Silvera for Seniors

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New survey shines light on residents’ experiences

July 27, 2017 by Silvera

Residents are giving Silvera for Seniors the proverbial thumbs up in a newly introduced survey that measures important dimensions of care.

The 2016 Silvera Resident Satisfaction Survey found 94.5 per cent of respondents liked their independent living community and 88.3 per cent enjoyed their supportive living space. Overall, on a 10-point-scale, Silvera scored a hair shy of an eight.

Silvera describes the survey results as “very respectable,” and we are still reviewing feedback to determine ways of improving. The results will inform future decisions and help shape the direction of programming.

“Resident satisfaction is key to our business,” says Barbara Hagen, regional manager. “The best way to gain that information is to go directly to the source.

A new form of survey

Although Silvera often seeks residents’ feedback, this is the first time the organization looked at multiple program areas through a standardized lens used across the province.

The Silvera survey was based on a satisfaction survey commissioned by the Heath Quality Council of Alberta and released in 2015. The government agency provides an Alberta-wide benchmark for experiences in continuing care — though the Silvera survey included independent living communities, and the report notes it’s difficult to make across-the-board comparisons.

In addition to gauging overall satisfaction, the survey looked at 10 categories including food services, environmental factors such as safety and privacy and the range of activities available to residents. Other considerations included experiences with employees, facility maintenance and laundry services.

Silvera scored above the provincial baseline in select measures, most notably in room privacy. On the other hand, the report highlights room for improvement in the area of employee responsiveness on evenings and weekends.

Validation of Silvera service

Hagen says assessments of service-level measures — such as dining, housekeeping and facility maintenance — can trigger immediate changes. For instance, the active aging program will be tweaked to add more challenging programming in response to residents’ concerns.

The survey also validates current program offerings.

“We heard loud and clear that folks value physical fitness programming,” says Hagen. “That was an area we knew was a strength for us already.

“It’s always good to know where we are doing well.”

A successful process

All residents were invited to take part in the survey, which was distributed in November and December of 2016. The response rate was 45.3 per cent, which Hagen notes was an exceptionally high level.

“Our response rate speaks volumes because residents took the time to tell us how they feel we’re doing, says Hagen.”

The results of the latest survey will be up for discussion at regularly scheduled meetings between residents and staff. In particular, managers are interested in hearing more from residents on their experiences with external service providers.


Season of Silvera Care Days kick off for summer

June 28, 2017 by Silvera

The official season of Silvera Care Days kicked off on a sunny day in late May.

Employee representatives from Colliers and Suncor saw themselves in the Silvera story and came to our Shouldice and Bow Valley communities to do a spring clean-up and prepare the gardens for planting.

In June, more than 40 employees from Pembina Pipeline to do the same – one of several other volunteer events.

Great for groups

Silvera Care Days goes back more than five years. They are a great way for groups of employees from corporate Calgary to meet and interact with residents.

In the warm weather months, groups of employees from downtown come out and help plant flowers, help with garden beautification and do cleanups. (In the colder months, Care Days focus on supporting indoor Active Aging programs.

Other Care Days are scheduled throughout the summer in both supportive and independent living communities.

To get involved, simply contact Nadine Maillot at to learn what’s planned.



Silvera’s Got Talent: Vivian Wickwire

March 17, 2017 by Silvera

Vivian Wickwire has created art all her life. As a young girl growing up on the prairies in Saskatchewan, she pressed flowers and sketched when she wasn’t busy hauling grain to the elevator on her family’s farm.

It’s clear that art is her true passion if you look around her home at Silvera’s Westview Community. Pieces of her work cover nearly every wall, and an artist’s studio is set up in her bedroom.

“I took art classes through correspondence after my five children were born,” she says. “Back then it cost $15 a month, which was a lot, but I loved it!”

After completing her classes, Vivian worked as a professional painter, painting murals for nearby towns, commissioned pieces for clients, and published two books portraying Saskatchewan and Alberta grain elevators.

“It was my son’s idea that I paint the elevators,” she beams with pride.

When Vivian isn’t painting, she stays busy with the many activities available at Westview.

“I love it here, I’m always so busy,” she says. “I like the exercise classes, spending time with the other residents and, of course, helping out with the painting classes.”



Kelly Ogle – Silvera’s chair shares his perspective and passion

March 3, 2017 by Silvera

As Silvera’s current board chair, Kelly Ogle knows what it takes to be a leader. With 30 years of experience in the oil and gas industry, and as current president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, he is a well-rounded executive with a passion for making a difference.

Why he joined

“I joined the board because I wanted to share my expertise with a non-profit organization,” he says. “Silvera is a complex organization with diverse needs and services. There is a lot of work that goes into building and maintaining relationships with partners and working with the government to ensure Silvera receives adequate support.”

Commitment and rewards

Being on the board is a big commitment, but one that has proven to be rewarding for Kelly.

“It’s a lot of work and a large time commitment preparing for meetings, but knowing we are serving the needs of a vulnerable population makes it all worth it.”

In addition to chairing the board, Kelly’s role is to advocate on Silvera’s behalf with the government to ensure funding and support is obtained. He also works with other directors to fulfill Silvera’s fiduciary obligations and strategically position the organization for growth.

Learning opportunities

“Being a board member has enabled me to learn about seniors in Alberta and help Silvera meet the challenges of and need for safe, affordable seniors housing,” says Kelly. “My advice to those looking to join our board or standing committees is: be open to learning and aware of the time commitment and dedication involved.”

Silvera for Seniors is actively seeking to recruit visionary leaders to join our Board of Directors and board committees.

If you are a visionary leader with a passion for seniors and have expertise in the fields of finance, land development or accounting we want to hear from you!

We encourage interested applicants to send us a resume and cover letter to:

Arlene Adamson, CEO
Silvera for Seniors
Suite 804, 7015 Macleod Trail SW
Calgary, AB T2H 2K6


Learn more about board member and committee responsibilities »


Sam Switzer – a community leader with a heart of gold

February 10, 2017 by Silvera

As one of Silvera’s biggest supporters and a generous Calgary philanthropist, Sam Switzer wears his heart on sleeve. And while his foundation and financial support may be coming to an end, his impact on the lives of our residents and the services we provide will live on.

To appreciate and honour Sam for the meaningful work he has done not just for Silvera but for our city, Silvera nominated him for a Caring Canadian Award for which he was a chosen recipient by the office of the Governor General of Canada.

“We wanted to demonstrate our gratitude in a way that would showcase him as a great Canadian,” says Arlene Adamson, CEO of Silvera. “He’s a man of great humility who comes from humble beginnings. He understands that he has been blessed and that not everyone can attain wealth in their life time. To have that understanding and generosity for seniors who have limited income, there really is no better demonstration of a caring Canadian.”

Sam’s contributions have enabled us to broaden our annual resident event to include all residents from our independent living (IL) and supportive living (SL) communities at no cost to them.

“The event has been hosted at the Alazar Temple, Heritage Park and the BMO Centre. It has grown in attendance over the years and has been a great way for our residents to come together, make friends and be celebrated,” says Arlene.

Aside from his support of Silvera, Sam and his late wife Betty started the Sam and Betty Switzer Foundation in 2007 and have since supported a number of charities throughout the city. It began as a way to give back to the city he helped build.

“The mark his life’s work has left on our city is remarkable,” adds Arlene. “He has shown his heart by giving so generously to many charities, and here at Silvera he demonstrated that seniors matter. We are all going to age, and we hope everyone will open their hearts like Sam did and give to ensure seniors have affordable housing and the supports they need to age with dignity.I want to thank Sam and his family for their friendship, contributions and for helping make Silvera a great place for our residents to live.”


