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Activities director's personal experience improves the health of residents

At her heaviest, Activities Director Lori Davis weighed more than 415 pounds and found that her physical condition was slowly beginning to affect every aspect of her life.

“I remember sitting there and wanting to live but I couldn’t,” said Lori. “I was deteriorating and depressed.”

Following weight-loss surgery—and numerous lifestyle changes—Lori found that she was not only happier but that she actually enjoyed the process of exercising.

“Fitness became a passion of mine because I love to move,” said Lori.

With her new outlook on life, Lori soon began to look around and see opportunities to make a similar transformation in the lives of the residents she serves.

“They didn’t feel well, they had low energy … so I thought, ‘what can we do to improve their quality of life?’” said Lori.

The answer was the creation of a new physical wellness class for residents in assisted and independent living.

Held at 9 a.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 p.m. Monday through Friday, the class is conducted entirely seated and incorporates tai chi, yoga and HIIT. Lori is also sure to offer modifications to meet the fitness levels of all residents.  

“We find alternatives for those with arthritis or a bad knee and we make sure that the physical therapists and nurses are aware of what we’re doing and approve,” said Lori.

After just one month, the results are indisputable.

“I have two women who can now touch their toes, and we have another woman who would have to ride the lift up to the bus, now she gets on the bus while I’m still folding up her walker,” said Lori. “The more active they are becoming, the better they’re living. They’re happy and cheerful.”

Lori also provides group activities for residents in healthcare, including one game that offers an opportunity for residents to get some exercise while letting out a little pent-up frustration.

“We blow up balloons and give them pool noodles to smack them around,” said Lori. “They have an absolute blast!”

And Lori says that they fun they have is often contagious.

“When the ones that decline the activity hear the laughter, they realize that they’re missing out and then they want to participate—it’s infectious, but in a good way.”

While the residents of Emporia Presbyterian Manor are the primary beneficiary of Lori’s work, she admits that she gets something out of it as well.

“I absolutely love what I do,” said Lori. “I wake up saying ‘I get to go to work.’”

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