RIA receives funding to promote social inclusion among older adults living with dementia

The Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging (RIA) announced its latest initiative to enhance life for those living with dementia in Waterloo Region at a public event hosted February 14, 2020.

The Honourable Deb Schulte, Minister of Seniors, was on hand to make the announcement for funding to the Supporting Inclusion through Intergenerational Partnerships (SIIP) project.

“The Government of Canada is empowering vulnerable seniors by investing in opportunities where they can benefit from and contribute to their communities. This project will help improve the lives of older people living with dementia, their families and caregivers. It will increase seniors’ social inclusion and well-being, and make a meaningful impact in the community” said Minister Schulte.

Over the next five years SIIP will bring generations together to address social isolation in older adults living with dementia and their care partners. It will provide opportunities for older adults and secondary and post-secondary aged youth to interact in meaningful ways — sharing skills, expertise and experiences. This not only benefits older adults, but also creates experiential learning opportunities for youth that can contribute to career development and enable them to be leaders and innovators in the community.

According to the Alzheimer Society of Ontario, the number of people diagnosed with dementia in the Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network catchment area is expected to increase to more than 13,500 in 2020. In addition to memory loss and difficulty problem solving, those living with dementia may experience changes in mood and the ability to communicate. This can make it difficult to establish or maintain personal relationships, potentially causing lost connections with friends, family members and the wider community.

Research shows that social isolation is associated with poor mental and physical health, more disability from chronic diseases, greater risk of elder abuse and greater caregiver burden. Socially isolated older adults are also less able to participate in and contribute to their communities, resulting in a significant loss to organizations, communities and society at large.

The RIA will bring together individuals and groups across Waterloo Region to identify needs and opportunities within the community and work together to create solutions.

“This project gives us the opportunity to not only bring our resources for people living with dementia to the community, but to also help foster partnerships and innovation across generations. I look forward to seeing how Waterloo Region becomes better able to support our older adults through this work,” said Josie d’Avernas, Executive Director of the RIA.

A public Think Tank event is being planned for March 27, 2020. This will be an opportunity for community members, students, educators, organizations, researchers and local government to come together to learn more about SIIP and contribute to building a community plan to address the issue of social isolation among older adults living with dementia and their care partners.

SIIP is funded by the Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors Program.

For more information about SIIP, visit intergenerationalpartnerships.ca.

 

Top: The Honourable Deb Schulte, Minister of Seniors (left) speaks to SIIP Community Advisory Board member Kathleen Vanderlinden (right) and Josie d’Avernas, Executive Director – RIA (centre)

Bottom right: Left to right:  Tim Louis, MP Kitchener-Conestoga, Josie d’Avernas, Executive Director RIA; Minister Schulte; James Schlegel, CEO Schlegel Health Care; Marwan Tabbara, MP Kitchener South-Hespler