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May 15, 2010

Nursing home on the range

Local seniors buck aging trend by taking rides on mechanical bull

DANVERS — There's a first time for everything, and that includes riding a mechanical bull when you are nearly 80.

Yesterday, 79-year-old Doris Cummings, who lives at the 101-bed Twin Oaks Care and Rehabilitation Center on Locust Street, rode the entertainment device more fit for the 1980 John Travolta flick "Urban Cowboy" than the back parking lot of a skilled nursing home.

However, yesterday was Western Day at Twin Oaks, a community event that coincided with National Nursing Home Week, said Jen Tineo, the director of marketing.

The staff decided to give yesterday a Western twist.

Besides the barbecue hamburgers, jeans, plaid shirts and cowboy hats, the facility hired Just for Fun, a Danvers event rental company, to bring in a mechanical bull for the residents and the staff to try to ride. Each rider got a free T-shirt.

Tineo took two turns in the saddle. The second time she rode, she screamed and fell off, but all she suffered was a broken nail.

"It's really cool, but it was very difficult for me," Tineo said.

"I think it's probably a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our residents," said Robin Kellow, a Danvers resident and director of rehabilitation. "Not many of our residents have ridden a mechanical bull. I think it's great at this age for someone to try something new."

That was true of Cummings, who lived in Wenham before moving to Twin Oaks. She hung on for dear life as two members of the staff danced alongside her while the bull slowly spun and bucked in an inflatable, padded ring.

"All right, Doris!" yelled one of her fellow residents.

"I was scared at first," Cummings said after her ride, which included two full spins. "And then I said, 'Oh no, it's OK.'"

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