The summer season creates the perfect opportunities for seniors to enjoy the outdoors, get involved in the community, and meet new people. Ashlee Goetsh, activities director for The Waterford at Ames Assisted Living community in Ames, Iowa, says that she sees a positive change in their residents’ moods during this time of year because they can actually get outside and enjoy the fresh air. “My favorite part about the summer is seeing how happy the seniors are. I love to sit out on the patio with them and listen to their stories.” In the interview below, Goetsh shares some of the activities and events that the residents in her community look forward to each year during the warmer months.
Q: What do the residents look forward to the most this time of year?
A: Our residents enjoy going on local outings to different areas of the community. Their favorite trip is loading up on our big bus and going to get ice cream.
Q: What are some of the other outings you have planned?
A: The residents love to visit the butterfly house at Reiman Gardens [a seventeen-acre park located at Iowa State University], so we will definitely be doing that again. We have a fishing trip coming up where we pack a picnic lunch, bring a whole bunch of fishing gear, and enjoy an afternoon on the lake. A new event we are really excited about this year is Movies in the Park, an event put on by our city. The residents will get to view a movie on a large, outdoor projection screen. We plan to tour the local historical society and have discussed taking a ride on an old-fashioned steam locomotive over the trestle bridge as well. I am also really excited to take them to the State Fair in August, especially since I’ve never been before!
Q: I know you threw a Mother’s Day tea party. Do you hold any events to celebrate the summer holidays?
A: We will have a Father’s Day celebration called Desserts with Dad, where residents can come enjoy treats such as brownies and pies with their families. Our staff and residents love participating in the city’s Fourth of July parade as well. Many of our employees and residents like walking along the entire parade route. We also decorate our bus, and some of the seniors ride inside while throwing out candy to the crowd.
Q: I saw that you hold spring painting classes and art therapy classes; do you have any other on-site activities planned?
A: We have wine night coming up where someone comes in and talks about local wineries. We host a monthly fine-dining event that the residents love because they get dress up and enjoy a fancy dinner. For Garden Week in June, we invite a garden club to come in and make floral centerpieces for our dining room. I recently connected with our local Audubon society, which has started giving presentations to the residents about the regional wildlife. The next one scheduled is about hummingbirds. There is a 1950s rock-and-roll band coming to perform as well. The residents also look forward to our seasonal menu, including fresh fruits and vegetables, especially Iowa state corn.
Q: Do you see more visitors during the summer?
A: I would say so. There are always people coming and going, but I do see more people here in the summer enjoying the outdoor patios and nice weather. We also host a huge barbecue where we invite residents’ families and people from the neighborhood to see everything our community has to offer. We play lawn games, grill and just enjoy each other’s company.
Q: Do you have to practice any additional safety precautions in the warmer months?
A: Absolutely. In fact, our safety committee just voted on our new slogan, which is “safety by choice, not by chance.” We make sure to stay current on drills and disaster training. Keeping the seniors healthy and making sure they wear their sunscreen are the most important precautions this time of year. We are also going to set up a water station with different flavors of water to make sure they stay hydrated.
While seniors should be careful to avoid heavy sun exposure, that does not mean they have to be stuck indoors during the warmer months. “Taking advantage of the gorgeous weather while we can is important, and we can all use a little vitamin D. We are outdoors with our residents doing some type of fun activity every day this time of year,” says Goetsh. There is no better time than summer to enjoy friends and family, and to get out and try something new.
Lighthouse Senior Living