In my position at the Therapeutic Activation Program for Seniors (TAPS), I have the privilege of spending time with the seniors just because I want to. It is a warm and friendly place where hugs and cups of coffee flow freely. Some of the seniors are new to the program and a little shy, while others laugh, joke and talk as if they were at a family reunion.
A beautiful woman who has been attending TAPS for five or six years offered to share her journey through TAPS with you and me. She has several things she wants others to know about TAPS and thought that her story would allow others to understand what TAPS has done for her.
When I asked about using her name for this article, she blushed and wasn’t too sure about doing that so I will call her Ruth. Ruth is a long term resident of Creston. She has siblings, children and grandchildren, friends and neighbors here. In her life, she has been busy and productive and continues to be as active as possible in her church. This sounds like a person who has all the answers, who can cope with whatever comes her way, and Ruth thought so too.
Ruth’s husband became ill and homebound, and she was his caregiver. This was a big change for a couple who had been busy, independent, involved and contributing members of their community. Their days become long, and conversations became centered around, “What would you like for dinner?”
Home care was a big help and Ruth’s husband was well cared for. Ruth found herself with time on her hands while her husband was receiving care in their home, but she just didn’t know what to do. She knew she needed respite, some time away from the house, but she didn’t know where to go. Sometimes she sat in her car and read. Sometimes she went to the library but, as Ruth said, “I was spending too much time alone.”
One day, Ruth was having lunch at the United Church and met the gang from TAPS there. They invited her to come and see what happened at TAPS and she did.
Ruth began coming to TAPS for lunch, a meal she did not have to prepare, on the days when her husband received in-home care. At first, she knew only a few people but felt welcome. She became comfortable, found old friends and made new ones. As time went on, her husband passed away. She was sad and lonely but found that others at TAPS knew how she felt; they had experienced the same loss.
Decisions needed to be made as things changed in Ruth’s life. These were not easy decisions, but some were made easier because of the social contacts Ruth had made. She knew that a number of her TAPS friends were renting in the same building. It offers meals and support services, so she checked it out and now lives there too. These women are not only socially active together, they are a strong support system for each other. They know each other’s family members, medical needs and routines.
Ruth drives her own car to TAPS except in the winter when she jumps on the TAPS bus. She wants others to know that the bus is available to everyone. If you have a mobility, hearing or other health concern, TAPS can accommodate you. Ruth must use oxygen but this is not a problem at TAPS. She participates in Tai Chi when she feels able, helps with preparing pie fillings, attends the craft sales and Creston Lions Club breakfasts. She continues to contribute to her community. She is a welcoming smile to new persons at TAPS, she assists her friends when they need her and she promotes TAPS whenever she can.
Thank you, Ruth, for sharing your story. We are lucky to have you at TAPS.
If you think you might like to give TAPS a try, just call Bridget at 250-428-5585 and make arrangements to come for lunch.
Terry Nowak is an outreach worker with the Therapeutic Activation Program for Seniors.