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The Olympics come to Beacon Pointe

Memory care center uses sports to keep residents active

Beacon Pointe resident Audrey Crawford putts during the golf competition at the memory care center’s Olympics Thursday, Aug. 2. The Clifton Park facility created several Olympic-themed events for its residents, including an opening ceremony.

Beacon Pointe resident Audrey Crawford putts during the golf competition at the memory care center’s Olympics Thursday, Aug. 2. The Clifton Park facility created several Olympic-themed events for its residents, including an opening ceremony. Photo by Rob Jonas.

— Audrey Crawford stood at the putting green set up inside the Beacon Pointe Memory Care Center's dining room and carefully lined up her shot.

If she sank this putt, she would be the gold medalist.

With nerves of steel, Crawford calmly tapped the ball into the hole to win the Olympic golf competition.

"I've never golfed before in my life," said Crawford.

Crawford will receive her gold medal at this weekend's closing ceremonies -- one of the eight Olympic-themed activities the Clifton Park facility created for its residents.

"This is the first time we've done the Olympics," said Beacon Pointe Activities Director Stephanie Walsh. "The activity department and Weston-Paxxon -- which provides on-site physical therapy for our residents -- got together to do this."

The idea behind the Beacon Pointe Olympics is to keep its residents -- all of whom are suffering from memory impairments including Alzheimer's Disease and dementia -- active and connected with the outside world.

"It's one more way to incorporate activities with what's going on in the world," said Pam Schorr, a Weston-Paxxon physical therapist.

The Beacon Pointe Olympics started July 27 -- the same day that the real Olympics began in London. Competitions began three days later with volleyball followed by equestrian races, golf, bowling, basketball and Olympic trivia.

The residents were divided among six teams representing the different "houses" of Beacon Pointe. They each had the opportunity to carry the flame -- a decoration in the form of an Olympic torch -- as it went around the facility during the opening ceremony before reaching the dining room, which is where the competitions took place.

"Each person got to talk about the countries they were from (during the opening ceremony)," said Schorr. "We incorporated a lot of cultural things leading up to the ceremony."

The competitions were also designed with the residents' physical limitations in mind. Volleyball involved two teams sitting at opposite ends of the dining room batting a balloon at each other. Golf involved competitors putting on a portable green which sent the ball back automatically when it entered the hole. The equestrian race was a board game where players rolled dice and moved their plastic horses around the track.

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