Edmonton seniors’ centre reopens to help with socialization through COVID-19

Seniors exercise in the 'Strong and Able' class at the newly reopened Mill Woods Seniors Association. Global News / Jessica Robb

After being closed for months during the pandemic, the Mill Woods Seniors Association has reopened its doors to the segment of the population most vulnerable to COVID-19.

“They need to get out and socialize, they need to get out and do physical activities,” explained the association’s president, Deb Alloway.

“It’s important for them to come out and feel part of a team, part of the community. It’s good for them to come out and just talk.”

COVID regulations are in place to protect the seniors. Global News / Jessica Robb

She said seniors have been asking for the centre to reopen, saying they missed their friends.

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However there are a number of precautions being put into place in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

“All the classes are half, if not less. Everyone has to register. We’re really stringent on all of our regulations, hand washing, masks,” Alloway said.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: No timeline for when Alberta seniors’ centres can reopen

Karen Lewis-Caron was excited to get back to her exercise class, called ‘Strong and Able.’

“It was nice to have a schedule. Something to look forward to, something to get me out of the house,” she said.

She said the pandemic forced her into a staycation.

“All of a sudden — no library, no volunteering. It was like the whole schedule was done. No seeing family,” she explained.

Gardening and walks kept her active, and she found ways to keep her mind occupied, too.

“I can chat on the phone, my husband and I do crossword puzzles. We did puzzles for the first time in my life. It just about drove me crazy. I’m not a puzzle person,” she laughed.

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READ MORE: Calgary group pulls strings to entertain seniors amid COVID-19 pandemic

Though Lewis-Caron doesn’t feel safe enough to return to other locations where she was taking fitness classes, she thinks there’s good precautions being taking at the Mill Woods Seniors Association.

“I just felt that I should support the centre, because if nobody comes back they don’t have any income, right? Also, I kind of miss seeing real-life people.”

Not all activities have restarted – things like cards and pool tables have either been deemed too close-contact, or too difficult to properly sanitize.

The centre will run programs for four weeks and then shut down for one so that a deep clean can be done inside the building.

Seniors singing while wearing masks and distancing. Global News / Jessica Robb



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