HomeShare program continues to link seniors and students

Organizers behind a program to link local seniors and post secondary students as potential housemates continues to move forward.

A component of the Alberta Generations Project, HomeShare aims to boost affordable options for students and also helps to reduce isolation and increase a sense of security for seniors, explains Dawna Morey, coordinator of the Alberta Generations Project.

The program was announced last summer but Morey points out it’s by no means over – students studying at Red Deer College, for example, continue to come to the City for various educational stints that start at other times during the academic year.

“HomeShare is an ongoing program. If their housing situation changes, if the housing they are in isn’t what they expected it to be whether they be in residence or with roommates, maybe they would like to explore living in a home with a senior which is more of a family kind of environment. HomeShare might be for them.”

HomeShare matches seniors with students based on perceived ‘best fit’ criteria in terms of personalities. It’s a win-win, as students new to the City can find it an isolating experience and would benefit from having a comfortable home to enjoy. Seniors living alone may also feel a need for more connection.

Morey said representatives with HomeShare will be at Red Deer College on Nov. 26 to further spread the word about the program as well.

“For the students, it’s an opportunity to learn about the aging process and to understand how seniors contribute. For the seniors we have already placed with students, it’s been a really rewarding experience,” she said. “That’s the case for both sides.”

An example is a retired nurse in her 90s who is sharing her home with a nursing student. “There are cultural things they are learning from each other, and certainly the differences in the programs from the time the retired woman went through nursing. It’s interesting to see how they begin to become concerned with each other and look out for each other.

“In this particular situation the student is helping the senior with meal preparation. And we expect that the students coming to the program do so because they are interested in seniors and they’re willing to give some of their time. We suggest they be willing to give a minimum of four hours a week.”

That could mean helping around the house, shoveling the walk, and cleaning among other means of helping out. “Even sharing some time is so important.”

She also pointed out that HomeShare’s scope goes beyond RDC. “It’s for anyone doing post-secondary or adult education. And the other thing we have are people in Red Deer doing work placements. All of those people can come and speak to us about the program’s parameters and criteria.”

For more information and an application, check out www.fsca.ca and link on the Generations Project page or call Dawna Morey at 403-348-6547. She can also be reached by email at dmorey@fsca.ca.

“We’re looking more and more at our seniors being able to age in their own homes and have supports for them while they are in their own homes. It’s part of that continuum – to be able to support the seniors.”

HomeShare is a partnership among Family Services of Central Alberta, the Golden Circle Senior Resources Centre, the Alberta Council on Aging – Central Alberta chapter and the Red Deer College Students Association.

With the goal of working to eliminate elder abuse, The Alberta Generations Project was introduced in Red Deer last June. The project team is made up of seniors, students, caregivers, professionals and agencies working together to provide education and information on preventing elder abuse while offering solutions to cut the risk. The federally-funded project is set to run through to March of 2015.

“We also want to use it as a way to raise awareness about the greater issue of elder abuse, and how that is happening in our communities under a veil of silence. What can we do to become the ‘eyes’ on our communities so that our seniors are safe?”

Meanwhile, Family Services of Central Alberta and the Alberta Generations Project are prepping for the ‘Gifts for Grandparents’ program to make sure local seniors have a brighter holiday season.

Everything from slippers, socks, gift cards, pajamas, pre-packaged cookies, tea, mittens and small gifts are suggested donations. Donations are welcome through to Dec. 14. For more information, call 403-343-6400.

editor@reddeerexpress.com

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