September 12th, 2014
*Stock photo – Transporting seniors
Simple transportation is a steady roadblock and many B.C. seniors don’t know where to turn to get help. It’s all the more challenging in a quaint yet widespread area, like Maple Ridge and its surrounding communities. This persistent problem also endures throughout the province, yet Better at Home’s volunteer transportation efforts aim to support seniors’ independence.
Maple Ridge was a pilot community for CASI in 2009 and Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows Community Services housed the much needed program. When the success of CASI led to Better at Home in 2010, many seniors seamlessly transitioned their services and remained supported by Better at Home, with the purpose of living independently at home and connected with community.
When transportation services became available to Maple Ridge seniors, Mary*, a 96-year-old widow was one of the first seniors to sign up. She knew she needed help, and reached out by calling MR/PM Community Services for assistance getting around in her community.
At the time, Mary was living in Pitt Meadows and found the challenges of getting out of her house demanding. Mary couldn’t drive anymore, and was intimidated when faced with the rush of public transit. She was becoming isolated from her community, but that all changed when she signed up for transportation services in 2009.
Since 2010 however, Mary has developed dementia. Recently her condition progressed considerably, and living alone at home started to become dangerous.
When Mary was admitted to the hospital due to a dementia-induced incident, her family tried to encourage her to move into a long-term care facility. Mary was distressed and wanted to know what Diana Vivian, Better at Home Program Coordinator, would think of the move. Although they had only ever spoken by phone, Mary and Diana have a mutual admiration and respect, developed throughout the years that Diana helped Mary regain her mobility and independence.
Mary’s family invited Diana to the hospital to speak with Mary. When Diana walked in the room and spoke, Mary’s face lit up.”Oh, I know who you are!” She recognized the voice of the woman who had helped connect her to transportation and the community time and time again.
Mary was afraid she would not be eligible for Better at Home services when she moved and perhaps as worrying, lose contact with Diana. Diana promised that Maple Ridge Better at Home would continue to support her even after the move. “That moment demonstrated to me how important our program can be to a senior when it comes to their independence and how the smallest gesture can mean so much for that person,” Diana said.
After Mary left the hospital, her son contacted Diana to let her know that Mary agreed to move out of her house. Diana’s words and actions had given Mary encouragement and comfort, and the reassurance that her connection to Better at Home and the community would remain the same despite the huge life change. Diana had given Mary peace of mind that Better at Home would continue to support her if she still needed the services, even if she changes where she calls home.
Mary is now settling into her new home in a long-term care facility in the Ridge Meadows area, and her family is interested in matching Mary with a friendly visitor through Maple Ridge Better at Home. Better at Home continues to be a huge support in Mary’s life.
She and the children have expressed great gratitude to Diana for her caring heart, and to the Better at Home program for their devoted support to seniors.
*Names have been changed to protect the confidentiality of Better at Home clients