Wellness Program Keeping Veterans Active and Healthy

Author: Maine Veterans' Homes
Posted: May 30, 2017
Category: Veteran Health & Wellness

Nearly 1 in 5 older adults discharged from the hospital is readmitted within 30 days. That’s approximately 2.6 million seniors at the cost of more than $26 billion every year, statistics show.

These staggering numbers are why healthcare organizations have placed extreme importance on post-acute rehabilitation therapies that keep seniors active, healthy and safe after a hospital stay.

At Maine Veterans’ Homes, we’ve taken it one step even further. We’re offering wellness programs beyond the doctor-prescribed, post-acute therapy and have opened the classes up to other eligible veterans and their spouses.

“We wanted to find a way that we could help,” says Traci Kennedy, our senior physical therapist with the Bangor therapy center. “We wanted a program where they could all exercise in a safe, comfortable environment.”

Lowering Re-admissions Through Exercise and Wellness

Our veteran wellness program, now offered in Bangor, began after seeing a need for additional exercise and fitness support for veterans finishing prescribed outpatient therapies.

The classes, which currently include basic and advanced fitness, Tai Chi, aqua-therapy and maintenance therapy, are held weekly. Veterans finishing rehabilitative therapy at our Bangor home are encouraged to continue staying active by attending these classes. The program is also open to any other veterans, spouses and Gold Star parents looking for a safe environment to exercise amongst fellow veterans.

“Many people admit it’s difficult to commit and stay accountable when you’re supposed to do the exercise program at home,” Traci says. “When exercise is stopped too early, it increases the chances of re-admission. The muscles are likely still fragile and vulnerable. It increases the chances of a fall and injury.”

It’s not uncommon for people to struggle with their physical therapy “homework,” studies show. A 2010 U.S. National Library of Medicine article cited that in some cases it’s as high as 70% of patients not completing recommended exercises and treatment after a hospital stay.

Helping Veterans Stay Active and Safe

The classes at Bangor began about a year ago and now includes some “regulars.” A few couples who attend each week are having a lot of fun with it and are seeing the benefits.

“We wanted to find a way to help bridge the gap,” Traci says. “How can we help keep them well? What can we do to help them keep going with their exercise program after therapy and help keep them moving on their feet?”

Michelle Bell, rehabilitation manager at our Bangor nursing home, says as the program grows, she’d like to offer more classes, more frequently. She encourages veterans to try a class. The first class for you and your spouse is free.

Wellness Classes at Bangor Maine Veterans’ Home

Basic Fitness Class: This is a slower paced class consisting of seated and standing strengthening, balance, core and whole body stretching exercises to improve mobility and maintain the ability to participate in the things you enjoy. There are frequent rest breaks as well as a chair for support in standing.

Advanced Fitness Class: This is a higher paced, on your feet, blood pumping class for those who are looking for more endurance, core and resistive training. Standing balance activities are included as well.

Tai Chi Class: Join us for an hour of relaxation while improving balance to decrease your risk of falls. Class includes seated and standing positions, however, modifications can be provided. Goal of the class is to leave feeling relaxed, energized and more mobile.

*15 people per class maximum. Drop-ins welcome, but pre-registration recommended to ensure place in class.

Additional Wellness Services at Bangor Maine Veterans’ Home

Self-Paced Aqua Therapy: Have the pool to yourself for a low impact exercise program. Supervision is provided along with equipment for your use. Our pool features underwater treadmill, camera for self-monitoring of walking and adjustable jet intensity and water heights for your comfort and fitness needs. You must have a one-time consult with our licensed therapist before beginning this service.

Maintenance Program: This is a program for those who would like to continue receiving 1:1 treatment by a therapist following discharge from therapy services. Great for those who would like to maintain their gains but need that extra encouragement, variety in exercise and safety in performing higher level activities with the direction and supervision of a therapist. Sessions areavailable on land or in an aquatic environment based on your needs.

For more information or to sign up for any of our wellness classes or services, please call our Bangor facility at 207-299-1585 or email rehabwellness@MaineVets.org

Maine Veterans’ Homes is an independent nonprofit organization with six locations throughout Maine, each welcoming our honored veterans. For more information, contact Maine Veterans’ Homes or give us a call at 800-278-9494.