Ashton Healthcare in Athens held its first Winter Ball for residents to relax and enjoy winter themed activities Friday afternoon. The ball is part of an ongoing campaign from the facility's new activity director Christabel Smith to help residents have fun and enjoy their stay at the senior living community.

"The winter ball is just one of the many great things we are doing here ... Anything to get the residents smiling and happy is a success in my eyes," Smith said.

At the ball, residents took part in sensory focused games aimed at bringing back thoughts and memories from previous winter seasons. Bubble wrap simulated the sound and looks of ice and cotton balls offered a resemblance to snow. Decorations at the ball were many, with snow flakes and other items hanging from the ceiling to complete the wintertime look.

According to Smith, stimulating the senses of Alzheimer and dementia patients can at times rejuvenate their memory and prove to be very therapeutic.

Volunteers were on hand helping residents take part in the activities and enjoy their time at the event. Smith said volunteers help immensely with the activities department, allowing patients to better enjoy their stay at Ashton. Many volunteers are high school students doing community service for their senior project, she said.

A Valentine's Day couple's dinner, held on Thursday, allowed residents that are married or have significant others to have a romantic dining experience on site.

The facility offers one of the best activities programs in the area, Smith said, mainly because of the extended hours her department operates.

"It is very rare for a facility like this to offer an activities program 12 hours a day, seven days a week. We are very proud of it," Smith explained.

The winter ball is part of a series of seasonal gatherings that Smith says the facility will hold four times a year in addition to other activities already scheduled.

For more information on the events offered at Ashton Healthcare or if interested in volunteering, call (570) 888-5805.

Tim Zyla can be reached at (570) 265-1634; or email: tzyla@thedailyreview.com.