Tai Chi with Dogs? How we Spent a Great Winter at Safe Harbor Memory Care 

March 24, 2016

Bad weather can be a little tough for anyone; however, for senior citizens, cloudy, rainy weather and limited time outdoors can be even more challenging. In a memory care unit like Safe Harbor, it’s especially important to remain active and keep spirits up. Here are a few things we did this winter to make less-than-ideal days great ones: 

  • Saybrook at Haddam Courtyard photo SMALLTook advantage of any mild day – This winter we were lucky to have had several mild days, including some warm enough to sit outside on our patio or take a stroll along our walking paths.
  • Met up with friends – Each day after breakfast at Safe Harbor, we gathered around the tables in our living room for “morning chats.” Depending on what the group felt like talking about, we would reminisce, play a game, discuss news or simply plan out our day.
  • Enjoyed indoor exercises – Sitting in a circle of chairs we got the blood flowing with simple exercises, listened to some good music, and then gently stretched.
  • Did Tai Chi with a dog! – Every other Friday this winter, we took a Tai Chi class led by Shasta, a German Shepard (and relaxation expert). With the help of owner, Sharon Didato, Shasta would show us the proper way to truly relax … often by lying in the middle of our circle throughout the class!
  • Had more fun with dogs – This winter, our favorite  Brittany Spaniel, Higgins, returned to The Saybrook at Haddam for weekly visits. Recently recovered from a broken leg, Higgins is happy to lounge at the feet of our dog-loving residents, receiving well-deserved pets, and licking cheeks as needed. The Saybrook has another canine companion who recently became a regular. Buddy the Border Collie delights the group on Tuesdays with his keen skills, literally jumping through hoops for us.
  • singingSometimes, we just had to sing – Probably one of our most important activities is our weekly live musical performance.  Music can reach people in ways that many other activities cannot. We try to provide a range of performers and styles for residents’ enjoyment. In addition, we regularly do sing-alongs to keep the good vibrations going.
  • Spent time with kids – In November, we added an intergenerational program with children from the Little Village Pre-School in Moodus. Each month, the little children join us for crafting, singing songs, and telling stories. There is nothing quite like the innocent face of a child to brighten one’s day.

So even though this proved to be one of the more mild winters that we have had lately, we helped the season pass with many fun activities, social opportunities and lots of friendship. For seniors struggling with memory illnesses, days can be long and lonely and can create a sense of anxiety. The Safe Harbor community’s specialized activities help residents make the most of each day – bringing out the best in all of us regardless of the weather outside!

Written by Ann Bertini, director of recreation at Safe Harbor Memory Care neighborhood, which is located with The Saybrook at Haddam independent retirement and assisted living community.  Please click here or call us at 860-345-3779 to schedule a private tour.



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