(MONUMENT, Colo.) — Jackson Creek Senior Living got a whole lot sweeter on Thursday afternoon, Sept. 14 as residents and staff built a 30-foot banana split to celebrate National Assisted Living Week.

At Jackson Creek Senior Living built a 30-foot banana split on Thursday morning.
One woman helped build the banana split with chocolate syrup on top.

The idea for this banana bliss came from Jackson Creek’s Director of Culinary Services, Michael J. Longo, who works every day to build memories and connections for the seniors, all thanks to the power of food.

“When you’re talking about Alzheimer’s, you’re talking about some things that need sharpening, some mental capabilities that actually will function with sight, smell and taste,” Longo said. “So, again, another opportunity for us to help stimulate those memories, but probably more importantly, tugging on those heartstrings, recharging that memory.”

All the items being prepared for the banana split.
Banana is cut up ready to go on the split.

Layer by layer, the banana split was assembled, filled with all the necessary ingredients and toppings to satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth.

“This is the classic because I’m classically trained,” Longo said. “So, we’ve got the three types of ice cream, the Neapolitan, if you will, the chocolate, the strawberry, the vanilla. We’ve got the pineapple sauce, we’ve got the strawberry sauce, we’ve got the chocolate sauce, of course. Then we got it, put down the chopped peanuts and then the whipped cream and of course, the cherry on top that finishes it all.”

One staff member helps place an ice-cream hat on senior
One staff member places a hat on top of a senior before he ate ice cream.

Once all the toppings were placed, including the cherry on the very top, the seniors clapped and cheered.

“I’ve never seen anything like this. Never,” said Marie Degennaro.

Marie was joined by her husband Nick who shared his appreciation for chef Michael and staff behind this delicious dessert.

“He’s a great guy, comes up with some great ideas, and a banana split is something, it’s everybody’s favorite,” said Nick Degennaro.

The activity was in partnership with Solaris Healthcare which provides services to those who need assistance toward the end of their lives.

“We definitely can help with those difficult conversations,” said Solaris Healthcare Community Liaison, Nathalia Tucker. “Palliative and hospice doesn’t necessarily mean giving up. There’s lots of myths. And so I want to kind of put an end to that, it’s not giving up. It’s just, you know, putting life first, quality of life, helping them thrive at any stage of life that they’re in.”

While the residents are celebrated throughout the week, the hard work of the staff is also recognized.

“In our assisted living way, it’s just a great chance for us to highlight not only the amazing residents that we have the pleasure of serving each and every day, but it’s also a wonderful time to celebrate all of the wonderful people who work in this industry,” said Executive Director at Jackson Creek, Adam Salser. “Everybody from caregivers to our nursing staff to even the people in the kitchen, as is experienced today with our 30-foot banana split.”

It’s people like Chef Michael who are bringing smiles and memories back into the lives of these seniors.

“I haven’t had a banana split since I was a teenager,” said Marie Degennaro.

Celebrating National Assisted Living Week at Jackson Creek Living Center.
Marie and Nick looking out on the 30- foot banana split.

This phrase echoed throughout the room as the banana split was devoured.

“As I was walking through, heard a couple of them say, you know, they haven’t had a banana split since high school,” Tucker said. “So, this type of thing just brings on back to their memories and their hearts are just filled with, you know, sweet, positive things and I think that just helps them with their quality of life and happy memories as they’re going through their days.”

Two seniors chat while the banana split is assembled
Two seniors laugh together as the banana split is made.

Jackson Creek is currently looking for more staff members and shared if you are interested, check them out online.

“We have a wonderful team here who’s always ready to take your call,” Salser said. “You can call us at 719-725-6060 and we are here with wonderful staff ready to see how we can help in searching for that perfect senior living community.”

A sweet day for all and even sweeter for those who take care of them.

“Well, it’s all about memories,” Longo said. “We have built memories today… I want to pull from them their memories and then turn around and create them.”