VON offers helping hand

Colin MacLean
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Two new programs look to make life easier for seniors

AMHERST - Seniors looking for help retaining their independence are getting two helping hands from the local branch of the Victorian Order of Nurses.
VON is introducing two new programs in Cumberland County. One is aimed at helping seniors prevent serious falls. The other is designed to help retain mobility.
Senior Maintaining Active Roles Together (SMART) program co-ordinator Donna Everist said her program is a cheap way for seniors to exercise and keep a full range of motions without leaving their own home.
SMART is going to be entirely reliant on volunteers who visit seniors and help them through a 10-step exercise regime. The service is also reasonably priced compared to other services at $30 for 15 weeks, she said.
"We have the Y but for a senior on a fixed budget it's hard. Mobility is also an issue, many of these people no longer drive," she said.
The number of participants in the program is really only limited by how many volunteers the VON gets. And how many hours they are willing to put in, she said.
"Some take about three a week. One lady in Port Elgin takes three a day," she said.
SMART will be funded by Health Canada through the Population Health Fund.
Tamra Farrow, co-ordinator of community support and volunteer services for VON Cumberland, explains the second new program is a way for seniors to feel more comfortable and safe in there own homes.
On invitation, trained volunteers will visit seniors and point out simple ways they can make adjustments to their homes to keep themselves from falling. Things like marking steps with bright colours, moving rugs and making sure pets aren't underfoot are all things that could be suggested, she said.
"Better to prevent an accident then deal with it after," said Farrow.
The falls prevention program will be offered free of charge thanks to funding from the VON Canada Foundation.
Things like Meals on Wheels make things easier for our parents but at the same time it takes something away from them that they've had all their life. Their independence, said Everist.
"We sometimes tend to kill our parents with kindness," she said.

Organizations: Victorian Order, Health Canada, Population Health Fund VON Canada Foundation

Geographic location: Cumberland County, Port Elgin

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