Life Enrichment: Behind the scenes at Casa de Mañana

by Cristy Rose

As the life enrichment director for Casa de Mañana, my goal as I plan events, outings and opportunities for engagement is to meet three very important criteria that I believe EVERY human being needs to THRIVE. Notice I didn’t say survive. I said THRIVE.

I try to create positive connections. Everyone needs positive connections in their daily lives. Many researchers believe the estimated 68,000 seniors who died of non-COVID related/non-medical related deaths during the pandemic died from failure to thrive, due to lack of connecting with their loved ones. Creating positive connections is vital!

I try to create something to look forward to. If you ask most people, “What are you doing tomorrow?” I can almost guarantee you that they won’t say that they are staying in bed all day and watching TV. And if they do say that, it’s a concern. When people don’t have things to look forward to, they don’t have a reason to get out of their comfortable, cozy bed, so they don’t. The problem with that is they aren’t creating those positive connections and they don’t feel purposeful (the third thing on my list). When that happens, people tend to get bored and depressed and then end up with failure to thrive. It is very hard to change that once it sets in. It becomes comfortable, but it is not good for anyone.

I try to create a sense of purpose. Many people believe that getting old means you can’t do much, especially those who may need more help with certain care issues or cognitive issues. That is simply NOT TRUE. Everyone needs to have a sense of purpose, otherwise, what’s the point of getting out of bed or making connections? Many of our residents help out in our store, our trading post, walking dogs for those who need help and even visiting other residents who have difficulty with getting out. That is just to name a few things. There are so many helpers and leaders in our community. But what about the others? Well, they can help in other ways too. I may ask them to read something while I type it. I may ask them to join a group where they can voice their opinion to make things brighter or better here. I may ask them to help a resident who can’t see with their Bingo card. It doesn’t have to be a “save the world” purpose. People just need to know that they matter, that they are important and that they do have a purpose, because they do!

So the activities you see are more than activities. Behind the scenes, I focus on creating programming that give residents opportunities to create connections, have something to look forward to (a reason to get out of bed) and find a sense of purpose so that they can THRIVE every day! I am also a certified Positive Approach to Care trainer and coach and use my knowledge of dementia for training and coaching along with programming when I have the opportunity.

Developing activities is not about keeping busy. It really is Life Enrichment.

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