Community groups to share $460K in grants to help connect seniors, combat loneliness

Debra Lucas is the president of the Seniors of Upper Hammonds Plains Club. (Jean Laroche/CBC - image credit)
Debra Lucas is the president of the Seniors of Upper Hammonds Plains Club. (Jean Laroche/CBC - image credit)

Some seniors who live in Upper Hammonds Plains, N.S., are still reluctant to leave their homes, concerned that gathering with others could expose them to COVID-19.

But a local seniors' group is hoping by offering activities close to home, seniors can be persuaded to attend events — now that the group has the money to hold them.

"If they don't have family it may be their only outing," said Debra Lucas, president of the Seniors of Upper Hammonds Plains Club.

"It's very important for these seniors to get out and socialize with each other, talk to each other, have a coffee with each other."

The club is one of 37 community groups from across Nova Scotia that's getting a total of $460,000 to run programs designed to keep seniors active and healthy. It will use its $5,000 grant to organize group fitness classes, crafts, painting and cooking classes.

Jean Laroche/CBC
Jean Laroche/CBC

Gina Jones-Wilson, president of the Upper Hammonds Plains Community Development Association, said the last three years have been particularly hard on seniors in the community.

"It created a vacuum that we're trying to break," said Jones-Wilson. "Loneliness can be a big trigger for dementia, which is also a big part of that age group."

Jones-Wilson said getting programs up and running should help seniors "feeling comfortable to come back out and enjoy company."

"Some of them have come back out but there's some people that we're still working on," she said.

37 organizations receive grants

Grants announced Wednesday include $3,000 for a program run by the CHArt Society — short for culture, heritage and art — in Colchester that will bring musicians to retirement residences and long-term care homes. Halifax Regional Municipality is receiving $25,000 to design senior-focused recreation programs and services for the next five years.

Barbara Adams, minister of seniors and long term care, said the grants provide support to community groups that use the money to create new programs.

"These funds are essential to providing programs that otherwise would not happen," said Adams, who also noted there was value in simply bringing people together.

"It's a wellness check," she said. "It's people being able to see their neighbours that they haven't seen in a while and if somebody's not doing well the group itself is looking after them."

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