Twice each week Scott Lendh, activities coordinator of The Lodge at Cypress Cove, sits in as “moderator, teacher, professor” of a rather unique class limited to no more than 14 residents (all men) from the HealthPark Florida’s independent living Life Plan community.
One might initially get the feeling that this bi-weekly class is nothing more than a “good ole boys club or if we were in northern climates – a hot stove club.” The chatter, the banter, and good natured ribbing are often – and infectious. A constant jovial atmosphere is the classroom norm.
But the purpose for these classes is taken quite seriously by Lendh and by each participant. “Sure, the classes provide needed fellowship. But they also provide a stress-free environment where exercises are done to help sharpen our brains,” Lendh explains. “Sometimes our program exercises all forms of cognition. But most of the time, I am barely able to get through a quarter of my prepared program because attention is diverted at so many different subjects.”
The bi-weekly gathering is aptly named – Healthy Pursuits – and was introduced a few years ago by Cypress Cove’s Independent Living Activities Supervisor Amanda Sweeney who created the class for the purpose of providing Cypress Cove independent living residents with an outlet to what sometimes a resident might believe is their idle mind.
“The class also serves as a big support group. For example there might be someone going through a medical crisis,” Lendh explains while passing around a bowl of chocolate goodies, “and the day’s program provides relief. Beside, there’s always someone ready to lend a supporting hand.”
That comradery leads to the levity that prevails throughout the two-hour session and helps make Healthy Pursuits a uniquely successful program. Each class participants has led a successful and varied career. And it’s these varied careers that often lead to some entertaining and interesting discussions.
“There’s a great deal of satisfaction that comes out of the class,” adds resident Ed. “My fellow classmates don’t want to miss the class…and neither do I.”
“There can be lots of quick-witted moments,” explains Healthy Pursuits participant Ralph, “interspersed with a time of learning.”
Class participants, notes Lendh, are not individuals who have lost their cognitive skills. “By no means, these are individuals who wish to maintain their abilities.” And because of that, Scott is the ideal professor for the weekly sessions having worked in the healthcare activities arena for more than 20 years.
He prepares for each session as if he were putting together a teaching plan for a high school or college class. Class activities are varied and include such things as trivia
quizzes, word puzzles, and visual cognition quizzes. Class sessions accommodate any class participant’s hearing or sight deficiency – a concept that allows constant interaction by resident classmates.
“It’s a pretty tight-knit group,” Lendh notes, “and it gives me a great deal of satisfaction that the guys don’t want to miss the class.”
Bob (one of the newest members of the class) concurs saying “he likes to hear what other people did throughout their life. It’s very interesting.” And when the storytelling quiets, “the teacher finds something for us to discuss,” adds Lee.
Regardless of the reason or need of participation, it is obvious that the class meets the original goal of successfully engaging its “students.”