Nursing students host games for elderly at 'Senior Challenge'

Nursing Senior Challenge

Tarleton State University

Friday, April 19, 2013

STEPHENVILLE, Texas—Students enrolled in Tarleton’s nursing program welcomed more than 100 senior citizens and adults with disabilities to campus today as part of the annual “Senior Challenge,” an event that provides an opportunity for area elderly residents to participate in games and activities adapted to their physical abilities.

Coordinated by assistant professor of nursing Jean Montgomery, MSN, RN, with the assistance of Sandy Morgan, director of Stephenville Senior Citizens Center, this spring’s Senior Challenge involved 25 nursing students, including eight seniors, as well as 60 volunteers who attended the event at the Barry B. Thompson Student Center ballrooms. In all, approximately 120 senior citizens from various nursing homes, assisted living facilities and senior centers in Stephenville, Dublin, Hico and Hamilton participated.

The event has continued each spring since 2005, but this year was the first time the Senior Challenge has been hosted on the Tarleton campus, said Montgomery.

“The seniors have a series of games they will play and it’s a day of nice, friendly competition,” said Montgomery, who serves as instructor for the senior nursing students’ capstone project. “This is one of their ‘Keeping It Real’ courses which follows several different courses leading up to their final population health class.”

Students were tasked with designing games that provided participants with physical activity while accommodating various physical limitations and abilities. The senior citizens were divided into five teams and scores were kept to determine an overall winner after competing in events such as puppy paws putt-putt golf, rubber chicken toss, magazine scavenger hunt, horse derby race, lily pad frog race and springtime treasure hunt.

During the Senior Challenge, cheers from teammates and nursing students filled the ballrooms with some giving high-fives for a successful round of competition. Following the games, the participants attended a lunch-and-learn session where students discussed health promotion topics including the importance of therapeutic touch and methods to improve cognitive stimulation.

“Instead of simply learning to take care of folks in the nursing homes and assisted living facilities, this is an event where we bring people out into the community and focus on their health and health promotion,” Montgomery explained. “The students had to look at developmental needs of this population and create appropriate materials for their education piece. They also had to think about functional limitations and the safety of the participants.”

“It’s not just the interaction with the students that is beneficial, but this is the first time they can socialize with all the residents of other nursing homes,” said Morgan. “The games are to put everyone on equal footing. We’re one big family here, allowing the seniors to socialize and interact with others outside their normal routines at the various senior care facilities.”

Senior nursing student Lauren Dutcher said because of the event she learned more about cognitive development and the importance of helping the elderly maintain an active mind. “With this age population, many of whom are in nursing homes, they don’t get a lot of physical or cognitive stimulation, so we put together various activities to help get their minds going,” she said. “Many of these residents also do not have family or friends nearby for regular visits at the facilities, so this is an opportunity to provide stimulation and social interaction.

“It makes me absolutely happy and I love seeing them have fun,” Dutcher added. “It’s a great feeling!”

For more information about Tarleton’s nursing program please visit


Tarleton State University
A member of The Texas A&M University System

Contact: Kurt Mogonye

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Nursing students host games for elderly at 'Senior Challenge' - Media Relations - Tarleton State University