Leisure Features

Seniors Embrace Spring & Summer

One of the most significant lessons highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic is the importance of human contact to our physical and mental health. Local retirement communities are coming up with ways to help senior citizens stay engaged as the pandemic continues, and they’re hopeful it soon will be safe for large gatherings to return. In the meantime, optimism is the word of the day, and seniors are benefiting from staff members’ efforts to keep their spirits high.

Christy Jenkins, wellness and activities director at Lutheran Senior Services’ Mason Pointe residence, says the community has gotten creative with socially distanced activities. Still, residents and staff hope gatherings will be possible again this spring and summer. Some of Mason Pointe’s different residence levels have begun reopening to visitors, and Jenkins says every effort is being made to welcome these all-important visits with precautions in place.

Spring and summer plans include a homecoming celebration, Cardinals opening day party, and field trips to places like the Arch, Longmeadow Rescue Ranch and St. Louis Aquarium. At home, seniors enjoy live music, art programs, speakers, games and other fun activities. “As wellness director, I’ve been very concerned about our residents’ mental health over the past year,” Jenkins says. “We spend a lot of time talking with them about how they are feeling, and activities continue to be a key outlet for them.”

According to Jenkins, Mason Pointe staff members have been resilient during the crisis and have passed that strength on to the residents through their positive attitudes. “Crisis brings about change, and sometimes it is frustrating, but many good things come out of it, too,” she notes. “Through events and socialization, we remind our residents to release what is negative and embrace what is valuable, like connections with family, friends and the community.”

Patricia Muich, marketing and advertising director at Delmar Gardens, says staff members at the company’s senior residences hope their popular July 4th picnics can return this year. Plans are still tentative, but Muich says the staff is prepared to bring the gatherings back in some form if conditions permit. The events, free and open to the public, include live music, games, rides, food, drinks and fireworks displays. They usually welcome a total of about 5,000 people each summer.

“Last year was the first time in three decades that we were not able to hold our 4th of July celebrations,” Muich says. “Normally, they take place in the days leading up to July 4 at Delmar Gardens’ North, South, O’Fallon, Meramec Valley and Gardens on the Green facilities. If we are able to stage the parties this summer, they will be similar to past years but probably scaled back somewhat. Even if the fireworks are all we can manage, we still want to make our neighbors, residents and families happy while keeping them safe. People need to reconnect, especially after the events of the past year.”

For updated information on activities at these senior communities, visit lssliving.org and delmargardens.com.

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