MIDDLETOWN, NJ – The horses at Serenity Stables on Chapel Hill road proved they are as therapeutic for senior citizens as they are for wounded veterans last week when eight residents of King James Care Center paid a visit with their care givers and enjoyed lunch in the barn surrounded by their new equine friends.
“Without a doubt, this has been the absolute best field trip we have taken with our residents in the eight years I’ve been at Care One,” said recreation aide Karen Cohen. Kitty Wheeler who planned the visit and accompanied the residents, along with Karen Cohen and Kelly Shanahan. Kitty Wheeler has been a good friend of Renee Stone for many years
The visit came about following a story in local newspapers about the 501 3 c program stable owner Renee Stone conducts for wounded military members. Visits to the stables and interaction with the horses has been especially meaningful to veterans suffering the effects of post traumatic stress syndrome. “If it works miracles on these men and women who have suffered emotional or mental problems over the years, perhaps it could also be a benefit to senior citizens,” Kitty and Karen thought, in launching the visit.
Veteran Nancy Olsen, who is a resident at Care One, attended the afternoon program with her son and Stone resented her with a certificate of merit honoring her service during World War II.
Benefits were immediately evident, with residents who had not spoken in some time laughing out loud and exclaiming delight as nuzzling with a horse or scratching his back. It was evident with residents who burst into laughter and broad grins, and showed degrees of enthusiasm and interest not usually reached. And when it came time for the box lunch the care center had prepared for the trip, residents opted to set up their tables in the barn surrounded by the horses in their stalls rather than outside in the sunshine!
“The effects remained evident even after the residents returned home,” said Cathy Kane, Recreation Director for Care One. “They all enjoyed ice pops in the dining room when they got back, and many promptly took an afternoon nap. I have no doubt every one of them slept more soundly and peacefully all night long as well. Coupled with the serenity of the horse interaction, the fresh air and farmland setting was refreshing for each of them.”