In Ohio, a Senior Living Community Celebrates Its Residents Year-Round
There's something uniquely powerful about a simple act of appreciation. In the ordinary bustle of everyday life, it can be all too easy to overlook small kindnesses or take our loved ones' service for granted. However, even a simple "thank you" can have tremendous resonance for those who have gone out of their way to support, encourage and care for others.
"Expressions of gratitude matter," says Rosemary Eagle, the Activity Supervisor for Bayley, a Cincinnati-based senior care community. "A lot of people, particularly older folks, will never ask for or even expect recognition for everything they've done and given over the years — but that just makes expressing thanks all the more important!"
Senior appreciation is a cause that Eagle and her colleagues at Bayley value deeply. After all, honoring and upholding seniors has been a part of Bayley's ethos since the nonprofit residential community was founded by the Sisters of Charity in 1990. Today, the organization offers a wide variety of residential options, including maintenance-free Independent Living cottages, Assisted Living, Memory Care, Healthcare and soon, Independent Living apartments at Bayley at Green Township.
According to Eagle, elder recognition is a crucial part of Bayley's culture — especially in August, when the community celebrates Senior Citizens Day.
"Truthfully, every day is Senior Citizens Day at Bayley," Eagle laughed. "We believe it's important to honor and recognize our elders for the hard work they have done throughout their lives. But we try to do something special for the holiday. It's a bit like when a loved one's birthday comes around; you want to go above and beyond to make that day all about them."
That said, Bayley's celebrations aren't limited to the official holiday. This year, the organization planned not one but two significant events to honor the occasion.
"When we celebrate our birthdays, do we really just celebrate for one day? Heck no!" Eagle said. "It's the same at Bayley — the whole month turns festive."
Bayley celebrates seniors with special events and daily activities
On Monday, August 8th, Bayley kicked off its Senior Citizens Day celebrations with a lively luau-inspired shindig. The event's tropical twist allowed residents to enjoy the flavors and feels of a beachside vacation without ever leaving home. Participants sipped on piña coladas and enjoyed slices of key lime pie to the backdrop of live Caribbean music performed by Island Vibes.
Then, exactly one week later, residents were treated to another party — this time, themed after the "Dog Days of Summer." The event took its name literally; Bayley brought no fewer than 200 stuffed dogs onsite for the event. Residents had the opportunity to 'adopt' a dog, name it and pick out a collar. Those participating could also donate their bingo quarters to a local shelter or rescue in need.
"Everyone loved the stuffed dogs — which isn't all that surprising, because who doesn't like animals?" Sydney Vollmer, Bayley's Assisted Living Activities Director, shared in an interview. "We booked DJ Dave for music and brought a KONA Ice Snow Cone mini-truck right into the building for refreshments." All music was, of course, dog-themed.
"It was a wonderful afternoon," she said.
While both events were organized to honor Senior Citizens Day, such festivities are common in the Bayley community. The organization makes a point to organize social events and activities regularly. Every Monday, Bayley hosts a live musical performance; previous guests have included a full choir, classical pianists, an Elvis impersonator, vocalists and even steel drummers. From 1 PM to 4 PM on weekdays, the community also offers fan-favorite activities such as cards, crafts, dice and bingo.
According to Vollmer, community members play a crucial role in developing Bayley's robust roster of activities.
"We're always open to new ideas," she said. "Residents can — and often do! — share activity requests during our monthly Resident Council. We actually just re-implemented our Friday Movie Night series for our Assisted Living residents thanks to a request! Our activities staff always has an ear to the ground listening for suggestions from family members or learning from other senior care professionals."
Bayley takes a spiritual approach to senior care
Such activity-planning is crucial for any healthy retirement community; after all, seniors need a space to connect with others, pursue their hobbies and find meaning in the simple joys of daily life. But as a faith-founded organization, Bayley doesn't just provide entertainment opportunities; it seeks to uphold residents' physical, spiritual and emotional health. There is a spiritual aspect to the community's approach to senior care — an emphasis on supporting the whole person, body and soul.
"Bayley is focused on healing and compassion," the organization's Director of Pastoral Care, Mike Davis, shared. "Catholic health care extends not just to the mind and body, but also the spiritual nature of a person. We make every attempt to ensure our residents are being fed spiritually every day."
Bayley welcomes residents of all faiths and provides services that align with its identity as a Catholic organization, while also striving to meet the spiritual needs of all Christian denominations. Among other services, the community offers daily Mass and prayer, anointing services, Sacramental celebrations, Ecumenical services, Gospel-sharing, Chaplain conversations and spiritual companionship. But Bayley's spiritual support isn't conveyed solely through formal services; according to Davis, spirituality underlies the organization's mission to provide a supportive home for those navigating the challenges and blessings of age.
"I look back to Matthew 25:36, 'I was ill and you cared for me,'" Davis said. "In our view, the pastoral care team is to treat those in need in a way that respects their human dignity and eternal destiny. Our focus on spiritual needs is most often appreciated during times of illness and loneliness. In this respect, pastoral care is an integral part of the entire healthcare process of the resident."
This perspective aligns with Bayley's founding mission: to provide a continuum of care for seniors in a Catholic/Christian-like environment and strive to provide compassion and quality of life to those served. Ultimately, the community seeks to provide a real home for its residents — a place where elders feel cared for and appreciated every day.
"What we do is rooted in love and genuine concern as we walk the spiritual journey with God's people here at Bayley. We provide a loving and listening presence," Davis concluded.
This article was originally published on Cincinnati.com on August 30, 2022