Enriching Every Day – The Life of A Recreation Assistant

Chanelle Gunderson is part of the exceptionally talented and active recreation team at The Waterford. Here she gives a little bit of insight into what she does every day, and why she does it.

A typical day for me at The Waterford could involve teaching a fitness class (such as weight training, cardio, flexibility or balance), running a cognitive programs that helps keep residents brains sharp (such as trivia or science experiments), and taking residents out on a bus trip (local tours, lunches, concerts, casinos, shopping). I might also be bartending a social hour, setting up or taking down an event, or running other programs like craft beer tasting, baking, bocce ball, corn hole, arts and crafts.)

When I’m in the office, I work on the activity calendar for the coming month, as well as a monthly newsletter, program posters, food requisitions, meeting agendas, booking entertainers and contractors for various upcoming events (we book everything from bands, choirs, yoga, tai chi, travel shows, pet visits, and more.) My team and I also do many in-house events, such as rooftop social hours, Dinner en Blanc, outdoor picnics, carnivals, dog shows, Easter egg hunts, block parties—you name it!

I love my job because I get to make deep connections with the seniors I work with, and I get to show them that they are capable of doing so much more than they think they can at this stage of their lives (gymnastics and horseback riding, for example). For many of our residents, this will be the last place they live, and I strive to make these years some of their best and most memorable. I make an effort to reach out to even the quietest of seniors because something as small as a conversation and a smile can truly brighten their day. Often in a residence like this, many of our seniors are at the beginning or middle stages of dementia, which is a stressful and confusing time for them. I try to design my programming around their individual needs. Some may need a little extra help, but that’s what I’m here for.

I think there’s a stigma about retirement residences that they’re depressing, quiet, lonely, and boring. But what we do here is just the opposite – our seniors are so busy with all activities, they insist on booking their family visits and doctors’ appointments around these events so that they don’t miss out!

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