Would you like to live longer? Stay fit as you age? Have lots of friends and feel happy most of the time? Of course you would. And while there’s no magic formula to guarantee that all those things can happen, you can increase your odds by living in a continued care retirement community (CCRC). It’s true; research has proven that the vibrant social life, access to regular exercise and lifelong learning that CCRCs provide help people live longer, healthier and happier lives. You can even stave off risks for cognitive decline just by spending time with people who’s company you enjoy. A robust social life can lower blood pressure and counter negative mood swings. And in case you haven’t heard, the closest thing we have to a fountain of youth is regular exercise! North Hill in Needham offers people 65+ luxurious options for an active, vibrant lifestyle and a path to healthy aging. Our recent multi-million-dollar expansion and renovation offers modern spacious designs for elegant living with none of the hassle. We have four dining venues to keep your taste buds busy, and a state-of-art-fitness center and pool to keep you healthy and fit. Just how fit can you be? Consider Roger Perry, nonagenarian resident at North Hill who works out 5 days a week doing elliptical, cardio and weight training. No wonder he still drives to Boston 3 days a week to run his business – and he takes the stairs 2 at a time. Resident Inga Brandon who lost mobility after a fall and spent 3 weeks in rehab. With help from fitness center experts, she was able to recover full mobility and is now back to fitness classes, strength training and cardio training. “I couldn’t have done it if I wasn’t here,” she says. “The equipment was right here and the people who helped me never gave up.” Staying healthy while aging means keeping your mind in shape, too. North Hill’s wood paneled library houses shelves of books and periodicals from tried and true classics to this week’s best sellers. You can check one out and curl up by a cozy fire. Lectures and presentations from distinguished leaders in the fields of history, art, culture, politics and music are a regular occurrence on the North Hill campus. And for your aesthetic sensibilities, there’s a bona fide art gallery with curated, changing exhibitions of fine art. This spring, new sculptures by Nancy Shon, whose Make Way for Ducking statues on the Public Garden have been delighting kids of all ages for decades, will be on display in The Art Gallery at North Hill. But I don’t need all that space, you say? North Hill can help you simplify your life when you move into a one-bedroom apartment on our campus. Choose from one of our brand-new, never before occupied apartments or one that’s been fully refurbished and re-styled to create your personal pied-a-terre, cozy abode or private sanctuary. Tool around in our woodworking shop, or pick up a game of billiards with one of your many neighbors. And because it’s the new year, we’ll make it easy with incentive packages for people interested in our one bedrooms. Come for a visit, we’ll show you how big your life can be. Wouldn’t you like to know more? Then give us a call: take a tour, stay for lunch and talk with some of our residents. We’re here to answer all your questions and introduce you to a wonderfully PurposeFULL™ life! If you would like to speak with the North Hill team, you can call us at 781-433-6524 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recently, the folks at Helsinki University Research (HUR) asked if they could feature someone from our fitness team in an ongoing series they call “HUR’s Heros.” If you’re a resident of North Hill, you have likely used the HUR strength training and balance equipment installed in our Fitness Center, and love it as much as we do. HUR’s Heros is about showcasing the people behind the health and wellness programs at some of the nation’s leading senior living communities, so we were thrilled to be selected.
HUR spoke with Linda Riley our Fitness Manager and Chris Morrison, one of our trainers. This was their conversation…
HUR: Tell us a bit about the health and wellness programs offered to residents at North Hill.
Linda: One of the fundamental values that drives everything we do at North Hill is an ideal we call “PurposeFULL Living.” It means that we believe that the lives of our residents should be full of thing they love and enjoy. We do our best to provide as many opportunities as possible for residents to pursue the things that are important to them. Our health and wellness programs are designed to keep them healthy, active and strong enough to pursue those activities for as long as possible.
We are really fortunate to have a state-of-the-art Fitness Center right on our campus that is about 10,000 square feet. Not only is the center equipped with top of the line equipment, such as the HUR strength and balance training machines, we offer a wide variety of classes that treat health and well-being holistically. We strive to offer enough variety that there really is something here for everyone.
I love it when I hear a resident say something like, “I’m doing more things that I love to do now than I’ve done in my entire life.” That’s why one of our most important classes is called the Balance Clinic. Because most of the time, filling their days with activities they enjoy requires good balance.
HUR: Tell us more about Balance Clinic and why it’s such an important part of what you do to support the health and well-being of your residents.
Chris: Fall prevention is really important to us at North Hill because we know how drastically a fall can affect our residents’ quality of life. Falls are actually the leading cause of injuries for older adults – both fatal and non-fatal. Not to mention how much a fall threatens to downgrade a person’s independence and quality of life!
