UNITY — Ask a senior citizen how they persevered through the pandemic and the one thing they missed the most was social engagement and community connection.
Now that the pandemic, while not over, has seen loosened restrictions for all citizens, what keeps our community’s senior citizens busy and engaged?
Community churches were a common place for seniors to gather either as part of Sunday worship and any social engagement following service or with organized activity that took place with the church community like Bible studies, women’s groups or seasonal meals.
Kerrobert Recreation Director Bobbi Hebron outlines an extensive list of events and activities available to seniors, that the recreation department is responsible for offering or assisting with.
“The Kerrobert Library earmarks a variety of programming to engage seniors that includes book clubs and craft nights. Our librarians do a book exchange at Pioneer Haven, and the library team are currently arranging for a senior specific program for fall,” says Hebron.
The Forever in Motion program begins Oct. 1 and runs to March 31, every Tuesday and Thursday from 9:30 to 11 a.m. at the Prairieland Community Centre. The activity is organized by local seniors with support from the Kerrobert recrecration office and funded in part by Sask. Lotteries making it free to all participants.
Kerrobert also offers the Shuffle Club, which runs from Oct. 1 to March 31 every Monday from 1 to 3 p.m. at the PCC. This program is organized by local seniors, with support from the recreation office and participants pay a minimal fee.
During the summer months, from June to the pool’s closing date, for half hour over the lunch break and supper break, the Kerrobert recreation office organizes and runs a water walking/lane swim and aquasize program. The water walking was specifically brought in to benefit seniors at the local pool, although the time frame offered may be reconsidered for next season.
Hebron says, “Next year, I hope to co-ordinate with local seniors to see what we can do to have them use the pool more. We do offer senior pricing. The issue of entering and exiting our pool requires the use of a ladder so we are looking into pricing for a set of stairs that would cost $7,500.”
Typically, notes Hebron, the arena does see a few seniors enjoying public skating.
A number of seniors take part in the men’s curling activity at the Kerrobert curling club.
Hebron also says that there are a few seniors who happily participate in the recreation ball league. Seniors are offered reduced rates at the Kerrobet Golf Club for daily rounds and annual memberships, and a number of seniors participate in the men’s and women’s weekly golf activity.
Kerrobert has a senior’s club who meet weekly for cards and other events. Interested people can contact the town office for more information and contacts to get in touch with the club. Hebron meets with the club once a year to inform them of events that are offered through the Sask. Seniors Association.
“Pioneer Haven has incredible programming offered and many of the activities are open to the public,” says Hebron.
Communities offer a variety of options for senior activity
Wilkie Recreation Director Lori Fenrich, says, “We have Wilkie Walkers that usually starts up Nov. 1. Details haven’t been worked out yet for the upcoming winter. A volunteer runs it. Bethany Assisted Living has activities that seniors not living at the facility are able to attend. The New Horizons group hosts afternoons of cards and other things that they arrange themselves.”
Unity Mayor Sharon Del Frari says “I have spoken with a board member of our local community resource centre about the possibility of a day program for seniors in Unity. This would be aimed at those who are in the care of family or home care and are isolated at times from social gatherings.
Simply Swimming will be offering senior activities in their pool over the winter. Once the weather turns toward ice and cold, upstairs in the community hall is open to seniors and all ages for a walking program. Those with limited mobility can use the elevator for access to join friends in exercise and social networking.
In summer months, the paved walking paths throughout Unity and the hospital grounds are well used by all generations and are kept clear of snow in the winter months for those who want to continue to use them.
The swimming pool has seen all generations taking advantage of aquasizes programming.
There are horseshoe pits in the regional park ball diamonds
Long Term Care, Luther Place, Parkview Place and 8th Avenue Estates all have a variety of activities for residents to keep them engaged. The community within these buildings was credited for helping seniors endure the stay-at-home and isolation public health orders that were part of the pandemic. While LTC and Parkview Place have specific activities directors, volunteers at both Luther Place and 8th Ave. Estates organize activities within their buildings
The New Horizons Hall has welcomed back activity and has a dedicated group of seniors who meet to play cards and board games as well as organized seasonal events for seniors.
Both Unity Golf Club and Unity Curling Club hold specific senior activities at their locations that include both the sport itself and the opportunity to socialize after.
Seniors thrive when they have an opportunity to be part of something that gives them purpose, engages them and provides social interaction.
Seniors have a lot of value to share with their community, particularly if they have knowledge or skill in a specific activity or hobby that they can share with others — trom Scrabble proficiency, quilting magic or the fine art of peaceful puzzle solving. Options to share these talents with others offers them not only a social opportunity but a chance to highlight their natural affinity for a particular activity they have spent a lifetime developing.
Social engagement and activity provide an improved and optimistic outlook on life as a continued sense of purpose and worthiness are experienced.
Overall, it is important to stay connected at any stage of your life, especially as a senior. Therefore, remember to talk to your elderly family members or even older adults that are strangers, since you never know who can use the chat. Tell them about what your community has to offer seniors or perhaps you are so inclined to organize an activity or gathering geared towards seniors that will help them maintain community connections.