The Monday Memo
February 12, 2018 PITT DPT STUDENTS
Holly Lewis, a first year SPT, is currently involved with teaching an exercise class to older seniors in the community. I had the pleasure of interviewing her to find out more about what she does every Monday evening.
So, tell us a little bit about the program.
Every week, 6-8 participants meet at Parkside Manor, an independent living facility, to instruct an exercise class for the residents. Parkside Manor is a facility for the underserved, community-dwelling older adults. The main goal of this program is to provide simple and functional exercises that will benefit the residents both physically and mentally. Some of the exercises we incorporate are walking, seated exercises, and obstacle courses.
How did this program start?
Molly Bachmann, a third year SPT, reached out to seek other students in the program to help her. Molly is a Pittsburgh Schweitzer Fellow, which is where she originally came up with the idea for this endeavor.
How have the participants been responding?
They have been doing really well! A lot of them are more confident with navigating stairs and ambulating on their own. We have people from many different functional levels including Rollators and walkers. We accommodate to all and integrate exercises for any level.
What has this experience provided you with?
So much. It has made me much more confident leading exercises and working with the elderly. I initially had an interest in working with the geriatric population and this has stimulated it even more.
Beyond simply exercising, what are the other goals of this program?
A lot of seniors are in social isolation. This gives them an enriched environment and stimulation. We try to maintain the positive outcome they have earned in class by giving the residents education about what they can do outside of class to maintain the benefits.
What do you recommend others in the physical therapy community to do to help with enriching the lives of seniors?
While working with a patient, it is important to keep in mind that you may be the only person they talk to the entire day. Stay involved and alert. No matter what your experience level, volunteering and getting involved in the community is never a bad idea!
What is in the future for the program?
The next year in the program, we would really like to add another facility so that the effects of the program may be expanded throughout the community.
Special thanks to Holly Lewis for giving her time for this interview.
-Layne Gable, SPT