Tips from TAPS: Therapeutic activation program helps Creston seniors stay social, fit and fed

Web Lead

Exercise, nutrition and socialization are the three biggest factors to keeping seniors healthy and happy. The Therapeutic Activation Program for Seniors staff are well aware of this and have built these three significant aspects into the program.

Exercise is always on the agenda at TAPS. On Tuesday, folks have been spoiled by Barry and Judy Freeman for many years. Barry and Judy lead a Tai Chi routine that is specific to seniors and even more specific for some of the seniors they know well. Along with the exercises come hugs, massages and stories to keep everyone involved. On Wednesday morning, TAPS ladies are driven to the Creston and District Community Complex for swimming, river water walking, hot tub dips and steam room visits. On Thursday mornings, the TAPS bus gathers men, women and volunteers to exercise on the walking track at the rec centre. Bocce and carpet bowling competitions are popular on afternoons when we stay at the TAPS site. These activities are not just to keep busy but demand co-ordination, balance, planning and co-operation. Physical activity keeps the mind active, improves overall health and can slow down memory loss.

TAPS is famous for its good meals. Dietary needs are addressed whether someone needs diabetic, gluten-free or salt-reduced meals. Rosalie and Esther know the members, what their needs are and what we all like. Donations of food from the Know and Grow Farm at the College of the Rockies, the Creston Valley Gleaners Society, Associated Grocers, several orchards and Kootenay Meadows make a huge contribution to keeping food costs affordable for seniors.

Social interaction is critical for all people, especially seniors. Seniors are susceptible to isolation because they may be less mobile, do not go to a workplace anymore, there are not children around who bring home friends and their own friends may have moved away. Add to this normal aging factors, such as illness or disability, and many seniors become isolated and lonely. Social isolation can have a negative effect on physical and mental health and is considered a risk factor for cognitive decline in the elderly. One solution is TAPS. At TAPS, seniors engage with new friends and reconnect with friends from their past. We often have visitors who are not seniors and they are most welcome. We make many trips into the community and are welcomed wherever we go. We are lucky to be part of such a wonderful community.

TAPS seniors know about the Creston community, they helped it grow, so they requested a “staycation” summer. We were fortunate to be able to engage a bright young woman to arrange this project for us. Wendy is our summer student and she has brought much activity, energy and fun to TAPS. We have participated in Canada Day celebrations, museum visits, art gallery tours and visits to the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area. Garden parties and miniature golf are on the list, too.

TAPS is doing its part to help seniors be healthy and happy. Please join us!

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