A nursing home sounds like the least likely place for a motorcycle rally, but a facility in Missoula, Montana just had their sixth gathering. A blog post on ChangingAging.org reported on the recent event held at the Village Health Care Center. The blog post author’s mother is the executive director and creator of the idea to have “Sturgis Days,” giving seniors an opportunity to ride on a Harley Davidson. Their rally was named after one of motorcycling’s biggest annual events in Sturgis, South Dakota.
A favorite annual event, residents at Village Health look forward to it every year when motorcycle riders on their Harleys come for the day and offer them a ride on the back of a bike. The staff enjoys making videos of residents’ rides to play later as an added treat. Even very frail seniors participate in the event. Traditional nursing homes, which the post reports is 90 percent of this type of senior housing, are not known for taking on any unnecessary risks. The Village Health Care Center is a very conventional nursing home setting and the author applauds her mother for taking the risks associated with older adults, facility staff and their children riding a motorcycle.
A Philosophy of “Surplus of Safety”
Of course, residents who participate in motorcycle rides must sign releases. But the post further explores what Dr. Bill Thomas, a geriatric specialist and the blog’s founder, calls the concept of “surplus safety.” He defines surplus safety as the efforts by long-term care facilities to eliminate any potential risks for residents at the expense of possible enjoyment of riskier activities like Sturgis Days. He sees this type of activity that provides a fun and different experience for residents, as “upside risk.”
How would you react if your loved one living in senior care took a ride on a Harley?