Support for Manitoba seniors available by phone during COVID-19 restrictions

Current level red COVID-19 restrictions mandating people to stay at home in Manitoba are causing more social isolation for seniors in the province.

Peggy Prendergast is a retired teacher in her 80’s. A widow who lives alone in her home, Prendergast usually teaches other seniors in assisted living homes how to paint in order to supplement her pension and keep busy

With further restrictions now in place, though, that has all come to a halt.

“I guess it’s also not feeling useful,” Prendergast said. “I’ve always felt through my teaching career and through my earlier retirement years that I was doing something that was valued by society. Now I am a housewife without a husband and without a family here, and it doesn’t seem to have to same joy that it used to.”

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Prendergast hasn’t been able to see anyone in person since level red restrictions took effect in Winnipeg on Nov. 2.

“I guess the hardest thing to get use to is to always being alone,” Prendergast said. “I think I said to somebody the other day, ‘I’m tired of looking at the walls inside my house.’”

She has family living in the city, but hasn’t been able to see them either.

“There’s stress with all of us,” Prendergast said. “They worry about me, which I don’t want them to, and I’m concerned about them as well.”

Senior support agencies in Manitoba are working to bring company to people feeling extra lonely right now.

One of the programs, ‘Senior Centre Without Walls‘, provides educational and recreational programming over the phone.

“It’s strictly a telephone program; you don’t have to go anywhere,” said program assistant at A&O: Support Services For Older Adults, Lydia Robertson. “Everything is done via a teleconference format. So no one needs to have a computer, all they need to have is a telephone to participate in our variety of programs.”

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Programming includes book clubs, brain teasers and fitness classes, all over the phone.

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Robertson saying the programs are helping people connect and make new friendships.

“They’re very happy to participate and to hear another persons voice other than the television,” Robertson said. “People identifying with similar issues in growing older.”

Senior support staff can also help residents coordinate grocery and prescription pick ups if they can’t leave their house.

You can access these Manitoba services by calling 211 or by dialing 311 in Winnipeg.

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