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This holiday season, staying connected with family and friends will be harder. The COVID-19 pandemic has created more distance between us – and made it more difficult to be with those we cherish.
I also think of seniors who are alone or isolated, possibly without family or social connections, and how we might support them. I ask you to connect with seniors you know are isolated or unable to visit friends and family. It could be an older neighbour down the street or a family friend you know is living alone.
Sharing our greeting card
My ministry has a holiday greeting that you can download from this website (PDF, 485 KB). Use it to share a warm holiday greeting with seniors via email, or even drop it off in a mailbox – the old-fashioned way of sending holiday greetings. I encourage you to promote it on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media platforms.
Many seniors-serving organizations in our province offer programs that help address social isolation and improve connections with older adults. These great initiatives include the LINKages Pen Pal Program, Black Canadian Women in Action’s No Limits Community Connections, and Strathcona Place Society’s Phone Pal Programme, among others.
My ministry has a Celebrate and Support Alberta Seniors tip sheet (PDF, 227 KB) that provides innovative and safe suggestions to keep connected to seniors over the winter months, including this holiday season.
Seniors who are looking for support should reach out to 211 Alberta which is a helpline and online database of Alberta’s community and social services. They can be reached anytime by dialling 2-1-1, texting INFO to 211 or visiting their website to live chat. 211 Alberta is answered and updated by highly trained specialists; all of their services are free, confidential and available 24/7.
If you or a senior requires additional support, consider calling one or more of the following:
- 911 or local police – if you suspect immediate danger
- Family Violence Info Line at 310-1818
- Mental Health Help Line at 1-877-303-2642
- Addiction Help Line at 1-866-332-2322
Making a small gesture
In the spirit of giving and generosity – and as a long, challenging year draws to a close – let’s reach out to seniors who may be alone, and who would welcome a thoughtful card or a helping hand to shovel a driveway.
These are small gestures but, in a time like this, the more we reach out to those who are isolated, the more we come together.
Josephine Pon served as Minister of Seniors and Housing from April 30, 2019 to October 24, 2022.