Aging in New Brunswick: a user's guide for older adults and caregivers

·3 min read
Dr. Michelle Lafrance, a professor of psychology at St. Thomas University, said the idea originally stemmed from concerns she heard during a previous study about caregivers and older adults.  (Submitted by St. Thomas University - image credit)
Dr. Michelle Lafrance, a professor of psychology at St. Thomas University, said the idea originally stemmed from concerns she heard during a previous study about caregivers and older adults. (Submitted by St. Thomas University - image credit)

A resource on aging has been released for older adults and caregivers in the province.

Aging in New Brunswick: A User's Guide was designed to be a one-stop resource for aging-related information. It aims to help users navigate common challenges associated with growing old, like home support services, financial and legal matters, along with driving safety.

Michelle Lafrance, a professor of psychology at St. Thomas University, led the project. She said the idea originally stemmed from her previous study on caregivers and older adults. During interviews, she heard consistent frustration about finding resources and services.

"There are a lot of seats at this table, and so the more efforts to help the public navigate, the better," she said.

An interdisciplinary team of gerontologists, social workers, nurses, sociologists and psychologists across New Brunswick created the 108-page document. Lafrance said it "took a village" to collect all the information.

"This information is siloed in different agencies and government departments," she said. "Harnessing a vast array of expertise was really required for this journey."

For Lafrance, the project took on a deeper meaning when her father was diagnosed with dementia.

"I was going through this both personally and professionally at the same time, trying to seek information," she said. "Through the process of really doing this in real life, we inevitably came up with information that we didn't know about before and made its way into the document."

The guide is available in English and French and can be downloaded for free on the St. Thomas University website.

Lafrance said it was important to also make print copies of the guide available at public libraries. She said 25 English copies and 25 French copies are now in the system and can be borrowed.

"It can also be delivered to your mailing address using their Books by Mail service. So people who can't physically get to the library can contact their local library and have that delivered to their mailbox," she said.

Submitted by Chandra MacBean
Submitted by Chandra MacBean

Chandra MacBean, executive director of the Alzheimer Society of New Brunswick, said senior care is unintentionally a very difficult system to navigate.

She said the society will "happily provide" the guide to its clients, adding that it's unlike any other that currently exists.

"It does an exceptional job with user-friendly language and really describes tough issues in a way that's easy to digest, with practical tips and steps that I think family and care providers need," she said. "I was thrilled to see that the team who pulled this together really focused on the needs of the user."

One of the resource's 10 chapters is exclusively about living with dementia and lists the Alzheimer Society of New Brunswick as a resource.

MacBean said she's optimistic it will help people with a known diagnosis of dementia and those who might be seeing signs and symptoms in a loved one.

"I think it really does help differentiate some things that many would inadvertently associate with normal aging, which actually isn't," she said.

Lafrance said the project team is looking into ways to update the guide over time.