As we look beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, the Saskatoon Council on Aging (SCOA) believes there must be a partnership among older adults, government and key stakeholders to address issues that impacted older people during this crisis.
SCOA wants to ensure that: 1. Voices of older adults are heard; 2. Diversity of perspectives of older adults is reflected in government public policy; 3. Older adults are engaged as co-leaders in developing policies that impact them directly. Now is the time to seize the opportunity to improve policies, protocols and programs to address ageism, enhance the age-friendliness of communities, enable healthy, positive aging and support the well-being of older people across the province. Plan to talk to candidates in the upcoming provincial election! The pandemic is an opportunity to shift thinking, reset priorities and take action. Please use this information as you question candidates in your riding.
The safety of older adults and the community are top priorities to the Saskatoon Council on Aging. Current Saskatoon Council on Aging Response:
As safety is paramount, we voluntarily remain with our office closed to public access.Our staff continue to work from home to ensure that older adults have access to resources and information. We can be reached by phone 306-652-2255 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org for referrals. We maintain a dedicated COVID-19 resource page for older adults on our website www.scoa.ca.
We have a plan in place to reopen when it is safe to do so in compliance with guidelines set out by the Government of Saskatchewan. We plan to prepare our facilities in a way that will allow us to maintain the safety of all involved. We also adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic and physical distancing measures by creating new opportunities for older adults to stay connected. These include our Telephone Visit Program and a program that shows older adults how to use ZOOM technology to join social groups online.
Once the City of Saskatoon allows SCOA to use their leased space in the Saskatoon Field House [DATE TBA]our organization will continue to operate with the majority of staff working off site and office closed to the public. The office will use a contact-less business model.
Facilities precautions include but are not limited to:
A maximum of two staff members will work out of the office with their work space being more than 2 meters apart.
Shared facilities, office equipment, and common touch surfaces such as telephones, computers, reception desk will receive increased cleaning and disinfection
All staff must wash hands upon entry and exit of building
Aside from the regular mail services, clients and staff picking up or dropping off items need to schedule times. Pick ups and drop-offs can be done just outside the front entrance of the Field House.
Classes, Programs and Events
We plan to host fall programs and classes online via ZOOM. Check our website scoa.ca for updates and class schedules
Potential: SCOA acknowledges the potential challenges brought about by situations such as these. We will continue to do our utmost to remain responsive, flexible, and cooperative in the effort to deliver services and resources to older adults and the community. We will continue to evaluate this model and adjust as necessary as the situation evolves.
The responses to the COVID-19 pandemic in this community and around the world, rightly focused on protecting lives and preventing the spread of the virus. Unintended consequences however, have had an detrimental effect on older adults who are feeling the full impacts of economic, mental and physical effects of social isolation, challenges to our human rights, neglect and abuse in institutions and care facilities and the trauma of ageist attitudes and discriminations.
It is true, the global pandemic has severely impacted everyone; however, it has disproportionately affected older adults. We are at higher risk of contracting the disease, and more likely to develop severe infections and die from it. In Canada, close to 90% of COVID-!9 related deaths have occurred in people over the age of 60 and a staggering 80% of COVID-19 deaths were in individuals who lived or worked in long term care facilities or other types of care homes. Social isolation, the closing of many parts of society, and the fear and anxiety associated with the pandemic are pronounced for seniors. Many older citizens face severe challenges meeting their basic needs, such as shopping for food, medications, and obtaining needed health and community care. Some live in potentially dangerous environments where elder abuse is a potential factor. Older adults living in care facilities have been denied access for months to those who love them and any contact has been reduced to electronic communication and window waves.
“Much research has shown that human connection is a key determinant of health, and COVID-19 restrictions, while necessary, don’t really justify complete isolation from family, caregivers and friends. “
The challenges that older adults are experiencing are not new and few are unique to the virus. But COVID-19 intensifies and complicates everything and exacerbates the many challenges faced by older adults. The most distressing are the ageist stereotypes and discriminations that have become more visible in the last few months. Ageism is defined as a process of systematic stereotyping of and discrimination against people because they are old. It means that older people are devalued and their human rights compromised. Indeed, older adults have become the focus of this pandemic and have been isolated or paternalistically (though well-intentioned) protected without their own choices being respected.
“People above the age of 65 are often assumed to be a homogeneous group of “older people” or “Seniors” who are frail, lack independent decision-making capacity and need to be protected. The reality is strikingly different.”
