November 19-21, 2024


Enrich your career with shared learning, inspiration, and exploration of new innovations and best practices in wellness.


7:00 a.m.–8:00 a.m.

Leading with empathy, appreciation and kindness—Strategies to reduce turnoverAmy Simmons, Emily Ridgely & Sarah Robertson

Staff longevity significantly impacts care quality, work culture, and residents’ quality of life. Learn a new leadership approach that reduces turnover and fosters appreciation, kindness, support and care. Discover how to support staff beyond hiring, encouraging skill development and career evolution. Receive customized leadership toolkits for new hires, middle-tier employees (1–3 years), and tenured staff (4+ years), catering to their unique needs and motivating factors.

You’ll be able to:

  • Learn a new approach to leadership designed to reduce staff turnover and create a positive work environment.
  • Experience hands-on role-playing scenarios with other delegates to learn best practices that will support the three employment stages: new hires, middle-tier employees, and tenured staff.
  • Take away leadership toolkits for each of the three employment stages that include processes, support strategies and communication tools.

Faculty: Amy Simmons, BS, National Program Director of Training and Customer Support (EnerG by Aegis); Emily Ridgely, BS, National Director of Training and Customer Support, Wellness Services; and Sarah Robertson, BA, National Director of Training and Customer Support, Aegis Therapies.

Three ways that virtual reality helps those needing cognitive careLinda Jacobson

Explore the unexpected benefits of virtual reality (VR) for individuals with cognitive impairments through the expertise of a VR pioneer with 35 years in the field. Drawing from over 30 scientific studies published since 2016, discover the clinically proven advantages of VR in therapeutic recreation, cognitive assessment and cognitive training for those with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or living in residential care and rehab settings. Learn the essentials of VR integration, including equipment planning, budgeting, training, app acquisition, and activity programming, to ensure its successful adoption and prevent neglect. You’ll be able to:

  • Define VR technology in the context of gerontechnology.
  • Recall the clinically proven application areas for using VR to promote older-adult wellness.
  • List and evaluate VR products and services appropriate for older adults and care providers.
  • Faculty: Linda Jacobson, BSc, MSc gerontology candidate, gerontechnologist, VR industry pioneer, and cofounding editor, Wired.

    Steadier steps and better balance for lifeLaura Warf

    Improve balance and well-being in the aging population through progressive functional movement, balance and proprioception. Learn about the body’s interconnected kinetic chain (feet, knees, hips, shoulders) and its role in developing a functional body. Explore evidence-based strategies and exercises to enhance body awareness and examine how sitting, standing, and moving patterns impact balance and health. Gain tools to prescribe personalized exercises focusing on posture, mobility and stability for better healthspan and quality of life.

    You’ll be able to:

    • Identify key elements of the body’s kinetic chain (feet, knees, hips, shoulders) and their impact on balance and functional movement.
    • Implement practical, corrective exercises and techniques to enhance body awareness, posture, mobility and stability.
    • Design and adapt exercises for improving balance, tailored to the individual needs and abilities of clients, from sitting and standing to dynamic movements.

    Faculty: Laura Warf, BEd, FMS, Egoscue Posture Therapist, Owner, Mend Loft.

    Salsa dance for EveryBody: Simple steps with sauce & sassRebecca Lloyd & Stephen Smith

    Who knew moving with others could be so much fun? Build relational comfort for your participants by introducing a series of slow and controlled lead-follow games in a variety of sitting, standing and walking movements. Each activity can be used on its own or sequenced to create an entire class where salsa dance is the end result. This highly interactive workshop is backed by the InterActive for Life research project publications and online resources which will be available to all participants.

    You’ll be able to:

    • Participate in mirrored partner games and activities.
    • Modify partner activities to accommodate all learners.
    • Move in rhythmical ways.

    Faculty: Rebecca Lloyd, PhD, Full Professor, Faculty of Education, University of Ottawa; and Steven Smith, PhD, Full Professor, Faculty of Education, Simon Fraser University.

    More brain boogie boosters for Boomers and beyondTerry Eckmann

    Discover engaging networking activities combined with dances and cognitive tasks designed to challenge the body and boost the brain. This session introduces new dances, movements and activities suitable for a variety of settings, whether as standalone classes or integrated into existing programming. Perfect for participants of all levels, these activities are designed to engage Boomers and beyond with fun, brain-enhancing exercises.

