BMA Management Partners with Eastern Illinois University to Study Potential Impact of USDA Program on Assisted Living Residents

BMA Management has partnered with Eastern Illinois University to study if a nutrition and exercise program development by the United States Department of Agriculture can have a positive impact on the health of residents of assisted living communities. BMA, which is the largest provider of assisted living in Illinois, is working with faculty and students in the Masters of Gerontology program at Eastern Illinois.

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The Eat Smart, Live Strong program was originally developed by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service for adults 60 to 74 years of age

Bradley, Illinois (PRWEB) February 14, 2013

BMA Management, Ltd, the largest provider of assisted living in Illinois, has partnered with Eastern Illinois University (EIU) in Charleston, Illinois to study if a nutrition and exercise program developed United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) can have a positive impact on the health of residents of assisted living communities.

The Eat Smart, Live Strong program was originally developed by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service for adults 60 to 74 years of age. It is designed to encourage older adults to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables they eat to at least 3½ cups per day and to participate in at least 30 minutes of moderately intense physical activity each day.

The average age of residents in assisted living communities is 84. The communities serve older adults who need some help with activities of daily living to maintain their independence.

BMA is working with Jacquelyn Frank, Ph.D., Coordinator of the Master of Arts in Gerontology program at EIU, and graduate students in the Gerontology program. The Master of Arts in Gerontology program at EIU is one of only two programs in the country to have received a Program of Merit Distinction from the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education.

“In conjunction with EIU, we introduced the Eat Smart, Live Strong program to three of our communities in central Illinois this week,” says Julie Simpkins, Vice President of Marketing for BMA Management.

The program was introduced to residents in the Heritage Woods affordable assisted living communities that BMA manages in Centralia, Flora and Mt. Vernon, Illinois.

More than 60 residents signed up to participate.

Over the next four weeks, residents will be attending weekly educational programs on nutrition and exercise conducted by an EIU graduate student.

“We also will be encouraging residents to eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables and to engage in the recommended amount of exercise,” says Simpkins.

Residents, with the assistance of staff, will be monitoring their daily intake of fruits and vegetables and their daily physical activity.

“EIU is studying the impact of the program on the amount of fruits and vegetables that residents eat,” says Simpkins. “They are evaluating whether their intake of fruits and vegetables increases because of their participation in the program and their attending the educational classes.”

Additionally, BMA is looking to see what type of positive outcomes the program might have in the overall health of residents, says Simpkins.

“Our emphasis is on helping residents achieve and maintain as much independence as possible for as long as possible,” she says.

In conjunction with introducing the Eat Smart, Live Strong program at our Heritage Woods communities in Centralia, Flora and Mt. Vernon, we made several adjustments to our food service and activities programs, says Simpkins.

“Exercise classes are offered every day of the week, more fruits and vegetables were added to the menu, and we are enhancing the types of refreshments that we serve at activities and special events,” she says.

“Eating healthier does not have to be about depriving yourself,” says Simpkins. “For example, popcorn and a movie can become popcorn, dried fruits and a movie. The ice cream sundae bar can include fresh fruit toppings in addition to the chocolate syrup and caramel sauce.”

BMA worked with EIU in the fall of 2012 to test how best to introduce the Eat Smart, Live Strong program to residents of assisted living communities and how to keep residents interested and involve.

Heritage Woods of Charleston, a BMA affordable assisted living community in Charleston, Illinois served as the pilot location because it is just blocks away from the EIU campus.

The community provided a couple of great examples of how you can combine exercise and eating more fruits and vegetables, says Simpkins.

“They visited an apple orchard, with the opportunity to walk through the orchard and pick apples providing the exercise. When they returned to Heritage Woods, they made homemade biscuits and apple butter from the apples they had picked.”

“On another occasion, they enjoyed Pizza in the Park, which involved walking to a nearby park and eating vegetable pizza in the fresh air,” Simpkins says.

The Eat Smart, Live Strong program is part of BMA’s overall commitment to health and wellness.

“Our focus is on the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health and well-being of each resident we serve and on preserving personal choice and independence,” says Simpkins.

Based in Bradley, Illinois, BMA Management operates 36 senior living communities, housing more than 3,300 home and apartments.

BMA senior living, assisted living and memory care communities are located throughout the State of Illinois, including in the City of Chicago and surrounding suburbs and the St. Louis Metro East area.

For more information on BMA Management, Ltd. and the managed senior communities, please visit http://www.bma-mgmt.com