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Grant, partnership benefit Wilson House residents

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Tim Dornemann, Barton College's assistant professor of fitness management and strength and onditioning specialist, shows off new fitness equipment for Wilson House residents. Keith Tew | Barton College

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By Olivia Neeley
The Wilson Times

Monday, January 1, 2018

Residents at Wilson House will now have access to a variety of fitness equipment aimed to enhance their quality of life.

In August, Barton College was awarded a $132,000 grant from the Healthcare Foundation of Wilson to work in collaboration with the assisted living and memory care center to establish a wellness center.

That wellness center includes cardiovascular and physical therapy equipment as well as a Keiser resistance training circuit. The assisted living center recently held an open house for officials to view the new equipment and to see just how life-changing the wellness center has been for residents over the past couple of months.

"It just warms my heart dearly," said Barbara Woolard, executive director of Wilson House located on Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway. "It means that we are offering something to our residents to help them that we probably wouldn't have ever been able to do without this grant."

Woolard said she can see a difference in seniors since the wellness center's implementation. She said their mobility and strength has been enhanced.

"Even people who might can't walk, they can get up now," she said.

The project includes training Wilson House staff and residents via Barton College School of Allied Health and Sport Studies staff and students. The Wilson YMCA group exercise instructors will conduct classes appropriate for seniors with the project focusing on weight loss to prevent falls as well.

'IT'S IDEAL FOR THIS POPULATION'

Tim Dornemann, Barton College assistant professor of fitness management and strength and conditioning specialist, said the college has been working with Wilson House informally for several years.

He said this collaboration is vital and the partners are already seeing progress. Dornemann said Barton College students have been working three days a week at the assisted living and memory care center getting residents set up on the new machines.

"There are benefits to cardio and resistance training," he said. "A lot of times people think about cardiovascular because of heart disease."

But as seniors get older, their bones get more brittle because of osteoporosis. He said resistance training builds bones to keep them strong, which helps with not only balance but fall prevention.

He said Wilson House residents have seen success so far, especially those who are post-stroke. They've since gained their coordination back. One resident who at first started with either his cane or wheelchair is now just using his cane to walk.

Dornemann said after the new year, Barton professors and students will be implementing a more formalized exercise program.

He said the Kaiser equipment uses air pressure, which is ideal for seniors because it allows them to adjust it up and down. The stationary bicycle equipment is specialized, which gives staff a way to pull the chair off so they can actually put the wheelchair all the way in.

"It's ideal for this population," Donemann said.

There are three areas where the new equipment is used including the memory care unit, physical therapy and generalized area for assisted living residents.

"Even though they may not have the mental capabilities, they still have physical needs," Dornemann said. He said stimulating the brain through exercise can help as well.

'IT'S JUST AMAZING'

Woolard said she's excited to see what the next months will hold for Wilson House residents.

"It gets them exercising more," she said. "We have people who are in here who thought they couldn't do anything. It gives them pleasure of knowing they can do things that the others are doing."

She said Wilson House staffers are documenting it all and meet monthly to compare statistics with Dornemann. They have already seen results in reduction of falls, she said.

"It's just amazing," Woolard said.

Denise O'Hara, the Healthcare Foundation of Wilson's executive director, said the grantmaking group truly want to make a difference in the lives of those in the Wilson community.

"This is just another opportunity where we can improve their quality of life," she said. "It makes our community a better place to live. We are hoping their lives as they age are more fulfilled and more engaged."

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