“For many years, we have not had a lovely day like today.”
More than 50 seniors living at Menno Court enjoyed a special day at the end of February. For many years, they had not been able to come together to share food, celebrate a festival or watch a live music performance. But, they had all the happiness this year.
Menno Court is an independent living site with about 300 seniors. Most of them are low income and socially isolated. Since last summer, the South Vancouver Neighbourhood House – Allies in Aging – Neighbourly Together Project has provided information sessions, door-to-door outreach, and neighbourly gatherings there. It cheers up the seniors. They believe they are not forgotten.
During the Lunar New Year Festival, Neighbourly Together invited a Chinese traditional musical band to give a live performance. The band brought back sweet memory to the Chinese seniors, as well as to those from diverse cultural backgrounds. More exciting, a few residents shared their own talents such as playing harmonica and singing. Some seniors helped setting up in the early morning without being asking. They also felt so good when neighbours appreciated their volunteering.
Sam (not his real name) lives in BC Housing and was very much alone and isolated. Before outreach connected him with Burnaby Neighbourhood House, his main destination was a fast food restaurant near his home. After becoming a regular at the Seniors’ Together Program, he started to volunteer with set-up and now joins other seniors on a monthly outdoor program. More recently, Sam joined a new seniors’ community kitchen program, where he is learning about nutrition and how to cook for himself. Through his involvement with Allies, he has increased his social network and embraced a healthier lifestyle, even shifting to green tea instead of drinking coffee.
“When I was unexpectedly retired, I thought what do I do? I move forward. With the support of my family I was encouraged to get out and get involved in something new. I came to Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House, I decided to take Senior Peer Counselling, which led to training as a Neighbourly Together volunteer. I just feel so good working with seniors. I bring patience and good listening skills.
“Now, I’ve gone from a volunteer to a leadership role, supporting a volunteer team doing Neighbourly Together outreach. I like to encourage other volunteers and motivate them. This kind of role has given me a new confidence. It has added so much to my life. I hope to enjoy the rest of my life as an active person. It has turned my life around 180 degrees. Embrace every day and say, ‘This is going to be a good day’. That’s how I live my life.”
Transportion is essential for seniors to remain connected to our communities. Seniors who can’t get around are at risk for isolation.
On average women live for 10 years after they stop driving and men live for 7 years after they stop driving. Our communities need to prepare to ensure seniors can get around.
Seniors need accessible, affordable, acceptable, adaptable and available transportation options.
These options need to be integrated into a coordinated network. Communities need to be designed and retrofitted to be age-friendly. Tools are needed to help seniors navigate options and plan. These tools need to include a seniors transportation hotline and one-on-one support, and decision making across sectors.
See the 5 A’s of Senior-Friendly Transportation in the Transportation Links