Back on the Horse Again

A special experience for a resident is an example of one very important aspect of a successful life enrichment program…

A successful Senior Living life enrichment program (or activity program) includes a wide range of activities and events that not only entertain, but also encourage engagement and empowerment. A great program focuses on creating events that are spiritually, physically and emotionally centered for a variety of residents. It should take into consideration a variety of needs and limitations. Each resident as an individual is considered in the creation of a complete life enrichment calendar.

Sometimes, as is the case of Farmington Square resident Betty Pursglove, the opportunity to create a special memory for individual residents becomes an integral part of our activity programming.

Farmington Square in Medford, Oregon had the unique opportunity to help create that special moment for Betty with the aid of Betty’s daughter, Merry Nehls.  Merry wanted Betty to have the opportunity to get up close to a horse again, and possibly even ride a horse.

“My mom has always loved horses,” explained Merry.

“It’s a genetic thing. You either have it or you don’t… My momma had this gene and I inherited it from her.”

Recognition of Residents as Individuals an Integral Part of Successful Life Enrichment Programs // Radiant Senior Living Blog

Photo courtesy of Merry Nehls

Merry shared her mother’s love of horses with the Activities Director and staff at Farmington Square. She also shared that she and her mother both had experienced being away from horses for many years.

Betty had spent her teenage years exercising race horses. After getting married and spending time raising five girls, she never had the opportunity to own her own horse.

“She never got to experience the freedom of [riding a horse] running through a field or riding on the beach,” Merry shared, “I just tear up every time I think about all the sacrifices my mom made raising all these kids.”

Merry shared that she too had given up horses for about 20 years, and only realized what her mother must feel after she got to sit back up on a horse herself.  She soon after made sure that she would always have at least one horse, and ended up owning a ranch with 9 horses at one point.

In 2007 Betty had the opportunity to ride a horse again at Merry’s ranch.

“My dad came out to me in the barn while I was feeding and said, ‘Momma would like to ride a horse’.”

Merry got out a sweet older horse and her dad brought her mom around the arena.

“She rode that horse around with the biggest smile on her face.”

Merry wanted her mom to have that experience once again. Farmington Square and Merry worked together to create that.  The process took time and coordination to make sure that Betty would be able to fully enjoy the experience safely.  Seven years since getting to ride a horse before, once again, Betty got back up on a horse and rode again!

This effort of both family and staff in creating a full life experience for residents of Senior Living is a perfect example of the importance of recognizing each resident as an individual in a thriving life enrichment program.

Thank you to Farmington Square Activities Director Melissa Valadez for brining Merry’s story to our attention and for your hard work. Thank you to Merry Nehls for sharing your story with us.

What experience would you like to have again if you had the opportunity? Comment below!

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