Helping seniors stay connected

By Vanessa Racine, social medias coordinator

François Boudreau is the Executive Director of AQDR Montmagny-L’Islet, a community organization that advocates for seniors’ rights, especially in the areas of mental and physical health, economic development, and their psychosocial environment. The AQDR also promotes providing assistance to seniors living with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, or those who have experienced abuse or fraud.

François Boudreau, Executive Director of AQDR Montmagny-L’Islet, a community organization that advocates for seniors’ rightsLong before the COVID-19 pandemic, François had an idea: introducing seniors to the use of tablet computers and the Internet to enable them to stay in touch with their family and friends, renew their prescriptions at the pharmacy, and much more. Then came the pandemic with its lockdowns and physical distancing. Instantly, the needs of seniors became much more urgent.

Because of the pandemic, François Boudreau had to cancel all his regular activities. Before, he would often organize gatherings where seniors could get together, chat and share. He also used to go visit seniors to find out how they were doing and see their residence or home to make sure everything was alright. The AQDR was also offering all kinds of courses and training for our seniors. But with the risk of spreading the disease, all of that unfortunately had to stop. That’s when François' plan to introduce seniors to tablets and the Internet became more relevant than ever.

Thanks to a generous grant from the Canadian Red Cross, what was originally an ambitious plan has become a real success. François was able to purchase roughly 50 tablet computers in order to teach seniors how to use them and stay connected with their loved ones. Once they are familiar with the device, usually after a few months, seniors have to return the tablet, just like a book from the library. The returned tablets are then loaned to other learners. This project will not end with the pandemic. Far from it! François wants it to continue for the long term, in order to train as many people as possible. Not only does this project enable seniors to stay connected, it also enables them to stay informed, shop, have fun and, in turn, train their significant other and their friends.

François knows that age is no barrier to learning, and Ms. Tremblay proves that. At age 89, she moved into a long-term care residence after her husband died. As a participant, she received a tablet and a few training sessions on how to use it. Since then, she has been using it every day to talk to her sons and grandchildren. Today, Mrs. Tremblay no longer feels alone, and she is surrounded by her family… even remotely!

The Canadian Red Cross funded the continuation of this work thanks to the generous support of the Government of Canada’s Emergency Community Support Fund granting program.
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