There are three distinct generations between the ages of 60 and 100. Close to 90% live independently and make significant contributions to society. For example, the restrictions on older adults’ abilities to engage in meaningful volunteer activities is impacting community organizations at a time when many need increased hours of volunteerism to meet the challenges of the pandemic. In the same way that infants, children and youth have very distinct characteristics, so too do different older adult generations. One size does not fit all.
The Saskatoon Council on Aging (SCOA) tackles issues of importance to older adults and has continued to support older adult throughout the pandemic. We are uniquely positioned to communicate directly to citizens and public officials about what is at stake and what might be improved. SCOA can propose solutions that would improve policies and programs for an aging population and create a better quality of life for older citizens. We hope that the spotlight on the experiences of older people during this crisis will bring stronger commitment to working toward a more age-friendly community.
SCOA has adopted the World Health Organization’s (WHO) “Age-Friendly Cities” model as a critical way to support older adults to age positively in Saskatoon. In an age-friendly city, policies, services, settings and structures support and enable people to age actively by recognizing the wide range of capacities and resources among older people, anticipating and responding flexibly to aging-related needs and preferences, respecting their decisions and lifestyle choices, protecting those who are most vulnerable and promoting their inclusion in and contribution to all areas of community life.
Older adults want to have input into policies and programs that affect them.
The entire community has a role to play in creating an age-friendly environment.
As evaluations are carried out to examine COVID-19 pandemic responses how do we ensure that the voices of older adults are heard, that older persons are appropriately protected in the future, that we do not overlook how extremely diverse this age group is, how incredibly resilient we are, and the importance of the multiple roles we have in society, including as caregivers, employees, volunteers and community leaders? Here are some suggestions:
Examine all policy decisions and community advisories through an age-friendly lens. SCOA has developed a tool just for this purpose. Policies need to be made with us not for us.
Begin to create and foster living environments that truly support quality of life in all its aspects from access to good health care to high quality food, recreation and community building. Ensure that staffing and care standards in both community and long term care are elevated to the same level of importance in the health care system as hospital care.
Begin right now, not after the pandemic is declared over, to develop a detailed provincial senior’s strategy that will re-examine and act upon the learnings of the pandemic on eliminating ageism, developing age-friendly communities and attending to mental health and self- determination. Create a full spectrum of options for those who want to live independently, or with home care support, assisted and intermediate care living alternatives, and those who require complex care. Ensure that older adults lead/participate in this work.
Open a public discussion about ethical responses and protection of human rights during this pandemic crisis and how as a community we can foster an age-friendly community that supports positive aging for all citizens.
SCOA’s hope is that by articulating these challenges and opportunities, we might move more quickly to minimize the negative outcomes of COVID-19, maximize positive changes that might be possible and redouble our efforts to improve our aging society in ways that benefit people across the life span. We will emerge from this pandemic having paid a high price but more resilient and determined than ever. Now is the time to take bold action, create communities and caring environments that promote positive aging: something all of us deserve.
Candace Skrapek Shan Landry Jane McPhee Past Presidents, Saskatoon Council on Aging
Seniors are particularly impacted by social distancing measures to ensure safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many older adults feel more isolated than ever before. The Saskatoon Council on Aging is partnering with the University of Saskatchewan for an exciting new project to help older adults stay connected and access social opportunities.
SCOA will undertake a pilot project with researcher Megan E. O’Connell, a clinical psychologist and Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Saskatchewan. The pilot involves showing older adults how to use the popular video conferencing app Zoom. Clinical psychology graduate students under Dr. O’Connell’s supervision will call older adults and walk them through getting them set up to use Zoom. Online or virtual groups will be organized for a variety of topics of interest to older adults including health and mental health. Group sessions will be limited to 8 older adults and will allow time for questions and socialization.
To take part in the project phone Dr. O’Connell 1.306.966.2496
The project will promote interactivity between older adults and sharing information through presentations. Technology will also reduce the social isolation experienced by many older adults. They will also experience increased mental engagement a
nd improved health and well being. Older adults will also learn new skills and find out new services available to them.
Older adults, 65 years and older, are at higher risk for severe illness following infection from COVID-19. Anxiety is a normal response to the current situation. Here are some tips to help you to remain calm and balanced as this public health crisis evolves.
