Living With Polio
Post-Polio Wellness Retreat Ideas from Colorado
The first Colorado Post-Polio Wellness Retreat was held Aug. 17-21, 2014 at Rocky Mountain Village (Easter Seals Camp) in Empire, Colorado about 40 miles west of Denver.
In attendance were 53 people (Three were faculty and not polio survivors; eight spouses/caregivers; 42 polio survivors). There were two on-site faculty/organizers/polio survivors and a number of faculty members who drove up for parts of days or just for their sessions.
The attendees came from 18 states in addition to Colorado; the age range was from 36 – 85 years old with slight preponderance of women but overall a good mix of genders. Interestingly, six participants had contracted polio in countries outside the US (one in Mexico, one in Iran, one in Pakistan, one in Greece during WWII, two in India).
Facilities are crucial–especially being wheelchair accessible and having ways to access a pool and other recreational activities. In a beautiful setting in the Rocky Mountains, this facility had a heated swimming pool, a hot tub, adaptive horseback riding and a zip line that accommodated people in wheelchairs, plus several wheelchair-accessible trails into the forest.
There was a distance of 1.5 blocks between the housing units and the dining room, so it was crucial to have golf carts and/or scooters/power wheelchairs for loan for participants. We could have used at least one more golf cart and five more scooters/power wheelchairs. Ours were loaned by NuMotion.
It was advertised as a retreat at a camp setting, but several people were initially upset to learn that they would be housed in a dormitory room with up to five people, sleeping on the bottom bunk and sharing bathroom and shower facilities. The organizers think in retrospect that the situation promoted more conversation than if each person had had a private room and resulted in more assisting of each other.
People were housed in three different housing units and we had at least one faculty or person who had been part of the organizing committee staying in each housing unit to solve problems.
People planning a post-polio wellness retreat also should be sure they have:
- scooters or power wheelchairs that can be loaned to those who might not want to travel with their own devices or especially for those people who should not be walking distances on uneven terrain, but have been reluctant to get a powered mobility device (Four who after “trying it decided they liked it.”)
- arranged for or at least information about how to access medical care/DME equipment.
- accessible transportation to and from the camp if no affordable or convenient commercial services are available from airport, etc.
- family style meals rather than a buffet or cafeteria style meals
- good sound system because many older people have hearing issues especially in a situation where many people are talking
- a reasonable range of choices of activities and don’t assume too much. Two men chose the tie-dyeing of T-shirts.
- a member of the organizing team that is very detailed oriented.
For example, please see the daily schedules of this retreat.
Special thanks to Marny Eulberg, Margaret Hinman and Sue Brandon