Men are more likely than women to become socially isolated because they have less contact with children, family, and friends. Enliven day programmes like Totara Club give men a place to connect with others while maintaining interests and skills, and sharing activities and experiences in the community.
“I used to work for the Ministry of Works on big dam projects down in the McKenzie Country,” says Alan McLaren, a regular member of Enliven’s Totara Club in Nelson. “I used to captain the South Canterbury rugby team down there as well. But now I’m not as fit as I used to be,” he adds with a laugh.
Despite his living more quietly these days, Totara Club gives Alan something to look forward to each week. The Club provides activities such as topical discussions and guest speakers, positive reminiscence, indoor games, exercise and relaxation, walking groups, and outings. In other words, Totara Club gives Alan, and men like him, a place to connect. “It gives me a purpose to my day, and I like meeting up the with the others in the group,” he says.
Another Totara Club member, Trevor Fish, agrees. Like many others, after an active and busy life Trevor is suffering some memory loss. “I like the fellowship with people who have a similar problem,” he says. “I appreciate the fact that it isn’t unique to me. And because I’m not driving now, I also enjoy going on outings in the van.”
At Totara Club members can feel like they are part of a community. Recently, the garden at PSUSI’s Nelson premises received an upgrade—the original landscaping of stones and grasses was replaced with a more floral and fragrant garden for the Enliven community to enjoy. To honour the original garden, some of the Totara Club men worked together to fill two gabions with stones to create a decorative pillar.
The pillar was a terrific project for the men,” said Trish Armstrong, Enliven Day Programme Coordinator. “They enjoyed putting the wire baskets together and getting their hands dirty placing the stones.”
“At Totara Club the staff put on an interesting programme and the group encourages each other,” says Alan. “I look forward to coming each week.”
Being socially active keeps older men and women happier and healthier. For more information about Enliven day programmes, visit www.psuppersouth.org.nz/enliven.