A few more examples of living with purpose!

For many a move to a senior living community or nursing home can be a traumatic change for the resident.  Because there are so many people to offer assistance in these settings its common for residents to stop helping others, stop or reduce energy toward trying to do things for themselves, and dreaming about the future.  There are many individuals that choose a different path – whether on their own or with the encouragement of others.

Kim Ahn
Fairfax County Times photographer Shamus Ian Fatzinger was driving by a basketball court on a recent 100 degree day.  He saw a lone shirtless player and thought it would make for a good photo.  Then Kim Ahn arrived, age 74, Shamus states,“She said that she found out she had high cholesterol and blood pressure so she started playing basketball for 2 hours each day. She told me she wears a hat to keep the sun off of her face and the fleece gloves were to protect her manicure. She was also followed by a soundtrack of Vietnamese religious music that was playing on a cell phone in her pocket. Very cool lady.”

Bob Schapiro
Yesterday I had a meeting at Friendship Terrace Retirement Community, when I entered the lobby I was happy to see Bob Schapiro, a resident that I interviewed for an article earlier this year.  Click here to read the article and watch a video of Bob.

Similar to Kim shooting hoops, Bob finds purpose in collecting cigar boxes. I remember him proudly showing me some of his “finds” when I first met him.  He told me that going out and looking for these was an adventure and is what “keeps me young”.  So, I was a bit surprised to see two carts with hundreds of cigar boxes in the corner of the lobby!

I learned that Bob is now sharing his collection with the young soldiers at Walter Reed Medical Center.  The soldiers can now keep their personal items in a unique cigar box thanks to Bob!  Its great to see how he was able to turn his hobby which kept him occupied and happy into a project with such meaning!

Nursing Home Resident Council with a Purpose

Most assisted living and nursing homes have resident councils.  These are generally the equivalent of “student governments” in elder care settings.  Their structure and organization can vary greatly ranging from reviewing the details of management and operation decisions to reviewing menus and programming.  While independent living communities often have very active and organized resident councils – many times assisted living and nursing homes struggle to get residents involved.

At the Pioneer Network Conference I had the good fortune to attend a session featuring Mark Latham, Administrator of Pleasant View Center a Nursing Home in Concord, NH.  Mark shared how his community had similar challenges, and how he gave the residents the flexibility and a platform to create a resident council that has taken on some ambitious projects with meaning and purpose.

This meaningful work started with a discussion amongst residents that “hunger in New Hampshire is unacceptable”.  It set off a series of events and activities that has raised over $80,000 to date for the NH Food Bank and encouraged other communities and nursing centers to follow their model and help out.  The group has not stopped there – they are continuing to take on important issues and concerns to the residents.

As Mark Latham talked about this change in his center – I had a visions of a Hollywood movie!  I asked if the residents getting a taste of “activities” with such meaning and purpose, did they continue participation in the traditional activities in the center?  He shared that he thought that might be a result, but it wasn’t.  This program was offering the residents another option, and fortunately because there are so many involved in the project a resident has the flexibility to skip a conference call if one of their favorite activities is scheduled at the same time.

He mentioned that the residents are open to reaching out to other communities to share what they have learned and help others – here is the contact information: [email protected].
Click here for some additional information on the Seniors Aid New Hampshire Program.

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