The Calgary Herald Christmas Fund: A unique gift

February 6, 2017 by Silvera

From left, Calgary Herald deputy editor Monica Zurowski and editor Jose Rodriguez, Arlene Adamson, CEO Of Silvera and Kelly Ogle, Chair of Silvera’s Board of Directors. Photo: Gavin Young/ Postmedia

If you’ve been reading the Calgary Herald, or tuning into our Facebook page or twitter, you’ll know that Silvera was chosen as a recipient in the 2016 Calgary Herald Christmas Fund.

Despite the challenging time our city is facing the fund was a huge success this year, raising $881,522.38 from 2,587 donors. Silvera’s share of the proceeds were $80,466.25, which will go towards programs and services for our supportive living residents. Arlene Adamson, CEO of Silvera and Kelly Ogle, Chair of Silvera’s Board of Directors accepted the cheque on Silvera’s behalf on January 31,2017.

“Silvera is honoured to have been chosen as a recipient,” says Silvera CEO Arlene Adamson. “It goes without saying that Silvera wouldn’t have been recognized if it weren’t for the important needs of the residents who call Silvera home and the dedication of our staff.”


‘Tis the Season to Spread Comfort and Cheer

December 9, 2016 by Silvera

Looking for a way to spread some holiday cheer this season?

Silvera for Seniors needs your help stocking our Comfort Closets with basic necessities like toiletries and personal care items that we can give to residents when they need them most.

Sometimes, for reasons beyond their control, Silvera residents need a little extra help to make it through the month. A resident could come home after a hospital stay and be unable to shop. Or, a few unexpected expenses might pop up and they might not have enough money to purchase what they need.

This is where our Comfort Closet program comes in. It ensures we have everyday items on hand so residents always have the necessities they need.

Our priority is always to ensure all residents are treated with the respect and dignity they deserve. The Comfort Closet program enables us to help them in a private and practical way.

Would you like to help stock our closets?

We welcome the items listed below, or cash donations, so we can purchase items in bulk and stretch our dollars further. Whether you want to give an individual donation, gather items as a group, family, company, or write us a cheque, we welcome and thank you for your support this holiday season.

Comfort Closet items (new) needed:

  • Full size shampoo
  • Full size conditioner
  • Bars of soap
  • Full-size body wash and sponge
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Denture cream
  • Full-size shaving lotion for men
  • Razors for men and women
  • Full-size body lotion
  • Deodorant for men and women
  • Depends – Fit Flex Underwear for Women
  • Depends – Fit Flex Underwear for Men
  • Laundry soap – PODS
  • Fabric softener sheets

For more information, please contact:
Nadine Maillot, Manager of Fund Development & Volunteer Services
email: or 403-470-1412.

Silvera for Seniors is proud to be part of several communities throughout Calgary. Learn more about our Independent Living locations or our Supportive Living locations.


4 Ways You Can Get Into the Holiday Season at Silvera

December 5, 2016 by Silvera

For many, the holiday season is a favourite time of year, filled with delicious food, time with family and friends, and special gifts. While many of our seniors look forward to the festivities, this can also be a challenging time for some. We want to invite Calgarians of all ages to help make this a fun and festive Christmas for the seniors in our communities across Calgary.

Want to share some holiday cheer with our seniors? Here are four different ways you can spread the spirit of the season:

  1. Share a meal. Our new program called “Come for Lunch” invites groups to bring a potluck lunch to one of our independent living communities for a time of socializing with our residents.
  2. Give some comfort. We are looking for help in stocking our Comfort Closets in our communities and need donations of essential toiletries and other basic items. We also welcome financial donations so we can buy items in bulk and help even more seniors.
  3. Come for a visit. We welcome individuals and groups of all ages to our communities. Do you want to lead some Christmas carols, or may join our residents for coffee and cookies? We have many activities taking place throughout December where Calgarians can join in.
  4. Give to the Christmas Fund. Silvera for Seniors is honoured to be selected as a recipient charity for this year’s Calgary Herald Christmas Fund. Please take the time to read the stories about all of the Calgary charities benefitting from this year’s Fund. Their stories will touch your heart and inspire you!

We know that 2016 has been a very difficult year for many Calgarians and are so thankful for your desire to help our seniors. The gifts of your time, creativity and donations of any size make a difference to our residents and will brighten their holiday season. Thank you for caring about our seniors.
For more information, please call us at 403-276-5541 or email
Season’s Greetings to all Calgarians!



Five Things You Need to Know About Silvera’s Dining Services

July 5, 2016 by Silvera

One of the hottest topics at Silvera is food! The number one complaint we receive from our residents directly, as well as on social media, relates to food. We love food and do our best to ensure our residents are enjoying healthy, delicious meals.

Preparing three meals for over 900 people every day is no easy task. Our residents are unique and have their own likes and dislikes. Some are limited by food allergies and others enjoy specific cultural dishes that remind them of their heritage. How does Dining Services come up with a menu for each Silvera community? We thought it would be helpful to chat with Nathalie Fleury, Dining Services Manager at Silvera, and ask a few questions.

Q: How does Silvera develop resident menus for the different communities?

A: Our menus are set on a five-week rotational system, so we can ensure our residents enjoy a variety of healthy foods. Dining Services develops the menu in accordance with Canada’s Food Guide for Older Adults. Once the menu is put together, it is sent to a registered dietician for review and approval. As part of this process, it is evaluated on balance, variety and the nutritional value of foods.

Q: What if a resident doesn’t like the meal being served? Do they have any options?

A:  Yes! We want to offer our residents choices and there are always options at every meal. For example, at lunch we may have spaghetti and meatballs as one main course, and cod and rice as the second. If neither choice is appealing to someone, there is always the Silvera salad bar featuring a variety of salads, as well as proteins like cottage cheese and garbanzo beans.

Q: How do you plan your menu?

A: There are a number of considerations that go into our menu planning. We need to account for seasonal food available, the preferences of our residents and how we meet the nutritional guidelines outlined in Canada’s Food Guide. Menu planning is something we spend a lot of time on to make sure we offer a variety of delicious choices with the three meals and snacks we serve every day.

Q: How can people provide feedback if they have concerns or complaints?

A: We welcome feedback from Silvera residents and their families. Every community has a Dining Council made up of staff and residents. There are comment cards available at every Silvera community for people to provide feedback. The Dining Council reviews comment cards during our regular meetings and the feedback provided is part of our open discussion around how we can improve our services. People are also welcome to contact me at We take the feedback seriously and want to hear from our residents.

Q: Is there anything else you want Silvera residents and their families to know about Dining Services?

A:  We invite family members to contact us if they would like to join us for a meal. We understand that food is a central part of life at Silvera. Meals are a social time and our residents look forward to them. If there are concerns, please let us know directly so we can work together with your family to come up with a solution.

For more information on living at Silvera visit:

Check out additional Dining Services blog posts on August 5, 2015 and August 18, 2015.


Transit Keeps Seniors Connected

June 17, 2016 by Silvera

Studies show that a senior who can remain active and engaged in their community has a higher quality of life. Silvera believes that social well-being is a foundational pillar for healthy and active aging.

Being social in our community often comes with a cost and with effort. A key component of staying connected to the broader community for seniors in Calgary is through our transit system. Calgary actually has affordable seniors’ transit rates, which are among of the most competitive amongst municipalities in Canada and there are further reductions in the rate for low-income seniors like many of our residents. The real opportunity in our city’s transit system is with coordination of connections.

