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Programs aim to help seniors keep their independence and live at home

SIMCOE, JUNE 18, 2010 – June is Seniors’ Month in Ontario, a time to celebrate the many accomplishments and roles of older adults in our communities. From volunteer work to the provision of child care, social service to political activism, no one can deny the value that seniors bring to each and every community.

The Aging at Home Strategy is a newly funded initiative designed to support seniors so that they are able to remain in their own homes as long as possible. Funded through the Local Health Integration Network, a number of free services are now in place to keep older adults healthy, safe and strong in their own homes.

“Often times, it’s the little barriers that add up to make it difficult for older adults to manage in their own home”, says Joanne Alessi, Injury Prevention Co-ordinator at the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit. “For example, older adults experiencing bladder or bowel problems might isolate themselves out of embarrassment or because they fear they may not be able to find a bathroom quickly enough when they are out and about. The isolation then leads to loneliness and depression.”

The new Continence Care Clinic offered at Norfolk General Hospital helps adults manage their continence so that they can remain active participants in their communities. Self referrals to the clinic can be made by calling 1-877-490-2732 and, if needed, transportation can be arranged.

Safety at Home, a program being offered by H-N Community Senior Support Services, offers seniors an individualized home visit, installation of grab bars, and minor home repairs and modifications through Home Maintenance Brokers. Snow removal, falls prevention education, and referrals to other services, such as Assistive Devices, are also a part of the program.

“The program’s main focus is to help seniors maintain their mobility and independence, allowing them to continue living at home”, says Anna Glowala, Program Co-ordinator. “We want to help older adults stay healthy, safe and strong and, making the home environment safe is a very important step to achieving that goal”.

Individuals or families can contact Anna at 1-800-265-2818 ext. 22.

The Feet First Program provides foot and nail care services to seniors coping with diabetes, to prevent and reduce foot ulcers that lead to amputations. Complications arising from diabetes are one of the top reasons older adults are placed in long term care facilities. To receive this free service, seniors must have pre-existing type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Self referrals can be made by calling 905-523-6611 ext. 266.

Sit to Be Fit, a community group exercise program to improve the strength of older adults, is currently offered at the Haldimand Abilities Centre, the CYPRES Senior’s Centre, the Haldimand War Memorial Hospital and Village by the Grand in Dunnville. Expansion of this program into Norfolk County is anticipated.

“The exercise is modified according to the capabilities and limitations of each senior”, says Sherri Miller, fitness instructor and program co-ordinator. “The exercises are meant to work both the upper and lower body muscles so that older adults have the strength to do every day activities such as carry groceries, do household chores and maintain personal grooming”.

To register for the Sit to be Fit program, older adults can contact Sherri Miller at 905-768-4488.

Independence at Home clinics assist older adults who are having challenges with mobility in the community or in their home. A nurse or physiotherapist will do simple activities to measure strength and balance, check blood pressure, and review any concerns related to medications, memory or lifestyle. The therapist will also measure clients to make sure that their walkers, canes and wheelchairs are appropriate for their needs. A referral may be made to an occupational therapist, to assess the need for assistive devices. Self referrals can be made directly by seniors themselves. Sarah Mullen, the program co-ordinator, can be reached at 905-777-3837 ext. 12424.

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Media contact:
Joanne Alessi, RN
Injury Prevention Co-ordinator
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
905-318-5367 Ext. 322
[email protected]