As we get older, we’re bound to experience more physical aches and pains, and maybe a few mental maladies as well. Naturally, the more challenges we face, the more healing and therapy we need. While there’s only so much that Sunshine Retirement communities can do in terms of providing physical remedies to residents, there’s no limit to what we can offer when it comes to therapeutic activities that deliver mental stimulation and positive reinforcement
This month at Summerfield Estates in Tigard, Oregon, Life Enrichment Director Anthony Nosen has introduced Therapy Thursdays, an assortment of therapy sessions that have been popular at other Sunshine communities, along with a few new wrinkles.
Like many other Sunshine Retirement communities, the staff at Summerfield Estates found that Pet Therapy, Massage/Aroma Therapy, Garden Therapy, and Music Therapy sessions have helped residents stimulate physical and emotional bonds, relax tired muscles, and develop a strong sense of responsibility with ample rewards. But Anthony has taken things a few steps further by initiating Art Therapy and Theater & Laughter Therapy.
“ The Hand/Massage Aromatherapy is something I have been trained on through an essential oils program,” said Anthony. “The calming lavender type oils are used along with mineral oil, or a non-scented lotion while massaging the whole hand and wrist on both sides. This is huge for those with Contracture or Arthritis in their finger joints, allowing for better mobility and relief from pain.”
Garden Therapy is designed to benefit residents who enjoy getting their hands dirty while nurturing flowers and plants, as well as those who don’t.
“ For active gardeners, manipulating the soil and experiencing the feels, sights, and smells of the garden is a form of meditation,” says Anthony. “But we also have a group that simply enjoys the outdoors with a variety of breathing and meditation journeys.”
Music Therapy usually involves a certified therapist that brings in interactive music programs for small groups or individuals. It is especially helpful for Memory Care or bed-bound residents.
“ Art Therapy is always a fun, tactile event,” says Anthony. “It usually involves manipulating clay or finger-paints with meditative music playing in the background. We create art based more on feelings and emotions, rather than the sight of an object.”
By far the most unique of this month’s activities at Summerfield Estates has been the Theater & Laughter Therapy, which got rolling with a variety of improvisational games and skits. Then the group switched gears to a series of improv scenes and one-liners intended to make each participant laugh for as long as possible.
“ Laughter and acting, in general, have healing properties much like Music Therapy,” says Anthony.“It eases the mind along with re-firing the synapses in the brain for a variety of brain benefits.”
Whatever the physiological explanation, the activity left all who attended in great humor with big broad smiles on their faces. And we can’t think of any better evidence of healing than that.
*This blog was first published here: Sunshine Retirement Living, March, 2019.