Tips from TAPS: Getting a new perspective

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A New Year’s resolution is a commitment that one makes to start a project, change a behavior or accomplish a goal. We generally plan to follow this wonderful new behavior for the whole year. We think of this lifestyle change as advantageous.

Because it is January, I had been thinking about this ritual and it just did not seem to have much attraction for me this year. I took the question, “Do you make New Year’s resolutions?” to those whose opinions I respect the most, the seniors at the Therapeutic Activation Program for Seniors. Their answers and perspective were more food for thought, even though many said that they had once made resolutions but did not anymore. One person said that her schoolteacher insisted that they make and keep a resolution, perhaps to make the teacher’s job easier. Many stated that resolutions often included the goal to “behave yourself”. No wonder they don’t make resolutions anymore!

Other reasons why these seniors do not make resolutions were: “I can’t keep it anyway, never did,” “I forgot it,” “I don’t know what I want to change,” and, “I used to but I’ll be 85 soon — time to cease and desist!”

During this discussion, I observed a calmness in the group, a gracefulness that held no expectation and no anxiety, but rather an acceptance of what is to come. Thinking more about this led me to assess this aura of graceful aging, what it means and how much of it I observe each time I am at TAPS. They seem to accept the inevitable changes of aging, rather than seeing them as looming doom. They are much more concerned with the health and well-being of those around them than with their own ailments. They don’t focus on what is not working anymore but rather what is. They accept that their lives are not the same as they used to be but enjoy the memories of winters in Yuma, the jobs they held or the friends they loved.

“Part of aging gracefully is to continue to find things that are important to you,” said Illinois psychologist Mark Frazier. TAPS is an important element for our seniors who are aging well. Our focus at TAPS, besides the excellent hot meals, is to give seniors a purpose, to keep them as active, participating members of their community. Some of our participants have specific jobs that keep the program running smoothly — Stuart is in charge of tea and coffee service, Christy is Bridget’s office assistant, Margaret records the history of members and Virginia manages our library.

TAPS continues to be busy with all our regular activities plus new programs. We will start learning how to use the tablets purchased with funds from the Creston and District Credit Union later this month. The generosity of the Telus community action team has allowed us to purchase ukuleles to accompany our choir and lessons with these are starting soon. TAPS is a happy, happening place with members who don’t appear to be aging at all. Who needs New Year’s resolutions?

Terry Nowak is an outreach worker with the Therapeutic Activation Program for Seniors.