Making the most of your time is a lot about making friends, whether you’re 80 or eight years old, and friendships are what make life special.
And, of course, having fun.
There is no lack of that when seniors get together, especially at places like the Parkview Community Centre in the city’s east end, operating as part of the City of Barrie’s 55+ Centres along with the Barrie Allandale Senior Centre family.
Janet Root, 74, has been spending time at Parkview for the last five or six years.
“I got started because I like being involved. I try to do as much as I can when I can,” she says while taking a quick break from her volunteering duties. “I worked at a retirement home before I retired and I like being around people, and I like being active.”
Keeping busy in all aspects of life is key, she adds.
“I have met loads of friends here, from being in the painters’ group, working at the front desk or helping with the soup and sandwiches. I go to the painters group on Thursday mornings,” Root says. “There are so many things here for seniors to do. It gets them to get out there and keep active. I think it’s good for them.”
She also lends a hand with Parkview’s outreach services and other groups of activities.
Root encourages other seniors who may be on their own to check out the 55+ Centres.
“Just to get involved and meet people and get out and talk and maybe do cards or something, even if it’s just for a few hours a day to change their routine,” she says. “It’s a fun place and you just have a good time here. We talk all the time.”
Including the occasional sad story.
“You listen to everybody and be there for them. I get hugs constantly and I just like helping out.”
Keith Carson, 83, has been volunteering at Parkview since last summer.
“A friend of mine persuaded me to come over and help out in the kitchen and I’ve been here every Wednesday since,” he says. “People (of our age) need some social activities. If they don’t, they’re going to suffer from depression and it can lead to other things so they need the activities. Being with other people is always the best activity you can get.”
There are challenges, Carson acknowledges.
“Our health, or an inability to walk or things like can maybe lead to depression but people need to get out,” he says. “Sometimes they have to have assistance (with getting here) and that’s what the outreach program is for.
“The camaraderie with all the people here is necessary for their well being. That’s how you keep aging at bay: keep active and it doesn’t show up on your face,” he adds.
Carson, who recently finished writing a book and had it published, says swapping tales is one of the pluses of the 55+ Centres.
“They can contribute. As they are taking part in a program, there is always somebody with a story and these stories are important, because we lose them,” Carson says. “If we don’t talk to people who might be a little on in their years (and don’t hear their stories), we could lose a little bit of history and that’s why it’s important to listen to them and talk to them.