So, the Balance Clinic is a huge part of what we do at North Hill for fall prevention. But the Clinic is also important because having good balance allows our residents to fill their days with the activities they love, which, as Linda stated, is an important part of what we do here.
One of our residents saw no decrease in balance from her early 80’s to her early 90’s because of balance class. Those are the kinds of things that are so amazing to see.
Most of our residents are quite active and not really thinking about balance when they first visit the Fitness Center. For residents new to the Fitness Center, we do a health assessment and introduce them to all the equipment in our facility, including the iBalance. The iBalance allows me to run an assessment that tells us what their current balance level is. The assessment is quick and displays their results on a touchscreen right away, using metrics that are easy to understand.
When their balance score pops up, many new residents are surprised by their score. If they are already pretty active, they might not notice how much their balance is deteriorating until it’s too late. So, getting that accurate assessment allows me to create a program for them early – before they fall, or before a lack of balance starts to prevent them from doing what they love.
One of our residents told us that she’d almost fallen while on a trip in Japan, which could have been disastrous, as you can imagine. Falling is horrible no matter what, but especially if you’re that far from home and in a foreign country. She was able to catch herself and stop from falling, an ability she attributes directly to the balance class. Hearing stories like that fuels our work like nothing else.
HUR: Is the iBalance a part of all the work you do with residents at North Hill?
Chris: Yes. The iBalance is one of the foundational tools we use to establish a baseline balance score for our residents. The information provided in those personal assessments is fundamental to the plan we create for the improvement of balance.
As I mentioned earlier, when a resident first comes to us, we do a health assessment and introduce them to all the equipment in our facility, including the iBalance. It’s not difficult to get residents to try it out. They are usually already curious about it. Once they realize how user friendly it is and how fun the games are, they use it all the time!
Balance can sometimes be a scary thing for seniors. The iBalance is loaded with games that allow them to do things like play tennis or go skiing, so they aren’t just working out – they’re having fun.
It’s also really fun to see how competitive residents get with themselves, always trying to beat their last score! But, they also quickly notice how their improved balance is making the rest of their life easier, and that motivates them even more.
Also, we have a wide range of residents at North Hill – people of all different ages and ability levels. Balance class for everyone, so I love that the iBalance is accessible, even for those in wheelchairs.
The ability to train independently is actually a feature I love about all our HUR equipment. Once we program their information into the machine, all residents need to do is scan their personalized wrist band and the machines adjusts the seat and other settings automatically.
HUR machines supports independent workouts in a lot of other ways as well. Some count their reps and gives an auditory cue once an exercise is complete. The machines even tell them what they should move onto next in accordance with their personalized training program.
As a trainer, I also appreciate that the machines use air resistance instead of stacks of weights. Air resistance is much easier on joints, and just safer in general for older adults. Plus, they can start out in many cases with a zero-starting load and then work up in very small increments.
Linda: When North Hill first purchased the HUR equipment the iBalance was completely foreign to me. After getting trained on the machine, I could immediately see how useful it would be for our residents. Personally, I’ve become more passionate about good balance over the past couple of years, attending conferences and seeking out resources that I believe to be of value for our residents.
Building strength is also important and I love our HUR strength training equipment. So many of our residents are super active! They are out doing all sorts of things, including playing with, or caring for their grandchildren. And this is where a holistic approach to health is important. In order for our residents to be able to maintain the kind of lifestyle they want and continue to try new things, they need good balance, and exercises that build muscle and cardiovascular health. It all works together.
Also, one thing I think we’ve been missing in our overall fitness program is the ability to measure outcomes. For example, if you’re using standard exercise equipment you have to just rely on how much weight you can handle or how you feel to know if you’re getting stronger – to know if the exercise is making a difference. The iBalance gives us actual metrics so we can track the progress of individuals as well as our entire population over time.
Q: What do you most enjoy about working with the seniors at North Hill?
Chris: I love getting to know our residents and listening to their stories. I also love seeing their competitive nature come out in the gym. They want to be healthy, active and strong. It’s personally inspiring and motivating, and so rewarding.
For example, one of our residents is this tiny, frail woman who is completely committed to remaining active. She absolutely loves doing downhill skiing on the iBalance and gets totally into it. She said she gets more movement playing that game than any other activity in her life. I am so grateful we are able to provide opportunities like this for our residents – to take care of themselves and enjoy doing it.
