Step inside to see residents at Good Samaritan Society – Westview Acres in Waconia, Minnesota, and you’ll notice many of them stepping outside.
“That’s something we really didn’t do before we came here. Extra exercises,” resident Loretta Lentsch, a member of the walking club, says.
"We did a lot of yard work and gardening but it’s different (here). We sure found that out.”
Helping each assisted or independent living resident hit their stride is Society life enrichment director Denise Leonhardt.
“It’s a fun place and then they see me, and I get them going,” Denise says.
“Very active place. You can be as active or not as active. There’s no pressure to participate. We just keep welcoming people and encouraging them."
From a walking club to raised garden beds and more, Denise is never short on fresh ideas.
Loretta and her husband Pete are never short on veggies.
“Gardening is like cutting the grass. Everybody’s got their own way of doing it,” Pete says while chatting about the couple's garden nearby.
Loretta adds, “Our radishes and lettuce are up. We’ve got beans and peas planted and carrots and beets and lots of flowers too."
Partnership with Carver County Public Health
Activities abound around campus, sprouting up thanks to a partnership with Carver County Public Health.
“We are all aging, whether we want to acknowledge it or not. Just embracing that and preparing ourselves for the future,” Dawn Plumer, Carver County Public Health program specialist, says.
Dawn appreciates the Society’s desire to learn from its training programs – whether it’s fall prevention or focusing on well-being.
“Denise and her co-workers latched onto that. I use them as examples around the (Twin Cities) metro because they’ve been able to embrace it, offer it and even open it up to the wider community. Not just the residents. They’ve done a great job,” Dawn says.
Using evidence-based programs to prevent falls is a priority."
Falls are the No. 1 reason people go into the hospital or long-term care,” Denise says.
Sharing that knowledge in an entertaining, engaging way is part of the strategy.
“It’s just a wonderful place because we have so many services. It’s a fun place to work and live,” Denise says.
You never know what you’ll find.
'It's the socialization'
Resident Jacqueline Hutchings, born in London, England, is a Brit who doesn’t like to sit.
“Well, I’m only 80 but I’ve always done this. I’ve always been like this my whole life,” Jacqueline says about constantly being on the move.
One of the location’s 50 residents who volunteer in and outside the building, Jacqueline is passionate about giving back and spending time with neighbors at Westview Acres.
“I love it. I love it. You can do as much as you want or nothing at all,” Jacqueline says. “I think it’s super, I really and truly do. I just enjoy it." Healthy food offerings and activities improving brain fitness are also available on site. Denise says coming together sometimes makes the biggest impact.
“It’s the socialization and they become friends. Most people know when you have a program in a senior building, people come a half hour prior to. So, there’s all that socialization. You can look out in the great room right now and there’s people visiting. Most of them are participating in the walking group,” Denise says.
A community providing a high quality of life and care.
Pete says it helps him “stay limber. My joints don’t creak quite so much anymore."
Jacqueline adds, “I think it’s done a great deal for me because I lost my husband four years ago. I just got involved."
Denise says with a laugh, “I’ve had calls from family members, ‘Could you go do a welfare check on my mom? I’ve been trying to call her for the last two, three hours.’ I go, ‘Well she’s out here visiting with her neighbors.’ It’s a very welcoming, fun community."