On any given day at The Gatesworth, you can stop by the Fitness Center and find residents partaking in exercise classes, using equipment or swimming laps in the pool. In the Starbird Theater, a group may be discussing current events, enjoying classical music or listening to a professor from one of the local universities. In another area of the senior living community, a social worker may be meeting with residents as part of a support group; while in the dining room, a book club gathers over lunch. Anywhere you turn, The Gatesworth offers opportunities to support a resident’s physical, mental and emotional well-being. “Our goal is to provide programs and amenities that help them live a more active, happy life,” says executive director Martha Kessel. “Seniors are living longer, and it’s so important to stay healthy and learn new things every day.”
Promoting seniors’ wellness begins with physical health. The Fitness Center at The Gatesworth is open 24 hours a day, with state-of-the-art Keiser fitness equipment specially designed for older adults and personal trainers on-hand to provide assistance. Residents can use an indoor pool to swim laps or participate in water classes. In addition, fitness classes are popular offerings, with daily programs that range from low-level stretching, balance and movement, to more advanced exercises, says assistant executive director Carrie Montrey, who also oversees the Fitness Center. “We have residents who have been health-motivated their entire lives and we help them continue those routines. Or there are residents who have had an injury or a fall and they need to maintain flexibility and agility or improve balance. Fitness is so important for all of us—including seniors—to stay healthy and active.”
One of those active seniors is Gatesworth resident Ellen Jones. At age 94, she visits the Fitness Center five days a week to participate in the morning exercise classes. While her walking is slowing down, she appreciates that the fitness programs help her to stay mobile. Within her busy schedule, Jones also finds time to enjoy the other programs that the community offers on a daily basis. “I’m very interested in the physical fitness, but it’s also nice to sit at other times and listen to wonderful lectures with outstanding people,” she explains. “The reason I go is because they are so varied and there’s something to please everyone.”
Those daily lectures are part of The Gatesworth’s efforts to engage residents on a mental and social level. Some programs discuss historical or informative topics, while other sessions address interests like opera or antique furniture collections. Book clubs and book reviews are held once a month and authors sometimes are brought in for special talks. Residents can attend lunch presentations by directors of local institutions like the Saint Louis Art Museum or Saint Louis Zoo, or gather for bridge and mahjong clubs. Trips outside The Gatesworth take seniors on tours of the newly restored Central Library or to Ste. Genevieve for the day. The variety keeps residents mentally stimulated and connected with each other, with fliers, a television channel and even a Facebook page showcasing the many options.
The senior living community also acknowledges the significance of emotional support. A grief support group meets with those facing the loss of a loved one, while a Parkinson’s support group gathers once a month, led by social worker Maureen Neusel, who also takes residents to meetings with Parkinson’s doctors or visits them during stays in the hospital. “She really shows people that someone cares and is looking out for them,” Kessel says.
Neusel is not alone in her concern for the residents. The staff of The Gatesworth goes out of their way to help out in any way they can, from helping to thread sewing needles to reading recipes out loud for residents who still enjoy cooking, Kessel notes. And those efforts do not go unnoticed. “In all areas, the staff is so interested in each one of us as an individual,” Jones says. “It’s wonderful.”
The Gatesworth is focused on helping its seniors continue to live productive, independent lives by making a plethora of activities and programs that address the key elements of wellness easily and readily available to residents like Jones. “It’s so nice because there are so many things right here, just steps away from my apartment. Everything is right within our fingertips.”
ON THE COVER: The Gatesworth promotes the physical, mental and emotional health of its residents through extensive programs and activities that cater to seniors’ well-being. Pictured on the cover: Gatesworth resident Vivian Zwick participates a water exercise class at the senior living community. For more information, call 993-0111 or visit thegatesworth.com.