    You’ll be able to:

    • Learn four dances specifically designed for Boomers and beyond.
    • Explore easy-to-implement line and circle dance builders, understanding the brain science behind the activities.
    • Engage in simple networking activities that foster positive social interactions.

    Faculty: Terry Eckmann, PhD, ACE, ACSM, Professor, Minot State University.

    8:15 a.m.–9:15 a.m.

    Creative and successful DEI programmingAliza Orent & Alissa Edwards

    Discover proven, creative programming ideas, educational initiatives, and opportunities that enhance senior living communities through diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). Learn how respecting differences is crucial for a healthy living environment and fosters a sense of belonging for residents and employees. Develop a community resource list, identify outstanding DEI programs, and understand the importance of incorporating diversity into programming.

    You’ll be able to:

    • Increase knowledge about DEI history, relevance and the value of incorporating diversity into programming.
    • Develop a community resource list for maintaining quality, creative programming that addresses DEI.
    • Identify, understand and implement effective DEI programs that enrich the lives of both residents and staff.

    Faculty: Aliza Orent, MSW, Zest Director, Maravilla at The Domain; and Alissa Edwards, BA, Regional Director of Zest, Senior Resource Group.

    Reigniting your passion!Alisa Tagg

    Reignite your passion for delivering excellence in senior living programs and services. In a post-COVID world filled with isolation, government cutbacks, and ever-changing regulations, it’s time to think about the future of the industry. This session will inspire professionals to recognize their worth, rediscover their passion for inspiring others, and find inspiration for the future, despite the volatile healthcare atmosphere.

    You’ll be able to:

    • Recognize your worth as a senior living professional.
    • Discover your passion to inspire others.
    • Find inspiration for future endeavors in active aging.

    Faculty: Alisa Tagg, MS, NCCAP, NASM, Association Director, National Association of Activity Professionals.

    Improving your core one breath at a timeElise Foss

    Unlock the key to injury prevention and enhanced core stability through proper breathing patterns. Beyond a strong core, timely engagement of local muscles is crucial for better movement and injury prevention. Explore the essential role of the diaphragm and breathing patterns in optimal core stability. Discover techniques for enhancing breathing patterns and muscular releases to create space within the body, offering numerous benefits for overall well-being.

    You’ll be able to:

    • Recall how breath constitutes the base of core stability.
    • Explore muscular releases to create more space within the body and improve breathing.
    • Experience breathing exercises that improve breathing patterns.

    Faculty: Elise Foss, MS, ACE, Fitness/Wellness Expert and Health Coach, VivaElise Wellness.

    Use chair-based workouts to increase participation in senior communitiesAlexis Perkins-Powell

    Experience a dynamic 30-minute chair-based dance fitness class and discover how incorporating chair workouts into your exercise programming can improve enrollment and participation. Learn how chair-based programs add years and quality to individuals’ lives. Adapt classes for various senior living settings and functional levels, blend daily living activities with music and motion, and create a social environment that boosts enrollment and participation.

    You’ll be able to:

    • Adapt classes for diverse senior living environments and all functional levels.
    • Blend activities of daily living into wellness programs using music and motion.
    • Foster a social environment that boosts enrollment and participation.

    Faculty: Alexis Perkins-Powell, BS, AFAA, Founder and Creative Director, Chair One. Fitness.

    Best foot forward–Improve health and reduce fall riskCammy Dennis & Mary Anne Tarkington

    Delve into the world of the ankle: anatomy, physiology, function and the diseases that affect it. Discover how to apply scientific knowledge through creative exercises designed to enhance circulation, stability, balance and gait mechanics. Learn the importance of ankle integrity in promoting blood flow, strengthening muscles, and reducing fall risk among older adults. Discover how to implement exercises that train the ankle using no equipment, typical group fitness equipment and the new Fit Foot.

    You’ll be able to:

    • Analyze the health benefits of improved circulation and blood flow.
    • Understand the link between ankle function, gait mechanics and reduced fall risk.
    • Implement exercises that promote circulation, ankle strength, mobility and power.

    Faculty: Cammy Dennis, BS, ACE, AFAA, AEA, NAFC master trainer, Fitness Director, On Top of the World Communities; and Mary Anne Tarkington, MD, Founder and CEO, TS Medical, LLC.

