Community Links offers Keep in Touch program to isolated seniors

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Living through the COVID-19 pandemic this past year has been especially tough on seniors, as many of them remain isolated.

To help form connections with seniors, Community Links launched the Keep in Touch program in October 2020, in partnership with Volunteer Airdrie.

The program is modelled after a program that was created by Volunteer Lethbridge, and it is funded through a Community Response Fund grant from the United Way.

“We have volunteers screened, trained, and ready to help,” said Laurie Jacob-Toews, community engagement manager at Community Links.

“Now we’re just trying to get the message out to our seniors, so that they can access the program if they would like to. And it’s all free of charge.”

Between March 16 and June 16 of 2020, there were 188 requests for support from seniors in Airdrie. On a yearly average, Community Links provides support to over 500 community members that are over the age of 55.

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“Through the early months of COVID-19, we identified a number of seniors who were feeling increasingly isolated due to the restrictions,” said Jacob-Toews.

“With seniors still being in a high-risk category, we know that these vulnerable members of our community will continue to experience feelings of isolation, especially now that [we] have been asked to limit our social interactions again.”

For Keep in Touch, local seniors are matched with a volunteer for a social phone call for 10 to 20 minutes several times a week.

“This provides an opportunity for the seniors to connect with and talk to someone on a regular basis. They can talk to the volunteers about anything, even if it is just the weather,” said Jacob-Toews.

“We’re also able to refer them with additional supports if needed, such as transportation or home care.”

The program is intended to provide interim support to seniors until they can safely re-engage with their regular social interactions.

“We also have offered our in-person Friendly Visiting program, although everything is being kept virtual and socially distanced right now,” said Jacob-Toews.

“If there’s interest in the future, Keep in Touch could very easily turn into a more formalized in-person visits. There’s definitely opportunity for that once these relationships have been built over the phone.”

Senior residents in the Airdrie community over the age of 55 are encouraged to call and get connected.

The Keep in Touch program is being offered completely free, and the process to get connected is extremely simple.

To get involved with this program, please call Community Links at 403-945-3900 or e-mail info@nrvcl.ab.ca.