By Bettina Folte, Restorative Aide
Impelled by continuing excitement and enthusiasm from the canonization of St. Jeanne Jugan, our restorative team decided to develop a special fitness event that would illustrate Jeanne’s own philosophy of restorative care, as evidenced in daily life in her first homes. Everyone at the Mullen Home was curious about how the restorative department would accomplish this. “It’s second nature to us,” said Mary Kate Doran, restorative aide, after being asked what the team would do; “All we have to do is put a little extra St. Jeanne Jugan spirit into it”.
Ideas came and fun happened. One of St. Jeanne Jugan’s daily routines included praying and praising the Lord while she and her elderly Residents did their numerous daily tasks. Sr. Mary Veronica, 1st floor hospitality coordinator, kindly lent one of her upbeat praise music CD’s for the event. Warm-ups (which involve stretching of the neck, shoulders, back as well as arms and legs) were done to the uplifting beats.
For exercises, the Residents did variations of their normal routine. To work their arms, they threw miscellaneous household items (rolled-up silverware, yarn, bundled-up socks— into “Jeanne’s basket”. These items were symbolic of things that St. Jeanne Jugan used to help her elderly Residents work with to feel important and still needed. To exercise the legs, batons were used as canes and everyone got into the spirit of St. Jeanne Jugan by imitating how she would walk so far to do her begging with her basket—and how she used to walk her precious elderly residents down to the parish church for Mass. A beach ball toss brought to mind the seaside area where Jeanne had grown up. “The enthusiasm was contagious,” Bettina stated; “staff couldn’t help but want to come in and participate.” Cindy Beal, restorative nurse, added, “There’s an improvement in the mood and energy of the participants in this program that carries over to fellow Residents and staff members alike.”
As if St. Jeanne Jugan were with us all at that moment, when it came to cool-down time, the upbeat CD now played a slow, soothing rhythm, which allowed the Residents to relax and think about how they related to St. Jeanne and her many daily tasks. Through the entire fitness group, music was played, exercises were enjoyed, Jeanne Jugan trivia were shared–and last but not least, prayers were lifted to heaven.
Marcus Morrissey from the skilled therapy team submitted some pictures he had taken of the event to a contest being held by RehabCare, Inc. To the surprise and joy of all, the restorative team of the Little Sisters of the Poor in Denver won first place in this national contest and claimed RehabCare’s award for “Best Exercise Group.”
The beauty of all of this is that nothing has actually changed in the home’s restorative routine; it is a continuation of St. Jeanne Jugan’s original philosophy of care, helping Residents to remain active and to enjoy their lives to the fullest. Our team continues to do its daily restorative routines and hosts its weekly fitness events. St. Jeanne Jugan’s presence remains clearly evident in the eyes of the Little Sisters, in the faces of the elderly, and in the hearts of the staff.
Thank you, St. Jeanne Jugan!
Top photo: The winning team! Left to right: Cindy Beal, Marcus Morrissey, Mar Kate Doran, and Bettina Folte.
Bottom photo: Residents get a big “kick” exercising with a colorful beach ball. Photo by James Baca, Denver Catholic Register.