Strength of body and mind: United Way focuses on Mission senior

When her husband passed away eight years ago, Olive Jean moved to Mission to be closer to her family. Being near her son has helped her.

“But I knew from the beginning he could not be the only thing [to help me],” she says, in an article published this week in the United Way of the Lower Mainland publication as part of  the June 3-9 Seniors Week in British Columbia.

After Olive Jean lost her husband, she needed a local seniors program to stay connected to her community.

For Olive Jean, spending time in her community, staying active and making friends is integral to her mental and physical health. Like many other older adults in our community, she faces different challenges.

“I’m eighty-four years old. I’m on a fixed income. I have very bad arthritis, so my mobility is not good.”

She’s not alone. Across the province, more than half of seniors over the age of seventy-five live with a disability. One in five struggle with poverty.

“Isolation is a scary thing for seniors,” she says. “You have to find some way to get out.”

A program that moves people

Soon after arriving in the city, Olive Jean connected with a United Way Seniors Active Aging program through Mission Community Services Society.

Here, she regularly takes part in chair yoga and aerobics, as well as line dancing classes and other fun physical activities.

It has been a place for her to come and build her strength and make friends.

Active Aging offers door-to-door pick-up and drop-off services for isolated seniors, providing them with free physical activities and instruction.

“I come here to do exercises four times a week. People are very friendly.”

Transportation to and from the program is also provided – a key for many of her fellow participants, including 71-year-old Dorothy.

“I was pretty isolated, so it makes me less lonely,” says Dorothy. “Getting here has given me strength that I didn’t have before. No one wants to feel lonely.”

Acts of local love

Like every community across the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley, the senior population in Mission is growing.

Across our communities, 25,000 seniors say they have no one to talk to. It’s imperative that Olive Jean and her friends are able to connect with life-changing opportunities, free of cost.

Olive Jean is staying active and connecting to her community. You made this connection possible.

“The more people coming in, the more this program works. There are so many people who this help. I’m not the only one.”

We all have a part to plan in ending senior isolation.

Transform your community by reaching out!