    9:30 a.m.–10:30 a.m.

    Building a thriving life togetherLaura Spicer & Laura Powell

    Explore the transformation of community dynamics, fostering relationships and creating a thriving environment. Learn from the evolution at Bridgewater Retirement Community, from a grassroots fitness team structure to a cohesive life enrichment team across all living levels. This session will guide attendees on breaking down silos and fostering an inclusive environment for residents and team members alike. Discover the impact of a relationship-driven, purposeful life experience through the lens of a successful volunteer program and extended family initiatives. Overcome programming barriers, infuse innovation and cultivate a culture of fulfillment for everyone involved.

    You’ll be able to:

    • Develop skills in proactive planning and effective communication within an integrated life enrichment team.
    • Identify who needs to be in their “alignment of support.”
    • Measure the benefits of coordinated life enrichment efforts, interdisciplinary team support and purpose-driven organizational planning.

    Faculty: Laura Spicer, BS, MSEd, Vice President of Well-Being; and Laura Powell, BS, Director of Life Enrichment and Volunteer Services, Bridgewater Retirement Community.

    Reinvigorating your memory care program: A working sessionBrenda Gurung

    Is your memory care program living up to its potential, being vibrant, strategic and purposeful? This hands-on session offers the opportunity to develop an initial Memory Care Reinvigoration plan tailored to your organization. Dive into topics such as assessing current programs, envisioning reinvigoration, exploring successful models, crafting a SMART rollout plan, addressing training needs, updating policies, leveraging tools, launching a marketing campaign and setting growth benchmarks, based on expert experience in creating and implementing a new memory care program.

    You’ll be able to:

    • Outline a Memory Care Reinvigoration plan specific to your organization.
    • Provide one example each how to integrate Memory Care Reinvigoration across nursing, culinary and housekeeping departments.
    • Discuss several forms or policies to create or update as part of a Memory Care Reinvigoration effort.

    Faculty: Brenda Gurung, MBA, NCCDP, Founder, Be Growth Dementia Education.

    Exercise is V.I.T.A.L!–Variable interval training for ageless longevityStacey Judge & Kristen Andree

    Discover the benefits of interval training for both physical and cognitive health, and how variable interval training can elevate fitness levels for participants. VITAL’s format cycles through high, medium and low intensity phases, allowing for longer sessions without increasing injury risk. This approach ensures the body experiences a variety of movements and ranges, making it an ideal, safer training method for older adults to enjoy the advantages of HIIT [high-intensity interval training] workouts while enhancing stability and mobility.

    You’ll be able to:

    • Design a variable interval training program with progressions and regressions for a broad spectrum of participant abilities.
    • Recall the positive science behind interval training for older adults.
    • Develop a class planning tool to expand community fitness offerings effectively.

    Faculty: Stacey Judge, BS, NASM-CPT, Wellness Program Director, Springpoint Senior Living; and Kristen Andree, BA, NASM-CPT, Fitness and Wellness Manager, Springpoint at Meadow Lakes.

    Stop babying the Baby BoomersJustin Riesberg

    Why should older adults be limited to walking and gardening? Many are eager and able to engage in more adventurous activities like rock climbing, kayaking, canoeing and pickleball. As activity levels typically decrease with age, a segment of the population is ready to push beyond these boundaries. This session challenges the status quo, advocating for advanced fitness programs that cater to the capabilities and aspirations of active agers. Discover how to design programs that safely challenge and enhance the health and well-being of this dynamic group.

    You’ll be able to:

    • Gain insights into designing advanced fitness programs for older adults, enhancing strength for varied activities.
    • Utilize demographic analysis to tailor training programs for optimal health outcomes, considering techniques like plyometric and barefoot training.
    • Create a program that safely challenges the aging population, with guidance on appropriateness for your community.

    Faculty: Justin Riesberg, BS, NETA-CPT, Wellness Manager, Immanuel/Deerfield.

    10:35 a.m.–11:00 a.m.

    THAT’S A WRAP!Lawrence Biscontini

    The journey isn’t complete until the final moment! Seize this chance to weave together every aspect of your ICAA Conference journey in an enjoyable conclusion. Embrace the knowledge gained, engage with the ICAA community, and get ready to depart infused with fresh vitality and inspiration for the upcoming year.