For older Calgarians who have limited interactions with family and friends, life is often isolating and finding resources to manage daily affairs can be difficult. But a wellness network between four Calgary seniors agencies is helping make things easier.
The Way In Network allows seniors who need help to dial 411 and be linked with help with things such as medical issues, government forms and programs or even financial advice.
Annika Triantafillou, the program’s coordinator at Carya, has seen the way the network can help people in need.
“We have a lot of clients who are lonely that struggle to find ways to [attend] programs and that struggle with depression because they haven’t been able to connect with anyone recently,” said Triantafillou.
Triantafillou remembers one client who’d had their share of financial struggles after losing their job in 2014 because of significant health issues. Without work, the client faced food insecurity, struggled with bill payments and was paying for medications to deal with their chronic pain.
These problems, especially with their lack of a support system, caused the individual to reach out for help. In their search, they found The Way In Network, which is a partnership between Carya, Calgary Chinese Elderly Citizens Association, Calgary Seniors Resource Society and Jewish Family Service Calgary.
After six months, the person was able to receive a pension and was on their way to achieving financial stability. This is something they had not had in a long time due to health barriers.
Together, with their collaborators, this network works to enhance seniors’ quality of life and their ability to access social and wellness services. They have done this specifically by creating seniors’ social programs at Village Commons, which opened in May, 2021.
This space is meant to connect seniors in the community by providing activities such as cooking, games, and other various activities to do socially. The Way In Network’s goal with Village Commons is to have a more connected and inclusive city.
The network has been has been a great success in combatting the rise in senior isolation, especially through the COVID-19 pandemic, Triantafillou said
“There were seniors that didn’t have anything they could do because they had no devices,” she said. “So certainly we tried in the beginning of the pandemic to see if we could help people get connected or get access to devices so they could connect.”
Triantafillou said even for the ones that are not able to make it to the program, sometimes all they need is a friendly face. The Way In Network outreach workers are always working to do that, making sure seniors know where they can get help.
“It’s important that they know they have a place where they feel welcomed.”