Discovering The Fountain of Youth Within

Sunshine Residents find 7th Annual Wellness Month is the Perfect Fit


Wellness – noun, the state of being in good health, especially as an actively pursued goal.

Centuries ago, early explorers spent the better part of their lives searching in vain for a mythical “Fountain of Youth.” By the looks of things today, many Sunshine residents have found the source of a longer and healthier life right in their own communities.

From coast to coast, our Life Enrichment Directors are putting a wrap on Wellness Month for another year. But after giving residents a good taste of fitness and wellness, they certainly aren’t turning off the desire for them to keep living well. To refresh your memory, here’s how Wellness Month has played out in most communities.

Sunshine’s Wellness Month began with a Kickoff Party on August 1, where each community provided opportunities throughout the month for residents to learn Wellness practices from¬¬ local professionals based on four different categories – Get Informed, Get Fit, Get Restored and Give Back.

Get Informed

We live in a changing world where information about new ideas, policies, problems and solutions constantly arise. Getting informed and learning about these new things can help us live healthier lives. A few examples of opportunities to Get Informed this month included:

  • Seminars on Nutrition, Hydration, Exercise & Joints, Heat Stress, Fall Prevention, Eye Care, High Cholesterol and Massage Therapy.
  • Blood Pressure and Cancer Screenings and Hearing Checks.
  • Health & Wellness Fairs.
  • Orthopedic Talks

“An RN from Memorial Hospital came out and talked to the residents about Heat Stress,” claims MerryBeth Grant, LED at The Verandah in Lake Charles, Louisiana. “She gave them the warning signs and symptoms of Heat Stress and ways to protect themselves. The nurse also informed the residents that different medications can impair the body’s ability to regulate body temperature.”

Merry Bethalso talked to the residents about the importance of staying hydrated. They learned about the symptoms of dehydration and ways to prevent it.

“We told them about the five myths and facts of drinking water,” she says. “Since so many of them don’t love to drink water, we also discussed how they could get their water through eating lots of different fruits and vegetables. In the end, they each got a water bottle and a nice cold glass of ginger water infused with honey, lemon, cucumber, and spearmint.”

Get Fit

For those who have been watching life from the sidelines for a while, the thought of getting fit may seem daunting. But the payoffs of living a longer, healthier life are well worth it. The first step is to develop a good attitude and set achievable fitness goals. Then keep track of progress and get into a sustainable routine. To make things easier, residents are encouraged to buddy up with a friend to support and challenge each other, then switch things up and try new things together. Some of this month’s Get Fit offerings have included:

  • Dance Parties and Cardio Challenges.
  • Wii Bowling Tournament.
  • Beginning Taekwondo.
  • Healthy Happy Hours and Smoothie Socials.
  • Cornhole Tournaments.
  • Senior Olympics featuring Bean Bag Baseball and Potato Golf.

Complete with opening and closing ceremonies, the Senior Olympics is one of the perennial highlights of Wellness Month in Austin, Texas. This year, The Clairmont hosted their friendly crosstown rivals from The Continental and according to Life Enrichment Director (LED) Olga Rosalez, the competition breeds an amazingly warm and friendly camaraderie, while bringing a lot of enjoyment to their Wellness campaign.

“The Summer Games creates an essential physical activity for body and mind,” she states. “Participating and engaging with a friendly, competitive and fun mode promotes wellness and an overall positive way of life.”

Olga notices a positive change in residents like Wendell Sharptonof The Continental.

“Wendell strives to stay engaged in most activities and outings,” she says. “His overall wellness has improved tremendously in the last five years.”

Wendell wholeheartedly agrees.

“Wellness Month gets my attention and concentration on my wellness,” he says.“I put extra effort to stay hydrated and eat the right foods. Overall wellness is extremely important to me, especially at my age.”

Even without the rivalry of Senior Olympics, residents and staff members had spirited competitions in several communities, including Fountain Crest in Lehigh Acres, Florida. “This is the first time that we’ve had the Wi Bowling Challenge with the residents and staff,” claimed LED Debbie Whiteaker. “My residents are very competitive and wanted to create more interaction between staff and residents. The staff took turns coming out to bowl their games in the activity room and some and the residents who do not participate in many group programs came to watch. We have many residents who bowl very well and achieved perfect scores.”

Stacy Harrison, LED at The Landing at Behrman Place in New Orleans also decided to jazz things up this year with a new twist.

“We actually have spiced up Wellness Month by going back into the ‘50s,” she said.“We were‘Rockin’ Around the Clock’ at the Landing Fabulous ‘50’s Birthday Bash on the 18th.”

Get Restored

Getting physically and mentally restored is essential for your health. With our hectic lives, we are constantly on the move and over time this has caused damage to our quality of life. We need to reclaim balance and give ourselves some much-needed peace of mind, body, and soul. Sunshine residents have been Getting Restored this month through:

  • Relaxation Days and Spa Treatments (Massage, Pedicure, Aromatherapy, etc.).
  • Essential Oils and Foot Soaks.
  • Nature Therapy.
  • Drum Circles
  • Relaxing String Concerts.
  • Laughter is Medicine Workshops.
  • Mary Kay and Estee Lauder Facials.

“I really enjoy the pillow spray,” said Wilma of Country Club Village in Hot Springs, Arkansas. “I made two different ones and used the lemongrass and jasmine scent on my pillows and it helped me relax and have a good sleep.”

Give Back

Volunteering services or donating goods and money are not only beneficial for the recipients, but for the givers as well. Doing good for others and paying it forward does wonders for self-esteem, and having money to donate is not a requirement. This year, Sunshine’s Give Back activities featured:

  • Collection Events for Pediatric Hospitals and the ASPCA.
  • Cookie Decorating and Thank You cards for local Police and Fire Departments.
  • Clothing Drives and Bake Sales.
  • Eye Glasses Donations.

At the beginning of the month, residents received a special Wellness Calendar and a Wellness Stamp Card. Since then, they have been rewarded with a stamp on their card every time they attended a Wellness event highlighted on the Calendar. As the month ends, most of the communities will be hosting a Wellness Awards Ceremonyover the next few days, and every participant will be recognized and awarded. The resident who receives the most stamps on his or her card at each community will win a customized $50 Visa Gift Card for their efforts.

Bigger and Better Every Year

With wonderful incentives and noticeable results, it’s no wonder Wellness Month is going stronger than ever at most Sunshine communities.

“Wellness Month sets the tone every year for our residents by providing them with great information that helps them gracefully age in place,” said Everett Williams, Executive Director at The Continental, who has witnessed positive outcomes for several years.

Tiffanie Harper, Executive Director at Country Club Village concurs.

“I think that it pushes the residents to be more active and come out of their shell,” she says. “I notice that the residents that don’t normally come to many activities seem to come out during Wellness Month. I think having a healthy competition is good for them and helps them build habits that carry on past Wellness Month, which in turn, leads to a healthier way of life!”

It’s been a real eye-opener for Country Club Village LED Star Longinotti, who experienced her first Wellness Month this year.

“I am enjoying the Wellness tradition!” she claims.“Our morning exercise classes have really increased to 23-25 people most mornings. And we’ve had to increase our water cooler jugs because we’re going through them faster than our delivery schedule.”

That about sums it up. Who needs to search for a Fountain of Youth when there’s always plenty of refreshing Wellness inspiration – and ice-cold water – to go around.

First published on Sunshine Retirement Living, September 2019.

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