Gurwin residents enjoy the company of Mickey Mouse during the community’s celebration of Disney’s 100th anniversary. Photo credit: Gurwin Healthcare System.

Being a centenarian, Disney likely fits in as naturally at a nursing home as it does on television and movie screens worldwide. That’s why Gurwin Healthcare decided to induct the entertainment giant into its “Centenarian Club” with a recent resident celebration.

“We always like to jump on the bandwagon of what’s happening in the world. Disney was turning 100 and we were excited to celebrate along with some of our residents who are also 100 or even more years old,” said Nicole Hopper, director of therapeutic recreation and volunteer services at Gurwin Jewish Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. “Our residents aren’t always able to go out and enjoy things, so a trip to Disney might not be in the cards for them. We’re lucky that we can try to give the Disney flair here and they can participate. It brought a lot of smiles to the residents, to the staff and to the families.”

Gurwin staff show off their Disney costumes. Photo credit: Gurwin Healthcare System

The late October celebration included art therapists painting a portrait of Mickey Mouse live, personalized caricatures, and waffles from a Mickey Mouse waffle iron. This jaunt down memory lane showed that a love for Disney has no age limit. 

“Everyone thinks Disney is just for kids, but it’s not, and we saw that in this program,” said Kathleen Biggs, therapeutic recreation and assistant director of volunteer services at the nursing center. “Some of the staff dressed the part. Our team did ‘The Mouseketeers,’ so we were all dressed up and the residents were reminiscing with us as well.”

Biggs was happy to see people from all walks of life united in celebration of the Disney magic. 

“One of the takeaways was just taking a moment in the hustle and bustle and high energy in the room to look around and see everyone united together, whether it be nursing, housekeeping, occupational physical therapy, and therapeutic recreation,” said Biggs. “We were all there together and for the same reason, for the residents. It was really important for staff morale, and it was just a really nice event.”

That kind of happiness makes it easy to believe that we live in a small world, after all.