Namyet joined the Vitality 360 program at Orchard Cove two years ago after the death of her husband, Saul, a retired Northeastern professor of civil engineering. The couple lived in Sharon for 45 years and together at Orchard Cove for seven more.
“’I don’t want you to forget the outside world. I want you to stay busy,’” Namyet recalls her husband telling her near the end of his life. Yet in the weeks following his death, she was at a loss, she says, and found herself thinking: “What do I do with my life?”
Vitality 360 begins with a one-hour conversation with a personal coach, and Namyet said it helped her imagine a future. “I realized what they are telling us is so true — it is nice to look on our lives, if we’re lucky, but we have to now sit down and look at our future and literally plan a goal,” she said.
Namyet set the goal of visiting her children on the West Coast. She worked on her balance, which was shaky, kept up with daily yoga, prepared travel plans, and made the journey. She also took part in a variety of committees at Orchard Cove.
“I let myself get more involved again,” said Namyet, who in younger years was involved as a member of the School Committee in Sharon and the League of Women Voters.
Her coach also encouraged Namyet to gather her watercolor artwork and begin painting once more. “The program is keeping me going. It has encouraged us to do a lot of things,” she said, adding that community is an essential component.
“If Orchard Cove wasn’t here, if I lived by myself, I don’t think I would be alive. I don’t think you can live without this kind of atmosphere. It is friendly, familial, a home,” she said.
Russotto said the assessment tool in Collage is allowing the success of Vitality 360 to be tracked, which is crucial. Fitness is a main component, she said, but it is motivated by goals that are often larger such as writing a memoir, or volunteering in the community, or playing a leadership role in one’s family, and wanting to possess the physical capacity to do these things.
“What we’re seeing through our program is that seniors are becoming more active, more involved, and reporting greater satisfaction in the quality of their life and greater satisfaction in their health. We’re seeing that we have a tremendous increase in participation in our fitness programs,” Russotto said. “As more communities use a program like Vitality 360, we will be able to prove outcomes for the senior population.”
One Orchard Cove resident, for example, wanted to get to her daughter’s wedding, so she embraced a fitness schedule to regain necessary balance and endurance.
“The conversation with the coach allows residents to stop and really think about what’s important to them,” Russotto said. “I think this resident decided attending her daughter’s wedding was important because she realized she wants to leave a legacy for her family; she wants to be matriarch.”
For Waterman, who moved to Orchard Cove a year ago, the Vitality 360 program helped her get out into the world again. At 81, she broke her hip, retired as on-site owner of Prime Cleaners in Canton and West Roxbury, and, for five years lived alone in her Newton home. It was a lonely time — until she moved to Orchard Cove and signed on with its wellness program.
“I like to be involved,” Waterman said in a recent interview.
Namyet, listening to her friend’s account of those solitary years, nodded.
“Can I just say that must have been hell? She’s a people person,” said Namyet. “Since she’s been here, she’s made more friends than anyone I know.”
Today Waterman does several types of aerobics classes per week and uses the weight machines as well. Exercise has helped her mentally and socially; she has indeed made many friends.
“She’s our star right now,” said Namyet, smiling at Waterman.
Meg Murphy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.