Tips from TAPS: New outreach worker filling shoes at Creston’s TAPS

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So, I’m the new kid on the block, or, I should say, the new senior on the block at the Therapeutic Activation Program for Seniors. Terry Nowak, who has been the familiar and fabulous champion and supporter of the TAPS program for so many years, has retired. Taking her place means big shoes to fill. Enjoy your “free time”, Terry, although having seen her at the TAPS building quite a few times already, I expect we’ll still be benefiting from her kind attention, tireless service and smiling face.

It may take some time for me to grasp all that has been created for and by TAPS participants, and how I’ll fulfill this role in continuing to help make that happen. But it just took my first visit to feel the welcoming environment, to see and hear how everyone is acknowledged, respected and cared for. I have huge admiration for the leadership, creativity and hard work, as well as the generosity of donors and partners in keeping TAPS in Creston all these years. Creston folks, you should be proud to know the excellence of this program and the effort that goes into the smallest of details in caring for our seniors at a time when they need it.

Terry has reported recently on the summer student program through the federal government. This year’s student, Wendy, has gone now after making a great contribution. She helped along with other things to make the staycation program flourish, wherein TAPS participants enjoyed local activities and events.

Another student program funded through the New Horizons for Seniors is starting with special needs students from the high school. TAPS co-ordinator Bridget Currie reports that this was very successful last year, and I’ll be able to let you know what they are up to next month.

There are many partnerships that have developed between TAPS seniors and volunteers and the community. The resulting projects are always a win-win as the seniors participate in many hands-on activities, sharing knowledge and encouragement in a group, and knowing they are helping another group with their fundraising efforts for others. The Telus ambassadors are one such group, providing seniors groups with materials to create items, which they in turn sell to support even more groups. The volunteer hours put in are kept track of, and Telus ambassadors pay the seniors for their work.

Every year there is a theme that guides Bridget’s choices of programs to develop. Last year, it was “productive seniors”, and my, they were busy. This year it is “healthy brain”, and to start things off, there is a new program running twice a week at TAPS called Mind, Memory and Motion. Check out the new College of the Rockies course guide. We’ll have more on that next month.

Here is a quoted passage from the East Kootenay Caregivers Network fall 2013 newsletter: “Research shows there are three areas to consider when you plan to maintain and improve the health of your brain: your body, your mind, and your spirit.

“But why is brain health important? Actively keeping your brain in good shape will help you stay mentally sharp as you age. … Research increasingly confirms that taking these steps now may reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia.”

On another note, the seniors and staff and volunteers send out a loud thanks to all who have donated food this summer and fall, from your gardens to the community greenhouse program to Harvest Share. Healthy meals are made in the kitchen, and you should see the seniors tucking plums and cucumbers in their bags for the trip home. Imagine if you couldn’t garden any more, and how grateful you’d be for homegrown yumminess!

If you are a senior or anyone with a little time on your hands and would like to contribute from time to time, do contact Bridget at TAPS (250-428-5585) to explore projects she might need a hand with.

Maureen Cameron is an outreach worker with the Therapeutic Activation Program for Seniors.


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