Keeping seniors mentally and physically engaged is imperative for their well-being, but it often takes a community to make sure they are able to maintain independence and a healthy mind, body, and soul.

As the Engagement Director at Arbor Terrace Middletown, Talia Montone supports independent living, assisted living, and memory care programming for the community. She is also a pet handler and holds a degree in Recreational Therapy. In our upcoming webinar, Talia will discuss how we encourage our residents to get engaged and stay engaged through activities, interviews, and the assistance of our resident ambassadors.

Watch the video above for a preview of Senior Living LIVE! Engaging Activities for Seniors, and then visit ArborCompany.com/Engaging to register!

 

Video Transcript

- Hello everybody, and welcome into "Senior Living Live." My name is Melissa. As always, I hope you're having a wonderful day today. Well, we have a great webinar coming up for you on April 7th at 11:00 AM Eastern time that is all about engagement in senior living. We're going to explain why engagement is so important for seniors and we're gonna share some ideas of how to stay active and engaged courtesy of one of our great engagement directors, Talia Montone. Talia, how are you today?

- I'm great. How are you?

- Doing well. It is so good to see you. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background and what you do for The Arbor Company.

- Yes, so my name is Talia and I'm the engagement director at Arbor Terrace in Middletown. I am a graduate from Temple University where I earned a Bachelor's of Science in recreational therapy and completed a minor in dance. My recreational therapy side is where I really grew my passion for working with seniors and how I ended up in this wonderful community.

- Perfect. Perfect. And you're gonna have a webinar all to yourself where you get to have people whether they live in communities or not, they're gonna ask you questions. They're gonna find out why engagement is so important. And that actually leads me to the next question, and that is, why is engagement so important for our seniors and in senior living in particular?

- So for me, engagement is everything. It's a part of our life every day, whether you're young or whether you're a senior or whether you're in or out of a community. It could be as simple as taking a walk every morning. It could be going to church, joining in on a yoga class. All of that is part of being engaged and creating a well-balanced lifestyle for yourself. So it's very important.

- Yeah, and we'll talk a lot about that during the webinar, for sure as we preview it here today. So in your experience, how have you seen engagement opportunities bring people out of their shell, if it's somebody who isn't used to doing that? Or how have you seen it help others perhaps with cognitive decline or from a cognitive standpoint?

- Yeah, so being engaged, whether it's in your home or in a community is very important and can really bring you out of your shell. It can create new social relationships for you, or it can even bring back memories for seniors that maybe are starting to experience memory loss. For example, I have two little French bulldogs that volunteer and come in and do pet therapy in our community. And they just bring so much joy, laughter, smiles, memories of pets that, you know, you may have had in your life or it helps people get out, take a walk, laugh a little bit, see a dog, you know, perform a trick. So, something as simple as bringing in an animal and pet therapy can bring back memories, good times, can help other residents maybe connect. "Oh, did you have an animal growing up?" "Yeah, I did." And maybe that forms a new friendship. So even just little things that can happen in the community can build those new relationships.

- Yeah, and I like that aspect, but we'll talk about in your webinar and the pet therapy. It really does bring people out. Somebody could be having a bad day and they see a dog and all of a sudden that just goes away. The bad day goes to the wayside and all of a sudden it's all about this precious animal. And so I love that you're introducing that at your particular community. And we'll talk more about that during your webinar. And I know it's near and dear to your heart. It's also near and dear to mine. So when it comes to planning an engagement calendar, which is something that you end up doing every single month, how can you or someone go about doing this, who maybe doesn't live in senior living? We have a lot of viewers who haven't quite made that leap yet into a senior living community. What can they do at home to create something similar?

- Yeah, so here at Arbor, we have something that we call the engaged lifestyle. So it's not just about having fun. So we have different categories that we like to include daily, weekly, and monthly. So we have a category called arts and education. We have our spiritual journey, recreation and leisure, health and wellness, deep connections. So like I said, it's really important to have that well-rounded calendar, not just, you know, we're gonna play name that tune. We're also gonna offer a church service or a walk outside or a scenic ride or a trip to somewhere new or an educational class. You really need to add more than just an activity. It's really about that purposeful living and creating meaningful moments throughout your days.

- And I'm so happy that everybody now gets to widen that a little bit now that we're kind of getting out of COVID, I say cautiously. There are certainly more opportunities to add to that calendar, so I love that. So this is a webinar, as all of our webinars, where you have to RSVP to be a part of it. So who should tune in to this particular webinar, and why should they tune in?

- I think anybody that has a loved one that maybe is looking into moving them into a senior living facility, and/or anyone that has a loved one at home that they're trying to pull out of their shell or work on bringing back that engaged lifestyle that maybe they once had. And unfortunately with COVID, a lot of us did have to isolate. So we're all kind of getting back into creating those social relationships and getting out of the house and getting fresh air. Like I said, sometimes it's just as simple as the little things. Taking a walk each day, maybe meditating, but it can also be a big thing. You're gonna go out and take a yoga class or join a new book club. So I think we're all working on getting back into being engaged. So whether you're at home with a loved one or looking to have your loved one come into a community, I think anyone, you know, like that would really benefit from this.

- Yeah, yeah, we all kind of made some habits during COVID, right, that lasted about a year or two years and now we've gotta get out of those habits and try to get back out to just living. So this is, I think, a perfect time for somebody who's like, you know what? Let's put that behind us and let's move forward to the next phase of life. This is the perfect opportunity to get going on that end. So finally, you'll have a chance to answer questions from our viewers, which is what we love about our webinars. What are the top two or three questions you field as it relates to engagement?

- So I think some of the questions I get a lot as an engagement director are, how do I start to engage my loved one? And I think it does a lot of the times depend on the specific person. So here at Arbor, we have our resident social profiles where we really get to know our residents. We sit down with them, what do you like to do? What does your routine look like? And then we try to incorporate their lifestyle also into our calendar. So it's easier to transition into that home-like environment. So maybe if they love to go out for a walk every day and some other residents do too, let's start a walking club. Let's make them feel welcomed and a part of our community. And we also host monthly activity meetings. So we hear from our residents, what do you like to do? What is working great for you or what isn't? And we really wanna get their input to create our calendars so they feel comfortable and they feel a part of it, and it helps them get engaged even more. So I think really communicating with your loved ones on what they like to do will help them get more engaged. You don't wanna maybe just assume that they like yoga, and maybe they once did, but maybe their interests are changing, and maybe they need, you know, a different kind of exercise. But I think you need to really communicate with your loved ones when creating calendars. And that is one of the most popular questions I get is, how do we go about that? And I think it's really tuning into what's important to them. And maybe it's music, so maybe you put on music every day to start their day and give them that positive energy, and it'll lead to other great things throughout the day.

- Communication is key in so many aspects in life, and this is just one more example of that. That is a perfect answer. Well, I think this is going to be a great webinar, Talia, and just really one more opportunity for our seniors to engage, right? They'll be engaged with you in the webinar. And of course, they'll have that chance to ask you questions. All of this is going to happen April 7th at 11:00 AM Eastern time. Talia, we will see you then.

- Yes. Thank you so much. I'm so excited.

- We are too. Now, if you want to be a part of this webinar, just head on over to our website, www.seniorlivinglive.com. There you can register. And while you're there, just take a peek at the rest of our video content, all about senior living. Thank you so much for being a part of "Senior Living Live." We'll see you again, April 7th.

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