Anne is a storyteller. At 78 years old, she has a zest for life, a hunger for knowledge, and the willingness to embrace her past with love and compassion.
Anne lives in Kamloops and although getting older has made several tasks much more difficult, she is an independent soul who loves her own space. It is because of seniors like Anne that United Way British Columbia is so passionate about their work in Healthy Aging and their Better at Home program. Better at Home was created to help seniors with non-medical, day-to-day tasks so they can continue to live in their own homes and remain connected to the communities they live in.
As recently as 2 years ago, Anne learned some dark truths about her childhood which had been buried for decades: her unwanted birth in Germany, being given up for adoption at 10 months old and placed in a camp for displaced children; she was shipped off to Canada as a young child, essentially an orphan, and lived a life she described as “hell on earth” in her first years on Canadian soil.
After she was finally adopted at the age of 9, things began to improve for Anne. She reflected on the beautiful people who came into her life, showing her compassion, love, kindness, and encouraging curiosity. “They were magnificent human beings, they really were,” she went on, “Like in school, there was one nun who was so kind and lovely, she made such a huge difference in my life.” There were many challenges, to be sure, but optimism and her desire to learn is something she radiates, even now as she approaches 80 years of age.
Anne moved to Kamloops in the 70’s and struggled to acclimate to a new community. She was used to living in Eastern Canada where public transportation was more connected, and she had family and friends around her.
As a wife and mother at that time, Anne spent a lot of her spare time volunteering and as time went by, she settled in and grew to love the city where the two rivers meet. She bought the home she still lives in today and loves the life she’s built.
Growing older, living alone
After Anne’s family had disbursed, leaving Kamloops for other opportunities, and her marriage came to an end, her life had the potential to become lonely. Fortunately, Anne enjoys her own company, and she keeps herself busy. She is an avid reader, and doesn’t watch television, preferring to relax on the couch and listen to the CBC than to be tied to screens. Anne lit up when talking about her neighbours and expressed gratitude for the help and support they offer without question. After learning about United Way BC’s Better at Home program, offered through Interior Community Services in Kamloops, things shifted again for the better for Anne.
Aging for many older adults like Anne means more mobility issues, money is tight, and transportation isn’t as easy as it once was. “I still have a car, and I’m really grateful I can still drive. But gas is so expensive, I have to be careful how much I drive.” She went on to clarify, “Last Friday, Tammy was offering coupons for the Farmer’s Market, but it just couldn’t justify driving to the North Shore three times in one week.”
Anne regularly visits the Mount Paul Community Food Centre on the North Shore, where Tammy Rosch is the Better at Home Coordinator for the Kamloops region. She has been a lifeline for Anne, becoming both a friend and supporter, helping her access the programs that are available to seniors.
Mount Paul Community Food Centre, operated by Interior Community Services, receives funding through United Way BC to support seniors’ food security, and these programs are invaluable. Anne participated in a healthy cooking class taught by Tammy, guiding seniors through a series of recipes that were designed to be low fat, low sugar, low salt, but loaded with flavour. “I enjoyed everything we made, even the brownies made with black beans,” she said with a laugh. “Not everybody did. One lady said she hated them because she doesn’t like black beans. I asked her if she liked chickpeas and she did, so that’s how she made them! There’s always a bright side.” That is the essence of Anne.
She also loves the Community Meals offered at Mount Paul Community Food Centre each Monday and Thursday. “I drive to the North Shore twice a week for a good meal and a visit with my friends. It’s a big deal, because I live in Sahali, but it gets me out of the house, and it feeds my soul too.”
Better at Home is better for everyone
Tammy is passionate about working with, and helping seniors thrive in their own homes. “We would not be where we are today without them. They deserve our respect, and it is important that we are there for them, now, when they need us.” She explained what United Way BC’s Better at Home program is all about. “Better at Home helps seniors
with non-medical support services like light housekeeping, yard maintenance, grocery shopping, transportation, good morning calls, food hamper deliveries, and we have farmer’s market vouchers in the summer which are in great demand.”
Yard work can also become a challenge for seniors like Anne who want to remain in their own home. The piles of cherry tree chips in her front yard are an eye sore, and when she had the tree taken down, she thought she’d be able to do a little bit each day to get rid of the piles. “It’s just too hard for me,” she explained. “I’m independent. I want to be able to do it myself, but my mobility just isn’t what it used to be.” Having a volunteer drop by to help with her cleanup is something Anne needs, and United Way BC’s Better at Home helps make that possible.
She speaks of her challenges without looking for sympathy, but it is clear that things don’t get easier as people age.
Getting older, losing mobility, isolation, complex health concerns, and living on a fixed income can come at a great cost for seniors, so United Way British Columbia is here for them through their work with Healthy Aging. Lisa Cyr, Regional Community Developer with United Way BC explains, “It is so important for the physical and mental wellbeing of seniors to remain active, connected, and engaged in the communities they call home. And if they can stay in the homes they’ve been living in, with the support United Way BC’s Better at Home provides, it’s just better for everyone, the seniors, their families, friends, caregivers, and allies. It’s really about quality of life.”
For Anne, whether it’s a meal with friends, a volunteer stopping by to help her with her yard, or having people that care checking in on her, United Way BC’s Better at Home program makes a huge impact on her life. Aspects of growing older can be frustrating, but in true “Anne” fashion, she looks at the positive side. “I just do what I can and accept the help when it is offered. I’m grateful for people like Tammy. She really is a magnificent human being.”
United Way BC’s Better at Home helps give seniors like Anne the support she needs to live her life, her way. Across the province, Better at Home offers 92 programs, serving over 260 communities. This past year, over 13,900 seniors have participated in Better at Home, with over 285,000 services delivered.
Your support of United Way British Columbia makes programs like Better at Home possible, and that is worth everything.
To learn more about the work United Way British Columbia is doing for seniors, visit Healthy Aging Programs for Seniors | United Way BC (uwbc.ca)
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