Snowshoeing, archery, meals out, sightseeing, fishing, boxing, shopping and more – the Activities Departments at the six Maine Veteran’s Homes locations are robust and full of activities that not only keep residents happy, but healthy.
Studies show that seniors who are socially active experience these benefits:
- Better cognitive function. Social activities keep folks sharp and mentally engaged, which is important to prevent the onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
- Maintaining good emotional health. Connecting with others helps keep residents in a positive mood.
- Improving physical health. Socially active seniors tend to be more physically active. Plus, you tend to eat more and make better food choices when you eat with others.
- Boosted immune system. Studies show that seniors who stay engaged with others and life in general, have higher levels of immune-system functioning.
- Enjoying restful sleep. According to studies, people who have more fulfilling relationships in their lives tend to sleep better than those who don’t.
- Increased longevity. Residents live a longer, happier life by having an active social life.
Residents at our Homes in Augusta, Bangor, Caribou, Machias, Scarborough and South Paris are very active; one of the reasons for that is because they play a key role in deciding what activities will be offered.
“Residents love to be involved in upcoming events,” said Mona Boucher, Activities Director at MVH Augusta. “They feel that their suggestions are enhancing the lives of fellow Veterans. If we can make it happen, we do.”
In turn, Boucher said the Home’s Resident Council also feels free to inform staff on the events or activities they and fellow residents don’t like to engage in.
At MVH Scarborough, the families of residents participate in activity planning for their loved ones. Often, those activities are pastimes that residents enjoyed before joining the Maine Veterans’ Homes family.
“Residents who have always enjoyed cooking are empowered by planning, shopping and continuing to participate in this passion here at MVH,” said Katie Berthiaume, activities director in Scarborough. “At our weekly Friday afternoon Happy Hour, we have one resident who plans out the menu, goes to the store to the buy the items he needs and then spends time in the kitchen preparing the food.”
“He gets so much joy seeing the residents, families and staff enjoying the food that he has prepared,” she added.
Catering to Our Residents
An aspect of enrichment that’s encouraged at MVH Scarborough is to incorporate previous occupations into the daily lives of those residents who desire that, especially those who reside on the memory care unit of the Home.
“For example, we currently have several residents here who worked for the postal service after serving in the military. So, we make it a point to get those residents together to sort and label the daily mail. Once they have done that, we have them deliver the mail themselves. This gives these particular residents a sense of purpose.”
Residents also discover new hobbies and passions: painting, ceramics, sports and more.
Beating the Winter Blues
Winter can be challenging for anyone when it comes to keeping physically and socially active. Mona Boucher, activities director at MVH Augusta, keeps away the winter blues with music, exercise, games, holiday festivals, words games to stimulate the mind and outings.
Lisa Cirone, activities director at MVH Machias, gathers residents for a Walking Club – they play music on an iPod and walk the halls of the Home together when the weather prevents them from going outside.
Cirone has developed a pen pal program called Senior Angels for those residents who don’t have regular visitors. Right now there are eight residents who have two pen pals each from throughout the country – Washington, Illinois and Michigan, to name a few. Cirone said pen pals don’t expect to hear from residents if the residents only wants to receive letters.
“Many of (the pen pals) send the nicest gifts and treats,” Cirone added.
Bingo remains one of the most popular activities at all of our Homes, second only to enjoying special meals both in the Home and out in the community. At MVH Machias, residents can’t get enough of the root beer floats. Residents at MVH Bangor absolutely love to go out to restaurants and enjoy the rich University of Maine sports scene.
Resident Activities Funds
As a nonprofit organization, your support is vital when it comes to enriching the lives of our Veterans, their spouses and Gold Star parents. All donations, unless otherwise directed, go to the Resident Activities Funds at our six Homes. To learn more about the many ways you can help Maine Veterans, visit the Giving section of our website, or download our Community Fundraising Guide >>>