By Michilea Patterson, The Mercury
SANATOGA >> A local retirement community wants to help older adults in the area age healthy by keeping active mentally and physically.
At the beginning of the year Sanatoga Ridge Community partnered with Masterpiece Living, a group committed to helping seniors age gracefully through wellness outreach programs. For several months, the retirement facility offered activities about nutrition, resilience, walking and keeping the brain active. The plan is to have these programs return in late summer or fall for people throughout the community to enjoy, not just Sanatoga Ridge residents.
David Hallman, the retirement community’s administrator, said they are encouraging those at the senior center, members at the local YMCA and people in the general area to participate in the upcoming Masterpiece Living wellness activities.
“They can integrate with our own residents here using these programs complimentary; hoping that it allows them to stay healthy longer in the community,” Hallman said.
The wellness programs can benefit the area as a whole since family members can join active adults in the activities.
“These programs are geared toward any age,” said Patty Bleakley, Sanatoga Ridge lifestyle counselor.
Bleakley said Masterpiece Living was formed from the MacArthur Foundation Study on Aging. The 10-year aging study disproved stereotypes about getting older.
“We know that 70 percent of physical aging and 50 percent of mental aging is determined by lifestyle … the choice we make every day,” stated the Masterpiece Living website.
Hallman and Bleakley said Sanatoga Ridge residents really enjoyed a six-session class called “neurobics” which is all about exercising the mind. Participants are taught techniques to improve memory and keep the brain healthy. Bleakley said people learned how to slow down the signs of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
She said through Masterpiece Living, they learned about a group of nuns who showed no symptoms of Alzheimer’s or dementia when they died. A closer look at the brain revealed that there were signs of the memory loss diseases but the nuns weren’t affected because they stayed intellectually stimulated. Another Masterpiece Living story talks about a neuroscientist that had a stroke at 32 years old which caused her not to be able to walk or talk.
Bleakley said, “They found that her brain worked around the bad parts from the stroke and made new connectors so she’s (now) walking and talking. There’s no impairment at all.”
Hallman said neurobics is about more than keeping your brain active for day-to-day functioning. It’s about advancing the brain by challenging it, he said. As an example, Hallman said people can try brushing their teeth with the opposite of their dominant hand. When a right-handed person brushes their teeth with the left hand, this will cause the brain to think more and create new connectors.
“It’s really mental gymnastics,” Hallman said speaking of neurobics.
Another popular Masterpiece Living class was “nourish” which is all about nutrition. Bleakley said residents not only learned about healthy foods but also the correct way to read a nutrition label as well as the best choices when eating out at a restaurant.
For physical activity, a group called the Trail Blazers walks throughout the retirement community every Wednesday afternoon. In the Sanatoga Ridge community center there is a poster filled with the benefits of walking which include improving balance and heart health. Sanatoga Ridge has three different walking lengths mapped out with arrows from a quarter-mile to a full mile.
In addition to learning about brain, nutrition and physical health; residents learned about resilience as part of the Masterpiece Living program. The 10-session class talked about using resilience to overcome stressful situations in order to live a happier, more fulfilling life.
Hallman said one of the goals of having the Masterpiece Living program at Sanatoga Ridge is to get the community healthy and have fun doing so with like-minded individuals. For more information about the Sanatoga Ridge Community, visit the website www.sanatogaridge.com or call the toll free number 1-888-539-0088. For more about Masterpiece Living, visit mymasterpieceliving.com.