“How do we give someone who is near the end of their life a reason to look forward?” asks Stenberg College instructor Laurie Chiasson, CTRS.
Therapy through Recreation
Therapeutic recreation strives to encourage seniors to participate in recreational and leisure activities while improving their cognitive, physical, emotional and social skills. Therapeutic Recreation Assistants (TRAs) provide an unparalleled service to our elders by ensuring and improving their quality of life in their final years.
TRAs also develop friendships. When life gets hard, a friend listens to us, helps us cope with our problems and does their best to lift our spirits. In essence, this is the role of a TRA. Sadly, it’s almost too easy for seniors to become apathetic or depressed. TRAs connect with seniors and make them feel like they still belong in the community.
Every smile counts
Therapeutic Recreation Assistants take a person-centred approach to discover what makes each individual happy –researching their social histories and preferences and engaging in meaningful conversations to learn who they are as a person. If they once enjoyed a hobby, like painting, knitting, or walking in a park close to their home, TRAs find a way to make it possible for them again.
Simple things such as organizing a music session or gardening class, or finding ways to ensure their spiritual needs are met go a long way. For instance, if someone has out-of-town family, organizing a weekly video call would mean the world to them.
Not many people can say they get to connect with people on this level in their work. To be able to spend time with someone who needs it, or to provide the opportunity to reminisce about their glory days, is priceless.
You can change someone’s life
This career is about caring for people and starting friendships. Become the light in someone’s life, give someone who has lost hope something to look forward to and help someone rediscover their passion.
Older adults are the fastest-growing age group in Canada, resulting in an urgent and growing need for professionals who can support and promote optimal health for this generation.
“We find that the Stenberg students come job-ready. For example, I recently hired a Stenberg grad and she asked me, ‘Would you mind if I bring my tools?’ On her first day, she came with her own reminiscing kit! What can I say? Stenberg grads just absolutely have it,” says Leisa Bannerman, Director of Therapeutic Recreation at Kinsmen Lodge.
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