Donna Saporito, RN and Resident Care Director for Arbor Terrace Middletown, gives us tips on how residents can stay fit any time of the year, no matter their ability level. She also discusses different ways The Arbor Company offers organized exercise classes, as well as ways residents are able to exercise independently.

Video Transcript

- Hello everyone, and welcome into Senior Living Live. My name is Melissa. Thank you so much for watching. And for those of you listening via podcast, thanks so much for finding us. Well, the weather is warming up, thank goodness, and that means a few more opportunities to get out and be active. Today, we are going to discuss fitness in Senior Living and give you some tips that you can use and incorporate right now into your current routine. Donna Saporito joins us today, she's got the background to make this interview a slam dunk. She is a Resident Care Director at Arbor Terrace Middletown in New Jersey. Donna, how are you today?

- Oh, very well, thank you.

- Excellent, well, I know that this topic about fitness and health that is one that is very near and dear to your heart. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.

- I'm an RN, I've been a nurse since 2009. And one of the things that I love the most is exercise. And I do go to the gym every morning at about 6:00 AM. So I do practice what I preach.

- I like to hear that because a lot of people don't. So we love that. Now, as I mentioned, the weather is warming up, spring, of course, is on the horizon and for many of us that means we can finally get back outdoors, get back to those healthy fitness routines. How does Harbor and your community specifically help residents with their fitness goals year round?

- Well, we do have a physical therapy department, Fox Rehab. A lot of our residents do have therapy on an ongoing basis. However, they also have an open gym. So about a few times a week for an hour a day, the gym is open to anybody who wants to use it. We also have exercise classes several times a week and we bring in different people and different types of exercise, more upbeat, some yoga inspired that the residents really seem to enjoy it. And even if you're not getting up and jumping around just sitting there and raising your arms and using your legs is helpful. It doesn't have to be an all or nothing.

- Yeah, so really any movement I think that you can do stretching of course is always really good. Now, I know that your community is pretty unique, you have all the Senior Living options independent living, assisted living, memory care. Are you able to cater to each of these neighborhoods and residents? And if so, what does that look like on a daily basis?

- Well, we do you have a beautiful grounds here at Middletown, we're very fortunate like that, so we have many of our residents at any given time, you can look out the window and you'll see the residents walking just the whole building. Our independent living residents and our assisted living residents do co-mingle. So they do take the classes together, they eat together, they socialize together. They will walk together and as far as our memory care, our memory care has their own enclosed courtyard. And yesterday it was in the upper fifties here, they were outside and I'm sure after lunch today they'll be outside. They're outside quite a lot.

- Yeah, I love that. And let's talk a little bit more about memory care. So how are you able to keep track of health and nutrition for residents who are experiencing cognitive decline and they need a little help in that aspect.

- We just talked about this yesterday, we always encourage fluids. And I remind the staff that just because it's not 90 degrees out, doesn't mean people don't need fluids. It could be zero degrees out, we still need to drink. We have snack time in memory care, activities does bring around a cart with snacks and juices, we're always offering things to drink. We do know our residents who don't have the best appetite or who find it difficult to sit for any length of time to eat. Those people are giving food that is suitable for them that they can eat, if they want to walk around and eat, they can do that, if they wanna sit privately and eat, they do that, so we know our residents. As I'm sure most memory care neighborhoods do and can cater to them.

- Yeah, so I think that individualized care when you really know who you're working with every single day, it makes all the difference in the world, right, because routine,

- It does.

- so important, especially for those who are suffering from cognitive decline so I'm glad that you pointed that out. Now, you did mention physical therapy a few questions back, let's get back to that. So how are you able to incorporate fitness into a routine for residents who are receiving those different types of physical therapy through Fox? Are those two things that can go hand in hand between maybe Fox and your staff?

- Yes, yeah many times our rehab department will talk to us about the progress that the residents are making, and in order to continue that progress, they want the residents to walk to one or two meals a day, so we try to do that. And you know some people like, oh, while exercised this morning, I'm too tired, and we just try to encourage them, hey in order to continue that wonderful progress you're making, you need to keep moving. You can't just move for an hour a day, you need to keep moving. And so we do have our residents that we have our eyes on that we always encourage to get up and at least walk to the dining room. And if it's too much to walk back and forth, walk to the dining room, and call us when you're ready, we'll bring the chair, so you're not gonna be stranded there and have to dread, oh my God, I can't walk back. I'm too tired. We will help you.

- Yeah. And the best part I think the key there is really it's accountability, right. We all talk about having an accountability partner when we're trying to lose weight or trying to exercise and in this case you sort of have somebody accountable 24/7 for someone to ensure that that physical therapy is going to pay off in the end for them. So I think that is a great point. And I think that that's something that families should know and maybe doesn't quite come up in conversations as they're looking for Senior Living options, so thank you for pointing that out.

- Right.

- Now, finally, of course, all of our viewers, come from different backgrounds. Some are in Senior Living right now, some are living in their own home not quite ready for Senior Living yet. What are some tips and tricks you can give all of our viewers to try as the weather warms up to help them meet those fitness goals from a physical and wellbeing standpoint.

- You know one of the best things that anybody can do is get outside and get some fresh air, that is the best and one of the best exercises in the world is walking. And even if you cannot walk without the assistance of a wheelchair, you can still get outside. If you are unable to wheel that chair yourself, encourage somebody to help you and to go with you so both of you can get the fresh air. Even when it's 40 degrees out, put your heavy coat on, if it's sunny, get some fresh air. And a lot of our residents come from that generation where they do know the benefits of fresh air. Many of them do go out, they don't need a encouragement. And I know who those residents are, they know that they need to get out of this building and get that air, whether it's 70 degrees or 20 degrees. And just get out and move, do not sit in front of that set aside a time, take a half hour, an hour and just enjoy. If you find a place where you can walk where there's a bench, you can sit down, relax, people watch, just shut that television off and go outside. It's really that simple.

- Yeah, any tips or tricks for somebody who may not be living in a community and may not be in maybe the best place where they have a park nearby that they can walk to. What sort of options would you give someone like that?

- Maybe you need to get your family involved. Maybe you have grandchildren. How can you help your children with their children, can you take the children to a park? Can you all go to the park? Why not? You're an extra pair of eyes, an extra pair of hands. I'm sure who wouldn't love grandma or grandpa at the park with them, who wouldn't love that.

- Yeah. Chase them around, that helps you stay active and you don't even think about the physical fitness part of it 'cause you have to be involved, right.

- Okay, and you're having fun.

- Yeah.

- It's a win-win.

- Yeah, I love it. Well, Donna, great job today in explaining a few things that I don't think people even realize until they're actually in it or they're in it personally or maybe their family members are in it and they're like, oh, okay, well now they know ahead of time, if they are looking at Senior Living options what they can expect from at least that physical fitness and wellbeing standpoint. So we thank you so much for coming on today and sharing your knowledge with everyone.

- Thank you so much for having me and good luck to all your viewers and listeners.

- Yeah, absolutely. Now, if you watching enjoy this interview with Donna just head on over to our website where you can find a lot of videos and all of them are about Senior Living go to that is the web address. Stop by any time, we're available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As always, we thank you so much for being a part of Senior Living Live, have a great day everybody.

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