The Alberta government recently invested $3.5 million in Healthy Aging Alberta to improve accessible and affordable transportation for seniors. The investment will specifically target rural communities with a high percentage of low-income seniors, meaning Strathmore could be eligible to access this funding.
Healthy Aging Alberta is run by United Way Calgary and Area, which is an organization that works towards improving seniors' lives. United Way Calgary and Area's Vice President of Marketing and Communications Yvette Biggs explained 20 communities will see this funding, but they're still in the early process of determining where the money will go so she couldn't confirm whether or not Strathmore would see any funding.
"This is going to directly impact older Albertans, especially those that are living independently and that live far away from cities and services. This program aims to provide a safe and affordable transportation option, so overall seniors can live independently, take care of their basic needs, it will also give them access to important services like healthcare and social services," she said.
Regarding basic needs, Biggs said this could be a wide variety of things like "getting groceries, self-care, getting haircuts, meeting up with neighbors and family and friends."
When most people think about transportation for seniors, usually what comes to mind is transportation for medical needs or potential emergencies. While that is undoubtedly important, Biggs added seniors' transportation goes well beyond providing just this service. United Way Calgary has four main priorities, being: social and economic well-being, mental health, social inclusion, and healthy relationships. Biggs feels seniors' transportation addresses all of these.
"Transportation programs like this really provide them with opportunities to be a part of their community. They provide them with opportunities to maintain social connections and feel that they really matter. So it's a really important step in making sure that Alberta is a great place to grow older."
"If seniors are feeling socially isolated from family, from friends, and they don't have a way to get places, that impacts their mental health and their physical health."
Should Strathmore be chosen to receive funding, Biggs said United Way Calgary and Area would work with Strathmore's seniors to decide how best the money would be spent. This could mean organizations like Strathmore Handi-Bus seeing funding, but it would depend on how Strathmore's seniors feel the money could be best spent.
Additional funding details will be shared directly with eligible municipalities. For more details on United Way Calgary and Area's Healthy Aging Alberta Initiative, you can visit their website at calgaryunitedway.org.
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