There’s more to health than just the physical, a reality that the staff at Friendship Village sees every day. “We have a widow here who was very sick and lonely, and her daughter was thinking, I’m going to lose Mom,” recalls Friendship Village spokeswoman Joanna Jones-Raymond. “She moved her mom here from the Northeast; and now you’ll see her sitting on the couch talking with eight friends, and walking around the lake every day—she’s a different person. It’s not just physical. It’s the intellectual and spiritual fulfillment, all of it. You can see the difference.”
The retirement community, with locations in Sunset Hills and Chesterfield, is promoting that holistic approach to wellness for all of its residents with its Live Life Well program, which focuses on eight dimensions of wellness, Jones-Raymond notes. “One of the biggest differences I see between two residents of the same age is that one will have taken care of themselves their whole lives, or has started to really focus on all the dimensions of wellness. The ones who are doing that are the most successful residents we see.”
The eight dimensions—health services, environmental, physical, social, spiritual, intellectual, vocational and emotional wellness—are promoted in all aspects of the community’s operations, notes Friendship Village Chesterfield wellness coordinator Carla DeGrande. For example, fitness classes—ranging from yoga or tai chi, to swimming exercises in the warmed, Olympic-size pool—are geared to all levels of ability. “We have a man with advanced-stage arthritis, and now that he’s been taking classes, his symptoms have significantly reduced,” she says. “My favorite thing is when I see someone’s abilities increase or their sickness decrease.” Visitors to the community will see members of an enthusiastic walking club on a daily basis, DeGrande notes. “It’s almost embarrassing to walk around campus and get lapped by a 90-year-old!” she jokes.
The vocational wellness dimension, which provides opportunities for residents to use the skills they learned during their working life, has brought many benefits to the community as well, Jones-Raymond notes. For example, one woman who worked as a master gardener now heads a gardening group that continues to beautify the grounds, while a retired attorney serves as the resident lead of the Friendship Fund Initiative, using his expertise in planned giving to organize donations. “In Sunset Hills, we have a vibrant wood shop,” Jones-Raymond adds. “These men are expert craftsmen. One of the resident carpenters created a scale model of our campus and its buildings which is on display in the front lobby.”
The community also has added technology training to its intellectual programming. When a new building was completed recently with Wi-Fi capability, a number of residents well-versed in smart phones and tablet computers moved in. That spawned weekly technology classes, where residents can learn about everything from computers to iPhones and iPads. “They really want to connect with their family and grandkids, and they see they’re missing a major form of communication,” Jones-Raymond says. “It’s incredibly brave when you’ve built a business without using a computer—which many of our residents have done—and then in your 80s or 90s to say, I’m going to figure this out!”
Most major initiatives that is instituted at Friendship Village are resident-led, DeGrande notes. One such initiative was the creation of a food pantry donation program. “We learned that the three major victims of hunger are senior adults, the disabled and young children,” Jones-Raymond says. “Our resident base learned that there was a big food pantry shortage, and while they were privileged to live in such a beautiful community in a beautiful part of town, not every senior has that opportunity.”
On the Cover: Friendship Village promotes holistic wellness with its Live Life Well program. Pictured on the cover: Friendship Village resident Phyllis C. For more information, call 636-532-1515 (Chesterfield) or 270-7833 (Sunset Hills) or visit friendshipvillagestl.com.