Activity bags to inspire isolated seniors
Reeti Meenakshi Rohilla - Staff Writer
During the COVID-19 pandemic many seniors have found themselves isolated from family and friends. To make these tough times a little more bearable for isolated seniors, local organizations have partnered to assemble and distribute activity bags to Sioux Lookout seniors.
Community Support Services Supervisor Madonnalyn Trojillo, said that the activity bags aim to put smiles on seniors’ faces, supporting them through these hard times. “This pandemic has been hard, especially with seniors. So, it’s just something to keep them busy, just for an activity, and we just hope to bring out awareness of our programs and what we do here, and that we can help.”
The initiative is being undertaken in partnership with the District of Kenora Homes for the Aged - Community Support Services and Riverside Community Support Services, along with other organizations, which introduced a Social Engagement Project in March. This project aims to mitigate the continuing impact of increased isolation on seniors and other vulnerable populations as a result of COVID-19, shared Trojillo. She added that the Sioux Lookout activity bag initiative is made possible with donations of goods from the Northwestern Health Unit, Giant Tiger and Fresh Market Foods.
The activity bags consist of a variety of essential and engaging items. Trojillo shared some items that the bags would carry, “We have an exercise package. There is exercise instructions with some squeeze balls and exercise rubber bands, and we’ve got some dental package from Northwest Health Unit as well. We put some playing cards in there, some coloring activities, and puzzles. There is also like train your brain package. So, just a bunch of questions to exercise your brain…we put face masks as well.”
Having created and distributed over 70 bags across the community of Sioux Lookout, the team continues to invite people to make use of this opportunity. Individuals can refer themselves or others to receive an activity bag by calling (807) 737-3142.
Community Support Services Assistant Lorraine Lacosse shared that Sioux Lookout’s community supports team operates out of Sioux Towers, a residential building for seniors, where they provide 24/7 support to their referred clients. She said, “Because we are here (Sioux Towers), we know who we have in our building and we have been targeting the seniors here and across the street in Patricia Plaza, another complex across the street. But, we want to open this up to everybody now, and…we totally want to get ourselves known out there in the community.”
Lacosse said that she shared a post on Facebook to familiarize people with the availability of these activity bags in Sioux Lookout, as well as other services offered by Community Support Services. “We’ve got a lot of other services that we do as part of community support. The busy bag was just one little thing of it,” Lacosse said, adding, “We are here for you. We are in this together and we are better together.”
The Social Engagement Project also includes friendly check-ins, security checks and system navigation for access to other resources, such as Meals on Wheels, groceries and coordination of services to support our seniors and vulnerable population during the pandemic, shared Trojillo. She said that they continue efforts to support community seniors and caregivers to the best of their abilities.