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VOL. 127 | NO. 32 | Thursday, February 16, 2012

Flagship Living

Trezevant Manor senior living facility earns bragging rights with designation

By JONATHAN DEVIN

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Raising the activity level of residents made Trezevant Manor a “flagship” among Tennessee senior living facilities.

Fitness director Rinnie Wood leads an arthritis certified exercise class at Trezevant Manor. Trezevant retirement community has been named as the only Arthritis Foundation Flagship facility in Tennessee.

 (Photo: Lance Murphey)

A new designation conferred by the Arthritis Foundation for the Southeast Region in late January is a first in Tennessee.

“It was becoming more and more apparent that we needed more active activities,” said Rinnie Wood, Trezevant’s fitness director who joined the facility 18 months ago. Trezevant’s campus facilities, which include independent living, assisted living and nursing home care, are at 177 N. Highland St. in East Memphis.

Although Trezevant already offered more than 20 exercise classes a week, including aquatics and Tai Chi, Wood felt that seniors living there needed more. One resident told her that arthritis was a dark subject in the building – everyone seemed to have it but no one liked to talk about it.

“That launched an effort to become partners with the Arthritis Foundation,” said Obie Sue Thomas, Trezevant’s director of resident services.

Last April, Wood and Thomas, who lives with rheumatoid arthritis, began the months-long process of certifying fitness instructors in exercise programs developed by the Arthritis Foundation.

To receive the Arthritis Foundation’s Flagship Facility Status, teachers had to be certified in each of four areas – aquatics, Tai Chi, land exercise and Walk with Ease – and teach six six-week classes of each with heavy documentation.

Thomas said that meant changing the focus of some existing classes like aquatics classes she teaches herself, which used weights and equipment to flex muscle. The Arthritis Foundation classes focus more on extension, balance and flexibility.

Trezevant Manor residents take an exercise class that focuses on stretching, balancing and raising the heart rate in seated and standing marching and simple dance steps. 

(Photo: Lance Murphey)

Now 17 of 25 exercise classes are Arthritis Foundation-certified.

The immediate effect for the not-for-profit Trezevant has been to draw in newer residents who are not used to exercise.

“We’re finding that those who have not been active in anything are finding a niche with these classes,” said Thomas.

Also, the new classes translate well to Trezevant’s assisted living residents who often cannot stand for long periods of time. Some of the Arthritis Foundation classes, including Tai Chi, can be done seated.

Classes serve between five and 30 people.

The classes will also serve residents who finish weeks of physical therapy paid for by Medicare but still need more exercise to get back to normal daily life once Medicare reaches its limit.

The long-term outcomes for the program, according to a 2006 National Institutes of Health study conducted through the University of Rhode Island, were significant decreases in arthritis-related pain, fatigue and depression.

Thomas said she hopes that Trezevant residents will see a decrease in falls as well.

Katie Maruskin, Arthritis Foundation program coordinator for Tennessee, said that 1.2 million Tennesseans are diagnosed with some form of arthritis, but thousands more are undiagnosed.

“People assume it’s just part of getting old and they live with it,” she said.

Thomas, Wood and other Trezevant instructors attended trainings in Knoxville, Nashville and Memphis to become certified in the four classes. Certifications last two to three years depending on the program and cost $75 to $250 per instructor.

Maruskin said that other residential facilities are in the process of achieving flagship status, but Trezevant was the first in the state. Other facilities in the state hold certifications in individual classes.

Bragging rights come with the designation as well.

“My thought from the beginning is that this is a great marketing tool,” Thomas said. “So many people in the community are needing or wanting to come into a facility like this, and they’d like to know that there’s a concentration in this area. (Arthritis) is one of the reasons they leave their homes.”

Sales at Trezevant were on an upswing at the end of 2011 and the facility often maintains a waiting list. Still, Trezevant residents invite their friends from outside the campus to activities and Thomas said word of mouth goes a long way.

“Our residents are our marketing tool,” Thomas said. “They are always welcome to have friends come and participate. So many people are afflicted with arthritis whether they want to admit it or not.”

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