While Alberta tends to be quiet, she loves to be around people. Just a simple kind word or a smile makes her day.
If you’re in the mood to get beat at crib, stop and see Mary at AgeCare Valleyview! Mary will soon be 100 and she may have a few creaky bones, but she’s still got her wit, she keeps a close watch on bank statements, occasionally uses her iPad and her crib game is spot on!
We all want it – that feeling of independence; that sense of pride and purpose; the feeling of being seen and heard.
This doesn’t change with ageing, in fact, for some it amplifies. Such is the case with Hazel Peterson.
“All my life I’ve felt smart and capable. Now, just because I’m old and wrinkled, everyone decides it’s their business to mind my business,” said Hazel. “I just want to remind everyone; my eighty-three-year-old brain has learned a thing or two … I’m still pretty sharp!”
Hazel is a friend of my mom’s, living in the same retirement community in south Calgary. Whenever I’m visiting over the dinner hour, I love to seek her out and soak up her insight of the day. Her political knowledge is spot on, and her views on most other current affairs tend to be informed, enthralling and often entertaining.
But it was Hazel’s articulate rant about seniors and their purpose that really got me thinking. I was glad I asked her if I could tape our chats. I told her I might like to blog about her sometime. She said she was flattered … she said I made her feel like Michelle Obama.
Bread for the Journey
As we prepare to head into fall it is the perfect time to reinforce the importance of eating well. This can be especially challenging for seniors who live independently and alone and are not inclined to put the thought and time into preparing a proper meal just for themselves.
Often the thing that keeps seniors from considering a move from their home to a Retirement Living community is the daunting task of …. well everything to do with moving!
We’ve come a long way when it comes to identifying, accepting and treating mental health issues. In fact, nowadays it is common for family doctors to incorporate mental health-related questions in routine patient appointments. This is good news for all of us, considering that stats indicate that everyone will be impacted by mental health issues on some level and at some point in our lives.
If you ask most people, a good meal matters. Seniors are no different. In fact, as you get older many people say that food becomes increasingly important since you are less able to enjoy other pleasures that you once took for granted.
Music is magic. It is a soothing balm for old wounds, a creative tool for self-expression, a profound elixir for any number of medical conditions, and a potent mood...
In retirement residences across the country, recreational staff are busy innovating and planning – striving to create just the right complement of programs and activities to entice the residents who call the facility home. No doubt it can be a bit of a challenge, hitting the mark with such a diverse array of people from all walks of life.
For Rosal Yade, Activities Coordinator at AgeCare’s Governor’s Walk in Ottawa, the formula is simple: “We look at each resident as a whole and unique individual, taking into account their full life up to retirement and bringing their background and life experiences forward into the next phase of life,” said Rosal. She adds, “I make it my mission to get to know everything I can about each one of them, beyond their needs, preferences, medical requirements. To really make someone feel welcome is to learn as much as you can about who they are, what they’ve done, and what matters to them.”
Once Rosal is in possession of this privileged knowledge, her next aim is to bring their meaningful interests and skills into focus, creating opportunities that will resonate with them, engage them, and give them a sense of purpose.
To illustrate this, Rosal cites the example of inviting a resident who formerly owned a clothing store, to assist in decorating Governor’s Walk for all seasons of the year. The resident developed a beautiful storefront so Rosal was able to pick up all the decorations needed and the resident-led in decorating for the Fall, Christmas season and beyond. “She was very talented at her craft and the decorations made residents proud of their home and brightened the atmosphere for staff, residents and visitors.”
In another example, Rosal invited a resident who formerly taught voice and enunciation classes, to give lessons to other residents on how to properly speak and communicate. Prior to the invitation, Rosal noticed that the resident spent most of her time in her room, but when invited to share her skills, she became more connected and engaged with others. “She uses cognitive, emotional and physical stimulation to teach the classes and what is happening is she’s becoming proud to be sharing her craft. You can see she is uplifted by the recognition from her peers who are looking up to her for guidance and direction.”
If personalized engagement is Rosal’s top priority, then advocacy is a close second, as she views seniors as able, intelligent, individuals who have much to contribute to the world around them. “I think it’s important to bring residents out into the community and to also bring the community to the residents – the two need to be given opportunities to integrate,” she suggests.
Rosal punctuates her point by relaying the story of inviting a talented singer to perform at Governor’s Walk, a man who also happens to be a prominent Ottawa cardiac surgeon. When he accepted, she turned the event into a black-tie affair, inviting residents to attend and enjoy. “It was hugely successful,” she said. “Everyone had a wonderful time and everyone felt a part of something really special and important.”
Of course, Governor’s Walk also offers many of the more common activities like Bingo, Bridge, and crafts, appealing to just about anyone who likes to get out and have fun. But overall, AgeCare’s philosophy in serving its residents involves a whole person approach, and to that end, activities are specially designed to nourish the mind, body and spirit.
Specifically, at Governor’s Walk, they offer an intriguing list of activities to stimulate the mind, including a program called “Puzzles of the weekend”, Poetry Group, and even bi-weekly history lessons with local Professor, Dr.Eric Teehan. Programs designed to nourish the body include: Walking group, chair yoga & meditation, Fun & Fitness and more. To ignite people’s passions, the list of ‘spirit’ activities is extensive and enthralling, including gardening, Happy Hour, Meet Your Neighbor Floor Parties, weekly special events with musical entertainment, Community Choir, weekly mass and outings to live theatre, museums, and restaurants.
“I think it’s really important to never stop seeing each individual as unique and extraordinary,” said Rosal. “If you show them they are important and they are valued – they maintain their self-respect and dignity, and they know they are a part of something bigger.”
It’s not rocket science. When you put seniors in the company of kids there is an instant connection … joy abounds. “I can’t describe it,” says 87-year-old Louise at...