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Oasis program keeps seniors active

The Oasis program at Bay View Towers is older-tenant driven and promotes aging in place through physical activities, socializing and nutrition.

THUNDER BAY — As the population ages, finding activities to keep people active in their own living space is becoming extremely important.

That’s the main objective of the Oasis program at Bay View Towers, which was implemented in February and is an older-tenant driven program that promotes aging in place through physical activities, socializing and nutrition.

“The local steering committee so the need for this in our community, especially with so many older adults here,” said Nicole Moorey, who is the Oasis coordinator in Thunder Bay.

“This is the best job I’ve ever had. I love bringing the services to people and making that connection with the tenants here. They lead the program and I try to help deliver what they want and not the other way around.”

Bay View’s two-year pilot project, which is supported by Roots Community Food Centre and Age BIG, was showcased on Wednesday afternoon during an open house celebration,

Liz Poulin has been a tenant at Bay View for 24 years and says the Oasis program is a welcome addition.

“It’s just what we needed here,” Poulin said. “Everyone gets involved and it works well in allowing us to get to know other people.

“If we want to help seniors stay in their homes, this is the kind of program that we need. There’s a ton of benefits and it’s low-cost. It’s really fabulous.”

There’s a variety of programs in place at Bay View, ranging from cooking lessons, indoor and outdoor fitness activities, painting and socializing events such as book clubs, birthday parties and guest speakers from around the community.

“It can be as straightforward as folks coming down for a cup of coffee,” Moorey said. “Since the pandemic, we found that a lot of people here didn’t know who their neighbours were. It’s pretty amazing how much of that can change through simple activities.

“We’re already seeing the impact of the program here, not just from how everyone is enjoying the activities, but through the individual stories we get from how people are getting to know their neighbours. We see the benefits here every week.”

The Oasis program was originally established in Kingston 15 years ago and has since expanded to Belleville, Vancouver and Halifax.

The Bay View Towers initiative is the only one currently active in Thunder Bay, but there are hopes to expand in the city and to other Northwestern Ontario centres.

“The overall message we’ve got here has been pretty heartwarming,” said Catherine Donnelly who is a co-principal investigator with the Oasis research team at Queen’s University.  “I met the daughter of one of the tenants here earlier today and she told me how much this program has meant to her mother.”

“Over 95 per cent of adults live in the community and not in long-term care facilities,” Oasis co-principal investigator Vincent DePaul added. “It’s important for all of us to provide activities to help support and keep them active as they grow older.”

For more information on the program, contact Moorey via email.

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