Today in American society, we are bombarded with commercials and magazine advertisements that show us how to minimize the effects of aging.  From wrinkle cream to hair dye, these messages encourage people to hide their age, life experiences, mid-life crises, as well as suffer in silence through the changes in both body and mind.

Village Concepts, a third generation family-owned business that owns and operates residential and assisted living communities throughout Washington state, is aiming to change this view of aging through their Evergreen Program.  The Evergreen program is a lifestyle program that enhances brain vitality,  physical and emotional growth, and helps residents prepare for the next phase in life through a combination of self-reflection, exercise, and activities.

The program is introduced to the staff through new employee orientation, and routine refresher seminars.  It is here that the staff gets involved in the program through day to day activities, customer interactions, and active participation in selected pieces of the program’s whole.  Residents are then introduced to the Evergreen program upon move-in, and continue through the program with educational offerings, participation in activities, reflection, sharing of expertise through teaching and mentoring, as well as future planning.

The Evergreen program includes four “core” seminars that introduce the program’s main holistic aging topics:  Adaptability to Change, Positive Outlook and Gratitude, Brain/Body Connection, and Re-Imagining Yourself.  Educational classes are built on the core seminar topics, and are taught by an employee, resident, family member, or community member through “Village Concepts University.”  Students may include residents, staff, and community members.

Each Village Concepts community also infuses movement into daily routines.  There are four types of exercises including: cardiovascular exercise through walking, swimming, biking and gardening; strength training with free weights and weight machines; flexibility through yoga and gentle stretching; and balance through Tai Chi, chair balancing, and toe walking.

Based on research that correlates less depression and higher life satisfaction in elderly people with thankful and positive attitudes, the program infuses gratitude in the everyday lives of residents and staff at Village Concepts.  Research also shows that routines lead to cognitive decline, so Village Concepts encourages small daily changes to help residents improve brain function.  These changes may  include shopping at different stores, sitting near someone different at lunch, trying new foods, listening to different types of music, and more.

The concept of the program is based around the Evergreen tree, which has qualities Village Concepts aims to emulate.  While set in one place, the Evergreen still moves with the changing seasons and winds, making the Evergreen stronger with its ability to accommodate to change.  As the Evergreen ages, it becomes stronger and more well-defined.  Similar to people, the Evergreen tree is best suited with others: a forest of Evergreens is strong, and the group supports the individual.

Village Concepts draws upon 40 years of experience, and a proud tradition of providing personalized care to more than 1,400 residents in 14 senior living communities throughout Washington State.  Each community encourages residents to “bring retirement to life” by providing personalized care, fostering new relationships, and encouraging independence through programs such as the Evergreen program.

Families, friends, volunteers, and community members are all encouraged to learn more about the Evergreen Program and assist in enriching not only their own lives, but the lives of residents, through active participation in all of the program’s distinct parts.

During the second half of life, people have an opportunity to share their wisdom and knowledge with others. Village Concepts has made it their commitment to help residents share their stories through mentoring, teaching a class, or writing a book.  Whatever the outlet is, it will surely bring great life satisfaction.

The older generation has the ability to thrive and grow, and Village Concepts recognizes that.  This is no standard retirement program. Through new enlightened experiences through the Evergreen program, older adults don’t need to leave their active, enriched lives behind.

Tracy Willis is the Director of Corporate Development.  She can be reached at 206-316-7555, or email her at tracy@villageconcepts.com.