Recently our residents were asked to give feedback to Calgary Transit (CT) in connection with the 2016 Transit Service Review. We were thrilled to be given this opportunity.

Our seniors highlighted the following to CT:

• Life needs to be affordable, and this includes transit
• Calgary’s seniors, especially those who are lower income, rely heavily rely on public transportation to get around, and this needs to be affordable, accessible and safe
• Transit routes need to be well connected, so we do not leave vulnerable seniors waiting between transfers, or worse yet, stranded between route pick-up locations and times
• CT has an opportunity to improve its bus shelters, especially those near seniors’ residences
• Transit should be accessible and accommodate seniors with lower mobility or who are using mobility aids such as walkers

During our sessions with Calgary Transit, CT staff learned how extensively Calgary seniors used public transportation, many travelling long distances that require two or more bus changes to get to their destinations, which include going to medical appointments, taking care of errands, and taking part in social activities. One resident described transit as her “lifeline” to the broader community.

We will continue to advocate for a city that is age-friendly and connected to ensure our seniors are staying social. We echo the comments of Lori Sigurdson, Minister of Seniors and Housing for the Alberta Government, “Having reliable and affordable transportation options helps seniors remain healthy, active and connected to their communities”.


Silvera for Seniors Goes Smoke Free

April 29, 2016 by Silvera

On May 2, 2016, all Silvera communities are going smoke free!

This change is important from both a public health and building safety perspective.
According to the Office of the Fire Commissioner, smoking is among the top causes of deaths in apartment fires in Calgary. Second-hand smoke is also harmful and there is no risk-free level of exposure to it. Resident safety is our priority and by going smoke-free, we can further reduce the risk of loss of life or damage to our communities.

We do appreciate and respect that there are residents, staff, volunteers and visitors who wish to smoke and we will be creating smoking areas outside of our buildings in compliance with the City of Calgary by-law.

For those residents who wish to quit smoking, we have identified a variety of options and resources to help. Our Community Resource Coordinators will help residents connect with the program that is best suited to their needs.

By going smoke-free we are following the lead of many housing management bodies in Alberta to better ensure the safety of our residents, employees, volunteers and visitors who live, work and volunteer in our communities.

Our priority is to ensure that all homes are safe, accessible, and affordable. A smoke-free environment is another way we can create a vibrant environment in each of our communities where seniors can thrive and be happy.


Silvera Seniors Wish List

Silvera Seniors Wish List

November 23, 2015 by Silvera

Silvera Seniors Wish List – Please check it twice!

The Holiday Season can be a difficult time for seniors and one that doesn’t always feel very jolly. This is the time of year when families and friends get together, celebrate past memories and create new ones. For some of our seniors, this is a lonely, difficult time because they have lost family and are isolated. You can help make a difference.

Silvera wants every senior to continue living a meaningful life. But there are seniors who lose their mobility, lose their connections with the community, lose family support and lose life with meaning. You can help get that spark back into their life. If you’re able, please consider supporting a senior because they need you.

Simple Gifts That Make A Difference:

  • Toiletries such as shampoo, conditioner, body wash and body lotion
  • Gift cards – coffee shops, iTunes, movies and retail stores
  • Large print books and puzzle books
  • Games, puzzles and playing cards
  • Art Supplies
  • Notebooks and note cards
  • Gloves and scarves.

How to Give

Donations can be dropped off between 8 a.m and 4 p.m. at Silvera’s office:Suite 804, 7015 Macleod Trail SW Calgary, AB T2H 2K6.

Another way to give is to make a cash donation to our programs. Just $55 will provide programming – such as art and exercise – to a senior for an entire year. It takes very little to make a big difference.



Calgary veteran remembers the Second World War

November 5, 2015 by Silvera

Codes and Searchlights

Sitting at a desk in England during the Second World War, Marguerite Dimmer did her part to help keep England safe from Nazi Germany, whether helping guide searchlights to spot enemy planes or coding and decoding secret messages like Keira Knightley’s character in the hit film The Imitation Game.

As Remembrance Day approaches, the resident of Silvera for Seniors’ Shawnessy Community looks back on her time in the British Army with fondness and pride.

“I was a nanny,” London-born Dimmer recalls. She turned 18 just after war broke out in September 1939 and volunteered right away. “I was one of the younger ones to join up.”

Marguerite Dimmer today

After attending boot camp similar to that of male soldiers (“They marched us all over – they wanted to make us really tough,” she says), Dimmer was assigned switchboard duties with a searchlight unit on the English coast.

Her task: relaying the directions of Nazi and Allied planes and becoming an expert in gauging degrees of cloud cover. “They didn’t have the equipment they do now,” she says. “There was always this big map and we had to know which way the planes were going. It was exciting, but also scary – were they going to drop bombs where you were?”

Dimmer – who met her husband, Cecil, in the service — also worked with the Royal Artillery and later moved into what she calls “the secret part,” where her job was to code and decode secret messages with important information. “It all came through a secret office on the telephone and I really needed to know shorthand!” she says.

Dimmer says she had her share of close calls during the war. “My husband and I were out for a walk and he was taking me along the edge of the beach,” she recalls. “We were saying goodnight and suddenly he pushed me (down) and jumped in after me — not very far away a bomb exploded. He must have heard the plane coming.”

Dimmer, who volunteered to go overseas, but was denied because she was married, says the contributions of those who provided support to fighting forces is not always recognized as much as it should be. “I’m proud of being a veteran,” she says.

Silvera CEO Arlene Adamson says Dimmer’s story shows why the contributions of Calgary’s senior veterans past and present should never be forgotten. “That’s why Remembrance Day is always important to us,” she says.


Seniors’ housing in Calgary is not as expensive as reported

October 16, 2015 by Silvera

Subsidized seniors’ housing excluded from statistics

It was recently reported elsewhere that Calgary has some of the most expensive seniors’ housing in Canada, at $3,100 a month, some $1,000 over the national average.

Headlines like these catch people’s attention, especially during an election. There’s no doubt that the article has a point; we do need more affordable seniors’ housing in this country. The flipside is that this particular headline has the potential to stop Calgary seniors who need affordable housing from deciding to move because they think all such housing is out of their reach economically or there is none to be had.

The news story was based on a recent Federation of Canadian Municipalities report entitled Seniors and Housing: The Challenge Ahead. And while we agree all federal candidates need to be aware of the challenges ahead, the reality on the ground in a recession-bound Calgary is different.

To begin with, it’s important to look closely at the methodology of the report itself. The average costs for housing were based on Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) data that actually does not include subsidized seniors’ housing information. This is a big omission, especially for Calgary, where we have over 5,200 subsidized independent living units and over 900 subsidized supportive living units. Alberta actually has more public and not-for-profit seniors’ housing than any other province in Canada, based on population.

In fact, our research at the Alberta Seniors Communities & Housing Association (ASCHA) shows that these subsidies are quite deep. Subsidized independent living units are usually governed by a Rent-Geared-to-Income (RGI) formula that means seniors only pay a maximum of 30% of their income in rent.

ASCHA’s Online Seniors Housing Directory at provides a listing of public, not-for-profit and private seniors housing options where there are many options for average monthly “rent” at purpose-built seniors’ residences well below $3,100 per month. In fact, this directory currently shows that approximately half of the sites are RGI targeted to lower income seniors. Within Silvera for Seniors communities, which is the largest subsidized seniors’ housing provider in Calgary, this means an average rent for an independent living unit of a little over $500 per month.

