Resources for Seniors in YMM
Sometimes, it’s hard to know where to go for services and programs, or who to reach out to for that all important help. Fort McMurray is a community rich in services for seniors, so have a read of the following information and hopefully there is a service or program that is exactly what you’re looking for.
Mental health and wellness encompass both the mental and emotional aspects of being - how you think and feel. Signs of good mental health include enjoying life, coping with stress in a positive way and having a sense of personal control.
When it comes to minding your mind so to speak, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) of Wood Buffalo is a great place to start.
“Keeping the conversation of mental health going is vital for everyone in our community,” says Jasmeen Toor, marketing and community education strategist with CMHA of Wood Buffalo. “We encourage empathy and understanding by developing an open minded perspective through conversations about mental health.”
She acknowledged that those experiencing mental health concerns are often too afraid to reach out for help due to the stigma surrounding the topic.
“It’s time we unite our voices and deliver the powerful message together that it’s okay to not be okay.”
The organization works to ensure it meets every demographic in this community, including seniors. Specifically the groups of seniors it strives to assist are: Those growing older with long-standing or recurrent mental health issues; those whose mental health problems, including depression and the dementias, which are primarily related to biological aging or circumstances associated with later life; and those older adults dealing with concurrent disorders.
Common mental health disorders in older adults include, but are not limited to: Depression, suicide, anxiety, dementia, delusional disorders and Delirium.
“Currently, we have seen a rise in the demand for mental health services in the RMWB,” says Toor. “We find that many doors are closed to the needs of older people and the gaps in service outweigh the opportunities for access.”
It is indeed an injustice to rationalize these gaps on the basis that mental health problems are a natural byproduct of aging. Research shows that many so-called aspects of “normal aging” such as depression are preventable and treatable.
To address the needs of all older adults in our community, CMHA Wood Buffalo provides an array of services and collaborations in relation to seniors’ mental health. Through its Consumer Advocacy program, it assists the seniors one-on-one as well as connect them to the long-term community resources that are available. CMHA Wood Buffalo actively collaborates with St Aidan’s Society to ensure they are working together to provide the seniors with the best care possible.
Throughout the year, CMHA Wood Buffalo will host a variety of events for seniors such as the Grand Ole Opry in collaboration with St Aidan’s and Alberta Health Services, and promotional events/campaigns for Seniors’ Week (June 3-9th 2018).
It is currently in the planning stages of the next Seniors Mental Health First Aid course. Additionally, its Paws For People Pet Therapy Program routinely pays visits to seniors’ homes to bring pets and people together for comfort, interaction, stimulation and joy in a safe and relaxing atmosphere.
Also. CMHA Wood Buffalo Executive Director Christine Savage has had a seat on the Co-ordinated Community Response Steering Committee for the past two years, which is geared at the “co-ordination of existing supports and services so that there is increased ability (capacity) to respond to elder abuse in our community.”
If you think that you or a loved one may be experiencing mental health concerns, it is important to seek help right away. Call CMHA Wood Buffalo at 780-743-1053 or visit its office at the Unifor Building at 17B 10019 MacDonald Ave.
Alberta Health Services (AHS) is another option for seniors seeking mental health support. AHS programs and teams that support seniors’ mental health in Wood Buffalo include the Walk On program operates out of MacDonald Island Park and was expanded to Anzac in January. Participating seniors walk on the track based on their individual abilities. Each walk includes a complimentary coffee and social time afterwards. Fort McMurray’s Walk On the Island Program runs 9:30 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays on the running track at MacDonald Island Park. Free bus transportation is available through the Golden Years Society. Call 780-743-4088 to register for a ride. Anzac’s Walk On the ARC Program runs 9:30 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Anzac Recreation Centre.
No registration for the Walk On program is required. For more information about the program, please call 780-714-5637.
AHS is a partner in a drop-in carpet bowling program that started up last October. It’s offered at Mac Island 2:30 p.m. every Monday. Seniors aged 55 and over are encouraged to attend. No registration is required. For more information call 780-743-4370 ext.1.
As part of the wildfire recovery supports, the AHS Indigenous Health Team promotes mental health and wellness for all residents, including seniors by providing assistance with navigating the health system, connecting clients with partner agencies and offering counselling services. The recovery wellness team also supports seniors to help them with chronic disease management, promoting physical and mental health, and increasing community connection among seniors. Anyone looking for more information can call 780-793-7371.
