There’s nothing Activities Director Lorelei Dubowski loves more than seeing a resident’s face light up or hearing from their family that their loved one is happier living at The Ivy at Ellington than they were living at home. And luckily for her, it happens all the time.
“At the Casino Night, I spoke with so many family members who said, ‘My parent used to be in their house just sitting in their chair watching TV. Now, I see them with friends enjoying themselves,’” recalls Dubowski. “It’s really nice to hear the difference between when they lived at home and when they live here. They really do love being together.”
The activities program at The Ivy at Ellington isn’t just about passing the time with Bingo, board games, and chair yoga. It’s about enhancing the quality of life of the residents.
According to the Center for Disease Control, nearly 30 percent of adults over 50 are physically inactive, and 2 in 3 adults have at least one chronic disease. Research shows that recreational activities not only increase health and fitness among the senior population but also provide opportunities for socializing.
For example, skill-based or creative activities, such as Painting Pals, helps foster a sense of accomplishment, which boosts residents’ self-esteem. Group activities, such as Green Thumb Gardeners Club, create bonds among residents and reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness that are so common among seniors who live at home alone.
Through a Leisure Activity Interest Form and many conversations with residents, Dubowski “matches our activities and programs to what the residents want.” Here’s a look at five of the residents’ favorite activities and outings over the past year.
1. Day Trip to Brignoles Vineyards
Located in the heart of East Granby, Connecticut, about 25 miles from The Ivy at Ellington, Brignole Vineyards is a family-owned hub for local wine lovers — and one of The Ivy at Ellington’s residents’ favorite hangouts. About 10 assisted living and memory care residents recently spent the day tasting wine and nibbling on cheese, crackers, and grapes on the patio overlooking the 15-acre vineyard. “They loved it,” Dubowski says. “The vineyard views were spectacular. The wine was delicious. The company was delightful. Our residents befriended a lovely young woman with two adorable children during our visit, and they all made a toast to happiness and friends, new and old.”
2. Men’s Club and Veterans Appreciation Day
The Ivy at Ellington is home to many veterans. Recently, the American Legion Post 133 along with the women members of the group SewN4Servicemen presented lap quilts to seven residents to honor them for their time served.
“The veterans were also able to share stories from their experiences in the military,” Dubowski says. “Afterward, a few of them gathered in the theater for Men’s Club to watch an episode of the popular series A Band of Brothers. All the gentlemen were very grateful for these tokens of appreciation for their service.”
3. The Big E
If you live in New England, you know what The Big E is. Formerly known as the Eastern States Exposition, The Big E is billed as “New England’s Great State Fair” and features livestock and animal displays, foods representing New England cuisine, small shops and vendors, concerts, and other attractions.
“I grew up going to The Big E because I lived in Massachusetts my entire life,” Dubowski says. “This past September, we brought six residents to The Big E. They loved it, and I really enjoyed it, too, because it was something special to me from my childhood that I shared with them.”
They visited the animals at farm-a-rama and tried some delicious food and drinks. Some of the favorites were fried dough, homemade potato chips, and craft beer. They even brought some fried Oreos and kettle corn home for a sweet treat to enjoy later. On the ride home, some of the residents shared stories from when they used to visit The Big E with their families and friends.
“Everyone had a great time,” Dubowski says.
4. Wine Wednesday
The Ivy at Ellington hosts happy hour every day, but the residents love Wine Wednesday the most. “Our residents will sit there and just talk for hours,” Dubowski says. “It’s happy hour, but they’ll be there until dinner. It’s awesome.”
Residents gather in the pub before dinner, wine in hand, and chat with all of the friends they have made at The Ivy at Ellington. Conversations range from sports and music to special events in their lives and their families.
“Regardless of what they are talking about, they truly enjoy one another’s company and making new memories together,” she says. “Many friendships have been formed and memories have been made from these special moments. We toast to health, love, and prosperity.”
5. The Arbors Kids
Dubowski used to be a preschool teacher at The Arbors Kids, a licensed child care center in East Longmeadow, Massachusetts, owned by the same family who owns The Ivy at Ellington. Her former class was about to graduate to kindergarten, so Miss Lorelei — as she’s known by the kiddos — brought her Ivy at Ellington residents to witness their pre-K graduation practice.
“It was the cutest thing ever,” she recalls. “As soon as they saw the little kids in their caps and gowns, they lit up. They didn’t stop smiling. It was such a cool intergenerational activity. The kids went up to every single one of the residents and said hello, and one of our residents gave them a high five. It was special.”
If you or your loved one would benefit from having access to safe and engaging recreational activities, schedule a tour of The Ivy at Ellington today.