Helping St. Mark Village residents live healthy, long lives is a passion for both the community’s wellness director and chief culinary officer. But it’s not the only thing they have in common. They’ve also been husband and wife for the past 30 years, having worked together more than once to enhance the lives of older adults.
With the Wellness Matters Program, St. Mark Village Wellness Director Dee Isguzar and Chief Culinary Officer Huseyin Isguzar, together with the Life Enrichment Department, are helping residents achieve senior wellness goals through measurable results in strength, balance, and mobility. The results? We’ve seen our residents do everything from line dancing to Saturday Night Fever music to winning medals in regional Senior Olympics for shuffleboard!
Wellness Matters at St. Mark Village incorporates seven dimensions of senior wellness: emotional, intellectual, physical, vocational, social, spiritual and environmental, which Dee says overlap and coordinate to provide a rich environment for living. It’s more than walking on a treadmill. This inventive program includes classes, activities, events, a new fitness studio, nutritional counseling, fall prevention and more.
And the positive results just keep coming in.
“Residents have reported gaining muscle mass and getting good news from their physician about no longer having to be on a special diet or being able to reduce medications,” says Dee. “And it’s not just gains in physical fitness. Every aspect of a person’s health is impacted. I see residents smiling more, moving about more easily, and feeling better overall.”
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New Activities and Resources Enhance Quality of Life
A popular aspect of the program is the new Village Wellness Studio, which includes a recumbent bike, chest press machine, lat pull-down machine, stomach crunch machine, leg machine, cable-pull machine, and bicycles and treadmills. Residents are trained on proper use of each machine.
After a month, the resident and Dee meet to review progress. “We decide if they want to build more muscle mass, or just sustain what they have. It’s important to maintain strength because it helps reduce the risk of fall-related injuries. And you are never too old to increase your strength, even if you are in your 90s.”
Balance is also emphasized. Before taking their first balance class, residents are assessed to determine where they fit within their age range. Following the assessment, residents are introduced to classes utilizing the Biodex Balance System™ SD, a specialized device designed to improve balance, increase agility, and develop muscle tone. After three months of classes, they are retested.
“If a person measures at serious fall risk, we refer them to our therapy department,” says Dee. Thanks to our state-of-the-art balance equipment, “we’ve already had one resident improve her balance score by 17 percent. That makes me feel great!”
Other Wellness Matters activities and classes include trivia, balance, crossfit, yoga, Tai Chi, shuffleboard, meditation, line dancing, walker line dancing, brainiacs, sittercize, chair volleyball, a birdwatching group, and fitness groups for men and women. In addition, Dee and her shuffleboard participants won two gold medals and a bronze medal in regional and state senior games competition in 2022.
Personalized Dining Matches Each Resident’s Nutrition Needs
For Chief Culinary Officer Huseyin Isguzar, wellness and dining are an essential combo. Upon moving in, new St. Mark Village residents are invited to meet with Huseyin to discuss specific dietary concerns, medications, or any food-related issues. He then creates a personalized, nutrient-specific dining plan for them.
“I encourage feedback from residents,” says Huseyin. “I do a weekly menu chat with all interested residents to discuss nutrition and our dining. I listen to them; they have a major impact on what is served. Our menu is extensive here at St. Mark Village, like a restaurant, with numerous choices.”
In addition, residents exercising with Dee who also want to lose or gain weight can consult with Huseyin for specific dietary suggestions to help them reach their goal.
A Match Made for Wellness
Dee earned her Leadership in Wellness Certification from the International Council on Active Aging. She ran a health club (along with Huseyin) in the Netherlands where many of her clients were seniors and has been an executive director of a senior living community. She served as a liaison for St. Mark Village prior to being named Wellness Director.
“I’ve been teaching seniors how to exercise and live healthy lives for 35 years. And I’m so excited about our program at St. Mark Village,” she says. Huseyin shares her passion. Both are longtime athletes and remain physically active, passing on their good eating and fitness habits to their three children. Huseyin has been Chief Culinary Officer at St. Mark Village for seven years and a chef his entire life, having studied in Europe. “My goal for residents is to keep them happy, healthy and living longer as best I can.”
As Dee says, it’s a group effort. “Wellness, life enrichment, and culinary come together to create an atmosphere of total wellness here, with events like a casino night, farmers’ market, chili cookoff, dining under the stars, and more.
“It’s part of our overall mission: to enrich the lives of the residents we serve by creating an environment that fulfills their every need—body, mind and spirit. We’d love to welcome new residents to our community where Wellness Matters!
Choose a senior living community that is focused on your wellbeing
Choosing St. Mark Village gives you access to a full continuum of care: independent living, assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing, and in-patient rehabilitation. So no matter where you reside in our community, you benefit from the support, focus on total wellness, and strong social network that can lead to increased longevity. Plus, you have a plan that offers seamless access to future care options, something both you and your family can appreciate.