There's good reason for cheer among staff at the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association and The Haven Assisted Living Center in Hayden as they prepare for a new community center addition to The Haven.
The VNA, which owns and operates The Haven, has selected TCD, Inc., as the general contractor for the project.
Weather permitting, construction should begin near the end of January.
By this time next year, community center activities likely will be in full swing, including congregate meals, wellness screenings and clinics for Haven residents and other older adults within the community and possibly adult day services.
The Haven community center is a major piece of the VNA's Aging Well program, involving a variety of services and programs to improve older adults' health and quality of life in Routt and Moffat counties. The VNA developed the program to help meet the needs of a growing segment of older adults facing sparse services, a lack of social outlets and other challenges in rural Northwest Colorado, said Dace Kramer, Aging Well program coordinator.
"I view the Aging Well initiative as a means for our communities to support their older citizens and reap the benefits of having our elders active and involved in community life," she said. "The Haven community center will be a place where physical, cultural and educational activities take place not just for older people, but in a vibrant environment that includes people of all ages."
In addition to home care, hospice and other VNA services, the Aging Well program is firmly rooted in wellness activities largely available for free to participants 50 and older in community locations spanning from Oak Creek to Maybell.
Classes improving older adults' physical health, such as Tai Chi, N'Balance fall prevention and Arthritis Foundation fitness have gained a loyal following of regulars while attracting new participants each season.
Residents coping with a multitude of chronic ailments such as multiple sclerosis and diabetes also have benefited from Healthier Living with Chronic Conditions, a six-class workshop designed to help them better manage their conditions.
Aging Well staff is constantly focused on training new instructors and establishing new locations to make activities more accessible to older adults throughout the Yampa Valley while also exploring opportunities for new programs.
Wellness Wednesdays, a full day of activities in Craig that include fitness, art and writing classes, lunch, guest speakers and health screenings, are an example of how community cooperation can benefit older adults.
The program is possible because of Aging Well's partnerships with the American Legion, which provides the space, Colorado Northwestern Community College, which offers classes as well as organizations and businesses providing guest speakers.
In addition, Aging Well staff is partnering with the Routt County Council on Aging to explore additional activities in Steamboat Springs.
An Aging Well campus
The VNA's purchase of The Haven in 2005 was the impetus for the Aging Well program. While securing the future of the only assisted living facility in Routt and Moffat counties, the purchase provided a platform for the agency to launch its healthy aging vision, combining health and social services, wellness, education and cultural programs and activities integrating older adults and other generations within the community.
In that regard, The Haven community center will include exercise and physical therapy space, an Internet cafe, a permanent site for community-wide immunizations and wellness clinics as well as meeting, and activity space for all residents of Hayden and the region.
Aging Well staff also plans to use the space to help families of aging adults with caregiver support programs, respite care and adult day services.
The community center addition is the first phase of the VNA's plans for an Aging Well Campus at The Haven site. Additional planned facilities include senior housing and a transit center for older adult transportation services.
The design and construction of the community center has been made possible by contributions from private citizens, local and state agencies and various foundations. However, due to a steep increase in construction costs resulting from a building boom in the Yampa Valley, the VNA is working to secure additional funds needed to complete construction of the center.
"We have received tremendous community support for this project, and we hope the community will continue to rise to the occasion and support us as we make this dream a reality," Kramer said.
Tamera Manzanares can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org