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Today's word on journalism

Friday, January 20, 2006

Variations on "truthiness":

"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please."

-- Mark Twain, author, newspaperman and humorist (1835-1910)

MENTORS WANTED: Media professionals in all fields wanted to serve as email mentors for journalism students. If interested, send email slugged "Mentors" to Ted Pease (

Fountain of youth? It's staying active and involved, say Cache seniors

Related story: Meals on Wheels important in keeping senior citizens independent, healthy

By Manette Newbold

December 13, 2005 | LOGAN -- Helping senior citizens staying active and social is the goal for many local centers that cater to older people. It keeps them healthier, happier and gives them a place to belong.

"Keeping active keeps you younger," Stacy Abbott, activities coordinator of the Senior Citizens Center said.

Abbott says the center allows people older than 55 to make friends and enjoy each other's company, share their lives and get involved. All of those that attend are independent and live in their own homes but come to meet people and have a good time. The center offers a variety of activities from bingo to line dancing and tai chi. Seniors can enjoy playing pool and entertainment, tap dancing lessons or crafts. They can eat meals for a suggested donation of $2 and take pleasure in company of their peers.

Mary Barrus, business office manager, says for some older people, the center keeps them going.

"Some seniors say 'it keeps me alive. It gives me a reason to get out of bed, to shower and get dressed,'" Barrus said. Senior citizens need to be needed and feel they have a reason for existing, she said, and the center provides a purpose for people's being. They can be involved and have opportunities to serve.

Marylou Schroeder, the director of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), says socialization is very important for the mind and for those without family, the Senior's Citizen Center is a place they can mingle with friends.

Hal Peterson comes to the Senior Citizen's Center five days a week, he said, to play pool and be social. He says his favorite part is the camaraderie. He says his car just seems to lead him to the center every day. He comes to play pool, bridge and listen to the weekly entertainment.

Les Classick comes most days with his wife and says they've made friends and had a good time. He usually comes to play pool.

Dotty Classick likes to come and has met a lot of good people. She says there are a lot of things to do and she feels it's a good way for people to interact with each other.

"It's surprising how important it is to be hugged or hear a joke," she said.

Larue Kovene has been coming to the center for the past 20 years to quilt. She likes the association. She also exercises at the center sometimes or checks out books from their library and takes puzzles she can do at home.

The Senior's Citizen's Center is not the only place older residents can feel a part of the community. Those who are sick or need special attention, can still stay active even if they live in nursing homes or assisted living facilities, or even if they go to the local Adult Day Care Center every day.

Sunshine Terrace nursing home is an example that plans activities for all week for the residents that live there. Jennifer Birchell, director of recreation and music therapy, says some of their activities include bingo, crafts, cooking and singing. They also do music and movement, movies and bus rides. They have Relief Society and Priesthood for those in the LDS church and non-denominational church for those of other religions. Birchell said there's something going on every day of the week and they hope to keep seniors happy and active.

The facility's mission statement is "wellness, independence, dignity and quality of life for those we serve," Birchell said, and added that all of the activities and programming strive to meet that goal.

Some residents like to participate and Birchell said attendance is based on the activity, the two most popular being bingo and the dance.

Lorna Fife, who has lived at Sunshine Terrace for the past three months, says she really enjoys going to the dances which are held every week. She said volunteers come and push the residents around in their wheelchairs while the piano is played.

"A gentleman plays the piano," she said. "He plays old songs we used to sing and play and dance to. Wives push husbands and husbands push wives. One man comes every week to push his daughter in her wheelchair and dance behind her chair."

Every week Sunshine Terrace also does a singalong and Fife likes to attend because, "I started singing when I learned to talk and I've been singing ever since."

Fife is not the only one who likes to sing. Louise Young, another resident at Sunshine Terrace, attends the weekly singalong too, when she feels good enough. She also likes crafts and any special performances done by the outside community. She mentioned she liked seeing a violin player a little while ago.

All residents can attend whatever activities they want. Fife says she doesn't go to all of them. She doesn't go to church or Relief Society or the movies because she's seen them all. She did say though, that she has made a lot of friends during the activities.

The Adult Day Care Center also tries to make sure their clients are involved in many different things. If anyone was to walk in around 1:30 p.m. Thursday, they would have heard the sounds of senior citizens performing Christmas carols for their families. The facility put the holiday party together for those seniors who love to be a part of something.

Mary Bennett, the activities director at the center said they wanted to let the facility's clients be "a part of an ensemble and create something beautiful with a variety of people."

Throughout Logan, facilities that cater to seniors, plan activities and social projects as a way to keep the retired active and a part of the community. Bennett said one of the goals at the Adult Day Care Center to provide a social atmosphere for the clients.

"Sometimes people this age become invisible because they don't work or get out," she said, "but people still need to feel they have something to do and have some place in the world."

The center, which accommodates senior citizens with mental or physical disabilities, is a place where people can feel worthwhile, Bennett said. Eighty-three percent of the clients have cognitive impairments caused by things like strokes or Alzheimer's disease.

During the Christmas program the seniors were given bells or ribbons to play or wave while singing. They would wave their arms or play their instruments and Bennett said this was a therapy they call music and movement. Bennett said it was a form of exercise for the clients and is one way the facility keeps the seniors active.

Terrace Grove Assisted Living also uses music and movement and plans similar activities as the Adult Day Care Center and Sunshine Terrace nursing home.

Ingrid Sorensen has been a resident of Terrace Grove for three years and she "has loved every minute of it." She says there are a lot of nice activities and she goes to everything. She grew up playing sports like volleyball, water skiing and basketball and now likes to play balloon volleyball with the other residents. She said she's attended the different parties and picnics, bus rides and the choir.

"They treat us like teenagers here, not like a bunch of old fogies. They treat us like ladies and plan lovely things for us to do," she said.

She said she has made a lot of friends at Terrace Grove and that the people who work there try really hard to make the activities special.

Nancy Bennett, director of recreation therapy at Terrace Grove, says the people who live in the facility have needs that need to be met with nurses and other care but that they try to make sure the seniors stay active and involved.


Copyright 1997-2005 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-1000
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