March 28, 2008


Brewster House opens gym

Adult home setting up exercise programs for its senior residents


Bob Ellis/staff photographer    
Karen Tice, a nurse at the Elizabeth Brewster House in Homer, shares a laugh with resident Marie Olmsted in the Brewster House’s new fitness center, which was funded with an $88,000 state grant through the Department of Health’s Enhancing Abilities and Life Experience Program.

Staff Reporter

HOMER — Evelyn Clark will be a regular at the Elizabeth Brewster House’s new gym.
The 98-year-old tried out a variety of exercises Wednesday at the new gym in the Brewster House’s basement.
An $88,000 state grant through the Department of Health’s Enhancing Abilities and Life Experience Program funded exercise equipment and renovations to the basement space.
“That was easy,” Clark said about her workout, which included a pedal exerciser for arms and legs.
Exercise Coordinator Sue Cullen said the challenge is getting other residents to be as motivated about working out as Clark, who routinely walks around the Elizabeth Brewster House and attends the house’s activities.
“You’re going to be a role model,” Cullen told Clark. “You’re going to encourage everyone else to come down.”
The Elizabeth Brewster House is an adult care facility for men and women located at 41 S. Main St.
Wednesday was the first day residents at the Brewster House tried out the nonprofit’s new gym, which includes the pedal exerciser, an exercise bike, weights and exercise balls.
The goal of the grant program is to develop programs targeted to the specific needs and interests of residents of adult care facilities, improving their quality of life and helping them live more independently.
The Brewster House specifically wants to improve residents’ strength, coordination and confidence.
“Everything is geared toward their age group,” registered nurse Karen Tice said.
The ages of the facility’s 32 residents range from 70 to 102, said Tom Obuck, administrator and executive director.
Gym participants, who will always be supervised by trained staff, must get approval from their doctors, he said.
Nancy Hansen, president of the Brewster House board of managers said the home has been getting doctor approvals over the last couple of months. The goal is to get as many participants as possible.
All participants will have a schedule for their gym time and an exercise routine, Cullen said.
The gym is part of a trend in recent years of the home adding more physical and cognitive activities for its residents. Activities include tai-chi, a walking club, a memory game played with balls and bowling with adaptive equipments.
“There’s an increased effort to make it more of a holistic program,” Obuck said about the facility.
Clark welcomes more activity, which she says is the secret to old age and good health.
“I’ve always had to be active,” Clark said.