Imagine what your life would be like without recreation. Strip away all the hobbies, games, sports, art, music, books, movies, conversations, and other leisure-time activities, and what’s left? Answer that question, and you’ll understand why The Laurels of Toledo places so much importance on offering recreation services to their guests.
Laurels Recreation Services Director Page Rostetter, CTRS, MEd, explains, “My role is providing recreation opportunities for our rehab and long-term guests—ranging from independent leisure activities in their own room to large group activities—as well as helping them stay connected to the community.”
Rostetter emphasizes that in a setting like The Laurels, recreation is about much more than keeping guests occupied. In fact, ample research shows that people’s recreational activities are tied in many ways to their self-esteem, sense of connectedness, as well as their cognitive and physical health. “Were a kind of quiet therapy,” she says. “People don’t realize that recreation can be used as a therapeutic tool, but it can play a critical part in helping our guests regain strength, function, and the highest possible level of independence while maximizing their quality of life.”
The activities Rostetter organizes are highly varied and touch upon a wide range of interests. For example, on the day she was interviewed for this article, she was preparing to lead a group in building gingerbread houses. “Whether this project turns out to be an epic win or an epic fail, it will provide a great opportunity to build positive self-esteem and socialization,” she says.
One of the most popular group activities is the Laurels Auction, which is held once a month. For this activity, Rostetter picks up various items from a dollar store to be auctioned off and allots each participant 20 “auction bucks.” Participating helps strengthen residents’ cognition because math and problem-solving skills must be called upon in determining how to bid on items and how to apportion those auction bucks.
Various brain games, trivia, Wheel of Fortune, and news reviews (round-table discussions on current news topics) also help challenge guests’ cognition while encouraging healthy socialization.
Of course, bingo is always a popular draw, as are activities such as ceramics classes, exercise groups, and music of all kinds. “Music is so important as a therapeutic tool, so we bring in a lot of musicians from around the area, such as country singer Bob Wurst and gospel and Motown performer Reverend William Collier,” says Rostetter.
However, not all activities are appropriate for every Laurels guest. In some cases, Rostetter deliberately avoids bringing people into certain activities if she knows their limitations will prevent them from participating and they’ll only feel worse as a result.
To help promote engagement and connectedness, The Laurels brings in various volunteers from the community. Among these is a group of students from the University of Toledo Medical Center who are involved in UT’s Geriatrics Club and Newman Club. Rostetter is excited to have college-aged students interacting with residents and notes that these individuals are especially generous with their time. “We recently hosted a holiday gift exchange, and the students set up a tree with our residents’ names and wishes on it. A few of these students have also ‘adopted’ several residents and visit them throughout the school year. This collaboration has been a great community connection for our residents,” she says.
Asked for her best advice on how to stay healthy physically, cognitively, and emotionally, perhaps it’s no surprise that Rostetter replies, “I just tell everybody to keep active, not just because it’s fun—which it is!—but also because it improves every aspect of our lives. I stay active as well, so I don’t just talk the talk. I walk the walk, too!”❦