TORONTO - It is no secret that seniors are disproportionately impacted by Covid-19. Across Canada, people aged sixty and older represent the greatest concentration of infection, nearly 30% of all positive cases. Practicing “physical distancing” is just one way to mitigate the spread of the virus, and its potential lethal effects. It makes sense. Keep your distance and you might not get sick.
But, avoiding close contact with people can inadvertently lead to other problems. The Honourable Deb Schulte (in the pic above, with deputy Francesco Sorbara), Member of Parliament for King-Vaughan and Minister of Seniors, recognizes this issue saying, “we cannot allow physical distancing to become social distancing”.
This is why the Government of Canada has made available $20 million in funding for the New Horizons for Seniors Program.
The program provides grants to community-based projects assisting seniors within their communities. These projects aim to reduce isolation, improve quality of life and help maintain a social support network for participants throughout the Covid-19 epidemic.
Acknowledging the need for this type of service, MP Schulte delivered great news to the community of Maple, Ontario, this past Friday.
Nearly $50 thousand in federal funding was allocated to two organizations dedicated to helping local senior members of society, the Chabad Romano Centre and Fuerza Latina Community Services.
A portion of the funds, $25 thousand, is going to the Chabad Romano Centre, for their project Support for Seniors. This program offers ready-made meals, on-line educational programs on nutrition and activities to improve health and mental well-being. Also, it is designed to help seniors with tasks like grocery shopping, trips to the pharmacy and appointments.
These are simple errands most people take for granted, but pose a greater challenge for those who are vulnerable and trying to minimize exposure to the virus.
After months of avoiding close contact with people, some feel a deepened sense of social isolation which can negatively impact mental and emotional well-being.
The organized “physically distanced” visits and regular phone calls help ease sentiments of loneliness and boost their mood. Rabbi Mendel Bernstein , co-Director at Chabad Romano Centre, was pleased with the initiative saying, “the reaction from those that have been serviced by this program is truly heartwarming, it is brightening their spirits”.
Staying connected throughout the pandemic is vital, especially for those feeling cut o. from society. Gina Balseca-Aguirre, founder and CEO of Fuerza Latina Community says, “Technology plays a pivotal role in the life of seniors now more than ever as it allows seniors to be engaged and continue to learn while improving their quality of life”. The remainder of funds announced Friday will support the Hi-Tech Seniors Program.
This project is designed to help individuals access fun, exciting and enriching on-line activities. Weekly video chats provide an opportunity for participants to engage and interact virtually with one another. These can be challenging times. We cannot forget our elderly and their overall well-being.
It is encouraging to see communities coming together to help our seniors and ensuring they stay connected with each other and with society, and that the government is joining the effort.