior fitness tests semiannually on active Wellness Center members to show areas of improvement and need. Functional activities are identified on the fitness tests and enable Wellness Center associates to develop or adapt an exercise program targeted to a resident's needs. Program content is directed toward functional activities that reflects the continuum of needs at a continuing care retirement community.

    Of the residents living in the Oak Lea Nursing Care at VMRC, 65% are active participants in Wellness Center activities, and nearly half of the residents in Crestwood Assisted Living at VMRC participate in wellness programs. Those numbers represent 135 residents from Crestwood Assisted Living and Oak Lea Nursing Care who regularly participate in wellness programs. Those statistics mirror or are higher than usage statistics of residents in VMRC's four independent living communities.

    To encourage residents of Crestwood and Oak Lea to participate in wellness programming, Wellness Center associates visit residents weekly for functional exercise activities. Props such as scarves, wooden sticks, and rubber balls are used to encourage movement and repetition. Similar modalities are used with dementia residents in neighborhoods in Crestwood Assisted Living to improve their mobility and dexterity. Care plan team members seek and recommend to Wellness Center associates residents who have expressed interest in wellness activities. Transportation for residents with limited physical mobility is also arranged to the Wellness Center. The time and frequency of classes also take into consideration the needs of residents in Crestwood Assisted Living and Oak Lea Nursing Care.

    The environment and equipment offered by VMRC exemplifies its commitment to wellness and fitness by reflecting current trends. In January, VMRC's Wellness Center introduced the Wii gaming technology console to residents. The Wii enables residents, regardless of mobility, the opportunity to participate in sports without injury, equipment limitations, or travel concerns. Health education classes, special guest speakers, and social activities are sponsored monthly by the Wellness Center reflecting various health-related themes. To keep abreast of Wellness Center members' interests and feedback, annual surveys are conducted by Wellness Center associates to evaluate customer service, facilities and equipment usage, and classes. Survey responses provide input into the program and development process of wellness as it continues to evolve at VMRC.

    Maureen Pearson is the Director of Communications at the Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community.

    For more information, call (540) 438-4205 or visit http://www.vmrc.org. To send your comments to the author and editors, please e-mail pearson0408@ltlmagazine.com.


    1. Xuemei S, LaMonte MJ, Laditka JN, et al. Cardiorespiratory fitness and adiposity as mortality predictors in older adults. Journal of the American Medical Association 2007; 21:2507–16.