Beyond Your Silver Sneakers: Promoting More Multidimensional Wellness Initiatives in Senior Living Communities

Group exercise classes are a staple of wellness programs targeting older adults within senior living communities. However, while they may be easy to adopt and make wellness opportunities more accessible, the classes are only useful to residents who use them. Regardless of class attendance, these classes also miss opportunities to promote wellness beyond their designated time block. Given these shortcomings, some argue that senior living communities must expand and diversify  their wellness programs beyond providing residents with the opportunity to wear their silver sneakers at group exercise classes. 

In addition to group exercise programs, senior living communities should implement more multidimensional initiatives emphasizing value-based, person-centered care. For instance, senior living communities should provide regular wellness screenings which can be used to develop individualized wellness plans. Residents may also benefit from smaller group exercise programs, which focus on more specific wellness goals, and they should have the opportunity to develop individualized wellness plans with the help of a health care professional.  

Senior living communities should further embrace recent social changes that have cultivated novel opportunities to adopt different types of wellness initiatives. Technology can be used to help diversify wellness programs, increasing the likelihood that opportunities align with individual needs. Programs can also adopt a hybrid format that emphasizes multiple different types of wellness at once. For instance, walking programs can increase physical activity while also raising community awareness, and cooking classes can simultaneously promote both mobility and nutrition.  

Clearly, developing individualized wellness programs may be expensive, given their additional time and  staff requirements. However, individualized programs may be necessary to reinforce key wellness components that fuel long-term change and promote opportunities to thrive. By adopting these new initiatives, senior living communities can break down barriers that traditionally limit participation in wellness programs, better address resident needs, entice residents who may be uninterested in group-based wellness classes, and ultimately make wellness opportunities more attractive to prospective residents. In order to offset these costs, communities could consider charging residents a monthly wellness fee or implement tiered fee models that offer residents different types of wellness packages.  

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Source:  

Joffrey, K. (2022). Reframing wellness programs to give residents what they need. McKnights Senior Living.   https://www.mcknightsseniorliving.com/home/columns/guest-columns/reframing- wellness-programs-to-give-residents-what-they-need/ 

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