Music and Wellness: In Vista Terrace, residents greet each other with a song, share stories, move to music, sing, and play instruments- all during one group- led by North Hill’s Music Therapist, Kristi Faby. Music therapy is the evidence-based practice of using music as a tool to address nonmusical goals such as promoting cognition, communication, and motor skills. Perhaps most importantly, music therapy can enhance quality of life. Music therapy is used with a variety of populations and is particularly effective for older adults.
“From a health and wellness perspective, music therapy provides tremendous benefits to seniors. Music can ease the perception of pain, lessen anxiety, and promote better sleep patterns. For seniors with dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease, music therapy sessions can help trigger fond memories and improve communication.” says Joe Frias, Director of Healthcare Services at North Hill. “At North Hill, we are very fortunate to have a full-time board certified music therapist on our interdisciplinary team who provides therapeutic programming to our residents.”
Meaningful Engagement: Julie Hieshetter, Memory Support Manager at North Hill, states that “music allows people with memory decline to open up more easily, engage and participate.” Hieshetter attributes these positive outcomes to music’s universal effects. “It’s something we can all relate to and have experienced.”
Community Involvement: Due to various factors such as mobility limitations, Vista Terrace residents cannot always attend town hall and other events across North Hill. As part of a new program entitled “Music and Happenings,” leadership executives come to them to share the joy of music and discuss campus-wide issues. To initiate the group, Joe Frias engaged in making music and contributing to a productive dialogue around healthcare initiatives at North Hill. Frias explained his role, and residents asked questions surrounding their own health needs. North Hill CEO and President Ted Owens participated in the group during the month of February.
Some final notes on music therapy:
- Music therapists are Board Certified by the Certification Board of Music Therapists and undergo intensive clinical training.
- Kristi Faby received her Bachelor’s in Psychology and Master’s in Music Therapy from Florida State University and completed her internship at Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, MA.
- At Vista Terrace we offer daily music therapy groups open to everyone.
- Depending on their needs, some residents may qualify for individual services.
- To inquire about our referral process or for further information about North Hill’s music therapy program contact Kristi Faby, MM, MT-BC, CDP at KFaby@Northhill.org.
- To learn more about music therapy in general, visit the American Music Therapy Association website: musictherapy.org.
Kristi Faby, Music Therapist, North Hill
Finnish company HUR (Helsinki University Research), manufacturer of exercise equipment for seniors announced today that residents of North Hill senior living in Needham MA have been inducted into its “HUR Heroes” program based on the dramatic results they’ve achieved in improving strength and balance using HUR equipment.
North Hill fitness manager, Linda Riley is thrilled with the news. “Balance diminishes as we age,” she explains. “We introduced HUR’s iBalance machine into our program to help residents restore any balance they may have lost. By strengthening core muscles with the IBalance machine, residents can avoid the disastrous falls that sometimes happen with older adults and remain healthy and active as they age.”
HUR equipment was designed especially for seniors who want to stay strong as they age. After an initial assessment of balance deficits, trainers can customize programs using the embedded software in the machines. Residents can then simply insert their smart-card when it’s time to work out. The unique air resistant technology eliminates pressure on joints and allows for smooth, uninterrupted movement in weight training.
The iBalance machine engages both brain and body with exercises that strengthen large core muscles and smaller muscles in the ankles and feet. Working at first with trainers, residents compete with themselves on the machine by playing games and traveling through mazes on the machine.
After a few sessions, they can work independently on the machine, and most can’t wait to get there.
“Residents quickly notice how their improved balance is making their life easier,” says Riley, “and it motivates them to do even more.”
Just ask North Hill resident Pat MacKinnon: “Shortly before we moved to NH I had 2 bad falls which sent me to the emergency room…When we moved in I knew that my balance needed to improve. I took a few balance classes and learned exercises. When the new machine arrived I couldn’t wait to use it. The games, especially the maze, are a much more enjoyable way to practice and I hope that I can stay away from the emergency room.”
The HUR machines automatically record and track progress of individuals as well as the North Hill population over time, making assessments and program changes easier for trainers and users. Data gathered on HUR’s website has indicated a 286% increase in strength by older residents using HUR equipment
North Hill’s residents are proof of the progress. “the balance games make me feel that I am getting a good workout and also having fun!, says resident Judy Holberman”
Using HUR equipment is one of the many ways Riley attends to the health and wellness of North Hill residents to assist in healthy aging. Programs for mind and body include yoga, aquatic exercises and games; Pilates; Zumba; mediation; walking; lectures on nutrition and wellness, and a “passion board,” where residents can engage with healthy activities that ignite their personal passions.
“A good mind-body connection, an active lifestyle and a strong, supportive community are keys to happy, healthy aging,” says Riley. At North Hill we do everything we can to be sure that all our residents can be happy, healthy heroes.