These seniors are going places

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The Fernavenue Community Services Seniors Group on their European tour

Recently a group of 24 seniors from Fernavenue Community Services (Seniors Group) in Toronto headed off on a two-week European tour. For most it was their first time visiting magnificent cities that included London, Brussels, Germany, Switzerland, Venice, Rome, Vatican City, Nice, Monte Carlo, Geneva and Paris. They were fortunate not to fall ill on their trip, but they did catch one bug- the travel bug.

They now all want to travel the world as long as they are healthy.

The Fernavenue Community Seniors Group started five years ago. According to Madhav Upadhyay, there are many South Asian families living in the area which include a number of seniors. They currently have 65 members that meet every Saturday between 4 pm and 6 pm. “We do yoga, meditation, brain exercises and often call healthcare professionals to talk about different subjects relating to health. We even bring in financial experts and dieticians from time to time,” he said.

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Over the years especially during summer, the seniors go on picnics and short trips but last year some wondered if they could actually go to Europe given that it was on many of their secret bucket lists.

According to one senior, many South Asian seniors have lives revolving around their childrens’ families. Boredom often sets in and a large number of seniors go on to live deeply unhappy lives and suffer depression. Boring routines and having little or nothing to look forward are factors causing their emotional and mental distress. This is why the whole planning of a long tour such as one that these seniors went on gives them something to look forward to and break the monotony of their existence.

Madhav Upadhyay who immigrated to Canada back in 1968 and some of the others started researching tour groups and decided to go with a UK-based tour company that made provisions for vegetarian meals. “All of us are mostly vegetarian and the concern was if we didn’t go on a tour that could not cater exclusively vegetarian meals for us, there would be a problem,” said Mr Upadhyay.

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The trip cost each senior $3,500 and every member of the group is convinced it was money well spent.

“I told the group that we need to change our mindset and become more adventurous. We aren’t getting any younger and while our mind and body is still working, we should do things we always wanted to do before it is too late,” he added.

Ever since the group returned, they seem full of energy, there is a sparkle in their eyes. Those who couldn’t make it for whatever reason are trying to ensure they can make the next big trip.

The group these days are so focused on vacations that a lot of the conversation is dominated by the subject. It seems to have eclipsed popular topics like health and well-being. At this rate, the group will have to call travel representatives to make presentations. “We are now planning for an Eastern Canada tour. Many of us have not seen that part of the country. Others haven’t been out of Ontario,” said Mr Upadhyay.

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Too many seniors depend on their children to take them on vacations, senior groups like this give its members the opportunity to get away, be independent and enjoy travel experiences without having to burden their families. It may also give their families time to value their senior family members. – CINEWS

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