Blog | March 26, 2014

By Staff at Global NewsEDMONTON—Seniors and health officials say they are seeing the benefits of a previous funding increase to adult day programs in Alberta.In 2012, Alberta Health Services boosted program funding by $3 million annually. That means an additional 500 seniors are able to take part.“It was important that I had something to do,” said John Cowdell, a patient. “You could easily fall into the watch TV all day. I think we all want to belong to something. You know, you can sit at home and do nothing but I’ve always enjoyed people, being around them.”Adult day programs offer mental stimulation to clients and, in some cases, physical rehabilitation.Because of a circulation condition, Cowdell was in intensive care and had to use a wheelchair.“When he left Grey Nuns, he was told he would never walk again,” said his wife Georgina.However, a walking program helped him get back on his feet.“I work during the day,” said Georgina, “and if John didn’t have the program to come to, I’d be sitting at work, worried sick.”Clients and staff say the additional spaces are critical.“I think it’s extremely important,” said Bonnie Derow with Covenant Health. “The main focus of the program is to keep our clients in their home as long as possible.Having that additional funding provides me the opportunity to bring more people into the program,” she added. “So, now I’m able to bring more people into the program more expediently because now I have these additional spaces.”“If you can keep people in their own home, isn’t that the most cost saving? So I think it’s a win-win situation.”Demand is high and continues to grow as Alberta’s population ages.“They should look at even putting more funding into day programs,” said Derow.Public Interest Alberta agrees that the government should go even further.“Yes, we need to have the investments, but they have to be done on a much bigger level,” said Bill Moore-Kilgannon.“We hear too many stories of seniors out there who get only an hour here or two hours there, when what they really need is enough home care to allow them to stay in their homes.”Moore-Kilgannon stressed the big picture.“When they go announcing these – what sounds like potentially big numbers – put that into context of just how many seniors there are in the province.”At any given time, there are roughly 100 people on the waiting list to get into one of the 17 adult day programs in the Capital Region.For more information on Adult Day Support Programs, click here.With files from Fletcher Kent, Global News© Shaw Media, 2014