Hebrew SeniorLife has long valued the connection between mind and body, with much of our Institute for Aging Research work focusing on how brain function is linked to fall risk and mobility and investigating how an activity like Tai Chi can benefit older adults. Christina Rice, our director of fitness at NewBridge on the Charles in Dedham, Massachusetts, was inspired by programs that combine physical and cognitive exercise together.
By this time every year many of us have already given up on our New Year’s resolutions, which all too often include a promise to take fitness seriously by maintaining an exercise or wellness regimen.
While many adults flounder in their efforts to change long-held behaviors, particularly those centered around wellness, it seems like adults age 65+ are enthusiastically embracing change and dedicated themselves to maintaining a healthy lifestyle all year long.
For the past two years, registered Dance/Movement Therapist Whitney L. DiGeronimo, MA, R-DMT, has been a member of the Expressive Therapies Department at Hebrew Rehabilitation Center. I recently spoke with her about her role and the “Dance for Parkinson’s” class now offered on-site to HRC patients at our Boston and Dedham locations.
Tell us about your professional background and training, and your role at HRC?
On a gentle spring morning, the Charles River winds and flows its way through the 100-acre nature preserve on the NewBridge on the Charles campus, quiet but for frogs on the shore and birds in the air at this time of year. Then the sounds of chatter from an adventurous group of NewBridge residents and friends rise over the river as, along with their guide from the L.L.Bean Outdoor Discovery School, they help each other don water safety vests as they prepare for a morning kayak trip on the river.
While many may perceive senior living communities as places where older people go to put their feet up and watch the world go by, Hebrew SeniorLife believes that seniors have far more potential to accomplish exciting things in their later years. The residents of Hebrew SeniorLife communities are people who are learning, growing and achieving full, healthy and vibrant lives. One major reason for this is Vitalize360 TM, an award-winning, innovative, centered wellness coaching and assessment system that originated at Orchard Cove in 2003.
As we age pursuing a lifestyle of health and wellness is directly related to how we live our lives and less related to being free of disease. The residents at Hebrew SeniorLife’s senior living communities take a proactive approach to living life to its fullest with the highest possible levels of physical, social and emotional engagement. This is achieved by setting supported goals through the Vitalize360TM program for improving all aspects of one’s wellness.
Summer is the perfect time of year to get outdoors, enjoy the sunshine and explore a new activity. In the summer edition of our Seasons Wellness Guide series, Hebrew SeniorLife medical experts provide advice and information for everyday inspiration to help you optimize your time and enjoy the season.
Life is a continual balancing act. When we’re young, it may seem as though we’re able to take on everyday activities with ease. But, as we grow older, our senses and ability to efficiently perform multiple tasks at the same time start to slowly deteriorate. Even the simplest of simultaneous activities, such as walking and talking, can disrupt our balance and put us at risk for a serious fall-related injury.
Making time for exercise is no easy matter. We’re all occupied with our daily routines, countless activities, and projects that force us to put exercise on the back burner.
But like anything else, those things that take hard work and commitment show the greatest results. Yes, I’m talking about exercise.
It’s one of the things you just have to make a commitment to doing and stick with it. For individuals with a chronic medical condition, exercise is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. Just like taking your prescribed medications or sticking to a diet, exercise requires the same degree of commitment.
Gone is the belief that growing older means inevitable and irreversible physical decline. Thanks to aging research, including that conducted in the Institute for Aging Research at Hebrew SeniorLife, we now know that not only is physical activity possible at any age, but it is beneficial— from staying heart healthy, to helping prevent falls, to slowing the onslaught of dementia.