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Duet bike gives seniors in Alberta care home sense of freedom during pandemic

Residents at the Willow Creek Continuing Care Center now have a duet bike to help them get outside during the pandemic, all thanks to donations to the Claresholm and District Health Foundation.
Residents at the Willow Creek Continuing Care Center now have a duet bike to help them get outside during the pandemic, all thanks to donations to the Claresholm and District Health Foundation. Global News

Buckled in, helmet in check and the wind in their face, residents at the Willow Creek Continuing Care Centre in Claresholm, Alta., are getting a chance to soak up the sunshine.

“It’s something that kind of lets you enjoy where you live and everything about it,” said Ross Mouser.

Residents at the centre are using a duet bike to enjoy some fresh air, stay safe and socially distanced. Recreation Therapist Brittany Wilton saw a huge change in Mouser, who was dealing with some depression after moving into the facility.

“He was in bed all day, didn’t want to get out, and I said, ‘Just try it once with me.’ So we got him on the bike and now he asks everyday, ‘Is it my turn to go on the bike?’

“When he comes back he is just so thankful, he’s got a big smile on his face,” said Wilton.

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“He doesn’t sit in his room anymore, he sits out in common areas, he interacts with the other residents and just has something to live for.”

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Mouser added the bike is a welcome break after months of being inside.

“It’s more of a scenic tour and it brings back memories of the past.”

Read more: For people over 50, loneliness is a growing, legitimate health concern

Norma Stewart is nearly 90 years old. Her son Kevin Standing said she was a little apprehensive at first, but now she’s hooked.

“Mom, she’s not into new things, for one thing, so she was a little hesitant and so she decided to give it a try and when she came back she just absolutely loved it, just loved it!”

Stewart said she loves being able to enjoy the sunshine.

“Being outside in the fresh air, just the smoothness of it, how great it is to be outside.”

Staying active during the pandemic, no matter your age
Staying active during the pandemic, no matter your age

The bike isn’t cheap — with a price tag of $13,000. It was all made possible by donations through the Claresholm & District Health Foundation.

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“It’s so awesome to be able to support our seniors who have given so many hours of volunteering to our communities and contributed so much to make our communities as amazing as they are, it’s just wonderful to support them back,” said foundation coordinator, Tara Bishoff.

Mouser’s wife Marilyn said the bike gives her husband a much needed change of scenery and a bit of a new outlook on life.

“…Just seeing that there is a world past this place, past being in long-term care.”

The seniors hope their smiles encourage other communities to look at getting a duet bike that brings a taste of freedom and a little something to look forward too.