Staying healthy is at the top of everyone’s mind right now—but especially for seniors. If you’re looking for ways to not only practice wellness but also enjoy the warmer weather, then it’s time to get active.
We sat down with Episcopal Retirement Services’ (ERS) Wellness Director, Chloe Hough, to discuss tips for getting active and to explore the types of wellness programming available at Deupree House. Hough, who has has been with ERS since August 2019, leads the Wellness Team, providing group exercise classes to personal training to wellness workshops and everything in between.
What tips do you have for seniors and their families to practice wellness during this critical period?
My biggest advice is to keep moving! You do not need any equipment to stay active at home. If you are someone who watches TV, make yourself get up and walk around during the commercial breaks. You can access virtual resources like classes, or you can create your own walking path through your home. Or, enjoy the warm weather and get outside for a walk in the sun. Our Wellness Team has put together some at-home workouts for residents to do that do not require any equipment as well, just a chair to sit on or hold on to for balance.
An important component of staying active during this period is making sure that you are listening to your body. If something causes discomfort or pain, do not push through it.
What kind of wellness programs and services does Deupree House offer?
At Deupree House, we offer a variety of what I call “land-based” group exercise classes that include a chair aerobics class, Tai Chi, and yoga. We also offer an aqua aerobics class in our pool. We have personal trainers that work one-on-one with residents to help them meet their fitness goals and maintain their desired level of independence.
At the moment, we are currently offering virtual classes so that residents can stay active while following along in their homes. We also like to work on other fun activities like Wii Bowling tournaments, and we do a Heart Health week in February.
What is your favorite type of wellness programming at Deupree House?
I enjoy all of our wellness programming, but if I had to pick, I think my favorite type is the personal training. I love being able to work one-on-one with our residents and build a relationship with them. In many cases, you are not working with the individual solely for the purposes of being physically fit, but also for socialization and creating relationships. There is nothing more rewarding than when a client meets a wellness goal or when they want to share with you that their grandson got his dream job. I feel a great sense of purpose in my work, and working with our residents is always the highlight of each day.
How does wellness programming improve seniors’ quality of life and outlook?
Wellness programming is a great way to keep seniors physically active in order to maintain or build up the strength, balance, range of motion, etc., that they need to stay independent and do the day-to-day activities they enjoy.
There are other dimensions of wellness that greatly improve quality of life besides the physical benefits. There is a mental benefit to our wellness programming that comes with different challenges of learning new skills or combining movements to challenge the brain.
There is a social and emotional benefit as wellness programming allows residents to gather with their peers on a regular basis. When residents participate in wellness programming, they become a part of their own little community.
What is the most popular wellness class at Deupree?
The most popular class is the chair aerobics class, but our aqua aerobics class is a close second! I think the chair aerobics class is a class every resident should try at least once. The class is great because it is a total body workout! The class can accommodate any level of fitness, and instructors will give both seated and standing variations. This class involves hand weights, a small exercise ball, and a resistance band, and residents get to choose their resistance levels. Instructors are leading in front of the class, but also make themselves available to walk around and assist anyone who needs it. All of these factors help us limit the barriers to exercising in this class. Most of all, this class is fun!
What advice do you have for seniors who are just starting out and trying to be more active?
My biggest advice for someone just getting started is to listen to your body! If something doesn’t feel good, then don’t do it. You can always try that movement again later on. Start small, and slowly build from there. If you are not sure where to start, try out a new class or a new walking path or a new medium like a pool until you find something you enjoy that also feels good! Also, don’t be afraid to recruit some friends or family to try it with you! The likelihood of sticking with exercise increases greatly if it is an activity you actually enjoy!
What does “Living Well Into the Future” mean to you?
I love this phrase. To me, this is all about being healthy and active enough to continue to live a lifestyle that can be enjoyed for many years to come. Whether that means working with a personal trainer to strengthen those legs enough to be able to make the trip through the airport to visit a family member or going to the group exercise class because a neighbor will be there to swap recipes with. Your idea of how you want to live life may change over the years, but being able to do what you enjoy most for years into the future is attainable if you continue to take care of yourself!
What do you like most about being the Wellness Director at Deupree House?
One of the things I enjoy most about being the Wellness Director at Deupree House is being able to serve our residents. The culture at Deupree House encourages staff to make that extra effort to make a difference in the lives of the residents we serve and enables staff to develop and grow as well. I always feel extremely lucky that I am in a position that I love. It is like coming to work to see my family every day.
Do you have more questions for Chloe related to wellness programming at Deupree House? Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. We also invite you to fill out an information request form to learn more about our continuing care retirement community.