Be The Change at Cascades Verdae
– Aleksandra Makuch –
What is your position at Cascades Verdae, and long have you worked here?
I am a Wellness Director at Cascades Verdae and have worked here for a little more than 11 years.
What excites you the most about this position and this company?
I will gladly state that Senior Living Communities focuses a great degree on the wellness of our Members, and I appreciate that since I am passionate about this area of expertise.
What is your favorite thing about working for Senior Living Communities?
For me personally, wellness represents a state of balance and encompasses many elements of well-being. I am thankful for the opportunity to create new classes and establish events within all elements of wellness.
Describe a time that a Member had a positive impact on your day?
There were many instances when a Member had a positive impact on my day, however I recall one specific day the most. My father has been declining with dementia and one day I walked into a classroom all tired out from prior night’s events with my dad. Later in the afternoon, I had a support card from one of our Members and a box of chocolates to cheer me on. It truly made my day.
Have you utilized the Elevate program? If not, do you know someone who has?
I know a lot of Care Services Team Members that use the Elevate program on our campus, many CNAs advance into a nursing role with its support.
How have you grown professionally and personally since joining the Team?
I have been able to take many certifications over the years to advance my qualifications, allowing me to expand the programming I can create. Being a member of the Executive Team has been an incredible experience, all department heads have the opportunity to learn how to become a better leader through our InteGREAT. I long for extra knowledge and education and have certainly gained a lot of experience working with Senior Living Communities.
What about your position allows you pursue what makes you feel the most passionate in life?
The position is demanding in some respects, but I truly have passion towards this field. I love to help elders; I have loved working with older adults since high school and I can’t see myself not work with this population in the future.
When it comes to your programming, what is the motivation behind specific classes that you do with your Members?
My motivation is their most optimal level of functioning, I want them to be strong, have discipline, and live life to the fullest. Our community believes in keeping our Members as independent as possible for as long as possible and I believe our wellness programming plays a role in that.
Your community has a monthly social event called a Signature Experience; how does wellness play a role in these themed days?
Wellness takes an active role in the Signature Experiences on campus. I personally try new and interesting activities led by a theme, such as lasso lesson for a country style event. The creativity is endless which makes these monthly days very exciting for everyone in our community.
The wellness programming as won three Argentum Best of the Best Awards over the last few years. What was that feeling like and how does it motivate you moving forward?
Senior Living Communities has always stayed on top of the wellness industry and is always striving for improvement for Members It’s certainly exciting and doesn’t let you get stuck in a routine which benefits myself and Members who thrive in an environment where change is built in.
Tell us about WAVES, C.L.I.M.B, or Purpose-Based Wellness. How does it benefit the Members, what does the program looks like, and how did it come to be?
Waves is an aquatic person-centered activity for those individuals that may not be able to follow directions during a normal group class. It’s been very successful here at the Cascades and I invite people from all areas of the campus if I see that this may benefit them or if they can’t manage a class setting.
C.L.I.M.B is a form of a lower body focused class that pushes individuals to improve their balance, overall mobility, keep them independent and living longer while enjoying life. It is a class designed with a challenge in mind and elders in their villas and cottages have an opportunity to work up to that level.
I have currently a class going on that is called Use-it-or-Lose-it. This class has a purpose of increasing overall body strength in both upper and lower body, so that our elders have a chance to increase resistance with time and see their results.
What makes Cascades Verdae’s Wellness Programming stand out compared to others?
I vouch with confidence that our Members work harder than most older adults in the country. I know how much I push them, so they can see results they thought they’d never achieve. I also offer so many different levels of classes, you have an opportunity to advance or step back if necessary, there are no reasons to drop off.
Talk about the impact your wellness program has had on the Members at your community, big wins, maintaining independence, and more.
Our Members are continuously searching for more when it comes to their overall wellness. Listening to all the success stories that our Members share are motivating to continue the work I do every day. One story I would love to share is about one of our Members who is over the age of 90 years old. She approached me before a mechanical bull riding event. She confided in me that it has been on her bucket list to ride a bull at least once in her life and she wanted my help to get on this one. She also just also informed me that she wanted to surprise her children with this activity, so she wanted me to wait to tell them until after she completed the ride! I assured her that I would personally get her situated on the bull, make sure she rides it for at least 20 seconds, and that I would take a video/photo to send to her children! The joy that this activity brought to her could not be put into words. I encourage any prospect or family member to walk through the wellness center at any time and you will see it for yourself, the positive impact this program has in our Members life.
What is your favorite thing to do to maintain your fitness level?
My personal favorite thing to do is playing tennis with my 17-year-old athletic son when I’m not working. It challenges and pushes me to the max and I thrive on the fact that I can still beat him at the game once in a while, and that’s in my 40’s without ever having a lesson or playing the game on a team!