Enriching lives for seniors, with seniors - United Way Alberta Capital Region

Enriching lives for seniors, with seniors

December 14, 2021


GUEST BLOG: This blog is written by Alicia McKeever. She is a member of United Way’s YEG Downtown Collaboration, a year-round, multi-partner, volunteer-led committee that cares about the social issues impacting our community and focuses our efforts on building stronger citizens to reshape the future of downtown Edmonton.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the inescapable reality of social isolation have had an impact on many of us. Now imagine the life of a senior who perhaps felt this social separation even before the current global health crisis.

Enter Sage Seniors Association, a now 50-year-old organization founded by seniors, for seniors. Thanks in part to support from United Way of the Alberta Capital Region, this ever-growing and changing organization provides a holistic range of programs and services to local seniors – all aimed at helping them connect with each other, break down barriers, and thrive.

“I really enjoy getting together with other seniors. This is an opportunity for all of us to share cultures and stories, to learn from each other, to voice our concerns, to break isolation and to make Canada our second home country.”

Member at Sage

One of Sage’s most sought-after and popular programs is the Life Enrichment program, which aims to provide recreation and enjoyment to seniors from all walks of life. The Life Enrichment program provides physical and creative activities for seniors to do together. Activities range from coffee groups to writing classes, from mental health sessions to singing groups, from yoga classes to ukulele lessons. And because the classes are peer-run, participation can be less intimidating.

Another important United Way-funded Sage program offered to promote diversity and inclusivity is the Multicultural Seniors Outreach Program, which serves isolated, at-risk immigrant and refugee seniors from five communities including Kurdish, Korean, Spanish-speaking, former Yugoslavian, and Eritrean/Ethiopian. The program recently expanded to welcome seniors from Iraq, Somalia, and other Eastern European countries.

Helping seniors feel connected over the holidays
During COVID-19, in-person activities have been limited at Sage’s downtown facility, but that doesn’t mean that it has stopped working hard for seniors. With some pivoting from staff and willing seniors, programming moved online — a valuable resource, especially as the holidays approach.

The loneliness imposed by the pandemic is also being countered by Sage through an initiative called Friendly Phone Call. An initial 40 volunteers signed up to call and “check-in” on seniors from the centre and continues to this day with around 25 active volunteer callers.

But there are things anyone can do to help and stay connected with seniors over the holidays:

  • Send holiday cards featuring uplifting messages to Sage to distribute to local seniors
  • Volunteer to call seniors to “check-in” through their Friendly Phone Call Program
  • Help seniors in your neighbourhood by shovelling their driveway
  • Add festive decorations to the living spaces of seniors you know for them to enjoy
  • Bring out the technology and connect with seniors through Facetime or Zoom

Helping Sage continue to Do Local Good
Sage is a truly barrier-free and open organization that always finds a way to put seniors first. Seniors are valued as vibrant members of our community no matter the reason they “walk through the doors.”

Do you know a lonely senior? To learn more about Sage Seniors Association or to get involved, email [email protected] or call 780-423-5510.