How Rock Climbing Brings Assisted Living Residents New Adventures

Emily Cozzetto

Emily Cozzetto, director of resident enrichment, The Palisades at Broadmoor Park

Assisted living facilities often offer a variety of activities to keep residents engaged and active. Those activities might include swimming, yoga, and group exercise classes. But in late April, residents of The Palisades at Broadmoor Park, an assisted living facility in Colorado Springs, Colorado, tried a new type of activity: rock climbing.

New Activities and New Heights

Emily Cozzetto, director of resident enrichment at The Palisades at Broadmoor Park, explains that while rock climbing might not seem like the most natural fit for senior living residents, it actually provides several key benefits. “I had heard that there was a group of long-time, older climbers that frequented the area climbing gym,” says Cozzetto. “The gym also offers adaptive climbing options. Considering the health benefits, I thought it may be a challenge some residents would be up for.”

She notes that rock climbing can help to improve cognitive function, since climbers need to map out and solve the puzzles poised by climbing routes. Climbers exercise their core and build strength, both of which can support seniors’ balance and muscle tone and help to reduce the risk of falling. “With a trained belay, there are no jerky movements, so it’s gentle on joints,” notes Cozzetto.

She explains that since none of the residents who signed up for the event had ever gone rock climbing previously, there was some trepidation. While fear of the unknown prompted most of the concern, some residents were worried that they wouldn’t physically be able to get on the wall, while others were worried about safety. “We decided as a group to take it step-by-step,” says Cozzetto. “Our experienced instructor and belays were able to assuage most fears. In the end, if anyone decided not to participate, it was entirely their choice. But, everyone got on the wall at least once.”

Future New Adventures

The rock-climbing event was a success in multiple ways. Palisades staff were excited for and supportive of the residents. Since some staff members rock climb, they were able to connect with the residents in a personal way. The event was featured by news outlets, and other residents were excited to see their Palisades neighbors on the news. “For some, it inspired them to consider trying something new. For others, it was just a sense of pride in their community,” says Cozzetto.

Given the event’s success, Cozzetto plans to offer another rock-climbing session. “A number of residents, who now see how fun it can be and who didn’t attend previously,” would like to go,” she says. “I also hope to take our original group again.”

Rock climbing is just one way that Cozzetto works to keep residents fit and engaged. The Palisades has a signature fitness program called MBK FIT. “As Director of Resident Enrichment, I work closely with our Fitness Director to bring new fun activities to the residents that support bodies and minds, and that connect with their hobbies and interests,” says Cozzetto. Such activities have included line dancing, meditation, yoga, and hiking. In addition to those fitness activities, the program offers a weekly beginning American Sign Language Class, pub trivia, and interactive learning and activities on the iN2L system.

Residents can also expect to participate in new activities and adventures, thanks to the creation of an Active Adventurers Club. “For now, we’re planning a sky diving outing but some of the other ideas include a hot-air balloon ride and river rafting, says Cozzetto.

Topics: Activities , Featured Articles , Resident Care , Risk Management