Life is good for seniors at Journey Senior Living of Merrillville. Normally, checking into an assisted living center can be a dramatic change in the course of someone’s life. At Journey Senior Living of Merrillville, the staff, caretakers, and even the chef do everything to make residents truly feel at home.
The schedule for seniors at Journey Senior Living is full of activities and daily exercise to keep their minds working and their lives meaningful. Each day, the seniors have time where they are physically moving around and staying active, regardless of physical capability. These exercises are designed to help seniors remain balanced and to nourish their mental health. Several of the activities are disguised as games, such as keeping balloons afloat using water noodles and hitting soft punching bags on tabletops to test hand-eye coordination and maintain strength in the arms.
Ken Helton, Life Enrichment Director at Journey Senior Living, is the person behind all the games and activities that the seniors take part in every day. Some of the other aerobic activities at Journey Senior Living include walking, dancing the Macarena, and doing deep breathing exercises. Helton helps nurture the seniors’ well-being by engaging them with meditation, prayer sessions, and confidence-boosting activities where he asks the class to give him their best ‘roar.’
“All of the things we do here at Journey Senior Living help our seniors physically, mentally, and emotionally,” Helton said.
Another activity that Helton particularly loves participating in with the seniors is incorporating Spanish lessons into physical exercise.
“We have incorporated learning Spanish numbers and words into games of catch with a ball,” Helton said. “Once we’ve mastered counting from one to five, we go on to five through ten, and then on to basic words in Spanish. I was surprised by how much they learned!”
Lessons such as these help improve memory while teaching confidence and increasing the general well-being in all the seniors. Helton himself even feels happier after classes with the residents at Journey.
“It is so rewarding to work with all of my patients here,” Helton said. “After the aerobic classes, I feel revved up myself. It helps me through my work day, too. It’s a really wonderful experience when I notice how they improve or when they tell me how good they feel.”
Lisa Harrison, Executive Director at Journey Senior Living, takes great pride in her work. The activities and exercise classes woven into the seniors’ schedules improves not only their well-being but also that of Harrison’s as he works.
“Everyone wants purpose—that drive that keeps them active physically, mentally, and emotionally will help them stay driven and independent. It helps them when they know they’re going to an ‘exercise class.’ Now they have plans for the day, just like everyone else,” she said.
Food is another aspect that improves the lives of the seniors at Journey Senior Living. The new chef at Journey, Liz Corn, specializes the meal for all the seniors—breakfast, lunch, dinner, and everything in between. Corn added homemade soups to the lunch menu, since soups are easy to eat and a resident favorite. Chef Corn also went out of her way to learn what everyone at Journey likes to eat. Keeping Alzheimer’s patients in mind, who sometimes have trouble eating, she added older recipes that the seniors recognize from when they were younger, and she makes sure the presentation is appealing.
Before every meal, the staff at Journey Senior Living allows the residents wash their hands with warm cloths dipped in aromatherapy oils so they are clean and relaxed before each meal. Like other routines at the senior living community, this small detail goes a long way.