On Nov. 30, as part of the Fraser Health Virtual Geriatric Educational Session entitled The Importance of Emotional Support for Seniors, Grace Hann, Jewish Seniors Alliance peer support services supervisor and trainer of volunteers, made a presentation that featured recorded remarks from JSA president emeritus Serge Haber.
Haber pointed out in his remarks how life changes for many older seniors once they retire. They often cease to be valued and become invisible, he said. The JSA’s Peer Support Services (PSS) program has trained seniors to provide emotional support to other seniors – active and reflective listening, encouraging the senior to talk about their issues and finding solutions on their own, but with support.
When Haber took the training course, he learned how crucial the PSS program is for the well-being of seniors. The support provided helps them deal with tremendous changes in their lives, such as loss of family, loss of position in society and health issues. Haber argued that these needs are not usually recognized. The gains made by the clients of PSS, he said, are phenomenal.
Hann pointed out that the training and volunteering also helps the seniors who become volunteers.
The second half of the presentation consisted of an explanation by Hann of the training process and a description of the PSS program, as well as other JSA activities, including education and advocacy. Charles Leibovitch, PSS coordinator and the social worker for the program, spoke about Haber’s passion for the work they are doing and how his passion has inspired many of the staff and the volunteers.
Older seniors can remain alone at home longer, if they would like to, as a result of the government’s Better at Home program. However, there is little in emotional support offered; it is not just a gap in this area, but a chasm.
Alvarez thanked everyone and mentioned the summit Fraser Health is planning in June for further discussion of these topics.
Shanie Levin is a Jewish Seniors Alliance Life Governor. She is also on the editorial committee of Senior Line magazine.