The other major concern is that “rent” in seniors’ housing often includes much more than just housing, especially when we talk about supportive living. “Rent” can include meals, utilities, housekeeping, 24-hour staffing, and life enrichment programs as well.

Obviously if we include these services, average “rent” will be higher than we first thought. Again, Silvera operates a subsidized supportive living program on behalf of the Government of Alberta in Calgary, and average rents for these communities are actually less than $1,300 per month. This is $1,800 less than the reported amount in the article.

Older adults living on low and fixed incomes in Calgary definitely have options, and there is no reason for them to stay in homes when they need more support.

However, contrary to the report, at Silvera we are seeing a slight rise in vacancy rates. Only two years ago, we were in the media reporting we had no vacancies. Today we do. And being a member of ASCHA along with other public organizations and private companies, we know that we are not the only ones experiencing this vacancy increase. In part this is due to the nature of our business. As the average age of our residents is 84, there are a lot of moves, with some residents needing to move to a higher level of care, while others pass away.

Even given our temporary higher vacancy rate, we know that the long-term trend will be for more, not less, affordable seniors housing over the next three decades in Calgary. By 2042, the City is estimating that 15% of Calgary’s total population will be older adults, not all of whom will be able to afford market rates.

Agencies like Silvera are vital to ensure all older Calgarians can enjoy life to the fullest without financial hardship as they age.

Arlene Adamson is the CEO of Silvera for Seniors, a charitable non-profit organization that provides homes to more than 1,500 lower-income seniors. She is also co-chair of the Seniors and Special Populations Sector Housing Committee and is on the board of the Alberta Seniors Communities and Housing Association.

Irene Martin-Lindsay is the CEO of the Alberta Seniors Communities & Housing Association. ASCHA proudly champions all sectors of seniors housing, including public, private and voluntary providers and currently represents approximately 70% of the seniors housing sector in Alberta.


Behind the scenes of the RESOLVE video shoot

August 27, 2015 by Silvera

An office in Silvera’s Bow Valley community has been turned into a temporary studio, filled with recording equipment and bright lights. In the spotlight is Bow Valley resident Ruby Friesen and the scene is attracting inquisitive looks from other residents walking past the room.
Ruby is the star of the RESOLVE Campaign partner video for Silvera for Seniors, showcasing why affordable housing for seniors is a worthy charitable cause.
This is a day out of the ordinary for Ruby, with interviews and cameras following her around in her home, documenting her life at Silvera.
“It was pretty exciting,” Ruby says. “It was all new to me, but I really enjoyed it and I thought it was worthwhile and something I was helping with – and that’s always a good feeling.”
When Ruby shared with her family that she had volunteered to tell her story as an example of why affordable housing for seniors is so important, she recalls her family teasingly asking her if she was “turning Hollywood” on them, but also conveying how proud they are of the fact that their mother is able to help.

Ruby moved into Bow Valley Community in January 2014 after both Ruby and her husband got sick and Ruby’s husband had to move to a nursing home following a stroke. Because of her health problems, Ruby decided it would be safer for her to move to one of Silvera’s Supported Living communities, and she found that the extra support, having new friends around her and the daily activities and exercises helped her recover physically, spiritually and mentally.
Because Ruby’s situation isn’t unique, Silvera is preparing to meet the growing need for affordable seniors housing by collaborating in the RESOLVE Campaign – nine organizations that are working together to raise $120 million for affordable, supported housing for 3,000 vulnerable and homeless Calgarians. Silvera’s fundraising goal is $12.8 million towards a 125-unit seniors’ community in southwest Calgary.
As a former caregiver and Silvera employee, Ruby has worked hard all her life to help others and never anticipated needing an organizing like Silvera herself, but she hopes that with her involvement in the RESOLVE Campaign she can help create homes for Calgary seniors yet again. “I hope that it helps a lot of seniors,” she says. “They all need a home, and we need people around us, really. It’s not very good to be by yourself when we get older, so these places are very, very good.”


Getting Personal with Dining Services Manager Nathalie Fleury

August 18, 2015 by Silvera

Our Dining Services team loves food! Planning nutritious menus, preparing and serving healthy food is something we take seriously at Silvera. We are proud of our talented employees and thought it would be fun to get to know them a little better. Today, we chat with Nathalie Fleury, our Dining Services Manager, about all things food!

What is your favorite Food Network TV show? What do you like about it? What don’t you like about it?

Dining Services Manager (centre) with Dining Services Supervisor Krista Vandermey (left) and cook Kameko Modl (right).

Dining Services Manager Nathalie Fleury (centre) with Dining Services Supervisor Krista Vandermey (left) and Cook Kameko Modl (right).

Time to watch TV? That is a luxury I don’t often allow myself! I don’t actually have the Food Network at home. I watch Gusto for my culinary entertainment. My guilty pleasure is MKR-My Kitchen Rules, which is an Australian cooking show where competitors have to ‘open restaurants’ in their homes for other competitors and celebrity chef judges. The competitors also cook in head-to-head contests with the other teams and are judged by the public and an extended panel of chefs and foodies. I love the social aspect of the show, the interaction between the teams and passion for food the contestants have. It’s home cooking at its best and the level of care and determination the competitors have for food can be inspiring! I don’t like how long the series runs for and it takes several months to get to the Grand Finale! Makes me so grateful for the fast forward option on my PVR!

If you had your own cooking/food TV show, what would it look like?

Something to do with gardening or farm fresh food! I would love to tour around Alberta, B.C. and Saskatchewan and educate consumers on just how bountiful our harvest is in the western provinces.

If you were to enter a recipe in a TV cooking contest, what would it be?

Too many to choose from! I think it would depend on the contest. I love cooking with game meats and creating rich, savory sauces, roasting root vegetables and let’s not forget the smashed potatoes!

If you are passionate about creating healthy meals, enjoy cooking for large groups, have a flair for organization and a strong attention to detail in the kitchen, we’d like to hear from you. Visit to learn more about how to apply and join our team.


Dining Services Serves Up Delicious Meals for Silvera Residents

August 5, 2015 by Silvera

This is the first blog post in a series where we take a peek inside Silvera’s kitchens and meet the people who work there.

We’ve all heard the adage “you are what you eat”. Nutritious, healthy meals help us feel good, inside and out. Eating well promotes healthy mind, body and spirit. Proper nutrition and providing our residents with healthy meals is a priority at Silvera. That’s why we follow the Canada Food Guide for persons over the age of 51.

Our Dining Services Team creates meal plans for our Supportive Living residents that incorporate a variety of whole grains, fresh produce and high nutritional values. Meals are made from scratch and are reviewed and approved by a registered dietician. All meals also meet provincial standards for nutrition in supportive-living facilities.

The blog post continues below the photo gallery.

At the heart of our Dining Service philosophy is the connection to community and social interaction that residents experience at meal times. For many of our residents, meal time is a highlight of their day, so why not make each meal an experience?

Variety is definitely a key consideration for every Silvera community and we strive to offer menus that satisfy a variety of communities with different ethnic and age bases, while meeting nutritional standards. Tasty entries like Asian-glazed baked salmon or cous-cous salads are served up, along with more traditional menu items like potatoes and beef roast. Special occasions are marked with seasonal foods, like our recent down-home Stampede BBQ.

Our cooks play an important role in helping Silvera deliver delicious, nutritious meals for our residents. We are currently looking for casual and fulltime cooks to join our Dining Services team. In addition to a competitive wage, we offer family-friendly hours, a positive working environment and opportunities to develop your career.

