As the years pass, so too can a person’s life become harder with the wear and tear on our bodies and minds caused by aging.
It may become difficult to do things one once did- such as cleaning their own home or shovelling the snow on their sidewalks.
If there were no social programs to assist seniors as they venture into the latter parts of their lives, many would be forced to rely on neighbours or family members to help them with these daunting tasks. If there were no neighbours or family to help, seniors could be forced from their homes.
The many senior support programs offered through Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) in Sylvan Lake aim to keep seniors in their homes longer and ensure they are are as healthy and happy as possible, for as long as possible.
Brittney Wells, FCSS Senior Services Coordinator, explained their end goal is always to keep a senior in their home for as long as possible or as long as that senior desires.
“Our programs provide in house support – if they have no family in our community then we can provide them with the support they need,”said Wells.
Programs offered through FCSS such as Lifeline, sees a senior wearing an assistance beacon in case of falls, allowing individuals an emergency option. Programs such as Home Support and Home Help sees seniors gaining access to assistance with light housekeeping or heavier seasonal chores.
FCSS’ Snow Angels and Yard Busters program offers seniors assistance with snow removal in the winter or mowing their lawn in the summer.
Currently two staff members at FCSS service 32 homes in Sylvan Lake for these programs.
Not all FCSS programs are geared towards helping seniors around the house, some aim to cure the social isolation that can come when a senior wishes to stay in their home and live alone.
Wells explained the Friendly Visitor Program matches a carefully screened volunteer with a socially isolated senior to share common interests through regularly scheduled visits for a minimum of one hour a week. She added the visits offer companionship and friendship which increase social contact and reduces isolation for seniors.
In addition, FCSS also offers a Community Volunteer Income Tax program that is well utilized by both seniors and families in which residents of Sylvan Lake and area are able to drop off their tax information at which time volunteers will use software provided by a partnership with Canada Revenue to process your income tax free of charge.
FCSS also aims to ensure caregivers of seniors also have access to proper amenities and thus offer a number of caregiver support programs and also upcoming elder abuse awareness and prevention programs.
Caring Connections, another program offered through FCSS, is available to all members of the community but keeps seniors in mind in that it offers support to prevent seniors from coming in harms way.
“This program sees either myself or a staff member giving a 15-20 minute presentation to businesses or organizations on recognizing signs of self neglect and neglect in seniors and how to respond to that,” said Wells. “So instead of calling the RCMP there are other organizations that can help with that – say you have a senior who goes into the grocery store, but they think they are at the bank, what do you do?”
Most programs offered through FCSS are free for seniors, with the exception of Home Support and Lifeline, which requires a small fee.Seniors may sign up for programs themselves or be referred by a friend or family member in most cases.
For more information on seniors support offered through FCSS visit www.sylvanlake.ca/fcss/seniors/seniors-support or call 403 887 1137ext 222.
FCSS is always looking for volunteers to assist with the Home Support, Home Help, Snow Angels, Yard Busters and Friendly Visitor Program and welcomes volunteer applications at any time throughout the year.