Gwen Anderson and Elvis Bring Delight to Therapeutic Recreation
Bubbling with enthusiasm in her Elvis apron in the shape of a guitar, Gwen Anderson lights up a room with energy and enthusiasm. As a therapeutic recreation coordinator, she is committed to keeping minds sharp with interactive therapeutic activities, but her greatest asset is lifting the spirits of Catholic Eldercare residents, and giving them reason to laugh.
“I started wearing my Elvis apron during Covid, Gwen says. “It was a rough time for residents who were protected from the pandemic by staying in their rooms, and they needed something to brighten their day. It just helped us stay happy.” The colorful guitar shaped apron continues to bring a smile to resident’s faces.
Long past retirement age, Gwen’s level of energy is infectious as she welcomes participants into the activities of the day, as she has done for almost 36 years. The day of our visit, Pokeno was the game of choice. It’s similar to Bingo, but you play with a regular deck of cards. “Not everyone likes to play Bingo, so we do a variety of therapeutic activities, including singing with Nicole, our music therapist. The people in our community are all individuals, and we treat them as such. I learn more about them every day, and if they’re unable to tell us about themselves, we communicate through gestures, music, and I learn from their behaviors. It’s not much different from the rest of the world out there.”
Gwen has resident friends from all over the world and she loves learning about their lives and their countries. “Some don’t speak English, but I try to understand them, and we figure it out together.”
Gwen’s therapy sparks happy memories, recalled and shared by residents when they hear a song or play a familiar game. “It’s wonderful to work for Catholic Eldercare. “I’m proud to tell people I’ve worked here 36 years, and I’m happy they’ve put up with me all those years,” Gwen says with a chuckle. “It’s a lot of fun, and I’ve met a lot of people who have real love in their hearts.” Well Gwen, so do you.