Maintaining an active social life can help offset the risk of age-related depression
April 1, 2023

For Camilla MacPhee the hardest part about moving into a senior care home was the sense of isolation.

She had experience living alone – she’d been doing that for 12 years following her husband’s death. But she was still living in her own home in Souris during that time and was used to doing her own grocery shopping, running errands and visiting with friends and neighbours. But when she moved from Souris to a nursing home in Charlottetown two years ago, all those little chances for socializing disappeared.

“It was very quiet,” she said. “It was kind of lonely.”

Then, in late 2022, Camilla suffered a heart attack and was admitted to the hospital. While there, she contracted COVID-19 for the second time and became very ill. The whole ordeal made it evident to Camilla and her daughters that she would require a new level of care and the decision as taken to move her to Andrews of Stratford.

For Camilla, it was a gamechanger.

“It’s very social (here),” she said. “We have activities every day, there’s music and even Christmas Eve and Christmas Day there was a young man that came in and played the piano in the dining room during our whole meal. It was really, really nice.”

Not only are there activities scheduled daily, but the residents were also very welcoming.

“Everybody is social,” Camilla said.


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It’s an environment Andrews’ and ProTem Memory Care teams have worked hard to foster.

“I try to create an atmosphere where every resident is comfortable,” said Barb Pye, program coordinator at Andrews of Parkhill. “I find it is very important for their minds and physical health.”

Beyond simply entertaining residents, the goal of many of the group activities is to instill a sense of community.

“Seniors respond positively to socializing,” said Sharon Woods-Bryenton, program coordinator at Andrews of Stratford. “Many do not realize how much they missed being with people until they move into Andrews. I have had family say, “Mom is quiet and used to being alone,” and then they are thrilled to see how much their parent flourishes when given the chance to interact and be social with peers again.”

Activities range from exercise classes, craft and art programs, group chats over the morning newspaper to live music performances, community outings and group dining. Regardless of what the activity is, the benefit is the same.

“Even if it’s just 15 minutes a day, you need to feel like you’re putting your energy into something valuable,” said Amanda Shea, program coordinator at our Moncton home.

Amanda, who has a background in gerontology, said the risk of depression increases with age and is closely correlated with social isolation.

“It is so important to have purposeful living,” she said. “You need to be around people. If you’re not around anyone, what’s the reason to get out of bed, to get out of your pajamas?”

It’s a question Camilla, now in her second month living at Andrews, always has an answer to. Since recovering from her heart attack, she makes an effort to take part in as many activities as she can, including morning exercise and group singing. She’s even reconnected with two friends from her childhood who also live at Andrews.

“It was nice to have them here,” she said. “Everybody was very helpful and tried to initiate me into the routine here.”