The Empire State Association of Assisted Living (ESAAL) recently held its multi-day annual conference in Saratoga Springs . A panel of five residents from The Massry Residence at Daughters of Sarah spoke to more than 150 professional staff about the impact resident-driven activities and programs can have in assisted living communities.
The five panelists included: Diane Koenig, Irene Selchick, Dr. Bill Rockwood, Adrienne Rockwood, and Dr. Regina (Ann) Pozner. Sharon Rosenblum, executive director of The Massry Residence, moderated the discussion. Each of the panelists introduced themselves and talked about the resident-led interest group that they had started and why.
“Reading, writing and learning is so very important, and is something I have done my whole life, so why stop now?” stated Diane Koenig. “As a proud founder of Columbia-Green Community College, and retired professor of English, I believe that poetry is one of the best ways to share our thoughts and how we see the world with others. So naturally, I started a poetry group,” she said.
“I came to The Massry Residence from Spring Valley,” shared Irene Selchick. “I did not know anyone when I moved in, and kept to myself. However, with encouragement and a gentle push, I started meeting people and making new friends. I learned that many of us enjoy knitting. Me, too! So, I started the Knit and Nosh group. We knit hats, scarves, mittens and blankets for the children at Albany Med and for the women’s domestic violence shelters. I also learned how to play Mah Jongg and love it. We have Mah Jongg games all the time. If you can’t be home, The Massry is the next best place,” concluded Selchick.
Adrienne Rockwood talked about her group, WOW – Women of Wisdom. “As a therapist and having facilitated therapy groups for many years, I have learned that there are many topics women like and want to talk about that are relevant to our lives. As we age, the things that are important to us may change, but nevertheless, we still maintain that desire, that need to talk about them. It is helpful for women to ‘talk it out’ and explore those topics together. As women, we are filled with many wise words, thoughts and certainly wisdom,” said Adrienne Rockwood.
While the women are sharing their wisdom, Dr. Bill Rockwood gathers the men together for a men’s group. “Men have their special interests, too; different from the women,” commented Dr. Rockwood. “We talk about a variety of topics, but as a research scientist and retired professor, understanding the science and impact of chemical dependence and drug addiction in the elderly is critical. From opioids to medical marijuana, to the use of illegal drugs by seniors —this should be a significant concern to all of us,” continued Dr. Rockwood.
In 2002, the Rockwoods founded Senior Hope, a not-for-profit organization that provided seniors struggling with chemical addictions and dependency issues the help they needed to cope and perhaps break the dependency.
Dr. Regina (Ann) Pozner, was a pioneer in her day as a female physician. Her love for learning continues. . At the age of 93, Pozner leads a weekly Torah study discussion, and feels that “through study and discussions with others, that she has become more knowledgeable, a better person, and a better Jew. And this I am very proud of,” shared Pozner.
“Making connections and building friendships enriches their lives,” Rosenblum asserted. “I cannot stress enough how impactful those connections and friendships are for the residents; they enjoy being together on their own terms, especially when it’s something they planned for themselves.”
In addition to these groups, other resident-led groups at The Massry Residence include a crossword puzzle group, a book club, and a photography club.
“As an assisted living community, our goal is to help our residents live as independently as possible, and to facilitate that independence. We want them to make decisions about how they want to live a full, enjoyable and meaningful life,” concluded Rosenblum.