Tips from TAPS: Creston seniors program offers simple pleasures

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S. is a regular at lunchtime at the Therapeutic Activation Program for Seniors (TAPS). In his 90s, he is still driving, but he finds it taxing to get around on his own, find parking, get in and out of the car and deciding places to go. He told me he eats a good breakfast and supper, but comes to TAPS because “the days are so long”, he likes to have a good meal that he hasn’t had to prepare and mostly for the company. You can usually find him at the “men’s” table, but not always as he is not reluctant to sit amongst the ladies, and has a lifetime of stories to tell.

I asked Nellie, one of the staff, what she thought I should tell you about. Her thoughtful look told me she was considering all the possible answers, from conversations to activities to stories she’d heard. In the end, she laughed and said, “Well, you could say that anywhere you’ve been in town recently, you might have seen the TAPS bus. You’d have to be quick though, because we’ve been here, there and everywhere. With weekly and sometimes daily excursions around the valley, you might have trouble finding us at the centre.”

Burns Park is where I joined them for a picnic one day, the shade under the trees making it pleasant on another hot day and the accessibility for those with mobility issues an important feature. With some more able and others with walkers and canes, helping hands got everyone settled on the grassy area and picnic tables. Coolers unloaded from the bus by volunteers and staff soon revealed a picnic feast and joking, teasing and camaraderie ensued.

Soon a group of children joined us with their caregivers and I learned it was Grizzly Bear Out of School Care, this being one of a series of “dates” over the summer between the two groups. Deftly managed by the staff and volunteers, the seniors and youth were paired up to play bocce in one group and beanbag toss in the other. The mix of personalities, whether they were shy or not, and the willingness to participate soon created a mixed crowd. Bystanders gathered on one hand and the players, of all ages, quiet at first then breaking into enthusiastic whoops, groans and laughter, gave advice and cheered each other on. The barriers, if there were any, dissolved in the obvious pleasure by the seniors and youth in participating together.

A small thing, really, in a little park in our small town with so much else going on, but who knows what such things mean in each person’s experience. The simplicity of playing games together is something we can easily forget to include in our lives.

Hans is asking for help at the center to find someone who could donate a dehumidifier or air conditioning unit. We have a swamp cooler running now, with success, but it is creating a lot of humidity. Call 250-428-5585 if you can help.

The Krafty Kronys functional and decorative gifts and crafts are always available at TAPS, as well as their famous fruit pies when the centre is open. This means Monday to Friday during the day, but its best to call ahead in case we’re on one of those excursions!

Thanks to John Kettle and Regional District of Central Kootenay Area B for their recent financial support for TAPS operations and to ongoing individual donors. Your contributions go far in our program with thoughtful and careful management by the staff that effectively leverage every dollar to go further for the benefit of our clients.

Maureen Cameron is the community liaison development co-ordinator for the Therapeutic Activation Program for Seniors.