Wheeling and dealing with depression
July 25, 2013
More seniors on a mood-lifting roll thanks to ‘Duet’ bicycles
Story by Kerri Robins; Photo courtesy Darla Hurt
Bicycles built for two are lifting the spirits of long-term care residents in the South Zone as they pedal away depression.
Ten wheelchair bikes — or “duet bikes” — are racking up some serious kilometres around a number of care centres here, by seniors say they’re really enjoying the ride.
Barbara Sifton, long-term care resident at Bow Island Health Centre, looks forward to getting out on the modified bicycles.
“I used to bike ride, you know,” says Sifton. “I love it; I feel so free.”
The bikes offer benefits to both seniors and staff as they pedal towards a healthier lifestyle, says Keshia Halmrast, a recreation therapist who works with seniors in the long-term care unit at the Bow Island Health Centre.
“It’s a good workout for us and it gets our seniors outside to enjoy some fresh air and feel a bit of freedom and social interaction,” adds Halmrast.
“The bike is used as part of therapy for seniors who experience mild to moderate depression or are at risk of depression — for example, seniors suffering from chronic illness, bereavement and loss, or those who are socially isolated.”
The recreation therapist sits behind his or her patient, to pedal and steer the bike, which features a detachable wheelchair.
Kim Bohnet’s grandmother participates in the cycling program and Bohnet says she’s happy her grandmother is able to get out in the community.
“Grandma just thinks it’s the best. I’m very thankful that Bow Island has a bike for grandma to enjoy,” says Bohnet.
Lori Pyne, Therapeutic Recreation Manager, South Zone, Alberta Health Services, says she’s happy with the success of the biking program.
“Wheelchair biking fits with senior therapy and we’ve seen some great improvement in our seniors participating in the program over 2012,” says Pyne.
“Using a scale method for recording depressive symptoms, we’ve seen a 91-per-cent decrease in depressive symptoms and 82 per cent of seniors reported a better night’s sleep (afterwards).”
The bikes rolled in thanks to donations on behalf of some South Zone foundations. Bow Island & District Health Foundation, along with Crowsnest Pass Health Foundation, Brooks & District Health Foundation and Oyen & District Health Care Foundation, have each purchased bikes, which cost about $7,000 apiece.
Dianne Hyland, Chairperson of the Bow Island & District Health Foundation, says she’s grateful for the quality senior care in her community.
“We are truly grateful for the community support we receive,” says Hyland. “The bike promotes a healthy active lifestyle — and that’s important, especially for some of our seniors who might not be able to get outside as much.”
Visit www.albertahealthservices.ca/give for information on South Zone foundations.