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'Keep their hands and heads busy': Harbour Landing Village to connect independent-living seniors with programming

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Audrey Taylor has always had a passion for creating art. From knitting to crafting 3D paper tole to playing piano and more. Taylor is proud of what she’s created and wants to keep doing more.

“Because you end up with a beautiful picture,” Taylor said. “You’re proud to hang it on the wall.”

Taylor is 89, but she’s still quick-witted and loves to laugh. But, after Taylor’s husband died three years ago, Taylor and her children thought it would be beneficial for her to move in with her daughter, Susan Mitchell.

After having her mother move in, Mitchell feels Taylor would benefit from some additional mental stimulation to add some diversity to her days.

“I look forward to her getting out of the house,” Mitchell said. “Getting some social interactions, doing some activities and just getting her exhausted a bit.”

HARBOUR LANDING VILLAGE TO LAUNCH VILLAGE CONNECT PROGRAM

Harbour Landing Village is a senior care and independent living residence, as well as a daycare, pre-school and group home in South Regina and it is about to launch a new pilot program, called Village Connect.

The Village Connect program will be open to all seniors living in the Regina area, offering them a chance to socialize with others, while doing mental and light-physical activities.

Mitchell wants her mother to take part in this program because she believes it would be beneficial for her well-being.

“So she goes uphill,” Mitchell said. “Honestly, when you do an activity, you smile and you feel good. I do see the aging process taking over (her mother) and I want to counter the aging process.”

Village Connect will run four days a week, catering to independent and assisted day programming on specified days. This all-day program will provide the seniors with arts and crafts, exercises, games, and most importantly, socialization with others.

Wendy Mitchell, the coordinator of the Village Connect program, said after working with seniors for many years, she knows this program will enhance many lives.

“I believe it can offer them the activity and the socialization they’re missing out on,” Wendy said. “As they're growing older, they're not getting to do the things they did when they were young. But having a program like this allows them to come out, make new friends, reunite with friends, and keep their hands and heads busy.”

The pilot project was developed from ideas about how to engage seniors, but also give them the flexibility of living in their homes longer.

“We saw the need that people want to stay in their homes longer, but they still need to be challenged, encouraged or energized,” Wendy said. “It’s just showing that seniors are living longer and why the program can benefit their lives.”

For seniors who are facing the challenges of living independently or with family, the Village Connect program will also be a way for families to ease the transition of their loved ones into assisted living.

“I think it gives them the opportunity to see what we're all about without having to move in yet,” Wendy said.

CONNECTING SENIORS TO THEIR PASSIONS

Helen Friesen has lived at Harbour Landing Village for three years and said it was the perfect place for her to move because living independently at home was becoming exhausting for her.

“I was by myself for 21 years and it was just getting more difficult to get groceries and cooking,” Friesen said. “I knew I had to make a move to something easier and this is totally easy. No cooking, no cleaning, more time to do fun things and my art.”

After visiting several senior residences in Regina, Friesen was convinced Harbour Landing Village was right for her, as soon as she walked in.

“Well, I'd been looking at other places and every time I came home, Linda (Friesen’s daughter) would say, ‘Mom, what do you think?’ And I say, ‘it's nice, but not for me.’ This time when I came for a tour here. She (Linda) called afterwards. ‘Mom, what do you think?’ I want you to come tomorrow. I'm renting! I’m moving in the next day!’”

Friesen said she will also be going to the Village Connect program because she’s been impressed with all the other workshops, programs and activities Harbour Landing Village already offers its residents. Friesen is also an artist who enjoys creating watercolours, florals and abstract art. Many of Friesen’s paintings can also be found on the walls inside Harbour Landing Village.

“I don't know just what they're all offering, but I will definitely be coming,” Friesen exclaimed.

Linda Halverson said when her mother moved into Harbour Landing Village, her mother got 10 years younger.

“You just don't want your parents to be treated sort of like part of a business. But it's just so personal and so sincere.”

Harbour Landing Village is hoping to launch its Village Connect program in the winter and encourages interested seniors and family members to reach out for more information by visiting harbourlandingvillage.ca or calling 306.559.5545.

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