Senior-Link 'rewarding' experience

Playing a memory game at the Senior-Link activity centre are Daisy Madden, Karin Madsen, co...
Playing a memory game at the Senior-Link activity centre are Daisy Madden, Karin Madsen, co-ordinator Geraldine Tait, Rosemary Cory, activity co-ordinator Gaynor Propsting, Andrew Smith and Ross James, while volunteers make tea in the background. PHOTOS: LINDA ROBERTSON
You can hear the Friday Senior-Link meeting long before you can see it - there is plenty of loud laughter ringing out from Senior-Link's Hillside Rd meeting room.

The activity centre meets twice a week, providing a day's worth of activity and social interaction for whoever turns up.

The dozen or so people who arrived on the dot have had tea and scones, and have now been split into teams for trivia games.

One table is trying to match names with photographs of entertainers, while the other is debating which birthdate belongs to which celebrity.

Muhammad Ali and John F Kennedy are causing some debate, and 91-year-old Ian Bartlett is thoroughly enjoying it.

"If I wasn't here I'd just be sitting at the table or sleeping.''

Mr Bartlett reluctantly started going to Senior-Link last year at the suggestion of his hospital psychologist, but the activity centre has rapidly become a highlight of his week.

Makarita Huihui watches as her friends debate the options in a trivia game played at the Senior...
Makarita Huihui watches as her friends debate the options in a trivia game played at the Senior-Link activity centre.
"I've found it very rewarding coming here,'' he said.

"I didn't think I would like it to start, but once you get to know the people, and the people who work here are marvellous.''

Mr Bartlett - a bit of a shark - is looking forward to the afternoon card school.

So is Makarita Huihui (63) who rather plans on trumping Mr Bartlett today.

She was also recommended to Senior-Link - in this case by the hospital, after suffering an injury last year.

"I used to hate coming, I used to hate going out of the house, but I like it now - they're all my friends, and we get on quite well.''

Senior-Link co-ordinators Gaynor Propsting and Geraldine Tait have set up the day's activities, helped by a dedicated group of volunteers.

"It's quite small but it's good being independent and not tied in to an organisation,'' said Ms Tait, who started as a volunteer and 13 years later is now the co-ordinator.

"We have a tight budget, but each year we somehow manage to stay afloat ... volunteers help with getting people here and with meals, but more importantly just by sitting and chatting to clients and taking part in activities.

"We could not do it, and it would not be the same quality of service, without volunteers.''

Ms Tait and her team cater for clients aged from their 60s to their 90s.

They help with food preparation, cleaning, games, activities and transporting Senior-Link members to and from the centre.

Ian Bartlett talks with Senior-Link co-ordinator Geraldine Tait.
Ian Bartlett talks with Senior-Link co-ordinator Geraldine Tait.

"Some of the clients have memory loss or early stage dementia and are being cared for by a family member, which is a 24/7 job - having them come here for a day or two lets those people have some time out, too.''

Senior-Link has mental and physical health benefits - members may well meet more people and do more physical activities in a few hours than they might in several days.

"Just talking, that interaction between people, they feel welcome and involved and that's pretty important for people,'' Ms Tait said.

 

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