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Parkway Place Creates ‘Wellness University’ to Educate Residents About Nutrition

HOUSTON–Because healthy eating becomes especially important as we age, Parkway Place, a non-profit faith-based senior living community here, has created “Wellness University” to help residents better understand the nutritional value and benefits of specific foods.

The educational and interactive class is held once a month and focuses on an individual food item during each session. The goal is for residents to learn what foods they should eat to maintain a healthy diet.

The community is selecting monthly topics in alphabetical order. For example, in the first class residents learned about avocados and sampled guacamole. The second class was on blueberries, and residents tried a blueberry parfait. In July, residents are learning about vitamin C. Chef Derone Martin uses fresh ingredients in the class and shows residents easy recipes that will make an impact on their health.

“We’ve had a blast during the first two classes, and I can tell residents want to learn the benefits of different foods,” said Chef Martin. “We can’t stop aging, but we can stay healthy, and the first step toward good health in older adults is eating right. Each class is about 30 minutes long, so we want to show simple but effective recipes for seniors. We want to talk about the good fats, which helps lower cholesterol, the importance of antioxidants and much more.

“Even though it is a class, we still get to have a lot of fun,” Chef Martin added. “We like to see the residents interact with each other, ask questions and let us know what they’re interested in learning more about. Food is a major part of our lives, and I am thankful I get to share my interests and skills with seniors to promote healthy living.”

The class not only promotes a healthy diet, but socialization among residents. Older adults with a fulfilling social life tend to avoid many of the physical, cognitive and emotional difficulties that other seniors encounter. Studies show that seniors who stay socially active and engaged experience a variety of benefits, including better cognitive function and greater self-esteem.

“I wanted to create a class that was engaging for residents,” said Linda Fitzhugh, director of resident engagement. “Everyone enjoys food and likes talking about it, so I knew it was the perfect fit. We treat it like a real college course but with lots of jokes and laughs. I take roll at the beginning of each class, and we wear graduation caps as we present to the residents. While aging is linked to a variety of changes, nutrient-rich foods can help keep seniors healthy as they age, and that’s why we highlight the individual foods each month. I do a lot of research before each class so we give residents the important benefits and nutritional values of each item. I am excited to grow the class and show residents that eating healthy can be fun and delicious.”

Parkway Place is a Buckner Retirement Services community located on a 15-acre manicured campus that includes flowers, walking paths, gazebos, benches and raised gardens, putting green, as well as an outdoor heated pool and spas. It is also one of the few Independent Living communities in West Houston that has no entrance fees or long-term contracts and provides spacious apartment residences on a rental basis. As a continuing care retirement community, Parkway Place offers Independent Living apartment residences, spacious Assisted Living, and innovative Memory Care and Skilled Nursing services.

Residents can enjoy delicious dining and warm fellowship in beautifully arranged dining rooms, as well as maintain active lifestyles at the wellness center. The community also has an on-site life enrichment coordinator, chapel, full-time chaplain, on-site worship services, beauty/barber salon and weekly housekeeping/linen service.

Buckner Retirement Services, Inc. is one of the largest not-for-profit senior living organizations in Texas dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for senior adults and their families by promoting an active, healthy Christian lifestyle while maintaining their independence and dignity. Buckner Retirement Services is part of Buckner International, a global faith-based ministry serving people each year in the United States and worldwide.