'It's better than sunshine': Program promotes health and wellness for Waterloo Region seniors

A special day program pivoted to smaller gatherings and virtual visits to continue promoting health, wellness and dignity for seniors living in Waterloo Region amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Robert Clemens and his wife are long-time clients of the K-W Seniors Day Program.

"I've been coming here for over 12 years now," Clemens said. "Right from entertainment to socializing to help with all your troubles, they do everything for you."

Prior to the pandemic, clients could see each other in-person daily. Now, any in-person gatherings are much smaller and physically distanced with personal protective equipment. There are more virtual meet ups and home visits these days.

"From picking up groceries for somebody that was isolated to going to the food bank to picking up food at the bank for them, helping to declutter their homes, to just being there," said Director Deanne Gillies.

Families and caregivers said staff have made a noticeable difference in clients' lives over the past year.

"Connecting them, reducing their isolation, helping them have meaningful and engaging opportunities," said Teresa Ruetz, a daughter of one of the clients. "It's just wonderful they can offer this service."

"I get a text every single day after her program," caregiver Daisy Arsenault said. "She lets me know what she did, who was visiting with her, what she ate. It's just so nice for her to have something to share with me."

Clemens said staff and clients at the K-W Seniors Day Program are like family, helping each other feel stronger together.

"It's better than sunshine," he said. "I don't know what we would do without them."