Sites offer seniors more activities

FAIRMONT — At one point, activities at senior care facilities may have been considered not all that much fun.

However, change has been taking place. Many senior care facilities now offer a wide range of activities so that each individual can partake in something they enjoy.

“We do a lot more than just the basics,” said Amy Lang, activities manager at Goldfinch Estates in Fairmont.

They do still play bingo, a trusted standby, as it is a popular and fun activity that anyone can easily participate in. Lang said about 25 people usually come for bingo.

Other tried-and-true activities include puzzles, board games, trivia, baking cookies and book club, although much more is offered.

“We have a pretty full calendar,” Lang said. “We have a lot of different things that we do.”

A calendar is always posted by the front door so family members can see what’s going on. A calendar is also posted outside each elevator door. And each resident is given a calendar at the beginning of every month so they can highlight what they are interested in.

Every morning, an exercise class takes place.

“We do a faster-paced morning fitness class and then we also do Tai Chi,” Lang said.

She said they have several exercise bikes and a treadmill that gets used a lot. In the summer, there are walking paths. This time of year, a lot of people walk the hallways, Lang noted.

She said they will soon start doing activities with a Wii, such as Wii bowling, which is a fun activity that doubles as light exercise.

Chapel is held every Thursday with a different local minister, while the memory care side at Goldfinch has chapel every Tuesday with a different minister. Bible study is every Wednesday.

Twice per month, residents board Goldfinch’s bus and go on outings to different restaurants in town.

“For our evening dine-outs, we usually have a full bus, which is 12 to 14,” Lang said. “Same way with our breakfast outing.”

A big draw for residents is the monthly casino trip.

“For some, they’d just as soon go every other week,” Lang said with a laugh.

While most activities take place in the dining room, some occur on the third floor, such as matinee movies, since there is comfortable seating and a big-screen TV.

“We have a lot of talented people here,” said Lang, mentioning how they do sing-alongs and play the big piano in the main room at Goldfinch.

“We’re going to start an activity corner with different activities going on in a single area for the weekends,” she said.

Both assisted-living and memory care residents have the opportunity to participate in the “Let’s Go Fishing” program that takes place during the warm months.

Some of the bigger activities throughout the year include the block party that takes place in August, a bake sale and vendor show in November, and the yearly Super Bowl party.

While Lang admitted she generally sees a lot of the same people come to activities, she said Goldfinch is working on reaching everyone to try to get more to participate.

“Those that are hesitant to go on an outing always come back and say, ‘I’m so glad I went it was so much fun,’ and that’s so good to hear,” Lang said.

She said that this past summer, they took a bus out into the country and around town to check on the crops and farm land.

“That was a big hit,” Lang said. “It was a good time for people to reminisce and talk about where they used to live.”

Lang said that beginning in January, several new activities will be brought to Goldfinch.

“It will be bigger and better,” she said “There will be more things to choose from.”

When asked why she believes having a variety of activities is important, Lang said, “Because everybody has a different taste in what they like to do so it’s important to have different types of activities both for people to get out in the community, and to have activities for those who can’t get out easily so there’s still things to do.”