Although there’s a pandemic, Theresa Hamilton said coming to chat with Merr Olsen keeps a sense of normality through the crisis. “It’s routine,” she said. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

Although there’s a pandemic, Theresa Hamilton said coming to chat with Merr Olsen keeps a sense of normality through the crisis. “It’s routine,” she said. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

Not alone: Volunteers play tic-tac-toe on seniors’ windows

‘Hopefully this will go beyond COVID-19’

A woman taps on Merr Olsen’s window at Mt. Cartier Court, a long-term care facility in Revelstoke. She’s brought packing tape, whiteboard markers and a pack of cards. Olsen recognizes his guest and smiles.

He’s expecting her.

Although long term care homes are not accepting visitors due to the COVID-19 crisis, it hasn’t stopped volunteers from playing tic-tac-toe on residents’ windows to keep them company.

“There are no cons to this. It’s positive right from the start,” said Theresa Hamilton with Revelstoke Hospice Society.

“Continuing social interactions are important.”

Tic-tac-toe. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

There have been multiple outbreaks of the disease in care homes throughout Canada, including the Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver where 11 residents have died, 40 more have the virus and 21 staff are ill.

In B.C., 19 long term care homes are dealing with outbreaks. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 91 per cent of deaths from COVID-19 as-of-April 6 in the U.S., are above the age of 55.

As-of-April 3, Interior Health said there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in any of the care homes in Revelstoke.

Hamilton met Olsen years prior when she worked at the local pharmacy. She remembers one time when the power went out and they had to empty the store, staff found Olsen left behind. He had fallen asleep in a chair.

The two have been friends ever since.

Outside a window at Mt. Cartier Court. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

While Olsen is living at Mt. Cartier Court, Hamilton makes sure she visits. Sometimes they just chat through the window, often reverting to miming as the thick glass muffles chatter. Other times Hamilton has built a snowman outside his window with the fresh snow.

Today, the two are playing hangman, the guessing game where one player thinks of a word and the other tries to guess it by suggesting letters,

“It’s nice you come see me,” said Olsen after guessing Hamilton’s word (Summer) correctly. This morning, his window is open a crack, letting in chirps of returning robins.

The two chat about the day, such as Olsen’s favourite movie (Bridge over the River Kwai) and what he had for breakfast (eggs).

Although there’s a pandemic, Hamilton said coming to chat with Olsen keeps a sense of normality through the crisis.

“It’s routine,” she said.

The hospice is looking for more volunteers to engage with seniors in whatever form that might be. Whether it’s games on windows or a phone chat.

Hamilton said she hopes people will come and make new friends, creating a bond that will last longer than the pandemic.

“Hopefully this will go beyond COVID-19.”

Mt. Cartier Court. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

Even without the virus, Hamilton said seniors are at a high risk of social isolation and depression. According to a study by the Canadian Institute for Health Information, nearly half of seniors in residential care facilities across the country have symptoms of depression.

“It’s important that Revelstoke pays attention to this,” Hamilton said.

She continues visiting a senior even for an hour once a week, can vastly improve their life.

“Nobody deserves to be alone.”

Those interested in volunteering can contact the hospice society at revhosp@telus.net.

READ MORE: BC Ferries to bring in health checks as feds restrict marine travel due to COVID-19

READ MORE: WATCH: North Okanagan seniors stay fit in self-isolation


 

@pointypeak701
liam.harrap@revelstokereview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CoronavirusSeniorsVolunteer

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

(Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

(Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)

Just Posted

(Pixabay photo)
‘Cocaine bananas’ arrive at Kelowna grocery stores after mix up from Colombia: RCMP

Kelowna RCMP recently concluded an international drug investigation after finding cocaine in local grocers’ banana shipments in 2019

Amanda Parsons, a registered nurse on staff at the Northwood Care facility, administers a dose of the Moderna vaccine to Ann Hicks, 77, in Halifax on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan-Pool
61 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

Twenty-nine people are in hospital, seven of whom are in intensive care

(Big White Ski Resort)
28 more cases of COVID-19 linked to Big White cluster

More than 200 cases have been identified since the cluster was announced

The sale of the Kirschner Mountain Development for $22M marks the largest in Realtor history, in the Okanagan. (Contributed)
Kirschner Mountain development sold for $22M

The sale of the 640-acre Kirschner Mountain development has made the history books

Fire in shed in alley off Stockwell. (Michael Rodriguez - Kelowna Capital News)
UPDATE: Smoke seen rising from shed on Stockwell Avenue

Kelowna firefighters are on scene of a home after reports of a blaze

Syringe is prepared with one of B.C.’s first vials of Pfizer vaccine to prevent COVID-19, Victoria, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 caseload stays steady with 465 more Tuesday

No new outbreaks in health care facilities, 12 more deaths

(Stock photo)
EDITORIAL: COVID-19 restrictions continue to affect us all

Canada has recorded more than 700,000 confirmed cases of pandemic

A couple living at the Summerland Waterfront Resort is trying to sell their unit because of strata changes which will require them to pay significantly higher strata fees or have their unit included in the resort’s rental pool (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Couple living at Summerland resort facing increases

Permanent residents of Summerland Waterfront Resort told fees will more than double

Police are seeking further witnesses after an elderly woman who was struck by a vehicle in Salmon Arm succumbed to her injuries. (File Photo)
Salmon Arm pedestrian dies after being hit by truck along Highway 1

Collision took place on Jan. 15 in downtown Salmon Arm, police looking for witnesses

A cow moose wanders around the Silver Star Elementary School neighbourhood Tuesday, Jan. 19. (Contributed)
Moose chases two people near North Okanagan school

Conservation and dog control attending to the situation

New Westminster TV production designer, Rick Whitfield, has designed an office in a box for British Columbians in need of a private workspace. (BC Box Office photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. man designs ‘box office’ solution for those working from home

‘A professionally designed workspace on your property, away from the distractions of home’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Chilliwack ER doctor Marc Greidanus is featured in a video, published Jan. 18, 2021, where he demonstrates and describes effectiveness of various styles of masks. (Youtube)
VIDEO: Emergency room doctor runs through pros and cons of various masks

‘We’ve been asked to wear a mask and it’s not that hard,’ Greidanus says.

(Pixabay photo)
VIDEO: Tip to Metro Vancouver transit police helps woman 4,000 km away in Ohio

Sgt. Clint Hampton says transit police were alerted to a YouTube video of the woman in mental distress

Most Read