Katherine, a 72-year-old from a seaside community in Rhode Island, has recently undergone a major transformation in her life. After hip surgery at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Katherine found herself without the capacity to be as active as she had been previously. Before the surgery, she regularly went to yoga, participated in SilverSneakers classes, and was always on the go. Between the pandemic and surgery, her life turned around, and she found herself staying in much more. She joined the Village Common of Rhode Island, a support group that offers assistance to get to doctors' appointments and other services to help her through this time.
An email from this group introduced her to GetSetUp, an online platform for older adults, offered for free for her as a Rhode Island resident thanks to the partnership with the Rhode Island Office of Healthy Aging. An avid adventurer, traveler, former teacher, and social worker who had served in the Peace Corps in Brazil, she was ready to explore something new. She decided to try it out while her husband was in Brazil for three months visiting family. Due to the surgery, she was unable to join her husband in Brazil -, so she found herself home - alone.
Staying active while at home
Katherine was looking for ways to stay active and engaged as her body worked to recover.
"I can’t say enough about GetSetUp for me, it was like a miracle, it really, really was."
The platform has given Katherine the opportunity to participate in a wide range of activities, from art to writing and Tai Chi. It has helped her to regenerate her dormant self.
“So every day when I started the day, it was full of things to do. Almost every hour on the hour I was trying something new.”
The wall behind her has a number of drawings that she has created thanks to GetSetUp art classes. Plus, she has a whole folder of more artwork. She also took a class on making a collage for gratefulness. Her collage is a drawing of a blooming tree full of positive words blossoming on the branches. The negative words like 'fear' are discarded in the fallen leaves - present - but on the way to decomposition.
Katherine's favorite activities on GetSetUp are the art classes.
"Every single one of the classes is wonderful. I did art many years ago, and these classes regenerated so much of my dormant self," she says.
She has just re-ordered more art supplies to keep up with her classes in quilling, drawing, collaging, and more.
A thriving virtual community
Another aspect of GetSetUp that Katherine finds particularly appealing is the sense of community that classes foster. She’s enjoyed community sessions led by Cheryl, Kristine and Rebecca.
"Many of the women had been in these groups together for almost two years. When I kept coming back they welcomed me into their group. The classes feel really community-like. There are people from all over with mutual similar interests," says Katherine.
The platform has allowed Katherine to connect with people from all over the country. She was impressed to hear that some of the learners had even visited each other in person.
“When my husband was in Brazil this time, for the first time in my life, I feared if I could take care of myself. These classes allowed me to connect to someone almost every day, which was important. Plus, I could be vulnerable with some groups and share my current struggles.”
GetSetUp has also provided Katherine with an outlet for her creativity in a positive environment. In one session, the Guide offered up a thoughtful prompt. She suggested participants look through magazines and get inspiration.
“I found this little guy, Yoda, that said ‘May the force be with you," she said, “and that day I was getting bone scan results. Fear was at the forefront of my mind. And it was the first time I told the group what my physical issues were as I shared this magazine clipping that resonated with me. I had never said that, but I was inspired to see women participating from nursing homes or on bedrest for months. I needed to share myself, and I got a lot of support back.”
This type of creativity and self-expression has been invaluable for Katherine.
Katherine has also enjoyed participating in Tai Chi classes with Ty and quilling classes with Deana. She has found true inspiration in Guide-led art classes with Sue and Pam. Plus, she's enjoyed sharing her art in Community sessions like those led by Omi. And although she has yet to try the meditation classes, she says she loves the idea of them and looks forward to getting them on her schedule.
Katherine's positive experience with GetSetUp has been life-changing. She has even encouraged her husband and friends to sign up for the platform. She continues to spread the word about GetSetUp to anyone who will listen. Her husband, of almost 20 years, has enjoyed a few classes, too, including a bread-making class. He recently tested his knowledge by baking a fresh loaf of bread.
Through the platform, Katherine has rediscovered her love of art, found a supportive community of like-minded individuals, and had the opportunity to participate in a wide range of activities.
As she says, "I can't say enough about GetSetUp. I give it a score of 100%. I brag about it. I think it’s a perfect fit.”