Adapting to online programming for seniors in the Cochrane area may have been challenging at first, but it's proving to be a valuable way to reach an even larger audience.

The Seniors on the Bow is known to be a beehive of activity for a wide range of social, educational, and fitness activities that have been disrupted by the pandemic. Many activities are now offered online and are expanding in number.

Hillary Cornelius-Stormon, older adults community liaison and programmer for Family and Community Support Services, says online programs are helping connect with more people.

She says isolation isn't a new issue. Even before the pandemic, there were numerous other barriers that prevented seniors from connecting with each other.

"What we have been finding is people who couldn't previously join in community events, whether it be they don't have transportation, or they're a caregiver or they're at home because of health reasons, are now able to participate more than they ever have been before because they can participate online and be part of the community.

"So, that's one of the benefits that we've been finding from having these online programs. It actually reaches further into our community and helps to address some of the isolation that we're seeing."

What's new?

To complement existing programs, there is a variety of new offerings being launched.

Cornelius-Stormon says the "thrive" series will help build up ourselves and others in the community during the pandemic and beyond. 

"It's really about providing quality information, where we can come together and ask questions about information, and learn about topics that are beneficial for well-being."

Today, Thurs. Jan. 21, is the first session of Live Strong and Resilent Program that's available free of charge.

This program aims to provide support to help reduce stress and stay strong during the pandemic and beyond. Together, participants will explore various components of well-being: physical, mental, emotional, environmental, and getting paperwork together.

It will help participants set goals, get access to a well-being coach, peer support, weekly tips, and one-hour workshops either online or over the phone.

Today's session is from 2 to 3 p.m, and others are being held Thurs. Feb. 4 from 11 a.m. to 12 noon, and Tues. Feb. 16 from 2 to 3 p.m.

To register, call Maureen toll-free at1 888 423 9666 or email

Further information can also be found here

Dr. Cameron M. Clark, PhD, R. Psyc. is presenting the new education session Brain Aging and Changing Minds that's being offered free of charge.

It's an opportunity to learn about memory, how it changes with age, and understand some of the factors that can make your memory better or worse.

Dr. Clark is a clinical neuropsychologist in Calgary, specializing in neuropsychological assessment, neurorehabilitation, and memory intervention who operates

The new four-week program Compass For The Caregiver runs from Feb. 9 to Mar. 2 and is designed to assist a family member or friend living with challenges resulting from disability, illness, or aging. It aims to make the journey less difficult by addressing the balancing act, managing stress, navigating the system, and more.

There is a $20 fee for this program.

A third online movement and wellness class is being launched next Wednesday (Jan. 27) called Qugong.

Qigong is a simple and effective method for optimal health, wellness, and happiness. It incorporates simple movements, either sitting or standing, along with breath, sound, and visualization. Class is followed by a guided meditation.

Already existing were gentle yoga and Zumba gold classes that continue to grow in population and in some cases participation is exceeding the number of people who will participate in the live sessions.

There's more to these classes than improving physical health,"  explains Cornelius-Stormon.

"It's actually about joining together as a community, seeing familiar faces online and having a conversation, and spending time together doing something that is good for you."

All of these movement and wellness classes are offered free of charge.

Even after SOTB is able to reopen, it's likely some online options will remain available.

"It definitely impacted how we approach and respond to isolation and this has really shown us the benefits that having online programs can have."

"As much as we want to get back to in-person--we all are itching for that--we know that this has really supported and helped a lot of people in our community and people that can't participate in person."

In the last census, there were about 8,000 people 50 and over in Cochrane, and that number is projected to increase by 300 per cent over the next 10 to 15 years.

"That's going to be one of our biggest areas of growth in Cochrane," she says.

You can find more information on these and other programs here. You can also contact FCSS at 403-851-2250.