Seniors Advocacy Centre introducing seniors fitness and anti-elder abuse programs

Seniors Advocacy Centre executive director John Fryters speaks at the annual seniors' gala on March 7, 2019. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

Now that it’s settled into its new home, the Prince Albert Seniors Advocacy Centre is looking to launch two new projects, one that will help keep the community’s older adults healthy, and the other that will, hopefully, help keep them safe.

Executive director John Fryters announced the two new initiatives at the annual seniors’ gala luncheon Thursday. The event doesn’t only provide an opportunity to celebrate an individual who is over 70 and is doing great things in the community, it also gives the centre an opportunity to keep people updated on their latest initiatives.

The first project has been funded by a grant through the City of Prince Albert. It has allowed the centre to hire a kinesiologist and a certified physical exercise therapist to help keep older adults healthy.

“We’re going to be able to hire a professional to design and deliver an exercise program specifically for seniors,” Fryters said.

“We hope for exercises particularly to strengthen leg muscles. We want to become a factor in preventing falls for seniors.”

The program is meant to be a supplement to other initiatives that are out there. The difference, Fryters said, is the program will have a pre- and post-assessment to see the improvement over the course of the program.

The other program they’re hoping to introduce later this year has to deal with seniors’ abuse.

“Since our inception, referred cases of seniors’ abuse have increased dramatically,” Fryters said.

“However, there was a real lack of resources in the community to deal with such cases effectively.”

The program, he said, will certainly be unique to Prince Albert, and may even be the first of its kind in Saskatchewan.

The cases are so complex they sometimes need the help of people like a family therapist, financial advisor, police officer or lawyer, Fryters said, all professions he hopes to engage with as the initiative grows and develops.

“The abuse, many times, the abuse is done by family or caregivers,” he explained. “We’re also seeing more and more senior abuse cases within institutions, within nursing homes, care homes and retirement centres.”

That can take the form of either caretaker abuse or lateral violence, where older adults bully each other, he explained.

Fryters hopes to set up the initiative similarly to The Hub, an initiative that meets twice weekly to address situations of elevated levels of risk for individuals or the community at large, such as elevated risks of re-offending, relapsing on treatment, becoming a victim or becoming homeless.

“We’re going to try to put together a team,” Fryters said.

“We would get the cases, do the initial write-up and go to this roundtable hub with a lawyer, doctor, a financial advisor, a police officer, and look at services … in the community we can access. The hub will be writing the case management plan.”

Support services exist in Prince Albert, Fryters said, but it can be difficult to get access to them, especially in complex cases. That’s what the new initiative will hope to fix.

“The cases we seem to be getting are so complex, we don’t really know what to do.”

The ongoing work of the Seniors Advocacy Centre, which has now moved into its new location at 80 10th Street East, was praised by gala guest and city councillor Don Cody.

“It’s fantastic to see people step forward and do this kind of work,” he said.

“it’s not easy work. They have taken on a mammoth job. There is all measure of things out today. You can go to the internet and see things that seniors need and seniors want, and the difficulty that seniors are having. But it takes more than that.

“It takes hands-on, and that’s exactly what (the Seniors Advocacy Centre) has taken on.”