When thinking about the activities and hobbies that keep you engaged and fulfilled, what comes to mind? Perhaps it’s cooking or baking, listening to music, or maybe it’s going to a Brewer’s game or taking an autumn walk. Whatever the activity is, many people would say that these activities sustain us, challenge us, and bring joy to our lives. For a moment, imagine that you have moved into a Skilled Nursing Facility and that participating in your favorite activities is no longer easy due to the loss of your independence and mobility. This challenge, faced by residents at the Jewish Home and Care Center, is overcome by the vibrant and growing Activity Department through the more than 110 activities they put on per week.

Take a look. Here’s what our dedicated activities staff is doing on a daily basis to provide the best possible quality of life for residents.

Small Groups
Many of the weekly activities are small group activities, with fifteen or fewer residents in attendance. There are more than twelve small groups at the Jewish Home and Care Center including: Pieces of History, Happy Hour, Men’s Club, Ceramics, Book Club, Russian Club, Restaurant Club, Tuesday Tea, At Knit’s End, Discovery Hour, Shake n’ Bake, Art History and Sports Talk. The small groups are an excellent opportunity for staff to spend one-on-one time with residents, and have the opportunity to personalize the activities to fit the interests of residents. During Art History, residents study a painting and then recreate the painting themselves, using their own artistic skills. Afterwards, residents have a stimulating discussion, sharing their thoughts and ideas about their pieces with the group.

Picture: Activity Coordinator Ellen Becker leads the Shabbat party on the second floor at 10 a.m. on Fridays. Residents eat challah, drink grape juice, sing along to music and read prayers.

Large Groups

Large group activities are designed to bring many of our residents together to socialize and interact. “With the larger-scale parties, we’re getting all of our residents together and giving them a really fun and memorable experience,” explained Carol Lukaszewicz, Jewish Home and Care Center activities director.

The Jewish Home and Care Center residents enjoyed a Campfire Party during Autumn Weeks. “The residents really responded to the sensory experience of the Campfire Party,” said Carol. “We had homemade fire pits, ate s’mores, had a very soulful singer perform, and even brought in real autumn leaves from the outdoors. We also had schoolchildren visiting that day, through our intergenerational programming, and we had residents playing in the leaves with the kids! They loved it!”

State requirements for outings are only mandated to happen two times per year. Residents at the Jewish Home and Care Center have the opportunity to go on outings about one time per month. They’re able to go to Brewer’s games, the zoo, Festa Italiana, and more. Resident Neil says, “I love going to the Brewer’s games, and I’m a Brewer’s fan. They are so fun!”

And Much More…
Other excellent activities provided to residents includes thematic and musical programming.

To get ideas fresh and activities different and new, the activities department has themed weeks, about two weeks in duration, in which they tailor the activities to fit the theme. “We’re always coming up with creative ideas to get our residents involved with something fun and new. We’ll have new recipes, new sensory experiences and fresh ideas to really help the themes come to life,” said Carol Lukaszewicz.

Music-centered activities are important for residents. “Music affects nearly every part of the brain and truly reaches everyone,” said Angela, music specialist. “Even residents who are usually non-verbal will sing along and get involved. Music memory is the last part of the memory to go, and many of our residents whose memory has deteriorated will still light up when their favorite song is played. Music really speaks to our residents.” Residents have many music-centered activities to participate in including such as Jewish Music, Music Memories, dinner music and more.

Photo: A resident making a scarf at the JHCC’s Winter Wonderland Party.

“We’re here to be with our residents, get to know them and truly enrich their lives,” said Carol Lukaszewicz. “The activities are created to really dive beneath the surface and to get to the heart and soul of each and every resident.”

Are you interested in funding a special activity for our residents? Donate online today at http://www.jewishseniorliving.org/donation-form.