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Helping seniors perform at their best

Roseleen McGraw’s outlook on life and her health are a lot rosier after taking part in the Concordia PERFORM Centre’s Heathy Living Program for Seniors.
January 14, 2019
By Ursula Leonowicz

Before Roseleen McGraw took part in the Healthy Living Program for Seniors at Concordia’s PERFORM Centre, the septuagenarian was having trouble sleeping.

“I was prescribed both epilepsy and schizophrenia medication to help me sleep but I didn’t feel comfortable taking the pills so I cancelled the prescriptions. Two days later, I came in to the PERFORM Centre and they asked if I’d like to join a meditation group,” McGraw says.

Heathy Living Program for Seniors Roseleen McGraw received a complete a fitness assessment as part of the Healthy Living Program for Seniors. | Photo: Concordia University

She then brought those techniques home. “I turned off all the lights, put my scarf over my eyes and calmed my mind. It felt nice. From there, it went to all kinds of places: flowing water, greenery, colours. And it put me to sleep.”

After a year in the community program, McGraw now meditates regularly. She also works out three times a week and follows a nutritious meal plan.

McGraw first heard of the healthy living program through an ad in her community newspaper. The PERFORM Centre was launching a six-month program aimed at teaching autonomous pensioners 65 and older new ways to stay strong and healthy on a budget.

“We started in a small group and all supported each other but now I do it on my own because I have strength. I do yoga, strength training, cardio: everything.”

The healthy living program was made possible thanks to a $1.5-million gift from the R. Howard Webster Foundation. The grant went toward supporting student athletes and next-generation preventative health research.

“[When I entered the program], I had a spinal curvature. I was starting to lean over and had no strength, but I didn’t know it until I got here,” McGraw says. “Without the foundation’s donation, I’d be at home and I never would have had this experience; so many of us seniors would really be isolated. I’m so thankful. I think this place is blessed. I swear I have seen little wings poking through the staff’s shirts. They’re so caring, respectful and always ready to listen and help.”

This isn’t the first time Concordia has made a significant impact on her life, says McGraw. After enrolling in the university’s Irish Studies program a few years ago, she met a fellow student and old neighbourhood friend who conducted an ancestry search on McGraw’s family.

“I found out that my parents — a Catholic and a Protestant — were married. My whole life, I believed that they weren’t,” she says.

“That’s the thing about Concordia: it just keeps giving. There’s always another dream and a new beginning.”

For more information about the PERFORM Centre’s Healthy Living Program for Seniors, call 514-848-2424, ext. 4023.

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