Hutchinson seniors travel the world without leaving their homes

Positive Connections

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (KSNW) – A statewide stay-at-home order is not stopping some Hutchinson seniors from seeing the world.

The residents at Legend of Hutchinson have traveled to Ireland and France since the pandemic began.

“I think it’s fun for them. You’re not on a plane, so you’re not going to catch anything,” said Legend of Hutchinson Life Enrichment Coordinator Heather Harding.

Harding said it has been somewhat difficult to interact with and keep the more than 120 residents occupied.

“We have just made the best of it, room-to-room activities, a lot of walking, a lot of exercising, a lot, a lot of FaceTimes with family,” Harding said.

Harding has always considered herself creative, but the stay-at-home order has challenged her to be innovative.

“When you have a community as big as ours, it’s hard, but you do it. You do the best you can,” she said.

Harding has gone as far as dressing up as the Easter Bunny and as an astronaut to try and entertain the residents.

“Right now, we do feel like we are alone in a spaceship kind of. You are just orbiting until you get to land again and so I thought it would be fun and I have an astronaut costume, so why not?” she laughed.

She has also implemented exercise bingo, cornhole and coloring contests to keep the seniors busy.

On top of that, Legend of Hutchinson celebrates a country each month. When the pandemic began those celebrations became even more important.

“This month is France and so we have the Eifle Tower out on a board and you just kind of get real creative with that and they each have a passport,” Harding said.

Each of the residents can take photos on their trip, try drinks and foods from that specific country as well as share stories if they have visited there in the past. It’s all done following social distancing rules.

Resident Jeanette Hallman, 87, grew up on a dairy farm. She didn’t have the opportunity to visit too many places.

“It’s very interesting to me since I have not traveled,” Hallman said.

Hallman also quietly participated in the exercise bingo.

“I tried to do them when nobody was walking around in the hall,” she laughed. “I didn’t want anybody to see how clumsy I am.”

Hallman said she is thankful for Harding and the other staff members. She said they have given her hope during what could easily become a hopeless and isolating experience.

Harding has also made it her mission to help residents set up times to talk to their family members virtually.

“It means so much to me to see the smile on their faces when they get to see their loved ones on the other screen. That’s what it is about right now is that connection,” Harding said.

The only complaint the residents have, according to Harding, is that the food is too good.

“They all say they are getting too plump since we are feeding them too good,” she laughed.

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