If you are passionate about creating healthy meals, enjoy cooking for large groups, have a flair for organization and a strong attention to detail in the kitchen, we’d like to hear from you. Visit to learn more about how to apply and join our team.


Silvera’s Got Talent: The Dream Haven Band

June 18, 2015 by Silvera

By Paul Raugust, Dream Haven Community Resident

Hi, fellow seniors.
My name is Paul, a resident at Silvera’s Dream Haven Community on 1518 8 Avenue, NW. About a year ago when I moved here, a lady with a fabulous smile and blue, sparkling eyes stopped me at the front door with a question, “are you the guitar player?” “Yup,” I agreed. “That’s me.”
Her name is Ericka. She invited me to a sing along that Friday. I went. Turns out she plays a mean rhythm guitar to the accompaniment of her folksy-country voice. Since then, a keyboard player, Carole, has joined us for our regular Friday night gigs at Dream Haven. The three of us have a blast singing, sometimes even dancing, sharing our hearts along with our neighbours in the Dream Haven lounge.
Anyway, a though occurred to us the other day, maybe there are some other folk out there who know how to play, sing or just want to have a good time?
Please join us Fridays, 7-9 p.m. It’s all just fun. No charge, free coffee or tea, snacks and just plain fun. Are you game?
Sass, Class and Crash. Fridays for a good time, Ericka, Carole and Paul.



Our CEO Lives Like a Senior for a Day

June 1, 2015 by Silvera

Today is the beginning of Seniors’ Week in Alberta and a time to raise awareness about the issues, challenges and topics that are impacting seniors in our community. Our CEO Arlene Adamson is discovering what it is like to be a senior in Calgary by sleeping overnight in our Aspen community tonight. Arlene will be tweeting and posting throughout the day as she hosts a coffee conversation this afternoon with our Aspen residents and participates in activities and dinner and stays overnight.
“It’s important to understand what life is like for seniors so that we can bring awareness to the barriers they face and advocate on their behalf,” Arlene says. “I hope to bring attention to the issues that are on their mind, as well as share a personal account of what it is like to live in a Silvera community.”
Seniors and families often struggle with knowing when it is the right time to move into independent or supportive living, and what to expect from congregate living. The move from their own home to a seniors housing is a big step, but it is often one that provides greater freedom and independence because of the supports and resources that are available to improve overall quality of life.
Arlene’s personal account will spotlight life as a Silvera senior. Make sure you connect with us on Facebook and Twitter today, and please join in the conversation! Check back later this week for another blog post from Arlene about her experience.


Provincial Election 2015

April 23, 2015 by Silvera

The provincial election race is on, and Silvera for Seniors is inviting all candidates to visit our communities and meet our residents.

Many candidates have already visited our communities or are scheduled to do so in the coming weeks.

There are four specific areas Silvera would like candidates to focus on in their platforms as they relate to Alberta Seniors Lodge program:

1. In the short-term (five to ten years) invest in maintenance and capital upgrades in the lodges that are past their lifespans, starting with the implementation of fire safety upgrades. In the longer term, repurpose these older buildings to meet the changing needs of our aging population (e.g. build more memory care facilities);
2. Partner with Silvera for Seniors to build new affordable Supportive Living communities in Calgary that are vibrant and integrated into the larger community;
3. Increase homecare support for residents living in lodges understanding the average age of our residents is 84 years and they face a growing complexity of issues, as a consequence there are new demands and challenges facing our staff and services. This investment will also help to prevent seniors living in hospitals; and
4. Increase monthly financial supports to all low-income seniors.

Be sure to vote for candidates who have seniors on their agenda!


Letter for all candidates running in Calgary ridings.




Silvera’s Got Talent: Michael Szabo

March 16, 2015 by Silvera

Silvera for Seniors has a wide talent base among our seniors, and Bow Valley resident Michael Szabo even has a royal fan.

A seasoned opera singer, Szabo performed as a tenor in the choir of opera productions such as La Boéhme and Faust with the Southern Alberta Opera Association in the 1970s.

“It’s fun, I loved it,” Szabo says. “There was lots of studying. Sometimes there were hundreds of pages of music we had to memorize and there were orchestras with hundreds of people.”

Szabo never forgot watching the TV transmission of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation from the British embassy in his native Hungary, and years later he was inspired by his friend to send a CD with his music as a gift to the Queen. Szabo was pleased to receive a letter thanking him for his gift of music.

Now, Szabo enjoys singing karaoke to keep his craft alive.


Resident Stories: Cleo Bilton

March 9, 2015 by Silvera

Across Silvera for Seniors, our residents have unique and interesting stories. In their own ways, they are part of Calgary’s history and have been eyewitnesses to and taken part of building our community.

This is our Aspen Community resident, Cleo Bilton’s story.

A seasoned Calgarian, Cleo Bilton, who turned 100 this December, witnessed Calgary grow and change through the years – one day at a time.

In 1925, Bilton arrived in Calgary as a 10 year-old with her parents and four siblings. The family had sold everything they owned in Idaho and took the train to Calgary to run a farm about twenty miles from Calgary. “I remember getting off the train in Calgary,” Bilton says. “Calgary was very small then, in 1925, and, yes, it was different, but it was all right.”

After arriving in his new home, it was a priority for Bilton’s father that his children went to school. Bilton and her siblings were enrolled in the Rangeview School and travelled the five and a half miles from their farm to the school by horse and buggy. In the wintertime the kids would bundle up in blankets and travel to the school in a sleigh.

Bilton remembers farm life fondly. She and her siblings helped out on the farm, but she remembers having lots of spare time to explore the area, including the nearby Bow River, that was a popular destination for the Bilton’s family’s outings. “We would throw rocks in the water and run barefoot along the river,” Bilton says. “We picked berries when there were berries in the fall, choke cherries and saskatoons, and we didn’t bring them home for mother to cook, we’d always eat them. We would eat them until our teeth were purple in the front!”

Shortly after arriving on the farm, Bilton’s father was the first in the area to buy a Ford truck and a tractor to help farm the land. “The rest of the farming was done with the horses,” Bilton says. “It was really quite something to see a tractor – and a truck as well!” The truck also enabled Bilton’s parents to go visit her when she later moved to Calgary to go to high school.

Bilton and each of her now five siblings boarded with different families in Calgary while they attended high school. Her parents would drive the truck to Calgary to be with them on weekends, or Bilton would go on excursions by street car to Bowness or St. George’s Island parks with friends if her parents couldn’t make it into town.

A job at a local general store gave Bilton some extra cash to spend on the weekends. “I don’t remember how much I earned, but whatever it was, it was valuable to me because I never had money to spend (before),” she says. “I can remember buying peanuts and marshmallows and things like that at the Woolworths store to eat when we girls would go out to our little escapade on a Saturday.”

At a local dance at Bilton’s parents’ community, Bilton met her husband, whose family had immigrated to Canada from England in 1917 to work at the Ogden shops. The couple married in 1937.

The Ogden shops were then a bustling place, home to many new Canadians who worked with the railway. Bilton’s in-laws had bought a crown number company with property along the railway and built a successful lumber business that they later expanded to include a dairy and a gas pump.

During the war, Bilton’s husband worked on hard surfacing roads. He surfaced roads in southern Alberta, from Calgary to MacLeod and later worked on airport tarmac, including the RCAF Currie Field airport in Calgary.

After a quick stint in B.C., working on the Vancouver Sea Island Airport, the couple moved back to Calgary and built a house on Scotsman’s Hill, overlooking the Stampede Park and the quickly expanding city. “I used to go up on the hill, look over the hill and see this beautiful city, and I just loved it,” Bilton says. “There was a lot up there that I saw, and I told my husband about it. He went up and looked at it, and we bought it. Eventually we had a house built on it, and that’s where we raised our family, on Scotsman’s Hill.”

