About 100 Chautauqua County seniors are getting a September workout.
Each year, for the past eight years, senior athletes from Emeritus at Lakewood, Frewsburg Rest Home, Hultquist Place, Lutheran Social Services and Warner Place Adult Day Program have come together to compete for glory in the Senior Olympics.
The event kicked off on Sept. 7 at the Frewsburg Rest Home with an opening ceremony, and games such as ring toss and shuffleboard. Then, on Friday, the seniors gathered at Lutheran Social Services to play basketball, bowling and golf. Participants will also get to play Wii bowling, test their knowledge in a spelling bee, compete in a relay race and even a wheelchair race.
Senior athletes from Emeritus at Lakewood, Frewsburg Rest Home, Hultquist Place, Lutheran Social Services and Warner Place Adult Day Program came together to compete in the Senior Olympics at Lutheran Social Services on Friday.
P-J photos by Dusten Rader
Annie Gustafson, activities director for Lutheran, believes the event is important because it gives the residents a little bit of their youth back, she said.
"They used to play these kind of games when they were younger, and many of them are competitive; so it's healthy for them too because it keeps them active," said Gustafson. "It's also good for us (the senior care programs) because we all work together to make this happen."
Another reason Gustafson thinks the program is good for the residents is because they get the opportunity to interact with seniors from other facilities.
"They don't get to go out as much, so it's fun to go on bus trips to other places," said Gustafson. "Many of them know each other and are friends, but they don't get to see each other that often."
According to Gustafson, one of the most popular events during the Senior Olympics is bowling.
"Everybody wants to bowl," she said. "And, we also have Wii bowling, which is great for hand-eye coordination."
All the games are point based, so each year competitors vie for bragging rights as the most well-rounded Olympian. However, everyone who participates receives a certificate, a shirt and gets to attend both the opening and closing ceremony luncheons.
First through fourth place finishers are also announced during the closing ceremony, which is scheduled for Sept. 28 at Lutheran Social Services. The first place finisher will receive a trophy.
Patricia Eckwahl, director of marketing for Lutheran, loves that the program brings all of the senior living folks together, she said.
"It's always fun to be part of a team, and all of us like to feel like we can give something; it's important to our folks to feel like they are part of something greater," said Eckwahl. "It's something that they all look forward to. There is a lot of energy, and the activity alone is good for them. Anything that increases range of motion, gets them up and moving, and I think we all know that mental health has a huge impact on our physical health, so it gives them something positive to think about."
There is a lot of well-being involved in this project that cannot be measured, continued Eckwahl.
"It's physical and recreational therapy," she said.
Nancy Crofoot, 62, of Jamestown, resident of Lutheran, has attended every Senior Olympic event since it started, she said.
"Spelling has been my favorite part," said Crofoot. "It's great because everyone gets to participate, especially since we have so much here, people get to participate who wouldn't otherwise. It's healthy, and you don't have to win necessarily; it's fun anyway."