Veterans are motivated to move. An exercise program at the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center is helping older Veterans stay fit—and safely on their feet.
Motivation to Move (MTM) is offered to residents of the medical center’s Community Living Center (CLC). Recreation Therapy Assistant Leyna Lloyd was tapped to develop the program by Medical Center Director Donna Katen-Bahensky in an effort to prevent falls among CLC residents. Lloyd, who has worked at West Palm Beach VA for eight years, was more than happy to oblige.
“The Veterans here in the CLC are like my extended family, and I’m always looking for ways to help improve their quality of life,” she explained. “I’ve seen many of them lose their motivation over the years to stay physically active. So, I developed a program that could focus on improving their physical as well as their mental health and stability.”
Motivation to Move
The program has been a hit among CLC residents. It has helped some get out of their wheelchairs and onto their feet. Marine Corps Veteran David Slaven said that thanks to MTM, he has gained more confidence and improved his overall health. “Since joining the program, I’ve been able to achieve progress that [I didn’t think was possible],” said Slaven. “This program has inspired me to achieve my goals of standing on my own and walking with confidence, not get discouraged easily—and perseverance pays off.”
Helping Veterans to Move
MTM sessions are offered weekly by Lloyd with the support of a team. That includes Nursing Assistant Roosevelt Walker, Registered Nurse Louise Voltaire, and CLC Nurse Manager Jannette Sharpe-Paul. Veterans work to improve muscle strength, definition, flexibility, balance, and agility; increase energy and stamina; improve mood; and decrease stress, anxiety and depression.
“I feel like I’m getting more exercise than I was before this class,” said Air Force Veteran Arnold Fliegelman. “I’ve been able to walk more—something I haven’t done in a long time.” Fliegelman is now able to stand up out of his wheelchair and transfer to a bed or stationary chair with little or no assistance.
Sharpe-Paul said that so far, one of the primary goals of MTM has been met: program participants have not fallen since they enrolled. The program has been “a wonderful addition to our services” in the CLC, said Paul. She added, “The best part is seeing the smiles on our Veterans’ faces as they make significant physical and cognitive improvements.”
“I feel very fortunate to have been given an opportunity to create a program that helps add to the lives of the Veterans that I serve,” said Lloyd. “I’m surrounded by great team members who have really made this program what it is today, and I’m really excited for what the future holds.”
Learn more about VA Community Living Centers.
Kenita Gordon is a public affairs officer at the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center.
Photos by Joanne Deithorn, chief of Medical Media Service at the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center.