Bilton raised her four children in the house on Scotsman’s Hill and became a Calgarian for life.

Looking back on her 90 years in Calgary, Bilton says the Calgary we see today is an actualization of the dreams of the many Ogden workers. “They all wanted to work long enough in the shops to be able to get married and have a family,” she says. “They wanted a home that they had paid for and they wanted a picket fence in front of it.”

From her current home, Aspen Community, in Bridgeland, she is back in Calgary’s cradle. “This was Calgary at one time, across the river from here (Bridgeland),” she says. “The city has grown up since then. In this last while, it is tremendous what has happened – and they’re still building. It’s a big city now, and we were there to visualize all this building.”

Support Bilton and Silvera’s other community builders. Learn more on the Community Builder campaign homepage.


I Heart Home

I Heart Home

March 3, 2015 by Silvera

Silvera’s CEO, Arlene Adamson, took part in Calgary’s Updated Plan to End Homeless by presenting these remarks before 450 sector participants. The final push of the plan is being called I heart home.

On behalf of seniors and the seniors sector, I’m pleased to be here today and to see the work that we will collectively need to steward in order to deliver on the Calgary’s plan to end homelessness. For this to occur, everyone needs to get involved. Only when we become a Movement, will we address affordable housing in Calgary.
I’ve been asked to speak to one of the four priority directions that has been identified as critical to collective leadership—Prevention and Integration of the Plan—from the lens of my sector, my organization, and my view.

As the Leader of Alberta’s second largest seniors’ housing organization – it is work that is not possible to do alone.
For our aging population and growing population- we MUST address the continuum of housing so we don’t end up prisoners in our own homes because of lack of accessibility; because we are afraid of falling if we going outside for a walk on the slippery sidewalks. Without supports our seniors live in isolation without any connection to the community. This is the reality for many seniors who are not supported because they are invisible in how they are housed or, worse, not even valued.

The Updated Plan to End Homelessness makes prevention a priority.

Prevention is a word, in my world, that includes addressing quality of life and improving health. Prevention resonates for my organization and the larger seniors housing sector because as we age, the needs of seniors extend far beyond housing with complex housing designs. Those needs need to provide for services that respond to the increasing health needs including memory loss, dementia, safety balanced with supporting independence, reducing risk of wandering, creating a sense of community within housing. We know that, at Silvera, many of our residents have outlived family or friends. We know prevention supports dignity and wellness.

Addressing Prevention is really about making a commitment to make sure housing become unattainable or unaffordable. In the seniors sector, it means understanding that this is our population that doesn’t have a way or hope of moving along the housing continuum toward market-housing or, at this stage in life, improving one’s financial position. In reality, they will not be able to increase their income or fix their financial circumstances.
Prevention and poverty reduction go hand in hand. Seniors are not potential wage earners. Rather, their income, if anything, is shrinking. Many in our city will not have a pension and we live in a city with the cost of living for those on limited incomes don’t go very far. So prevention for me is making sure there are supports and access, and perhaps most importantly to ensure affordable really is affordable.
As you age – housing becomes deeply connected to health. Housing shouldn’t be about institutionalizing seniors or about the provision of healthcare. Instead, it should be about creating homes.

Prevention, I hope, for all of us means we are thinking about aging – and the prevention of the aging poor is directly connected to having housing.
This plan clearly states that Integration is another priority direction. Again, although I speak from seniors’ service perspective, it applies to all concerned with housing. The more we do to integrate our efforts and working collectively, whether we are represent not-for-profits, the corporate, government, private sectors, with earlier interventions, the more likely we are to succeed.

Integration also speaks about how we build communities. Communities that are truly integrated include seniors and for us to do this requires us to be better at contemplating what it means to live to 100. Everyone is getting older – baby boomers, mental health, addictions, diversity, and family breakdown.
We have an aging population. There are many seniors on waitlists today. We need to take action as there will be more seniors than children in our province in the next five years. AND we already have a tidal wave at our door. Our hospitals have seniors who are seen as “bed blockers.” People who are living in the hospital at a huge cost to us as tax payers, but also to them, in their quality of life – because a hospital is not a home.

Finally, integration is also how we should be building right now here in Calgary. It means building for a continuum of ageing (again, zero to 100) because we will all, God willing, become a senior. Some of these challenges with building need to be faced by those outside the not for profit sector, such as our City’s Administration. Developers, too, have a role to play in creating integrated communities, allowing people to be connected in their community longer. As, one of, a number of leaders, in the seniors’ sector, we can’t house everyone so let’s all think about what it takes to develop integrated communities, integrated services to accommodate ageing.

I believe it is collective leadership that is needed to underpin the PLAN – so we ensure we BUILD Integrated Affordable housing that is appropriate for all ages from zero to 100.
To do this right, we need to make sure we have the right information, the right research, to understand our city’s growth. We need to know what Calgarians need today, but also, what Calgarians will need years from now.
It will take collective leadership to get in front of homelessness. We need to be more than reactive in solving an overdue problem, to accurately predict our growth, and to get ahead of this issue to get to the point of prevention.
For me … prevention and integration are key — I look forward to working with you to deliver on a collective plan, that values all ages, including seniors. Old doesn’t mean DEAD. Living in a hospital is not living. And retirement doesn’t necessarily mean going to the driving range every day. We want affordable to mean affordable for all ages.


Silvera for Seniors turns 53

February 19, 2015 by Silvera

Silvera for Seniors turns 53 today. Hooray!

On this day of celebration, we’re taking a moment to look back at our journey to where we are today and look ahead at what is to come.

Since our creation as the Metropolitan Calgary Foundation in 1962 (it was renamed MCF Housing for Seniors in 1997), we have been a leading provider of affordable independent and supportive living housing for low-income seniors in Calgary.

Today, Silvera for Seniors owns and/or operates 26 townhouse, apartment and cottage-style housing options throughout the city, as well as subsidized supported living lodges that provide seniors with food service, housekeeping, recreation and 24-hour non-medical monitoring.

We changed our name from MCF Housing to Silvera for Seniors in 2012. The new name symbolizes the new era in which seniors now live; an era in which seniors have a solid, active voice and role to play in their community. With that in mind, Silvera for Seniors intends to become more visible and more vocal in the community, advocating for seniors particularly in the area of low-income, affordable housing. At the same time, Silvera for Seniors is looking towards future growth in its services and communities.

In our 53-year history, over 80,000 seniors have called Silvera their home. As Calgary continues to grow, the demand for affordable housing for the seniors who built our community grows with it. Silvera will continue to be the caring provider of affordable homes and offer seniors of the present and the future a home where they can live in place with dignity.

If you know someone who needs a Silvera home, please contact us at 403.276.5541. Visit the Living Here section of our website to go on a virtual tour, find more information about our 26 communities in Calgary and apply to live with us online.


Silvera Seniors Wish List

Silvera Seniors Wish List

December 18, 2014 by Silvera

Silvera Seniors Wish List – Please check it twice!

The Holiday Season can be a difficult time for seniors and one that doesn’t always feel very jolly. This is the time of year when families and friends get together, celebrate past memories and create new ones. For some of our seniors, this is a lonely, difficult time because they have lost family support and are isolated. You can help make a difference.

Silvera wants every senior to continue living a meaningful life. But there are seniors who lose their mobility, lose their connections with the community, lose family support and lose life with meaning. You can help get that spark back into their life. If you’re able, please consider supporting a senior because they need you.

