Columbia View Lodge resident Mike McGill still finds a way to be passionate about gardening. Though the 72-year-old has limitations since suffering from a stroke

Columbia View Lodge resident Mike McGill still finds a way to be passionate about gardening. Though the 72-year-old has limitations since suffering from a stroke

The therapeutic effects of gardening

Tending to the community garden is not only physical but an emotional, social and a cognitive exercise.

“Holy moly, those tomatoes,” says Columbia View Lodge resident Mike McGill, as a recreation therapist inches his wheelchair closer to his sanctuary.

Margot Wright pushes McGill out into the yard so he can tend to his vegetable garden.

The planter has been raised and hose repositioned for his strong left hand, which he relies on only these days. The residential care facility in Trail adapted its edible green space to fit McGill’s needs. According to his chart, he is 72 years old and has lived at the facility for one year after a stroke resulted in the need for more care.

When McGill arrived his daughter and wife said he loved gardening and he virtually took over the care of the community garden. Lettuce, tomatoes, and herbs grow rampant in the raised bed and round planters. The produce cultivated is ready for harvesting now as the end of growing season nears.

“I had a garden and twice as big as this thing here,” he says with a grin. “And why not, hey? That is good.”

McGill picks a heap of lettuce to share some with the kitchen in his neighbourhood, before offering up the rest to the main kitchen to be incorporated into meals.

“We also have a whatchamacallit it,” McGill points to some greens while he searches for the words.

He struggles with aphasia, a communication disorder that results from damage or injury to language parts of the brain.

“I’ve got it but I haven’t got it,” he continues. “I mean, over to this side is good,” he traces his good hand across the left side of his face, “and the other side, not so good.”

His condition is common for someone who’s had a stroke, which occurs when a clogged or burst artery interrupts blood flow to the brain. This interruption deprives the brain of needed oxygen and causes the affected brain cells to die, in which case the functioning of the body parts that they control is impaired or lost.

But McGill doesn’t dwell on what limitations he has. The happy-go-lucky guy has always made the most of life, says Wright, who adds that the garden rejuvenates him, brings a smile to his face and gives him purpose.

“It’s fodder for conversation for us and a game of charades at times,” she laughs.

Wright likes to tease McGill. She’ll knock on his window from the courtyard and pretend to pluck the produce ripe for the picking.

“Gardening is something they’ve always done,” she says. “It brings back memories and it’s really good exercise for Mike.”

Tending to the community garden is not only physical but an emotional, social and a cognitive exercise. The process of feeding the plants, checking the soil and picking the fruit of his labour keeps McGill busy.

Columbia View Lodge uses recreational activities like this to assist residents in dealing with lifestyle constraints to ultimately encourage them to grow towards their highest level of health. The facility provides activities that “maintains the present, rejuvenates the past and promotes the learning of new leisure skills and interests,” according to Wright.

“We maintain contact with the community in which they live through community outings or in-house community programs,” she adds. “In a nutshell, activities are aimed at enhancing each resident’s quality of life as per their health and wellness needs and leisure interests.”

Activities include familiar life skill tasks like sweeping, chopping, clearing the table, baking and cooking. But it’s not all work and no play. Residents enjoy Bingo, crib and other card games, Yahtzee, bean bag toss, hallway poker, group giant crosswords and word searches.

They get in touch with their artistic side, sometimes for the first time, through crafts, colouring and painting or the creation of decorations for the facility.

Social gatherings like tea parties, featuring goodies by the Italo Canadese and the Sisters of Columbo, can regularly be found. Musical entertainment, music therapy, trivia and conversations about the “good old days” and current events are commonly shared around the table.

Physical fitness is maintained through pastimes like gardening, of course, outdoor walks and ballroom dancing.

“He does dance with me on ballroom night,” Wright shares. “He’s got that one arm and he spins me.”

The room is filled with laughter as the two show how its done.

The garden can be seen perfectly from McGill’s room and though it’s not as big as one he kept during healthier times, the man beams with pride.

“What the heck,” he says. “It’s good. No problem whatsoever.”

Just Posted

Keith Smyth, Kootenay Savings director at-large joins children from the Kids’ Care Centre at St. Michael’s Catholic School. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay Savings continues credit union’s tradition of giving

Funding totalling $48,250, is going to a wide array of Kootenay initiatives

From left: Karl Luedtke (West Arm Outdoors Club), Dale Williams (BCWF), Molly Teather (FLNORD), Gord Grunerud (West Arm Outdoors Club), Eugene Volokhov (Grand Prize Winner), Casey McKinnon and Lex Jones (Jones Boys Boats). Photo: Tammy White, Whitelight Photography
Balfour man lands big prize from angler incentive program

Eugene Volokhov of Balfour is now the proud owner of a sleek 18-foot Kingfisher boat

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

“I want to see the difference in the world, embrace it, celebrate it … ” Photo: David Cantelli/Unsplash
A new way to say ‘Hello’

“Inclusion, you see, is NOT about making us all the same.”

Waneta Manor is located on Laburnum Drive in Trail. Photo: Sheri Regnier
Senior dies as Trail tenants continue wait for broken elevator to be fixed

The elevator in Waneta Manor has been out of commission since February

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Most Read