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Immanuel's Thrive program is giving seniors an opportunity to travel. Along the way, friendships are being made.

During a recent trip to Kansas City, Immanuel senior residents learned how staying social is not only fun but also good for your health.

The outing is an example of resident programming designed by aging experts at Immanuel Communities to not only encourage residents to age well, but also to thrive.

The concept isn't new to Immanuel. But this past year, the organization spent time talking with residents at its 14 retirement living communities throughout southeast Nebraska and central Iowa, as well as researching ways to engage with more active retirees. Thrive by Immanuel emerged as a way of elevating wellness and life enrichment through an array of events and activities.

“Our goal with Thrive is to provide diverse opportunities for residents to live their best lives,” says Jennifer Knecht, Immanuel vice president of marketing and communications.

Surveys revealed that travel was something area seniors wished they could do more of. A travel club called Immanuel Explorers now gives residents of any Immanuel Community that opportunity. The club has offered trips to Branson, Las Vegas and central Nebraska for the crane migration. A group has even set sail on an Alaskan cruise.

This summer, travel club members explored the historical and tasty sides of Kansas City. The itinerary included two museums and a chance to experience the city’s jazz influence, famous barbecue and a live show.

“The trips are great fun and worry-free, thanks to our life enrichment staff. But the trips mean so much more in terms of aging well,” says Knecht.

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A recent travel club tour took this group from Immanuel Communities to Kansas City for a weekend of sightseeing.  

Lifelong learning and building new connections are key pillars of Immanuel’s Thrive program. These pillars, along with recreation, faith, wellness and service, were created with retirees, both young and old, in mind.

“We’re seeing great age diversity in our communities,” says Knecht. “And what’s driving early retirees to choose senior living is the opportunity to reinvent themselves, to try new things, meet new people and engage more fully in their community.”

Resident-driven amenities in Immanuel's Thrive program extend far beyond a traditional game of Bingo. Computer education courses, presentations from local experts, one-on-one or small group fitness training, bocce ball tournaments and more have been big hits with residents.

In addition to trips and activities, Immanuel recently unveiled a fully renovated wellness center and day spa on its Lakeside Village campus in Omaha. Improvements are coming to other locations, too. Thrive at Lakeside offers group exercise classes, state-of-the-art fitness equipment, individualized fitness programs, massage therapy and full spa services.

Looking more and more like resorts, Knecht says, this kind of programming is the future of retirement living and for good reason.

“Social structures change as we age, and the risk for seniors to become isolated and depressed is a major health concern,” says Knecht. “Social offerings at retirement communities encourage connections. They’re not only fun, but are an important piece of senior health.”

With more trips planned, Immanuel Explorers are wasting no time building friendships while embracing retirement goals. As one participant put it, “I had the time of my life. I’m ready to go on the next trip.”

Non-profit and local provider since 1887, Immanuel Communities owns and operates 14 independent living, assisted living and long-term care retirement communities on eight campuses in southeast Nebraska and central Iowa. It also runs three PACE (Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly) centers in the area. To learn more about the Immanuel Explorers and Thrive by Immanuel programming as well as a full list of community offerings, visit Immanuel.com.

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