1. LET GO
Tell yourself you need to accept there are things beyond your control. Focus on things you can control, such as washing hands, covering your mouth during coughs and sneezes, social distancing and non-essential trips to the store.
2. UNPLUG YOURSELF
Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news and social media. Constant information overload about the pandemic can cause more anxiety.
3. KNOW THE FACTS
Seek information from reliable news sources only. Limit checking in on the latest news to short, defined periods. While you might plan to go online to get quick updates to stay informed, before you know it, you’ve spent hours jumping from one story to the next and becoming more anxious than ever. Government of Saskatchewan Government of Canada World Health Organization
4. KEEP THINGS IN PERSPECTIVE
Try to keep things in perspective; notice and challenge your thoughts if they may be extreme or unhelpful. Remind yourself that most people experience mild illness from the new coronavirus, many people will pull through, and this crisis will end.
5. SELF-CARE ROUTINE
Look after your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs. Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy such as reading, crafts or playing with pets.
6. STAY CONNECTED
Connect with others and lean on social supports. To flatten the curve we must practice social and physical distancing but you can still stay in touch by text, phone calls, social media, virtual chats e.g. Facetime or Skype.
7. SEEK HELP If you notice that your symptoms of anxiety (in association with COVID-19 or otherwise) are causing you distress or interfere with your ability to function normally, reach out for mental health supports available to help you through this difficult time.
Mobile Crisis [City of Saskatoon] 24-HOUR CRISIS LINE PHONE: +1 (306) 933-6200
Walk-in Counselling – Family Service Saskatoon
Phone counselling will be offered during our regular office hours – Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm. Call (306) 244-0127 within those times for more information.
Canadian Mental Health Association – Saskatoon Branch Inc. is continuing to provide support, counseling, system and community navigation and referral for ALL who need it during the COVID 19 pandemic. Staff are available to talk to you, connect on FaceTime, Skype, Zoom or just over the phone, about anything. Services are free and confidential, for everyone.
Phone – 306-384-9333 – leave a message in their general mailbox and a Mental Health Worker will get back to you ASAP.
Email – email@example.com – they check this continuously and someone will get back to you right away.
As older adults have a higher risk of getting very ill after exposure to COVID-19, the Saskatoon Council on Aging [SCOA] is very concerned about this situation.
• The safety of older adults and the community is paramount – SCOA wants to play our part to help flatten the curve for our healthcare system.
• We are cancelling and postponing our social events to ensure that older adults stay safe and also to ensure safety of the community.
• We are also communicating with our membership about basic precautions to take such as hand washing, social distancing et cetera to slow the spread of the virus and also where they can go for more information.
• We urge everyone in the community to stay updated and follow the precautions outlined by the Province of Saskatchewan and Government of Canada
Please watch our website http://www.scoa.ca or call our office 652-2255 for further updates.
CHEP Good Food Delivery CHEP’s food access programs provide home delivery. Delivery is FREE! Saskatoon only. To order, message us, call 306-655-4575 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
New Horizons Delivery for Seniors CHEP Good Food is designated Food Security Lead for Seniors by United Way of Saskatoon & Area as part of the Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors Program. Through this program, we are able to deliver ‘good food’ to Seniors FREE OF CHARGE.
1. By phone (306-655-4575), or
2. Use the online order form. New Horizons for Seniors Order Form. The link can also be found on CHEP.org by scrolling down through Good Food Delivery.
White Buffalo Youth Lodge 306.653.7676 White Buffalo Youth Lodge – Check for current services available – lunch and supper delivery
World Sikh Aid Foundation Volunteers deliver food free of charge to people who can’t get out or afford to buy their own groceries during the COVID-19 pandemic. Phone 306.880.3898 | 306.715.3366 | 306.241.6537
Saskatoon Crisis Intervention Service – Emergency service (306) 933-6200
Sage Seniors’ Resources – home health and mobility needs
Phone: 306-955-7243 Email: email@example.com
Saskatoon Council on Aging: Telephone Visit Program – SCOA will match you with a friendly volunteer to chat over the phone. To register phone 306.652.2255 Funded by the Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors Program, in partnership with United Way of Saskatoon and area.
Bolt Mobile – Operation Lifeline Old phones are being refurbished and sanitized and then donated to people without phones who are isolated in seniors’ homes and hospitals. Currently available to hospitals and care homes only. Donations accepted. If your hospital or care home facility is interested in receiving donated devices, please contact us today by calling 306-668-4653. .