What does wellness mean to Cheryl Anderson, wellness director at the Heritage of Green Hills?
“It’s about setting goals for yourself,” she says. “Making wellness a big part of your life will make you happier and healthier.” In the Heritage’s Well by DesignSM program, residents set those goals in eight dimensions of wellness: social, physical, intellectual, emotional, vocational, spiritual, environmental and health services.
According to Cheryl, the eight dimensions of wellness begin with her. “I live like this,” she says. “I’m very health conscious, I’m very fit, I eat well, I have a very big social piece of my life with my family, my children, and I have great friends — one of which I am friends with since kindergarten.”
Cheryl has been with the community since it opened 13 years ago, and her philosophy of well-being is threaded through the lifestyle here. “This is a new, healthier way for Boomers to live,” she says. “They can stop paying their mortgage and taxes, and come live where they can take off for a month or a year and travel, and do all the things that they were never able to do working.” She calls The Heritage “a cruise ship that never leaves port. Yet, it is so much more than that,” she adds.
Cheryl brings a varied skill set to her position as wellness director. After working as an office manager and in retail, she started her own business giving water therapy and swimming lessons. When designing the wellness program at the brand-new community, Cheryl had to combat stereotypes surrounding senior living. She had to get the word out that life at The Heritage was not about playing bingo and shuffleboard, and that a retirement community is not a place to go for your final years, but a place to live.
Cheryl herself is a testament to the power of wellness to help people stay happier and healthier, even during the most challenging times. The community’s wellness program helped her during a difficult personal challenge. “I stayed home for maybe three days,” says Cheryl.” I had this pull to come back to work because I needed that program, I needed to be surrounded by all that.”
A Wellness Schedule Designed by Residents
Although Cheryl jokingly calls herself the Heritage cruise director, her job goes far beyond that. “Basically, my job is to do whatever residents want to do. All their programming comes from them.” Residents constantly come to her with suggestions of new activities they want to try and places they want to visit each month. “My job is to take everything I can and put all those pieces into a calendar for them for the month,” says Cheryl. The schedule runs the gamut from memory classes with brain games to visits to Washington, D.C. “The activities go from small to large, and they choose,” she says.
“Even though there are eight dimensions of wellness, everything that we do involves more than one,” Cheryl stresses. “Wellness is about teaching residents how to find all these pieces and incorporate them in their lifestyles.”
What Cheryl Finds Most Rewarding About Her Job
“There is not one day I don’t want to come to work, ever. The residents are my family now,” says Cheryl. “They are a piece of my life. It’s a two-way street. When people ask me how I do it, I say it comes from your heart. I couldn’t create all these activities if I didn’t know them personally. You have to be 100% committed to keeping these people happy and healthy. And in turn, I’m keeping me happy and healthy.”
Over the course of the next month, we’ll have two additional posts where we’ll talk about the many ways — from serious to silly — that The Heritage’s Well by Design program empowers residents to live their happiest, healthiest lives.