Stakeholder Spotlight: North Edmonton Seniors Association (NESA)
NESA Seniors In Need Transportation Support Program
NESA is very proud of the wide variety of programs and social events offered to seniors in the community; however, when a senior loses their ability to drive and cannot access these opportunities due to lack of transportation, the expected positive outcomes of such programs are not met. “Transportation for seniors has been identified as an unmet need in many jurisdictions worldwide, and Alberta is no exception”. (University of Alberta: Perceptions and Use of Alternate Transportation for Seniors: Results from a Provincial Survey of Seniors, 2011).
Losing the ability to drive can be life-changing and, unless there are other alternatives, the chances of becoming isolated and experiencing loneliness is a real possibility. There is an accumulating amount of data demonstrating the serious effects of loneliness on mental and physical health. Loneliness can increase the risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease by about 30 per cent, and increases the risk of anxiety, depression, and dementia by up to 15 per cent in older people. Overall, it increases the risk of early death by anywhere between 14 and 30 per cent, and its effects on physical health are often compared to things like smoking, excessive drinking, and air pollution. (Jessica Singer, CBC News, January 14, 2024).
“I think loneliness is the silent killer of seniors,” Renee Houlihan
In 2022 NESA took up this challenge and, through the help of a New Horizons grant, developed a pilot program that would provide subsidized transportation for low-income members. NESA worked with a 3rd party transportation provider to bring eligible members to NESA where they participated in various programs and social events. This Transportation Program provided a two-way ride for the senior and was available for up to two programs or social events per week.
This initiative was so successful that NESA has continued with this program, The Seniors in Need Transportation Support Program, for 2023 and now into 2024. This program continues to provide free transportation for low-income members as well members who may be experiencing temporary health barriers, or those who may have mobility issues which impact their ability to use public transportation. This transportation initiative will provide the opportunity for these vulnerable seniors to access the NESA programs and social events and experience social participation and inclusion through physically and mentally rewarding activities, thus promoting wellness and independence which are needed to live healthy and fulfilling lives.
NESA is proud of the NESA clubs who continue to support programs like this through their fund raising, as well as the donations from members and the Northgate Lions Club. This program was featured during ‘Giving Tuesday’ and the response was outstanding.
NESA is very proud to be able to continue to offer this support to our members and continues to seek other ways to support an age friendly community, and to combat isolation and loneliness in our aging adult population.
If you are interested in finding out more about this program, please contact NESA Executive Director, Nancy Melnychuk.
Together we can make a difference.