I have moved six times in the past 11 years, and every time it was a difficult and stressful experience. However, those experiences pale in comparison to what having to move would be like if I was losing my eyesight, or could not pay the rent.
That’s exactly the kind of crisis situation that the staff at Seniors Outreach and Resource Centre encounter every day.
“I talk to seniors who are living on such a low income that a bit of advice on their Pharmacare deductible meant being able to afford their groceries or prescriptions,” says Jennifer Clement, Housing Outreach Social Worker.
Navigating the types of available housing can be overwhelming, even if you are healthy and able-bodied. I recently attended one of the workshops offered by the organization, and marveled at the knowledge of the staff as they explained supportive housing, low-income housing, assisted living, and residential care.
Our community is fortunate to have a Seniors Outreach and Resource Centre that can help seniors figure out what they need and get connected to the right services and social supports. After all, seniors are the people who built our community, and these kinds of vital services allow them to live with dignity in the most healthy, independent way possible.
Seniors Outreach and Resource Centre recently experienced their own move, and are now located on the main floor of Apple Valley Seniors Housing at Benvoulin and Springfield, where they are easily accessible in a bright and comfortable facility.
Staff members want to encourage seniors to reach out whenever they find themselves in need of information, assistance or just a friendly face.
“Information is good to have ahead of time,” explains Vi Sorenson, Executive Director of Seniors Outreach Services Society. “We give important information to seniors before it’s a crisis situation, so they know their options. You may not always have another chance to orient yourself this way and make a plan for the future.”
As the oldest census metropolitan area in the country, Sorenson worries about how many local seniors may be living in isolation. With so many people retiring to the Okanagan, mild weather and proximity to health services, this small non-profit has a huge mandate.
Isolation is one of the most serious issues facing seniors in this area, and is rooted in other social issues like the cost of housing, access to transportation and health issues.
Sorenson shares the story of a woman who contacted their agency in so much physical and emotional pain that she felt hopeless and wanted to give up on life. After speaking with the woman, staff put an array of services in place that quickly improved her quality of life. A kind and caring voice on the end of the phone, a practical hand around the house, or a friendly visitor is often the difference between isolation and connection. All of these services are available through Seniors Outreach, making it a “one stop shop” for the needs of seniors and their families.
The organization also offers “Coffee Breaks” for folks who want to get out and meet new people for coffee and conversation. These casual meetings are held in the Dilworth, Capri, Mission and Rutland areas throughout the week, and seniors who would like to take part are encouraged to phone Seniors Outreach at 250-861-6180 to get more information before attending the first time.
Change is starting here, because caring professionals and volunteers ensure that seniors can enjoy full participation in community life. More information on the Seniors Outreach and Resource Centre can be found at http://www.seniorsoutreach.ca/ or by phone at 250-861-6180.
To find out how you can be part of change, visit www.unitedwaycso.com.