Following a heart attack that caused significant damage, 92-year-old Evelyn had to adjust to a life that was very different than before. While she still lived independently, she wasn’t allowed to drive. Now isolated from getting out into the community, something had to change.
“All I did was watch TV, sleep and stare into space,” says Evelyn.
Today, Evelyn leads a productive, active life and attributes her overall wellness to The Salvation Army’s adult day program in Victoria, B.C., which provides social interaction, involvement in meaningful activities and close relationships.
“Every week I have something to look forward to,” says Evelyn. “And I’ve discovered a love for playing shuffleboard,” she smiles. “But the best part of my day is being with other people.”
The benefits of the program are wide-ranging. Exercises such as balloon toss and lawn darts help flexibility, balance and strength. Discovering new interests create a sense of accomplishment, crosswords and word games sharpen the mind and reviewing news articles keeps participants connected to the community and world at large.
“Research indicates that an active social lifestyle is more important than ever in helping people with declining physical health and emotional well-being,” says Katy Stirling, program coordinator. “Adult day programs also give caregivers much-needed respite.”
Although the average age ranges from 70–100, the program serves clients as young as 50. Katy notes that they are seeing more people who have fallen through the cracks in the medical system, particularly those who have suffered head trauma.
“Activities are designed to specifically strengthen each person’s changing capabilities,” says Katy. “Our staff-to-client ratio of one staff to five participants allows individuals to develop their unique abilities at their own pace.”
For Evelyn, the program also relieves stress and anxiety. When the deafening sound of her apartment fire alarm startled her, she was afraid and confused. She called Katy who was able to calm her fears.
“I had sunk into a routine that was unhealthy and hard to climb out of,” says Evelyn. “Now, I’m enjoying the best possible quality of life.“