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Helping residents get 'Happy' and healthy

March 22, 2014
by Lois A. Bowers, Senior Editor
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When someone showed Stephanie Gumina a Canadian video featuring seniors singing Carly Rae Jepsen’s pop hit “Call Me Maybe” last year, she thought residents of the Belvedere of Westlake in Ohio, where she is program director, would enjoy participating in a similar activity.

“My residents are very animated,” she told me. “Just because you’re a senior citizen doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. We have fun every day. We laugh every day.”

Stephanie found the perfect vehicle for the Belvedere’s assisted living residents to express their energy—and for her to use skills honed in broadcast school—in Pharrell Williams’ infectious, Oscar-nominated tune “Happy,” which is featured in the children’s movie “Despicable Me 2.” And now the world can see the results of their efforts, because Stephanie posted a video of residents and staff members dancing and singing along to the ditty on YouTube, where it has received more than 3,700 hits in the past month (you can watch the video below; if it's not visible, please click on the YouTube link).

Most of the 20-some residents of the facility appear in the parody, she says, adding, “They still rock out and get down with the best of them.”

Stephanie knew that residents would have fun making the video—the result of multiple takes—and get a little exercise in the process. And when she posted the video, she knew it would convey a positive message about Belvedere and the seniors who live there, as well as parent company Rae-Ann, which in various locations offers a range of services including skilled nursing; post-acute care; orthopedic, stroke and general rehabilitation; memory care and wound care in addition to assisted living.

What she didn’t predict was the intergenerational effects of the video, she says. Grandchildren are proudly commenting online that they are related to the video’s “stars,” and one grandson said his grandmother’s appearance on YouTube outshone his being named to his high school basketball team, she relays.

“Family members love it. Now they have something to keep with them forever,” Stephanie says, noting that some residents’ families are spread throughout the country and even around the world, so they especially appreciate being able to view and share the video.

The video has been featured in the local media, and Stephanie hopes some national appearances may be in the future as well. A 95-year-old resident is hoping for a spot on the “Ellen” show.

So stay tuned.




After I posted my blog, Trinity Senior Living Communities in Michigan shared their "Happy" parody video with me. You can check it out here:

This is amazing! someone should send it to the Today show, since they always do the "Call Me Maybe" lip synching bits. I laughed, I cried, I smiled... so touching!!!

Thanks, Tara. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I believe they sent a link to the video to some national TV shows, so you may see it on the small screen soon! It also was featured in a local newspaper and on a local TV station. The video has received more than 1,300 hits since I wrote about it a week ago and also is trending high on our website and social media channels. Clearly, a lot of people feel the same way you do about it!

That was, "Happy!!" Very fun.

I'm glad you liked it! It put a smile on my face, too.

This is super! Kudos to this nursing facility!

I'm happy to share it with you. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Good stuff. Thank you for sharing.

You're welcome! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Here is another example of seniors having fun:
I had searched around for quite a while, looking for the ideal subject that our retirement community (Cascade Manor, a continuing care retirement community in Eugene, Oregon) could take part in. This is the result. I was approached by a local “Over 55” community shortly after it aired on a local news channel. They wanted me to "teach" them how to “Prancersize,” simply because the folks in the video were having too much fun! It really is a great way for communities to get together and have fun…all branding aside. Now on to the next video....!
Peter Marquardt
Recreation Coordinator
Cascade Manor
Eugene, Oregon

Thanks for sharing, Peter. Everyone looks like they're having a great time.

Lois Bowers

Lois Bowers


Lois A. Bowers was senior editor of Long-Term Living from 2013-2015.