Health and Wellness:

In response to the deaths of several beloved members that were due largely to cardio-pulmonary disease and smoking, program members and staff decided to create a “Wellness Committee” to explore ideas and resources for helping members in our community to live longer, healthier lives. It is a shocking statistic that individuals with Serious Mental Illness (SMI) often have life expectancies that are 25 years shorter than people without SMI. Research has been done to determine the reasons for this and have found several contributing factors including:
  • Smoking
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Poor Diet
  • Side effects from medications that contribute to Metabolic Syndrome (MS) and cardiac problems
  • Substance Abuse
  • Lack of regular physical health monitoring in conjunction with psychiatric care provision due to lack of coordination in service provision, or poor follow up.
Additionally, physical illness can also have negative effects on an individual’s psychiatric well-being. Based on research and examples of previously implemented wellness program models, our wellness committee designed a Health and Wellness Initiative that promotes and provides opportunities for: exercise; better nutrition; health education and health consultation. Through a generous grant from the Sidney R. Baer, Jr. Foundation, we have been able to fund the following programs:

YMCA Health and Wellness Director Justin Cammarata provides
a thorough orientation to the Fitness Center for Elm Brook members

Opportunities for exercise:
Through a partnership with the North Suburban YMCA in Woburn, we are able to transport twice weekly group trips for an hour and a half each day for members wanting to utilize their extensive Fitness Center, Weight Room and Swimming pools.
Additionally, we are able to grant full individual YMCA memberships to individuals who are able to access the YMCA on their own, so that they may go whenever they wish and also take advantage of the myriad of free classes available to Y Members such as yoga, spin, dance and martial arts.
In house at Elm Brook Place, we also have two Expresso Bicycles that feature customized video programs that allow users to choose from multiple scenic bike trails and “chase” games to keep exercise interesting and motivational! The program also allows users to track their progress and gives “awards” for milestone achievements.
Lastly, Elm Brook Place is piloting “Active Saturday Socials” in which members choose an outdoor activity that involves some form of exercise. One experience was a guided kayak trip on the Concord River in which people were taught to paddle while learning about the historical significance of the river.

Improved Nutrition:
Elm Brook’s Culinary Unit is dedicated to providing nutritious, healthy and delicious meals at an affordable price. Menus are geared to be low fat, whole grain, and with lots of veggies. All meals including desserts are created sensitive to the needs of people living with Diabetes.  Meals available include free continental breakfast, a choice of two lunch offerings every weekday for $1.50, and a variety of healthy take-home frozen dinners packaged in microwavable containers for $1.00 each.
Our Snack Bar offers healthy snacks and beverages including: baked chips; fruit and yogurt bars, flavored seltzer water, and all natural green tea beverages.
On Friday afternoons, all are welcome to join our “Healthy Cooking for One or Two” demonstration and tasting in which easy to prepare healthy recipes are created and sampled. All recipes are saved in a binder and available for reprint for anyone who wants to take them home and try them.

Health Education:
Utilizing Boston University’s Food Education Curriculum for People with Psychiatric Disabilities, in collaboration with Emerson Hospital’s Health and Wellness Center, we are pleased to offer a 13 week series of comprehensive classes that cover many aspects of nutritional self-care. Classes are facilitated by dietician Erin McCarthy and cover topics from understanding the science behind food such as sugars, carbohydrates, proteins and fats, and tips for eating healthy on a budget. Cooking demonstrations, food sampling and a “field trip” to a local supermarket for shopping tips are included.
Other in-house wellness education forums utilize the award winning Krames Wellness Collection videos that inform on 28 different health issues including managing stress, smoking cessation, understanding vital signs, a guide to physical activity and weight management.

Meditation / Relaxation / Yoga:

Member led Gentle Yoga is held in the “meditation corner” off of Membership Services Unit every Thursday at 12:30.

Meditation is now held from 1:30 – 2:00 in the “meditation corner” every Friday.
Come relax while listening to the gentle splashing of water running over our slate water feature.