Adventure program aims to help residents adopt ‘why not’ attitude – McKnight’s Senior Living

(Credit: Ariel Skelley / Getty Images)

Taking the “why not?” mindset to the next level is the goal of a new adventure program one senior living provider is launching.

After more than a year of planning, Waltonwood Senior Living this month launched its Adventure by Waltonwood program to encourage residents to pursue a life’s dream or engage in interests they may have abandoned long ago — think riding in a hot air balloon, hiking a national park or reuniting with a college friend.

“Our goal as a life enrichment profession each day is to genuinely connect and make each resident’s day memorable,” Director of Life Enrichment Lindsay Charllefour told McKnight’s Senior Living. “Shifting their perspective from ‘I used to’ or ‘I can’t do this any more’ to ‘I’ll give it a try’ or ‘why not’ — that change in mindset occurs while a resident is actively engaged in an experience that is meaningful and brings about a sense of accomplishment and joy.”

A recreational therapist by trade, Charlefour said the idea came to her from her experiences in skilled nursing and getting to know residents on a personal level. West Bloomfield, MI-based Waltonwood, she said, allowed her to bring her adventure vision to life. 

Charelfour created promotional materials and presented the program to community life enrichment directors and executive director teams. Each community is rolling out the program to residents in its own way.

Each Waltonwood neghorhood in its independent, assisted living and memory care communities in North Carolina, Virginia and Michigan will be given a fund each year to supply multiple resident adventures. The program encourages community partnerships and engagement with local organizations or groups to further support residents’ ambitions. Residents, families, employees or community partners can recommend adventures.

There is no out-of-pocket expense to residents for their adventures.

Senior Regional Director of Sales Sara Bailey, who is traveling through Waltonwood’s Michigan market this week, said the adventure program has generated a buzz among residents. 

“It was so cute. I heard a group of ladies talking about ‘what’s your biggest dream?’ ” Bailey told McKnight’s Senior Living. “Some adventures are small, but some are getting adventurous.”

Waltonwood is just beginning to accept applications for adventure fulfillment, which are expected to begin within the next month or so. Charlefour said she’s already seen an application from a former Air Force pilot looking to get back into the cockpit. Another resident who considers herself a chocolate connoisseur will get the chance to work with a local chocolatier for a day, sampling and even making her own chocolates.

“They are really embracing this, and it’s giving them purpose again,” Bailey said. “It’s giving them something to dream about.”

Bailey and Charlefour consider Adventure by Waltonwood a pilot program that will continue to grow as the dreams of its residents unfold. Waltonwood declined to share funding amounts, saying they don’t want to discourage residents from pursuing their dreams, no matter how big. Funding for the program will adjust based on participation.

“We want to hear every dream, no matter how big or how small,” Bailey said. “I am positive it will expand and grow.”