Carolyn Bogott: Creating life adventures for seniors

Published 5:40 pm Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Christy Haag, Life Enrichment director at South Grove Lodge Senior Living, can only be described as a dynamo of caring.

The calendar of activities she offers has something for everyone. Each activity is coded with whether it is mainly cognitive, creative, physical, purposeful, sensory, social, or spiritual. For example, once a month there is an Expedition Day to a foreign country. In March they “went” to the Netherlands. Food from the Netherlands was served.  There were programs talking about windmills and travel in Holland, a Dutch clog dancing demonstration, a tulip-themed art project, Dutch themed cooking class, and the evening movie, “At Eternity’s Gate: A Story of Van Gogh.”

Also during March, they had a canned food drive as one of Christy’s efforts to make residents feel an integral part of the community of Austin. Another community outreach effort was the $3,000 they donated to the Alzheimer Walk last year and an ongoing low vision support group for legally blind and sight-impaired people in the Austin community. Wii bowling, cardio drumming, and chair yoga are among the physical activities offered.  Themed parties, birthday parties, game and puzzle events, Bible study, guided meditation, and shopping outings are just a sample of the other activities open for participation.

Email newsletter signup

Christy has developed a partnership with the Austin home schooling group, and they bring their children to South Grove for activities with the residents regularly. Technology is available in the form of virtual reality sets for soothing those with sundown syndrome. Special headsets and mics are accessible so hearing-impaired residents can fully participate in everything.

Christy said she wants to give a purpose to the lives of the residents. Listening to the interests of residents, she tries to customize the programming with respect for all. No dumbing down for the old folks for Christy!

She said when working with seniors, you can’t have a bad day. They have so much wisdom to share and she has learned so much from them.

“I want to give them purposeful activities to help them remain well-rounded emotionally, socially spiritually, and physically. I call it ‘serious fun,’” she said

A Cordon Bleu-trained chef who has raised six children, Christy had followed her husband on Navy postings around the country. Christy had previously worked in many kitchen settings including Hormel’s research and Development and at the Hormel Sales Cabin. Deciding she was ready for a change, she applied for a part-time cooking job at South Grove Lodge.

The interviewer, with no knowledge of Christy, told her, “I think I have a better job for you,” and handed her information about the Life Enrichment director position. After thinking it over Christy took on this new challenge and absolutely loves it!

Resident Pat Purcell said: “Christy is definitely a wonderful asset to South Grove. She does so much for so many. Her talents and compassion for our residents are endless. She even drives the South Grove van to take the residents to restaurants, Twin Cities ball games, shopping and oh so much more. Her parties are spectacular! I especially love her yoga classes and cardio drumming. She is loved by all the residents here, and especially their families.”

Christy lives by a saying from Gandhi. “Where there is love, there is life.”

She shows her love in very tangible ways. “If I can do anything to make it better for a resident, I will do it.”

Christy  Haag, what an asset you are to this important part of our community and an example to all of us!

For more information about the Austin Branch of AAUW, contact Sue Grove at or Carolyn Bogott The American Association of University Women, now AAUW, is open to anyone who has completed a two-year degree or beyond. AAUW welcomes men who support our objectives and there are student memberships available. AAUW has been empowering women since 1881. We support equity and education for women. Scholarships are offered, as well as help in litigation in cases dealing with sex discrimination. We are the most important and highly respected research and lobbying organization dealing with women’s issues such as equal opportunity and job equality.