The Alberta Generations Project launched in City

With the goal of working to eliminate elder abuse, The Alberta Generations Project was launched last week in Red Deer.

The project team is made up of seniors, local college 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.

Red Deer MP Earl Dreeshen said $245,000 from the New Horizons for Seniors Program has been directed to support the project.

In Red Deer, the two lead partners are the Golden Circle Seniors’ Resource centre and Family Services of Central Alberta.

According to the Golden Circle, elder abuse is the most under-reported type of abuse. It can run the gamut from physical, psychological and emotional to sexual and financial abuse or neglect.

Statistics show that reported cases reveal 7% of seniors have experienced some form of abuse, with 2% of those indicating multiple forms of abuse.

Some 24,000 older adults in Alberta have suffered some form of abuse with more than 500 of those people living in Red Deer. These numbers only represent reported cases.

“This project has the scope to look at any of the aspects of elder abuse,” said Walter Lidster, executive director of Family Services of Central Alberta. “Although the kernel of this program starts here in Central Alberta, it’s actually a province-wide project and will go across Canada in year three. Any learning we gather will be pan-Canadian.

“We will be doing workshops and community awareness events about preventing elder abuse, how it’s assessed, how it’s reported and how to address it.”

A key part of The Alberta Generations Project is what’s called the Home Share project.

“This is an international program that offers college students the opportunity to live in seniors’ homes for reduced rent with the option of offering support,” he said. “We want to look at the opportunity of two generations living together and see how they can support each other.”

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. Plus it’s a financial help to both parties as well. “I think it’s the emotional support that will be even more valuable. This is a good option for seniors to help keep them in their own homes, to keep them safe and to have someone there who can help them.”

Meanwhile, seniors finding themselves in abusive situations are urged to call the 24-hour resource line at 403-346-6076 or 1-877-454-2580.

“We need to pursue public security in all areas of our community to ensure our seniors feel safe in all aspects of their lives,” said City Councillor Tara Veer. “Our community tolerance for elder abuse must be a resounding intolerance for any senior being taken advantage of or being abused physically, emotionally, mentally or financially.

“I’m encouraged by the presence of so many wonderful people here today who are willing to invest their time, resources and above all their hearts to such a worthy cause.”