Sudbury seniors cut a rug to combat social isolation
SUDBURY -- The streets within Sudbury's Finlandia Village were rocking on Tuesday as seniors marked a milestone: six months of a COVID-19 pandemic.
It was their last dance party of the year, a weekly tradition they started back in April to promote exercise, physical distancing and to have fun.
"We had noticed when all the residents had been told not to leave their apartments because COVID was spreading quite quickly that people were starting to get deconditioned. They were lacking exercise, they were not moving as much," said physical therapist Joanne McKee. "This was a good way to get people outside, get them moving, get them active and still able to connect with us, the staff and their neighbours."
It's six months in, and the dance party has evolved from something they did at just the foot of their driveways to more of the neighbourhood.
On Tuesday, they made their way from the Rivitalo townhomes, one of the complexes for independent senior living, through the community and over to a nearby apartment building where seniors danced to the likes of Little Richard, Elvis Presley and all the classics.
"That first one, we did it just to have some fun and bring the spirits up," said McKee. "It was such a great turnout, that we decided to do it weekly. Everyone said 'oh my God, this is fantastic,' And we just kept doing it every week."
Resident Liisa Kinos never missed a single dance party crediting the fresh air, the camaraderie with her neighbours, and the exercise.
"I think it's something that pleases everyone, especially when we dance in a walking mode," said Kinos. "I think that keeps us motivated. That and having fun with our neighbours."
A recent survey from Statistics Canada assessed the effects COVID-19 has had on mental health.
It found more than a third of seniors age 65 and up had reported having a negative impact since physical distancing measures began.
"It's awesome. These dance get-togethers bring out our residents, they bring out our staff and keep everyone active and engaged, so it's an awesome time," said Finlandia Village CEO David Munch.
The whole village consists of several buildings that vary between assisted and independent living, has about 400 residents and about 280 staff. So far, during the pandemic, they've only had one incident of COVID-19 with a staff member. It was quickly contained and none of the residents has contracted the disease.
"It's been a tough couple of months, the social isolation, the physical distancing, the COVID issues. Keeping our residents active and social is a big part of our wellbeing. You don't only need medicine and good health, socialization is a big part of that and that's what this is doing," Munch said.
Munch said they are doing their best to be ready for the second wave and they will be prepared for it once it hits.
"Our issue that we're dealing with now is the kids that are coming home for our staff members that are sick, making sure that our staff members get tested in a timely fashion. We need them to be able to come to work safely and we need to be able to support them to stay home with their kids at the same time. So our big concern is making sure that we don't bring COVID into Finlandia because it's not here now," said Munch.
While the dance parties are on hold until next spring, Finlandia said it has plenty of additional activities to do with the seniors to keep everyone hopping over the winter months, including hiking and exercise classes.