Empowering seniors through choice

2 MIN READ

Margaret is a local senior who, like many other seniors in Ottawa, is vulnerable to isolation. As Margaret grows older, her physical disabilities make navigating the city more and more challenging.

“I’m small for my age and I have a problem with my hand,” she explains. “I couldn’t go out a lot, I was lonely.”

But when a community rallies to support isolated seniors, people like Margaret benefit.

Today, Margaret finds companionship, social time, and camaraderie through a program called Chance for Choice. This initiative, run by United Way partner Citizen Advocacy, creates one-on-one friend matches with seniors who have age-related disabilities and who may be lonely, isolated, or vulnerable.

“Now I have Louise, I talk to her on the phone all the time,” says Margaret. Having a friend to call on means Margaret goes out more, and has people to rely on in times of need.

In Ottawa and across Eastern Ontario, seniors are often one of the most vulnerable populations. While many local seniors live well independently, others have a more difficult time. In fact, more than 30 per cent of seniors in some local neighbourhoods live in low income situations and more than 25 per cent live alone, making them more vulnerable to social isolation and poor health outcomes as a result.

When a senior is vulnerable in more than one way, the challenges they face are even greater. Those living on a low income, single seniors, senior women, seniors with disabilities, newcomer seniors, Indigenous seniors, and seniors in the LGBTQ+ community are much more likely to face significant challenges when it comes to social isolation or mental health.

That’s why United Way leads strategic initiatives, conducts research, supports programs and advocates to make sure our aging population is well cared for.

This support is a lifeline: it allows seniors like Margaret to stay healthy and active in their communities for longer.

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