Aging is a part of life, we shouldn’t feel bad or insecure about our age we should embrace it, young or old. Beauty comes in many forms, wisdom being one of them. Seniors Day is a very exciting and informative event for Mackenzie. Organizations and professionals, such as pharmacists, exercise instructors and public health nurses gather from around the community to provide information sessions to the seniors of the community. Their were many pamphlets, prize draws, snacks and the professionals offering tips and health advice. Seniors of the community came together and enjoyed the free information on what Mackenzie has to offer them.
I became connected with Northern Health and the Public Health nurses while Candy Striping in Mackenzie (from grade 8-11) at the Mackenzie and District Hospital and Health Center. I worked with the Public Health nurse, Barb Paterson. Barb is the type of nurse who tells it like it is, she was always willing to answer my questions no matter how quirky or weird I thought they were. She answered them honestly and without judgement. She practices with integrity and humour, not just with youth like myself, but with all of the patients she serves and community members. When I won the title of Miss Teen Northern BC, I wanted to give back to my home town and the people who helped me get here.
As a Candy Striper I remember organizing bowling events, reading to the residence, working on puzzles, listening to stories and gardening with the residence at the hospital and community garden. Being able to go back and speak with the seniors (new residence and veteran residence) brought back happy memories. I remembered an elderly man that I worked with, he didn’t speak English, but his smile would light up the room. The other girls and myself would walk with him around the hospital, read to him and take him to the garden. He would be the first to point out the deer grazing on the grass on the hospital grounds and he enjoyed sitting and watching. The day made me think of him and miss his smile.
This day was broken into themes. We discussed, Alzheimer’s and Dementia, the connection between diet and brain health, brain training and physical activity. For Seniors Day I worked with Barb Paterson R.N by handing out information on coping with Alzheimer’s, how to prevent it and healthy eating. Eating right for your brain included educating seniors on The Canadian Food Guide, which tells how many items of each food group you should have, I over heard a lot of comments such as “I can’t eat that much, that’s not possible”. Barb explained that variety was more important than quantity and that a serving of many of these foods was only a 1/4 cup.
The event also included a “Get up and go” portion which helped support seniors in being active. Information was provided to the seniors about a walking club in the community and for fun a community fitness instructor came in and taught the seniors chair yoga. The seniors reported back that they enjoyed doing the yoga, many laughs were had. At the event seniors were also introduced to Wii bowling, which surprisingly was quiet popular. The working with your mind component was the theme I was put in charge of for the day. I had a large crossword puzzle set up to catch peoples attention, I’d say clues to the audience and they’d fill in the blank.
Lastly, being social is another aspect to improving mental health of the seniors. Everyone was invited to a lunch at the Seniors Hall. Lunch was prepared and served by a phenomenal chef who had traveled extensively and worked in many European restaurants. One tip he shared was you didn’t require salt for flavor. All you needed was a variety of fresh herbs and spices. Making it healthier and taste better. To prove this he served a soup with no salt and a lot of herbs, it was flavorful and delicious.
Overall, this day was highly informative, interactive and a walk down memory lane. It was wonderful to see the community coming together to support our elders, likewise, I enjoyed listening to the stories of the elders and having them share their wisdom, knowledge and experience with me. I enjoyed giving back and playing Vanna White. Thank you to Barb Paterson and Maureen Hopkins for helping organize this event and including me in it.