Recreational Therapy Aide
Puzzles, gardening and a little exercise might not be the kinds of things most people get excited about, but for Theresa Ganaden, participating in these activities with the residents of Walden Heights Seniors Community in Calgary is profoundly meaningful.
"What I do makes a difference in people''s lives," says Ganaden. "My job isn''t just a paycheque."
Recreational therapy aides like Ganaden organize and conduct programs for residents - usually seniors - in living facilities throughout Alberta. Some of the people she works with have physical, mental or social disabilities. Everything Ganaden organizes is specifically designed to enhance residents'' quality of life, whether it''s leading a workout or a night of bingo.
"We exercise because that''s important to stay healthy, but health and quality of life isn''t just physical. It''s also mental, spiritual and emotional, and I love helping residents with all of those things."
For some residents, assistance from recreational therapy aides is crucial for reaching certain therapeutic goals. This means Ganaden often has to observe, document and report on their progress, but it''s rewarding because of the close bonds they develop, she says.
"I laugh with them, I have fun with them, and I grow with them. It''s a privilege to be such an important part of their later stages in life."
Ganaden acknowledges she and her fellow workers face challenges every day, but says it''s easy to find joy in her work.
"I do a lot for them, but they do so much for me. They have so many stories and experiences to share; there is always so much to learn."