Why We Exist
At Bethany Sylvan Lake, the stairwell doors open and 20 wide-eyed children skip into the Great Room. Residents’ spirits lift as youthful chatter and laughter fill the room. Twice a month, these juniors from the local elementary school join seniors from Bethany for a morning of connection, learning and activity. For many of our residents this visit is a highlight, but for Suzanne*, who is wheelchair bound and has dementia, this is life changing. Few things can bring a smile to Suzanne’s face like singing and clapping along with her bubbly little companion. Her face lights up, her smile is beautiful and she works with her young partner to colour, play bingo, read or do a craft. Suzanne is usually a woman of few words, so it’s wonderful to see her chat with a child, and when the activity is over her uplifted mood carries into the rest of her day. Bridging the gap at both ends of the age spectrum brings the curiosity and joy of children together with the wisdom and gentle spirit of seniors, developing an increased sense of purpose and decreased feelings of loneliness for seniors. In short, it is magical. – inter generational programming is just one of Bethany’s innovative care programs, *not resident’s real name
On a crisp September day, several residents of Bethany Calgary joined together to paint their version of a tree, backed by a blue sky, bursting in fall colours. Kacie, the recreation therapist, guided them through the steps, selecting painting materials that helped each resident succeed in their art project. A volunteer bent down to eye level to help a resident pick out a brush. One resident’s family came to take her to coffee. One stopped to enjoy an afternoon snack. This was the beauty in the activity. It was as a lovely social get together. Throughout it all, one resident with limited eye sight took great care applying blue paint to the background of her painting of a tree. This stood out as the power of the activity – seeing our resident focused so carefully on a picture that she took great pride in creating. – sensory therapies like art, music and gardening have the power to reach residents in new ways.
“This is the only recreational experience left to us, in which we can communicate in a meaningful manner. Observing responses she and all the residents demonstrate, as well as those of the family members and caregivers who participate in these heaven sent events, is a mind altering experience. Seeing the light return (even temporarily), to their eyes, watching them recognize and sometimes remember the words, and realizing that those words and memories bring them joy.” – Don, resident’s spouse, on Music Therapy