On June 7th, the Government of Alberta announced over $6.3 million in funding to expand seniors’ access to mental health support. More than half of those dollars will go to Healthy Aging Alberta to enable community-based organizations across Alberta to offer older adults personal, psychosocial, and mental health supports. Healthy Aging Alberta is a community-led initiative coordinated by United Way of Calgary and Area. It seeks to enhance the lives of older Albertans by connecting community-based senior-serving (CBSS) organizations with larger systems such as health, housing, and the disabilities services sectors. This work is being done using a community development approach. It is intended to empower, support, and inspire older adults to age on their terms while improving health and social outcomes by ensuring they have access to the right support in the right place and at the right time.

Organizations serving older adults play a critical role in Albertans aging well at home in the community. However, limited coordination and the absence of infrastructure can impact collaboration with other systems. Coordination is essential to meeting the needs of the growing demographic of older Albertans and enabling every senior to age the way they want.

“The funding announced will go a long way in supporting our collective vision of making Alberta one of the best places in the world to grow older,” says Susan Brooke, Vice President, Community Impact and Partnerships, United Way Calgary and Area. “It will ensure that seniors have access to what they need for mental health support, to age well and thrive in their communities.”

The additional funding ensures that organizations supporting seniors can better connect and collaborate with existing mental health and addiction supports. The programs and services that are anticipated to be funded under the recent announcement will:

  • Provide much-needed respite for caregivers
  • Address loneliness, isolation, and anxiety
  • Prevent frailty
  • Facilitate the connection to elder abuse supports
  • Promote social connection, participation, and mental wellness for seniors and their caregivers

Since the pandemic, social isolation has been a significant issue affecting seniors’ lives. That’s why this funding is so necessary. With it, Healthy Aging Alberta will support up to 20 organizations in big cities, small towns, and rural areas of the province with home and community-based programs for seniors experiencing psychosocial, mental health, or addiction challenges. More information on the process for granting the funds will be shared broadly in early July.

At United Way of Calgary and Area, our mission is to mobilize communities for lasting social change. We raise and invest tens of millions of dollars every year to build stronger and more resilient communities, improve the lives of the people we serve, and find long-term solutions to complex social challenges. In the Healthy Aging Alberta Initiative, we have the privilege of working with the Community Leadership Council leading this work and our many partners, including government, agencies, donors, community organizations, and the Indigenous community.

For more information about Healthy Aging Alberta, please visit healthyagingalberta.ca.