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Arlene Adamson
courtesy Sean Phillip

MCF puts seniors on the map

U of C student volunteers for senior housing initiative

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The Metropolitan Calgary Foundation would like to put senior issues back into the dialogue of communities and government policy.

MCF is a non-profit organization in Calgary that provides housing for low-income seniors. With approximately 1,700 residents, MCF operates 17 independent townhouse, apartment and cottage-style housing options as well as nine subsidized supported living lodges that provide seniors with food service, housekeeping, recreation and 24-hour non-medical monitoring.

Matthew Pease, who has studied two years in biological sciences at the University of Calgary and is now in his first year in the faculty of medicine, has been volunteering for MCF for the last two years. Pease has volunteered with other groups but due to events in his personal life, he decided to devote his time to MCF.

"My grandpa was having some heath issues and so we started thinking about whether or not he was going to be in a nursing home," said Pease.

Pease mentioned that his own personal concerns about the depression and isolation seniors face played a part in his decision to be involved with MCF.

"It becomes difficult for them to be engaged in their communities," he said.

"I was thinking, 'I hope someone is taking care of my grandfather,'" said Pease.

MCF's CEO Arlene Adamson said the program is a positive opportunity to come together and address senior issues.

"It's a very positive opportunity for us to lead in a different way in how we support seniors and to recognize that not all Albertans, not all seniors, are doing well," said Adamson. "My career has lead me to this place where I'm at the right time in my journey to be able to make a difference for seniors and try to put them on the map, make their story known and make their needs more known."

For Pease, his experience of volunteering has been positive. "You really get a sense of community."

With the Alberta election coming up, Adamson hopes that seniors' needs will be a priority in the political discussion.

"We would hope that as we move into the election, that they will have that front and centre on their platform simply because we are a population of baby boomers who are growing and it's not an overnight fix," said Adamson.

Statistics Canada projects that the number of seniors in Canada will increase from 4.2 million in 2005 to 9.8 million by 2036.

"We need support now for seniors who are left behind and we certainly need to be forward-thinking so that we're not reacting in crisis mode come years from now," Adamson said.

MCF is also in the process of expanding programs within its lodge-style accommodations to help support residents who have memory and mobility issues so that they can stay connected to their communities.

"These are people who built our country, built our city and I think it is incumbent for us to make sure we don't forget about them," said Adamson. "I think in a province that is as wealthy as ours is and is as prosperous as ours is we need to pay attention to the fact that all Calgarians, all Albertans need to have more than just a roof over their heads, they need to be able to live with dignity and that means a collective effort."

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