Pine Valley Lodge resident, Esther Schellenberg, paints during one of the lodge’s paint events
Painting has always been part of Norene Cooper’s life and, fortunately, she has been able to keep painting while living at the Pine Valley Lodge.
In the mid 1970s she began taking art lessons and went on to become an accomplished artist. Her artwork has been featured in museums, art shows and other local venues.
The award winning artist moved into the senior’s lodge in Hinton nearly three years ago, but due to her health she hasn’t been able to teach any more lessons. She still likes to paint in her room and also joins the lodge activities like painting with other residents.
“It’s important to keep painting because I love it. Painting to me is keeping my mind on what I’m doing as the rest of the world goes by. It keeps me busy and I love painting,” she said.
She admits that she hasn’t been able to finish a few of her paintings that sit against the wall in her room but when she gets to hold her paintbrush in her hand, it serves as a bit of an escape. Teaching has become too difficult because of her fading memory, she said, but hopes the lodge continues to host painting events for others.
“I like to see them continue painting. It’s just a way of being thankful I guess,” she said.
“I think it’s important to the ones that really enjoy painting, not everybody does.”
Daily planned activities to enhance the resident’s living at the lodge are categorized in physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, cultural, sensory, and outings.
“Each one of them has an effect on every one of their well beings. If we have some residents in here that have dementia, we like to do a lot of sensory things with them to try and help them with their memory and such,” said Danielle Burdett, activity coordinator.
Outings are the biggest events on the list that usually get the most traction from the residents.
“You want to get them out of the building so they don’t get cabin fever,” said Burdett of the weekly outings.
Burdett added that with an extra worker throughout the weekend, their capacity for more outings has grown.
“We’re changing a lot of roles in this building so that gives us an opportunity to get in more outings on the weekends too,” she said.
Throughout the week, caretakers encourage residents to keep doing physical activities like going for walks, gardening, or taking their inside activities outside.
Burdett stated that, often, seniors can get depressed without their family or visitors around, and these activities keep their minds focused on other things.
Through surveys, Burdett figures out what residents like to do and what they’re interested in.
“A lot of them like to crochet and knit, but we can do that outside too to get some vitamin D. In the winter we focus on indoor events. In the summer we try to get them out as much as we can,” she said.
The seniors are able to interact with each other and help each other through these planned activities.
Community involvement is also a huge component within the lodge community, although not every resident likes these events.
“They like to just keep to themselves a lot of the time, the only common area is here. In the new building there will be more options and rooms,” she said, pointing at the common area.
“It’s like bringing strangers into their home and some don’t like that.”
Community involvement isn’t only important for the seniors, but Burdett hopes it helps teach the community that there are elders who should be respected. She hopes the community understands that these people need others to come and show them their appreciation.
“We have a fiddle group coming in at the end of the month. And we had some of the kids sing for us on Saturday,” she said.
Burdett looks forward to when the new building of the Pine Valley Lodge is built in a few years from now, which will give them more space and allow more opportunities for different activities with the residents.