Helping residents get ‘Happy’ and healthy

When someone showed Stephanie Gumina a Canadian video featuring seniors singing Carly Rae Jepsen’s pop hit “Call Me Maybe” last year, she thought residents of the Belvedere of Westlake in Ohio, where she is program director, would enjoy participating in a similar activity.

“My residents are very animated,” she told me. “Just because you’re a senior citizen doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. We have fun every day. We laugh every day.”

Stephanie found the perfect vehicle for the Belvedere’s assisted living residents to express their energy—and for her to use skills honed in broadcast school—in Pharrell Williams’ infectious, Oscar-nominated tune “Happy,” which is featured in the children’s movie “Despicable Me 2.” And now the world can see the results of their efforts, because Stephanie posted a video of residents and staff members dancing and singing along to the ditty on YouTube, where it has received more than 3,700 hits in the past month (you can watch the video below; if it's not visible, please click on the YouTube link).

Most of the 20-some residents of the facility appear in the parody, she says, adding, “They still rock out and get down with the best of them.”

Stephanie knew that residents would have fun making the video—the result of multiple takes—and get a little exercise in the process. And when she posted the video, she knew it would convey a positive message about Belvedere and the seniors who live there, as well as parent company Rae-Ann, which in various locations offers a range of services including skilled nursing; post-acute care; orthopedic, stroke and general rehabilitation; memory care and wound care in addition to assisted living.

What she didn’t predict was the intergenerational effects of the video, she says. Grandchildren are proudly commenting online that they are related to the video’s “stars,” and one grandson said his grandmother’s appearance on YouTube outshone his being named to his high school basketball team, she relays.

“Family members love it. Now they have something to keep with them forever,” Stephanie says, noting that some residents’ families are spread throughout the country and even around the world, so they especially appreciate being able to view and share the video.

The video has been featured in the local media, and Stephanie hopes some national appearances may be in the future as well. A 95-year-old resident is hoping for a spot on the “Ellen” show.

So stay tuned.


Topics: Activities , Executive Leadership , Rehabilitation