October News [2018]

Tonari Gumi’s Lighthouse Programs provide adult day services to seniors who are frail or having a hard time participating in other programs due to various health reasons. The Lighthouse Program provides slow-paced activities that focus on helping seniors who find themselves becoming isolated due to physical challenges such as vision, auditory, mobility challenges, and early to mid-stage dementia to socialize and to participate with others. The Programs are also intended to provide some respite for caregivers. Tonari Gumi’s Lighthouse Program comes in two different formats:

  • Monday’s Lighthouse Program starts in the afternoon and runs for two and half hours. It is shorter than our Wednesday Program and is structured for those seniors who find the longer program too difficult. The Monday program is run by volunteers with a basic ratio of almost one volunteer for each senior. Each session is like meeting with close friends with whom you enjoy chatting, joking, doing some light exercises, sharing a snack, playing games and laughing a lot together.
  • Wednesday’s Lighthouse Program is a full day program that runs from 10:00am until 3:00pm with a hot Japanese lunch provided in between. Diverse activities are incorporated into the program such as chatting, fall prevention exercises, oral muscle exercises, memory therapy, art and crafts, brain exercise games, watching videos, lunch, snacks, bon dance, music therapy, simple juggling, bingo, ball games, massage, etc. The program is directed by a bilingual staff coordinator, assisted by volunteers.

The bilingual aspect of Tonari Gumi’s Lighthouse Programs is important because a major problem faced by many first-generation (issei) Japanese Canadian seniors is “a language and cultural barrier”. This is not something that they only face outside the home, but is also something they confront with their own family members who were born and raised in Canada. As they get older, the language problem becomes more serious. There are also a number of second-generation (nisei) seniors who speak English, but are also comfortable with Japanese and enjoy the food and culture. Within the Lighthouse Programs, we create an environment that allows the seniors to express themselves freely and have fun together without any language or cultural barriers. They enjoy chatting in Japanese, joking each other, doing some activities together, and laughing a lot.

Another key aspect of the Wednesday Lighthouse Program is the hot lunch prepared by our lunch program volunteers. They put their heart and soul into preparing Japanese home-style meals to satisfy our seniors’ needs. The well-balanced TG lunch comes with rice, soup, vegetables (often fresh from Tonari Gumi’s community garden), a main course item (very often fish or seafood) and dessert. Given that many of our seniors live in Care Homes that don’t provide any Japanese meals, these seniors really look forward to participating in the program and enjoying our hearty TG lunch. 

Whether it be our shorter Monday program or our full day Wednesday program, Tonari Gumi’s Lighthouse Programs are focused on providing a warm and welcoming atmosphere that respects and accepts each participant for who they are. Interested participants and caregivers should contact Tonari Gumi at 604.687.2172. 

This post is also available in: 日本語 (Japanese)