Montreal seniors find creative ways to curb social isolation amid the pandemic

Staying social, active, and in good spirits

Michèle Lussier opened a home in to women in her community. The women gather frequently and participate in activities including making art and knitting. Photo Olivia Integlia
Michèle Lussier, 71, is working on pastel drawing in her at-home art studio. She has been makingart since she was 15 and it remains her favourite pastime. Photo Olivia Integlia
Lucie Beaudreault greatly enjoys attending the art workshops organized by Lussier. She has learned almost everything she knows about art from Lussier, her good friend and neighbour. Photo Olivia Integlia
Lussier proudly displays her artwork in her studio. Over the last month, she has worked tirelessly on an abstract pastel drawing. Photo Olivia Integlia
The women organize different activities to combat social isolation during the pandemic. Photo Olivia Integlia
Anna Longo, 72, crochets a scarf. Photo Olivia Integlia
Marcella Bruno, 71, knits a scarf for her son. She is grateful to be surrounded by a group of women who have grown to become her friends. Photo Olivia Integlia
Dina Morena, 70, cross-country skiing in Bois de Liesse Park. She takes advantage of the winter season to ski as much as possible. On average, Morena goes three times a week. “It is important to stay active at my age. It adds years to my life,” she says. Photo Olivia Integlia
Morena skis quickly through the intermediate pathway at Bois de Liesse Park. Despite popular misconceptions surrounding seniors, Morena is very active. Photo Olivia Integlia
Liliana Di Bottis, 74, smiles as she glances at her husband, Pietro. The St-Leonard couple spend all their time together. Since the pandemic, they have been isolated from family and friends but help one another make the most of each moment. Photo Olivia Integlia
Pietro Pari, 80, plays scopa—an Italian card game—with his wife Liliana. The two of them joke and playfully bicker about the rules of the game. “My husband does not want to play with me anymore because I always win,”  De Bottis joked. Playing cards have become a part of their everyday routine since the pandemic. Photo Olivia Integlia

Throughout the pandemic, seniors in Montreal have defied the stereotypes they sometimes face. Seniors have often been portrayed as being isolated at home for the past two years, secluded from friends and family. 

However, many have since adapted and found various activities to keep them active and entertained. Seniors have proven to be extremely resilient, said Rocio Barreno, Generation’s coordinator of The Yellow Door—an organization that connects youth with seniors to help with day-to-day tasks. 

In the beginning of the pandemic, all of The Yellow Door activities were adapted online, Barreno explained. Doing so, however, did not come without challenges for older adults. 

“The activities were very easy to move on Zoom but of course we have the challenge for seniors,” said Barreno. “Unfortunately, we lost some of the regular members who did not have internet at home or did not have a computer, or did not know or feel comfortable on Zoom.”  

Despite this many found entertainment in renting out books, puzzles, and films from local libraries. Others relied on their partners for entertainment and played board games, cooked, or simply enjoyed one another’s company. 

As in-person activities resume, many seniors are lining up to participate in activities at their local recreation centres and volunteer organizations.