Thinking ‘outside the house’ 
at Abbotsford

Abbotsford’s Broadway dance class on Zoom with instructor Lorraine Aston PHOTO: Pat Goyeche

By Julie Ireton

As COVID-19 continues to force everyone to adapt to new and safer ways of doing things, Christine Nassrallah thinks seniors should embrace new forms of technology to allow them to socialize, learn and enhance their lives.

At Abbotsford House at the Glebe Centre, programs moved over to online platforms in the spring and continue to attract active seniors, including Nassrallah.

“Some of us are very conscious of the need to stay home and not mingle, but the Zoom classes connect us to the outside world without having to leave home,” said Nassrallah, a member of Abbotsford House. “It’s a good way to diversify daily activities.”

Every Monday morning, Nassrallah and half a dozen other members grab a tea or coffee, click on their Zoom app and greet each other in Abbotsford’s virtual Spanish class.

While the classes would normally be held at the seniors’ centre across from Lansdowne Park, the online program still allows for lively conversations and direction from the instructors, according to Nassrallah.

And Zoom classes, she adds, may inspire some to do a little house cleaning before class.

“Everybody comments on what they can see in the background, maybe a painting or something in your home. One person joined from her patio in Nova Scotia.”

While the language classes help exercise the mind, Nassrallah and other seniors also take part in Abbotsford’s zumba, aerobics and stretch classes to keep the body limber.

Judith Yemen shifts the dining room table so she can take part in her “functional fitness” classes on Tuesday afternoons in the air-conditioned comfort of her Glebe home. The Zoom class, she says, motivates her to stay active.

“We’re still communicating with the instructor and the exercises are good,” said Yemen, who plans to continue her twice weekly online exercise routine into the fall.

She, like Nassrallah, has had no problem figuring out the technology, but notes that helpful staff at Abbotsford are eager to help those who have trouble getting connected.

“Once you have the app on your tablet or computer the link goes into your calendar. You go to that and tap it and it takes you right to the Zoom program,” said Yemen.

Look for new interactive programming this fall to keep connected, challenged and fit.

“Zoom, Whatsapp, FaceTime are all essential, a lifeline throughout COVID to stay in touch and stay active and keep up with family,” said Nassrallah. “All community centres should continue to look at innovations that can engage people in the community to keep them active.”

Abbotsford is your Seniors Active Living Centre for Adults 55+. It houses the community programs of The Glebe Centre Inc., a charitable, not-for-profit, organization which includes a 254-bed long-term care home. Find out more about our services by telephoning 613-230-5730 during regular business hours or by checking out all of The Glebe Centre facilities and community programs on our website

Julie Ireton is a journalist who writes regularly on activities at Abbotsford House.

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