Simple Gifts That Make A Difference

  • Toiletries such as shampoo, conditioner, body wash and body lotion
  • Gift cards – coffee shops, iTunes, movies and retail stores
  • Large print books and puzzle books
  • Games and puzzles
  • Art supplies

Another way to give is to make a cash donation to our programs. Just $55 will provide programming – such as art and exercise – to a senior for an entire year. It takes very little to make a big difference.

Donations can be dropped off at Silvera’s office at Suite 804, 7015 Macleod Trail SW.

Thank you Calgary for caring about our seniors.




Holiday Stress | Silvera for Seniors | Blog

Beat Holiday Stress

December 16, 2014 by Silvera

Stress and depression can ruin your holidays and hurt your health. Being realistic, planning ahead and seeking support can help ward off holiday blues.

These tips can help you cope with stress during the holidays.

Turn up the tunes

Listen to your favorite music. Recent research shows that listening to music you love can relax blood vessels and increase blood flow. Not only is that good for your heart, but it also helps calm and relax you.

Don’t overschedule

If you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed by your holiday agenda, do not take on more tasks that you can – this will only add to your stress.

Fit in exercise

If you live in one of Silvera for Seniors’ Supportive Living communities, talk to an Activity Coordinator and see what kinds of holiday activities they have planned. It may be the last thing you feel like doing when you’re experiencing stress, but research has found that physical activity can boost your mood for up to 12 hours.

Hike your mood with sunlight

Sunlight helps to stimulate the production of feel-good serotonin.
Spend time outdoors or near a window on sunny days.

Create new memories

Try a new activity, make a new friend, or volunteer. All of these can create long-lasting memories that are sure to put a smile on your and others’ faces


With the hustle and bustle of the holidays, sometimes we can forget to take a moment to ourselves and just relax. Go to a quiet place, read a book, or watch your favorite TV show. Remember to rest so you don’t feel exhausted.

Trip down memory lane

Sit with an old photo album and go through past holiday experiences. Remember the fun and good times that you had with your family and friends. It will make you smile and feel good about yourself and can help relieve some of that holiday stress.

Take advantage of Silvera for Seniors’ Support Services

If you’re a Silvera resident, there are many people in Silvera that can help you through these stressful holiday times. Our Community Resource Coordinators is one team that can help connect you with valuable community resources to help you during the holiday season and can provide an ear for you if you just need someone to talk to. Contact our team at 403.390.3988

Adapted from


Westview Community

Living at Westview Community

December 9, 2014 by Silvera

The Challenge and Joy of Living at Westview Lodge

By Jean Halliday

I speak as a relative newcomer (January, 2014) to Westview, compared to some who have been here for many years. Members of our new family come from different backgrounds, different countries, and some live in varying stages of dementia.

In this “end of life” journey, we have all downsized, we miss family members and old friends, our former freedom of driving, etc. These are happy memories, but now we look forward to a new life.

Keeping active at Westview Community

We are all aging, but there are still things to learn and many activities to keep our minds and bodies active.

We have an excellent exercise program guaranteed to strengthen our muscles and joints and make some of our aches and pains disappear.

There is an excellent library on the second floor with many large-prints books for our failing eyesight– many are wearing hearing aids for failing hearing as well.

As a group, solving large crossword puzzles is good exercise for our brains as is putting together jigsaw puzzles. The table for the puzzles is on the second floor.

For fun and games we have bingos, horse races and 6/49’s. Win or lose, it’s a good pastime.

Shuffleboard is very popular. Residents with dementia are a delight to watch, winning many of their games.

The sidewalk around the building is a popular place to walk, giving us good exercise and fresh air.

Musicians and choirs often come in to give us great entertainment and time to relax.

Bus trips leave weekly for different malls and are popular.

Community Services

We are fortunate to have many services offered to us without having to go out. There is a beauty parlor on the premises. A manicurist is here every two weeks; a podiatrist comes once a month, a seamstress when needed, and a dental hygienist usually once a month. There is a mobile lab where a technician comes in every week to take blood samples for our doctors. We can buy stamps at our Tuck Shop and there is an outgoing mail box next to our individual mailboxes with daily deliveries of mail Monday to Friday (it’s amazing what you can buy at the well-stocked little Tuck Shop!).

Chapel services are offered weekly as well as a bible study group.

To top it all off, we sit down to three meals a day. We don’t have to cook, clean up, or wash dishes. Hallelujah!

Our dining room staff deal beautifully with all the different personalities, complaints, etc. A big thank you to all of them.  As well as to our office staff, always there to help.

Our maintenance staff also deserve a big thanks. We don’t have to clean our rooms and the pleasant handyman is a great “fixer upper”.

We had our annual Hollywood Gala Night on Oct. 16. The tables had special cloths and decorations. Everyone was dressed in their best. The dinner was special, as was the service. “Elvis” entertained us to end a beautiful evening. A BIG thank you to the staff for setting a great atmosphere.

Living in the moment

Westview Community

Silvera for Seniors’ Westview Community in Glamorgan.

It sounds as if we live a whirlwind existence. Actually, we cherish our quiet times and being alone–  some more than others. This is respected by residents and staff.

So we are learning to count our blessings and to live, laugh and love as though each day was our last.

Are you or your loved one interested in a Silvera home? Go on a virtual tour of our Westview Community, or call Westview Community at 403.240.4920 to schedule a visit.


Community Builders, Silvera for Seniors

Q&A With Our Community Builders: Ed

December 8, 2014 by Silvera

Calgary is a thriving city built on the hard work and sacrifice of many citizens who are now seniors. They created a strong foundation for our community, but the harsh reality is thousands of seniors struggle every day to even meet their most basic needs. Silvera for Seniors provides affordable housing and compassionate care for more than 1500 lower-income seniors.

MEET ED — The Underground Builder

Q: What is your name?
My name is Ed, and I live in Valleyview.

Q: What did you do for work in Calgary?
I’ve been in Calgary since 1976 and that’s when I got a job running heavy equipment and I dug the foundation for this place (Valleyview) – not all of it, but part of it. From then on, I worked with the City of Calgary and Canadian Western Natural Gas. For the city, out at the new subdivisions we did all the underground work: electrical, sewer and water. I worked until I was 74. I’m 83 now.

Q: Why did you move to Silvera?
A: I had a major heart attack in 2005 and that was the end of my work. I moved around with friends, but my arthritis eventually got so bad that I had to move to a place that could give me help. Silvera was affordable.

Q: What do you like about Silvera?
I’ve been on my own for about 20 years. I looked at this place, and this was my first choice. I decided to stay here because I know the area – I had an apartment just up the street here for seven years, a block and a half from here. The staff here is good, friendly – everybody is. I like to be with people, play cards, stuff like that. If you want to be a loner, you can do that. Me, I’m never in my room!

Q: What contribution to the Calgary community are you most proud of?
I dug the foundation for Valleyview and did all the underground work out at new subdivisions.

This is the time of year when families and friends get together to celebrate past memories and create new ones. Many seniors have lost loved ones and connections to our community. If you are able, please join us in making Calgary a great place for seniors because we need your help.  Please give to our Community Builders campaign.


Silvera for Seniors helps focus on seniors with mental illnesses

Supporting Seniors with Mental Illnesses

by Silvera

In October, a report comparing collaboration between seniors’ housing providers and mental health service providers in Edmonton and Calgary was released by the Older Adult Service Providers of Calgary (OASPoC). The report warns that many seniors could be in risk of homelessness unless seniors’ housing providers and mental health service providers focus on a joint effort to assist seniors with mental illnesses.

