Take action to keep seniors in the community
Dalicia Dagalla, 64, resident of the Cooperative d'habitation Côté-Soleil and Silfise Eliscav, 77, resident of the HLM André-Corneau regularly take part in community workshops in order to break the isolation and take their physical and mental health.
Improving the quality of life of seniors is the mission of nearly 150 community workers of the programCommunity work initiatives with vulnerable seniors (ITMAV). They identify, join and support seniors in situations of vulnerability or at risk of becoming fragile throughout Quebec, encouraging them to be accompanied and referred to relevant resources in their community.
According to the report < em>Healthy Agingpublished by the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MSSS) in October 2021, seniors made up 18% of the Quebec population in 2016. In 2031, they will represent a quarter and, in 2066, almost a third. As of July 1, 2019, Quebec had 1,634,712 people aged 65 and over, which is equivalent to nearly 20% of the population.
“Our society is aging, we must create welcoming environments , caring and safe so that our seniors can age in the community,” says Martine Hilaire, community worker for seven years with the organization Le Temps d’une Pause in the Saint-Michel district.
“We are two ITMAVs in the Saint-Michel district, which has a mainly immigrant clientele, which is therefore very vulnerable. We identify seniors who are not in the system, those who live alone at home or in an HLM, and who have no resources around them to help them,” says the social worker of Haitian origin.
Ms. Hilaire organizes weekly activities and open house workshops at HLM André-Corneau, Laure-Conan and Gabriel-Sagard, as well as at the Carrefour populaire de Saint-Michel, with the participation of partners such as TOHU, CSLC and other community actors. About twenty neighborhood seniors from various walks of life participate in physical activity sessions, arts and games workshops, collective meals or group outings.
We connect our seniors so they can socialize and support each other. It creates friendships and new families.
Martine Hilaire, ITMAV worker in the Saint-Michel district
Martine Hilaire, community worker for the ITMAV program in Saint-Michel. Photo credit: Karla Meza/Metro
Fadila Belkaaloul, 73, moved to Quebec in 2020 thanks to the federal parent sponsorship program, after spending ten years visiting her children during the summer.
“When I arrived in Quebec, I found myself alone because my husband and my children were often busy with work and studies. I found it difficult,” says the grandmother of Algerian origin, met during the open house at the Laure-Conan center on December 15.
Ms. Belkaaloul tells us that she “came out of her shell” thanks to the open days organized by Ms. Hilaire in her neighborhood. Rain or shine, she goes there several times a week.
“I love socializing, I like coming here to chat with people and to get active.”
Raynald Vallières, 74, president of the HLM André-Corneau residents' association, is delighted to be able to thrive in a multicultural environment.
“Most people in my HLM live alone, I find it interesting to be able to come here from time to time to exercise, meet people from other HLMs and see new faces. There are people of different nationalities and we all get along very well.”
Stimulate body and mind
Aware of the benefits of physical activity and social contact in delaying the onset of chronic diseases and cognitive decline, Dalicia Dagalla, a 64-year-old Filipina, enthusiastically participates in the weekly meetings.
“Stretching and moving is good for our body. It helps to relieve pain and it is good for our head. When I do hidden words, sometimes I block and I can't find the words, but when I exercise, I find them easily, it's magic!” says the resident of the Cooperative d'habitation Côté- Soleil, located in Saint-Michel.
“Thanks to Martine, I am now part of several communities in the different centers.”
Dalicia Dagalla, 64, resident of the Cooperative d’habitation Côté-Soleil regularly attends community meetings to break isolation and take charge of her physical and mental health. Photo credit: Karla Meza/Metro
Currently, 124 community organizations in Quebec receive financial assistance from the ITMAV program to carry out 147 projects for seniors.
“The problem is organizations receive funding per project and not recurring funding. They have difficulty keeping their employees because the working conditions are difficult”, deplores Martine Hilaire, who is crying out to the government on behalf of the 150 ITMAV community workers in Quebec.
“We are helping to expand the safety net for seniors, but we must It is also important for the Conseil du trésor to recognize our work in order to perpetuate our actions and to add stakeholders where there are none. The whole of society would come out a winner!”
Ms. Hilaire emphasizes the importance of encouraging social participation to combat ageism as well as monitoring and raising awareness against mistreatment. senior people. “The institutional, the community and the public must work together to improve the quality of life of our seniors.”
The Community work initiatives with vulnerable seniors (ITMAV) is part of the government’s action plan to counter elder abuse.
This text was produced as part of the Journalism Initiative local.