by Hypatia Francis
After a laughter-filled exercise session, the class settled in for a
question period, and the students received some unexpected answers. When
they were asked if anyone had home care, 79-year-old Kathleen Russell
burst out, No! We do it on our own. Thats the point.
Spice of Life started as an offshoot of an exercise class, and reflects
the growing numbers and more complex profile of the senior citizen. Canadians
over the age of 50 now make up half the population. The older adult is
healthier, has more disposable income and is better able to get around
than ever before.
In response to a student in Crichtons class who asked what advice
the seniors had for young people, 77-year-old Geoffrey Maund said that
firm friendships are essential.
When another student asked about what changes had taken place since the
visiting seniors were young, Helen Zajchowski, 83, said, One of
the biggest changes is the opportunities that have opened up for women.
These seniors are still making a contribution, and not only by bringing
laughter and hope to audiences. Many are active volunteers in their community,
through nursing home exercise programs, Meals on Wheels, and the Victorian
Order of Nurses.
The two-hour class, filled with lively debate, went by quickly. Many
students stayed behind to thank the visitors. Among them were sociology
majors Elise Barakett and Lara Kwitko, both 20. They agreed that the class
was one of the best of the semester.
Most of us dont usually get a chance to talk to older people, Kwitko said.