As we know, mothers are valuable, yet sometimes vulnerable members of our community. While caring for their own children, many mothers are also caring for their aging family members. The “sandwich generation,” as it’s sometimes called, refers to the generation who have living parents and children. This group generally consists of middle-aged people, often women, who simultaneously care for their children and their parents. This care can be financial, physical or emotional. As we continue to recognize how mothers make our work at SSCS matter, we look to those who raised those mothers, and how they now need a different kind of support.
According to 2022 United Way of Canada research, nearly 20% of seniors in Canada feel isolated. Poor cognitive and physical health outcomes are often linked to social isolation. Loneliness can lead to an increase in mental health issues like depression, anxiety and other preventable health challenges. The remedy is community, which is embedded in the services SSCS offers.
Sea to Sky Better at Home
For the past eight years, SSCS has operated Sea to Sky Better at Home in the Corridor. This program supports seniors to age in place on their own terms while staying active in their community. As aging looks and feels different for each individual, accessibility and inclusivity are important factors in the services provided.
At 82 and 90 years old, Squamish residents Iveta and George (respectively) take great pride in their home and appreciate the ability to live independently. Iveta and George are two of the nearly 140 seniors who participate in Sea to Sky Community Services’ Better at Home. The program coordinates light housekeeping, transportation to and from appointments, grocery shopping, friendly visiting, minor home repairs, yard work, and snow shoveling. Services are designed on the unique needs of the clients and complement existing in-house and local community services. Programs are facilitated by SSCS specially-trained staff, volunteers and contractors. Many staff and volunteers enjoy the social interaction as much as the seniors as the generational support goes both ways.
For George and Iveta, knowing that Better at Home is available to them is a great source of comfort. Currently, the couple primarily uses cleaning services along with participating in some of the program’s social activities. Iveta is thankful that she and George are currently able to take care of themselves and stay in their “beautiful little house,” and she is relieved to know that there are services available to support them as they grow older.
Sea to Sky Better at Home services can supplement assistance provided by family members such as children, grandchildren or friends. For many seniors in the sea to sky region who don’t have the support of a ‘sandwich generation’ to rely on, the services provided through the program offer socialization as well as practical help. Relationships formed through the programs often build community in more ways than simply shovelling snow. “We don’t have close family in Squamish,” George notes. “Having contact with others is important to us. It gives you a feeling of belonging.”
The Sea to Sky Better at Home program also offers opportunities to socialize and meet with others in the community, learning new skills like cooking or exercise and sharing new experiences. Staying socially connected prevents social isolation and is an essential part in healthy aging. Sea to Sky Better at Home hosts Lunch and Learn events that offer nutritious home-cooked meals along with the chance to socialize and learn about senior-relevant topics. Discussions cover fall prevention, financial planning, and living with Alzheimers. Guest speakers at Lunch and Learn gatherings include public health nurses from Vancouver Coastal Health, health specialists, Indigenous teachers, and local historians.
One local caregiver, Henry*, shared recently about the positive impact the Lunch and Learn programming has for those living with dementia as well as their caregivers, “On days when there is a session Maeve* lights up and feels secure and happy…My wife does not have to worry about challenges in finding words and following conversations. On [program] days, she’s up early, showers, does her hair, gets dressed, organizes games to bring, and is standing at the door saying ‘let’s go’!’
“Maeve loves the exercise session, and the social aspect and she raves about the lunch,” continues Henry. “She is dependent on me to organize her day, otherwise she will self isolate. On session days, it’s a relief to me to have a structured program available, and an opportunity to network with other caregivers who share my situation.”
A Generational Community Approach
As life expectancies increase, many young adults are finding themselves caring for their parents in addition to their own children. From children’s programming to youth, adult, family and support for seniors, SSCS has programming to support every generation. A thriving community requires happy and connected members of every age, stage, gender, ability and background. We are working together to improve the lives of our residents, meeting them where they are with the services they need most.
You Make Us Matter
Seniors and elders are deeply valued community members, many who have built the Sea to Sky corridor into what we know and love today. As this population grows and ages, it is our responsibility and privilege to support them aging with dignity and in community.
By making a financial gift to Sea to Sky Community Services, you are supporting seniors and Elders to live independently and happily in their homes. With your support, we can provide them with support, social opportunities and services with a smile.
You make us matter.
*names have been changed to protect privacy