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In Midst of Healthcare Changes, Seniors' Events Show Simple Things Can Make a Big Impact

February 11, 2015
Authored by Sara Brandon

As health care grapples with the big issues of the Affordable Care Act and debates the complexities of the changes in the system, sometimes it’s important to be reminded that the simple things still make a meaningful impact where it’s important – in people’s day-to-day lives and how they feel about themselves. Day Kimball HomeMakersSenior Dances, celebrating its tenth anniversary in 2015, and it’s new Cookies & Crafts, which is starting its second year, are great examples of what Day Kimball wants to be sure isn’t lost while we address the most significant transformation of health care in fifty years.


Dance is well reported as a health benefit for people of all ages providing flexibility, strength, endurance and a general sense of wellbeing. Ten years ago when Day Kimball HomeMakers hosted its first Senior Dance had they’d known there would be sustained interest, a study – like the one in New England Journal of Medicine, which followed 469 people 75 years or older for five years and found that those who danced frequently had reduced their risk for dementia over those that rarely or never danced – could have been initiated. But the plans were much simpler when the idea started.

“The dance was a way for HomeMakers to celebrate its 20-year anniversary. We planned a senior-prom themed gala and invited the community. It was so popular we’re still hosting them 10 years later,” says Sue Esons, Executive Director. 

During that time the dances have drawn close to 8,000 attendees. The monthly events run from March through October and attract about 100 participants each evening. The three-hour long social gatherings are themed, such as Decades Night, Hat Night, Beach Party, and Hollywood Night. In October, the annual Halloween party is hosted. 

Guests are 50 to 90 years old, although no age limit is established, with music ranging from waltz to line dancing to fox trot to rock ‘n roll. Some have been attending since the dances began a decade ago. Friendships have been formed. Love affairs have been born. Elvis has even performed.

“It creates a great support system for many people and offers an opportunity for exercise, getting out, making friends – and most importantly having some fun.” Esons adds, “It’s actually a pretty simple way to provide an opportunity to support someone’s health and wellbeing.”

Last year, after Day Kimball HomeMakers moved into its new, larger facility, Crafts & Cookies was added to their community calendar of free offerings. The monthly, two-hour, drop-in sessions are open to anyone in the community and provide the materials and “how to” lesson to create a seasonal handmade item. 

Each month approximately 15 people join in, with some also bringing spouses to play cards at another table. While the group crafts, they help each other problem solve in other areas of their lives. Discussions include how to process grief, how to reduce risk of injury at home, how to access community-based health and social services, and develop health insurance literacy. HomeMakers’ staff assists participants in finding the answers or the person who is able to provide it, in some cases circumventing a potentially more serious issue.

The Day Kimball HomeMakers Senior Dance series and the Crafts & Cookies gatherings offer opportunities for physical activity, mental stimulation and socialization – the areas of preventive health that have a big impact on an individual’s wellbeing. As health care more aggressively applies regulated metrics to its measurement of quality, it becomes equally important to maintain the human qualities of care – which are not easily measured but are definitely valued.

“We’ve already had calls looking for the 2015 schedule. We’ve created a following and are clearly addressing a need in the community,” added Kim Haynes, Operations Manager.

Day Kimball HomeMakers is a service division of Day Kimball Healthcare integrated medical services network, which includes Day Kimball Hospital, Day Kimball Medical Group, Hospice & Palliative Care of Northeastern Connecticut, and healthcare centers in Danielson, Dayville, Plainfield, and Putnam.

Related Resources

About Day Kimball HomeMakers
Day Kimball HomeMakers | News & Upcoming Events
Integrated Care | In-Home Care

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