“Dad, your joy meter is rising every day,” daughter Stacy says to her dad, Wendell Sharpton, a resident at The Continental, one of Sunshine Retirement Living’s communities in Austin, Texas.
Wendell, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, and his daughter Stacy, were looking for a retirement community with more comprehensive medical treatment services when they walked through the doors of The Continental. What they found was a comprehensive collection of services, including a variety of wellness programs focused on three key elements of health: body, mind and soul.
Lack of balance is a common challenge for Parkinson’s patients. But with help from dance and rhythm classes and a variety of wellness programs available at his community, Wendell is now doing the “Hallway Mambo” (a do-anywhere dance he invented at The Continental). Now Wendell better resembles a well-matured super hero than a Parkinson’s patient.
“I found a wellness program that has enhanced my life socially and physically to a significant degree,” says Wendell.
After two years, a “King of Wellness Month” title, a “21 Day Challenge Grand Champion” title and some fancy choreography, which includes the “Parkinson’s Slide” and “Leisure Dining Square Dance,” and Wendell is an inspiration for patients battling terminal illnesses and chronic ailments at The Continental. He has taken full advantage of Sunshine Retirement Living’s comprehensive approach to wellness to feel and perform better. Says Wendell, “I’ve learned to take advantage of the opportunities that are presented to me [here].”
No well-matured super hero accomplishes his or her super-sized feats without a sidekick. We like to think that the sidekick to our “wonder residents” is our comprehensive body, mind and soul health program.
First, we try to provide residents with that “superhero” strength through body wellness programs specifically designed to get them moving and active. These programs include cardiovascular exercise, strength training, exercise, yoga and tai chi.
Next, to enhance the wellness of the mind, we offer health and wellness classes, seminars and informational events on topics such as improving range of motion, increased circulation, pain management and weight management.
The final component—wellness of the soul—is a program that focuses on giving back through community involvement and food/clothing/supply drives. Residents also exercise their spiritual purpose through writing letters to military troops, participating in recycling programs, taking part in Crafts for a Cause, and seeking out other volunteer opportunities through local partnerships, such as the Girl Scouts.
While results like that of our wellness wonder Wendell are somewhat rare and a product of his enormous will for physical and mental empowerment, researchers suggest that extremely positive outcomes may not be out of reach for many terminal patients. In fact, research by the Parkinson’s Outcomes Project suggests that exercise prolongs quality of life for Parkinson’s patients and it further suggests that exercise is an essential part of overall disease management.
We believe that when the benefits of physical activity are paired with mental health and spirituality programs, overall mood can be improved, social interaction is achieved, and quality of life can be enhanced. By combining the benefits of all three aspects of wellness—body, mind and spirit—we feel we can uncover the potential of more wellness wonders like Wendell at our communities.
“I thank my daughter Stacy, Activity Director Olga, and the staff here at The Continental,” says Wendell, crediting them for his success. And we’d like to thank Wendell for his incredible perseverance and enthusiasm towards the wellness programs here. By embracing Sunshine Retirement Living’s holistic approach to wellness, he continues to raise his joy meter and be an inspiration for fellow residents. In fact, we can’t help but wonder who our next wellness wonder will be.