Elderly people need to feel useful, have inter-generational contact, be active physically and stimulated with new ideas in nature. 150 elderly people will visit Yachana weekly to participate in agricultural projects in the rainforest. Participants have been farmers and will feel "at home" with this focus. The innovator of the program is Douglas McMeekin, who is 78 years old, has lived at Yachana for 28 years and can relate to the needs and limitations of his generation.
Many elderly people in the region are physically active but lack options for stimulation in a new environment. They are left at home alone or taking care of children. The population is poor and transportation to new locations is difficult. Most do not read so their only entertainment is TV. To "go somewhere" with their peers, exposed to new ideas, have activities they would not normally have will provide motivation and the opportunity to share what they are doing with their families.
Using its significant infrastructure and expertise Yachana has developed a program for elderly people, or tercera edad, from the region. The participants will come in the morning and return to their homes in the afternoon. The program will serve approximately 150 people weekly. The various agricultural and horticultural projects will give them a feeling of being useful and part of a community. They will choose their activities each day.
Loneliness and a feeling of uselessness are chronic problems among the elderly. This project addresses those problems by giving this generation actual working projects to be involved in. It will not be just busy work. There will be sharing time to stimulate their minds with new ideas. A major health component is their being in a 2,500 acre rainforest environment. When they go home, they will have something to share with their family raising their self-esteem.