Showcasing the Healthy Mind/Body Konnection at The Firs Senior Living Facility in Olympia


We have all experienced it: an upset stomach or headache caused by stress, shaking hands from anxiety, or lightheadedness at the relief of hearing good news. In simplified form, these are common—and frequent—illustrations of the crucial mind/body connection.

As far back as the physician Galen (A.D. 131-201), health has been an acknowledged partnership of mind and body. The National Library of Medicine reports that “Deeply respected for his diagnostic skill, Galen was celebrated for his differential diagnoses, especially for those which distinguished between illnesses traceable to organic causes and those which seemed to mimic them but were actually traceable to emotional causes instead.”

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At The Firs MBK Senior Living Facility, the mind/body connection consists of emotional, spiritual, intellectual, occupational, physical, and social well-being…even during Oktoberfest. Photo courtesy:The Firs MBK Senior Living Facility.

The opposite is true as well: taking care of your body and spirit can now stave off some of the physical issues which arise as we age. As the adage says, ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away.’

At The Firs MBK Senior Living facility in Olympia, staff work to stabilize six dimensions of wellness: emotional, spiritual, intellectual, occupational, physical, and social. Director of Activities Zach Sanchez uses his international training, education, and time spent in Iraq and Afghanistan to “manage daily, weekly, and monthly recreational programs for senior independent living communities.”

Sanchez and his team stress the MBKonnection for their residents. Simply, “our Mind Body Konnection wellness approach provides residents the opportunity to choose from a number of activities, classes and programs that enrich the whole person—mind, body and spirit. We are committed to offering one mind/spirit activity, one intellectual activity, and one body activity every day of the week to encourage our residents to integrate all aspects of wellness in to their lives on a regular basis.”

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Residents are offered activities which benefit healthy minds and bodies like trips to Mount Rainier and Northwest Trek. Photo courtesy: The Firs MBK Senior Living Facility.

Activities include Ted Talk debates, chess tournaments, meditation classes, exercise classes, and making blankets for local children in need.

Programs stress mindfulness, exercise, nutrition, and mental stimulation. One way this is both accomplished and encouraged is through The Firs’ Yoi Shigoto mindset. A Japanese philosophy meaning ‘the good work,’ residents and staff frequently join together “to do good work and positively impact our residents, families and associates, the local community at large, society and the world. Through selfless endeavors within our sphere of influence, we strive to make a difference in each other’s lives and those within the communities we serve.”

Wednesday, November 2 from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m., the Firs will be collecting clothing and personal hygiene products for the Olympia Union Gospel Mission. The MBKARES event features a spread of house-made festive appetizers and cocktails, recipes, and cooking tips to kick off the holiday season.

Look for the inclusion of brain-healthy foods like blueberries, walnuts, green tea, grains, fish, and fresh fruits and vegetables…all of which are shown to “reduce the risk, delay the onset and slow the progression of diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, stroke and dementia,” say Firs’ staff.

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Director of Activities Zach Sanchez has traveled the world teaching, facilitating, and giving Santa a run for his money when it comes to doing good. Photo courtesy: The Firs MBK Senior Living Facility.

While visiting, check out their monthly activity calendar, MBKuisine dining options (including monthly champagne brunch), and array of on-site amenities.

Aging is unavoidable. But slowing down doesn’t have to mean decline. The National Institute of Health reminds us that “Over the past 20 years, mind-body medicine has provided evidence that psychological factors can play a major role in such illnesses as heart disease, and that mind-body techniques can aid in their treatment. Clinical trials have indicated mind-body therapies to be helpful in managing arthritis and other chronic pain conditions. There is also evidence they can help to improve psychological functioning and quality of life, and may help to ease symptoms of disease.”

The combination of skilled and caring staff, mind/body mindfulness, and community interaction were recently honored with a first place win in the 2015 Best of South Sound contest. The Firs are a four-time gold medalist in the ‘Best Independent Living Community in Olympia’ category, as voted by the public.

The Firs is located at 426 Lilly Road NE in Olympia. To request more information about The Firs and the MBKARES event on November 2 inquire online or call 360-456-3411.

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