Involved in their community at any age

Chilliwack residents of Hampton House enjoy participating in the Adopt-A-Grandparent program and other activities that keep them integrated.

Eight-year-old Mykeal Kronebusch and 89-year-old Lillian Sjogren laugh while making snakes with Play-Doh during the the Adopt-A-Grandparent program at Hampton House on Monday.

As people age with the inevitable march of time, it’s important for them to still feel wholly integrated into their community.

At Hampton House on Hodgins Street that’s precisely what they have in mind with a couple of key programs, says Lifestyle Program manager Tracey McDonald.

“Because mobility is always a big issue, we’ve made it so that our residents can still be part of their community. They can volunteer and give back meaningfully from within the comfort of their own home.”

Two programs have been keeping them particularly busy.

One is called Adopt-A-Grandparent, which fosters cross-generational relationships between the seniors and students of Central elementary.

“When the kids arrive, they go right for the hugs and snuggles,” says McDonald. “The residents and the kids, they adopt each other.”

The heart-warming program is one of her favourites.

It’s only an hour long after-school program, but it’s already making a big difference in all of their lives.

“There’s a nice bond that gets formed between the kids and residents,” says McDonald.

They have been kept busy with Adopt-A-Grandparent every Monday since September.

“We do whatever activity we think the kids will like, which can be adapted for our residents to also enjoy,” McDonald says.

Lillian Sjogren is a retired Grade 1 teacher who still loves interacting with the children who walk over to Hampton House at the start of every week.

They look forward to Mondays now.

“It’s just like being a grandma again,” she says. “I’ve been one several times.”

During the hour-long activity, they might play a game, learn some line dancing, or read a book. Sometimes they do crafts with the kids or get their energy up with make-believe horse-racing in the common room.

Being involved in the young people’s lives, it makes her feel young again as she approaches her 90th birthday. Sjogren was an elementary school teacher for more than 40 years.

“I loved every minute of my teaching career,” she says, adding that she has no sympathy for anyone who says they’re bored, since there’s so much that they can do.

“Several of us have gone ahead and adopted a little person from Central,” she says.

One of the signature programs at Hampton is based on the acronym HOPE, for Helping Others through Purposeful Engagement. It’s a partnership with Chilliwack Community Services, where the residents gather items to put together adorable baby baskets once a month for teenage moms in Chilliwack.

“We’re working on our seventh gift basket so far, which will be ready to be picked up by the end of the month,” says McDonald.

It’s everything a young pregnant mom might need at the ready, from diapers, and wipes, to cute, gently used clothing.

“It brings a tear to my eye it’s so wonderful,” Sjogren says about putting together the baby baskets.  “It makes you feel so thankful that you can help in this way. The mothers always thank us and are so grateful for the support, it’s heart-wrenching. It’s obvious they need our help.”

Through her active involvement in these programs, Sjogren says it reminds her that she still has useful talents and can share them.

“It wakes us up to participate. You realize you are still very much alive and still very capable of helping others. There’s a sense of freedom in that.”

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