Services offered at AHS’ 10217 Queen Street location include Community Addiction and Mental Health Intake and Referral Services which are offered 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays. Addiction Services include consultation and counselling services for individuals, family members and others (adults or youth) seeking help in overcoming problems associated with their own or their loved one’s gambling or use of alcohol, other drugs and tobacco. This is an appointment-based service.
Please call Alberta Health Services (AHS) at 780-793-8360 for more information.
Mental Health Treatment Services at Northern Lights Regional Health Centre, 7 Hospital St., are available 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. weekdays. This is an appointment-based service. Call 780-793-8360, 780-791-6194 or (toll free) 1-844-777-6138 for more information and to talk with staff about specific concerns.
The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB) has provided free professional and confidential counselling services to its residents since 1967.
According to its information, Family and Community Support Services provides confidential and professional counselling to individuals, children, couples and families in the RMWB. A variety of counselling approaches are used to address concerns such as: Relationships issues, health and wellness, parent/child concerns, troubled past, self-esteem, personal growth, depression, grief and loss, separation and divorce, work-related issues, stress, family violence and balancing work and family life.
Counselling services currently provided includes personal counselling services to residents, referrals to other community agencies, public education programs and community development, support and partnership.
For more information on the RMWB services, call
780-743-7910 or toll-free, 1-800-973-9663.
If you’re experiencing emotional distress and want to talk, another source of for counselling is the First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Help Line: 1-855-242-3310. It’s toll-free and open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This multi-lingual counselling line of the federal government offers assistance in English, French, Cree, Ojibway, Ojib-Cree and Inuktitut. The helpline also serves the Métis communities.
Helping Our Regions’ Seniors
Many of our regions seniors struggle to maintain their independence, social connections and sometimes their basic needs. The social profit (non profit) sector is working on a new, innovative and multi-organization, collaborative strategy to help meet the unique and complex needs of our seniors. From delivering a food hamper once a month, to helping with medical appointments or simply visiting to say, “You matter,” there is a role for you as we aim to create an inclusive and age-friendly community where no seniors’ needs go unmet.
Do you have a few hours a week to make the difference in the life of a senior? Call Heather at St Aidan’s Society at 780-743-4370 Ext. 1, or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The St. Aidan’s Senior Outreach Program aims to connect seniors to community resources appropriate to meet their needs and ultimately increase their social connections. As such, services are targeted to serve seniors who have a limited or non-existent connection to community resources that allow them to remain as independent as possible. By facilitating the connection of seniors to the community, it enhances their quality of life.
Through its Seniors Outreach program, support is offered to seniors through assessment, referral and collaboration with other service providers to enhance their well-being.
Pam Burns, senior advocate, explained St. Aidan’s services are voluntary.
“We are involved in multiple community events and programs that are specific to seniors.” These include events such as the Christmas Light Tour, The Seniors Wellness Expo, Seniors Month, The Grand Ole Opry and programs such as Walk On the Island and carpet bowling.
“These programs and events help to keep seniors connected, active and involved in the community, while allowing us an opportunity to meet seniors and make them aware of supportive services that are available to assist them as them as they age.”
The Seniors Resource Guide is a collection of senior-related resource information that can be utilized by seniors, caregivers, family members, and professionals. It is a senior-friendly format and printed, as many seniors are not accessing information online and the navigation of this information is challenging as well. The guide is also available on St. Aidan’s website, www.staidanssociety.ca.
Elder abuse is something that happens to many seniors, but goes unreported for a variety of reasons. With an aging population the prevalence rate will increase.
“Locally, we did not have a formalized response to elder abuse, so St. Aidan’s took the lead in the recently completed Co-ordinated Community Response to Elder Abuse in the RMWB,” said Burns. “Now that there is a process in place to assist with situations of elder abuse, we are providing education and awareness about elder abuse to seniors, professionals and the community as a whole. We work in collaboration with other professionals to assist with situations of elder abuse.”
Burns acknowledges that aging or having an aging family member comes with challenges. Knowing what service are available and how to access them can be difficult.
“St. Aidan’s works to enhance the lives of seniors in our region. While we may not have a large group of seniors, we certainly have seniors and they are a valuable part of our community fabric. We have those who worked for many years in this community and chose to remain here, we have those who may have left for a period of time and returned as their children and grandchildren are here, and we have those who are returning because they need family support and their family is here.
“Families and individuals are rooting themselves in the community, which means they are more likely to retire and stay. We are all getting older each day and this is why it is so important to consider the needs of seniors as our region changes.”
For information about any of St. Aidan’s services, call 780-743-4370 ext. 2.