Three in 20 Vancouver residents is a senior — aged 65 or older. And this number is expected to double within 15 years. Programs for seniors are available, but access can be a problem.
Some of the 5,500-plus seniors in Hastings Sunrise are regular visitors of Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House at 2131 Renfrew St. They take part in arts and crafts workshops, dancing and Tai Chi clubs, afternoon tea or a game of bingo.
To help more seniors reach Frog Hollow, it has launched the Engaging Abundant Community Project. One of its programs is Community Slow Walks.
“The walkability of our area is not the best, it is quite hilly so some seniors might find it problematic to come to us,” admits Gloria Tsui, Intergenerational Coordinator. “As a large number of elderly people now live alone, we decided to reach out to them.”
Every two weeks a group of volunteers goes on Community Slow Walks around the neighbourhood, meeting people, sharing local news and offering their help.“Very often a senior does not need assistance with any particular task, he just needs someone to talk to. Our volunteers will come to have a chat or take them out for a walk,” Gloria explains.
Frog Hollow wants to create a support network for seniors, to find out what resources are needed for their well being in general and their mental health in particular. “As people age they should know where to go for help if he or she just needs it,” Gloria notes.
Frog Hollow has trained around 20 volunteers to be “wellness connectors”, knowledgeable about mental health resources and ready to work with isolated seniors.
It is applying for funding to set up a mobile coffee cart carrying beverages, art supplies, table games and folding stools, which would visit blocks where seniors live.
Another program, Kitchen Table Conversations, invites people to share their experience in maintaining mental health wellness and give advice on how to overcome psychological challenges.
“As we know, mental health issues are taboo in certain cultures,” Gloria says. “We want to help people speak out and to show them our support.” To participate in a Kitchen Table Conversation, phone Gloria at 604-251-1225 or email: email@example.com
Frog Hollow plans to hand over the information gathered at these meetings to the Vancouver Coastal Health authority, which could then tailor its programs for people from different cultures and age groups.
Join us for any of the following Community Slow Walks: August 9th and 23rd; and September 6th and 20th. Please meet at Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House at 10 am. For more information and registration, call Manada at 604-251-1225 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
■ Olga Shaporenko