Residents at St. Albert Retirement Residence don't know what the fuss is all about. But the playful, Oilers-themed TikTok videos orchestrated by the facility's recreation staff and starring a few 90-somethings cheering or sparring over playoff hockey have gone viral--almost 225,000 views and counting for one of the handful of recent short videos posted to social media. It's struck a chord, with media across the country embracing the sweet videos cheering on the home team.
"We started making TikTok videos in August 2020, but the handful of newer ones with residents dressed in jerseys and wigs, cheering on the Oilers--the reaction has been so surprising. It's great for the residents, to stay connected to trends and the world outside the home, and families love seeing them too," said Lori Kary, recreation therapist at St. Albert Retirement Residence and regional director of health and wellness for All Seniors Care. "Gib and Ron, residents who are in all the Oilers videos--they're good sports, game to do whatever we've got planned, but they don't think they're stars."
"You've got to be kidding. I've never done anything like this before," said 98-year-old Gilbert Paradis, one of those featured in the popular Oilers videos. "We used to have Oilers tickets at the old Coliseum for years, going to all the games before they moved to Rogers Place. Doing this has been a lot of fun."
Kary says for she and recreation aide Loida Geralde (who helps plan and shoots all the videos--who'll play the roles, costumes, wigs, background people etc) it's part of the overall recreation programming at the facility, which has a bigger goal of providing creative, engaging and innovative programming for the site's 200-odd residents.
"We've done other videos--one called 'Just Beat It' around our cardio drumming program, and another one with a resident using a face cream that appears to make her age backwards," said Kary, pointing to other popular recreation activities like happy hours, makeover days or Takeout Tuesday (where whoever wants to join in can grab a fast-food favourite or treat). "The videos are fun because they're like short skits; they can include talk or music or impersonations. But our residents still love their bingo and ice cream socials too."
Still, when Kary and team post TikTok Sensations on the weekly schedule, many residents (most in their 80s and 90s) turn up to be part of the scene or watch their friends, neighbours and table mates don wigs and costumes.
"Residents didn't know what TikTok was when we started, but they get the idea now. We have a coming video where Gib is calling our Calgary facility--Auburn Heights. We're in the Battle of Alberta after all, and proud of the Oilers, so we hope to keep this going for a while," Kary said.
"But ultimately, this is all a day in the life for our residents. The biggest thing we want people to see is that retirement living doesn't mean life is stopping--it's just another chapter. We're all about aging well and living well."
To view the videos, see the St. Albert Retirement Residence Facebook page or go to email@example.com