New group plans to tackle social isolation among seniors
'If you want a thriving community, you need people to be there'
A new project aimed at helping seniors feel less isolated launched Monday in the Evangeline region of western P.E.I.
Evangeline Seniors Impact plans to help francophone and Acadian seniors remain in their communities by assisting them with accessing housing, transportation, home care services and employment.
"That is the main thing, keeping people in the community," said Claude Blaquiere, president of Association des Francophones de l'Âges de l'Î-P-Ê.
"Try to break the isolation that COVID, and before COVID, made for the seniors. We'd like to break the social isolation and [make] them part of the community again."
Similar projects in Atlantic Canada plan to join together to identify what would help the senior population.
Eddie Cormier, who lives in the area, said there is a shortage of housing.
"I have my own personal experience with that when I moved back into the community 10 years ago," he said. "Trying to find a place to rent was almost impossible.
"Things have improved somewhat since then, but there's still a lot of people moving to Summerside."
That's exactly what the group wants to avoid. Once people move elsewhere, it's rare they come back, said community volunteer Dianne Richard.
Implementing more home services
"If you have a place to stay, you stay more in the area, you'll participate more in the activities and all that," Richard said.
"But then if you have to live like in Summerside, Charlottetown, well, you won't bother to drive up here for the activities, concert, sports or whatever."
She's a volunteer with Meals on Wheels and said too many seniors are suffering from isolation and need more social contact.
"When you go to the doors, they wait for you. Like you don't even have to ring the doorbell. They've got the door open," Richard said.
Evangeline Seniors Impact wants to implement more home services like Meals on Wheels and transportation for seniors, Blaquiere said.
"The home services component aims to implement new home services in French for seniors in the region and enable them to remain in the community as long as possible," he said.
Jobs are another concern. Seniors would like to help fill some labour gaps but the opportunities just aren't there.
"If you want a thriving community, you need people to be there, at all ages. We know the problem with youth is the same," Cormier said.
Officials with the project say much of this year will be spent on research and consultation.
With files from Jessica Doria-Brown