Sage Seniors Safe House will expand spaces in Edmonton and surrounding area to help seniors escaping elder abuse through a $1.1-million investment provided by Alberta’s government over the next three years.
Karen McDonald, executive director at Sage Seniors Association, said during an announcement on Monday the investment will increase their capacity and improve access for seniors requiring additional care while seeking shelter.
“Increased access to shelter and safe spaces for older adults experiencing elder abuse is a critical step towards ensuring that all Albertans can live free from abuse,” McDonald said. “We can strengthen our ability to support more seniors by expanding the number of suites, addressing the increased demand for our services and ensuring that we continue to provide essential support services to those that need it most.”
Michele Markham, manager of Sage Seniors Safe House, told Postmedia in an interview they have helped seniors experiencing abuse to not only get back on their feet but also to have a safe home.
“I felt safe, respected, supported and I felt my importance as a human being because of staying here. I can move forward with knowledge and resources to assist me,” said an anonymous client.
Investment part of Safe Spaces program: Nixon
In the announcement, Seniors, Community and Social Services Minister Jason Nixon, Minister said Monday the $1.1 million is part of an additional $3.3-million investment over the next three years for the Safe Spaces program. The program will utilize vacant lodge spaces to expand shelter capacity for seniors fleeing abuse in partnership with the Alberta Elder Abuse Awareness Council.
“I want to start off by acknowledging that November is Family Violence Awareness Month in the province of Alberta. And sadly, seniors experience a tremendous amount of family violence inside our province,” Nixon said.
He said that around one in 10 Alberta seniors may be subjected to elder abuse.
He says elder abuse can take many forms, including physical and financial abuse, and the government is taking this issue seriously through the new Safe Spaces initiative.
“Elder abuse is a deeply concerning issue that affects countless seniors in our province. And this is an unacceptable reality we are determined to change. The new Safe Spaces program will ensure seniors have a safe place to go if needed,” Nixon said.
Nixon said the funding will also provide $ 2.2 million to help local organizations to provide shelters for seniors in rural Alberta and Indigenous communities.
Funding will be available for eligible communities, with a call for proposals beginning in January 2024.
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Measures to reduce senior exploitation, affordability challenges
Meanwhile, the Edmonton city police senior protection unit has raised the alarm over growing senior exploitation as it announced the launching of a new education campaign to remind people that exploiting seniors through a power of attorney is a criminal offence.
Nixon says the government is also working on helping seniors tackle affordability challenges.
“This year alone, we will invest $9.3 billion for seniors across the province because it is a priority of the province. We also are seeing tremendous affordability challenges which are impacting all Albertans,” Nixon said.
“And that’s why we are investing $5.1 billion in affordability payments this year alone, more than any other jurisdiction in the country, to help all of us who are facing affordability challenges but particularly fixed-income seniors.”