Silvera for Seniors’ vision is to be a leading advocate and caring provider of affordable homes and services for seniors to live in place with dignity. Being a voice for seniors in our community is important for Silvera, and, as member of the OASPoC, we played significant role in ensuring that the funding for the information in this report was secured.

The report is one step in the direction of being able to better serve seniors who live with a mental-health issue and shed light on this important issue.

Read the full report here.

Media coverage of the report:
Lessons from Edmonton on homelessness, seniors and mental health, The Globe and Mail, Nov. 27, 2014.


Community Builders | Silvera for Seniors

Q&A With Our Community Builders: Neil

December 1, 2014 by Silvera

Calgary is a thriving city built on the hard work and sacrifice of many citizens who are now seniors. They created a strong foundation for our community, but the harsh reality is thousands of seniors struggle every day to even meet their most basic needs. Silvera for Seniors provides affordable housing and compassionate care for more than 1500 lower-income seniors.

 MEET NEIL — A Builder of Communities

Q: What is your name?
A: My name is Neil and I live in a Silvera community.


Q: What was your work or career in Calgary?
I worked in construction, digging canals from Calgary to Saskatchewan. When I was 67, I switched to maintenance because I couldn’t do the heavy construction, and worked at Spruce Meadows for seven years. I retired five years ago at the age of 72. I helped to build Rocky Ridge and Mackenzie Town. All these places were just land to me, like half of Broadcast Hill (now Patterson Heights). Now I can’t even take you to the spot! I went to Rocky Ridge a week ago, and I couldn’t figure it out.


Q: When did you move to Calgary?
I’m from Kelowna. When I was 42 years old and came out here I didn’t know what the heck to do.


Q: Why did you move to Silvera?
A: I had three strokes, and it worried my son and doctor. They also didn’t want me to be alone. It wasn’t until I started to lose my eyesight that I knew I needed to be somewhere where I could have assistance. That’s how I got here. I’ve lived alone for quite a while, but it never bothered me until I started getting old. It’s not good to live alone, but some can handle it, some can’t.


Q: What do you like about Silvera?
A: I chose it (Silvera) because I found it friendly. I came here on a visit to check it out and I found it very friendly, and it’s the friendliness that brought me here in the first place. It’s companionship, the friendliness. My family say now that’s the best thing you did, Dad. And I think I did the right thing.


Q: What contribution to the Calgary community are you most proud of?
A: I was part of building many Calgary subdivisions. Before it was just land, and now there are houses everywhere.


This is the time of year when families and friends get together to celebrate past memories and create new ones. Many seniors have lost loved ones and connections to our community. If you are able, please join us in making Calgary a great place for seniors because we need your help.  Please give to our Community Builders campaign.


Silvera for Seniors | Commuity Builders

Q&A With Our Community Builders: Josip

November 25, 2014 by Silvera

Calgary is a thriving city built on the hard work and sacrifice of many citizens who are now seniors. They created a strong foundation for our community, but the harsh reality is thousands of seniors struggle every day to even meet their most basic needs. Silvera for Seniors provides affordable housing and compassionate care for more than 1500 lower-income seniors.

MEET JOSIP — A Painter Making Homes, Hospitals and More Beautiful


Q: What is your name?
A: My name is Josip and I’ve lived in a Silvera community for two years.

Q: What did you do for work before you retired?
A: I’ve been painting all my life. I started in my country, and then I came here and continued painting. I remember when I came here, they had started building Bonavista at that time and then Lakeview, Fairview, Arcadia, and I painted there. I remember when they started building the Husky Tower. I’ve been here a really long time, you know.

Q: Why did you move to a Silvera community?
A: My wife and I moved out to Kelowna and lived there for 15 years. When she died, I was there alone, and I have two sons here (in Calgary) and a brother, family. It was too far for them to visit me there, so they called and asked me to move to Calgary. So I did that, I sold my house in Kelowna and cashed out. I live here now because I’m old, I can’t take care of myself.

Q: What contribution to the Calgary community are you most proud of?
A: I painted the Rocky View Hospital. Also, I taught my kids to paint, I have two sons. They’ve got houses to paint themselves now.

This is the time of year when families and friends get together to celebrate past memories and create new ones. Many seniors have lost loved ones and connections to our community. If you are able, please join us in making Calgary a great place for seniors because we need your help. Please give to our Community Builders campaign.


Three signs your aging parents need help

November 17, 2014 by Silvera

Many families face difficult decisions regarding the care of aging parents or loved ones.

Sometimes a bad fall at home or an unexpected illness will fast-track the need for care, while for others, there are subtle signs that mom and (or) dad need help.

In a series of upcoming blog posts, we will explore the different issues relating to moving parents into independent or supportive living communities. Today’s post looks at three signs you need to watch for that may indicate your parents can no longer live on their own and be best supported in our supportive living communities.

  1. Weight loss and failing health – Weight loss may be a sign that parents are no longer able to prepare their own food or they may forget to eat regularly throughout the day. A peak into their fridge to check for expired food, or simply even enough food to eat, can give you a sense of how they are coping. A general decline in overall health may be an indication that aging parents are having trouble remembering to take their medications. For those taking a number of different medications, it can be confusing to remember when to take them in the proper dosages and combinations, and at the right time.
  2. Falling at home – One in every three adults over than 65 in Alberta will experience a fall each year. Falls are one of the leading causes of injury and death for seniors. If you notice your mother or father are falling often at home, take precautions and if the falls continue, it may be a signal they need additional help. For tips on falls prevention for seniors, visit Silvera’s YouTube channel and watch our Falls Prevention videos.
  3. Lack of house and yard upkeep – As people age, completing day-to-day household chores such as cleaning and laundry can become an issue. If these tasks seem to be overwhelming, or difficult to complete, it is time to look for new options.

If you’ve noticed any of these warning signs or an overall change in their emotional and physical health, it may be time to look at the best option for your aging loved one. Take the time to research different options, such as in-home care or moving into a new home where there are the necessary supports in place and a community of qualified staff and other seniors who will provide care and companionship.

Silvera provides both independent and supportive living subsidized housing for seniors. Applications are accepted from seniors, family members, medical personnel, etc. who are actively seeking housing. Silvera supports each and every inquiry and assists in determining the best situation for the senior.

“We understand that supporting a loved one in making a decision to call one of our communities home is a big decision. We are always happy to discuss a senior’s current living situation and help families determine the best solution for their needs. Above all, the priority is to ensure seniors can enjoy safe, accessible and affordable housing,” says Melanie Sawatsky, Manager of Support Services.

Silvera’s Placement Team is able to guide family members continuously through the placement process and can be contacted directly at In our next post, we will look at emotionally preparing your loved one for a move.


Remembrance Day | Silvera for Seniors

Lest We Forget

November 11, 2014 by Silvera

By Arlene Adamson, CEO

A powerful reminder, yet I wonder if today people really do think about them beyond November 11th, can we grow that demonstration of honouring seniors beyond Remembrance Day.

We all need to continue to be a champion for seniors. At Silvera for Seniors, we continue to advance our work on our promise to build communities within communities and create homes where seniors can age with independence and dignity. Daily, we see the value in people, each of us listens to their stories and we are reminded how everyone has had a different journey in life and made such unique contributions to our world.

As we wear our poppy and stop to remember what peace means and how much we appreciate life today in a great and free country, let’s think about the sacrifices that were/are made by those courageous enough to stand for our country. Let’s be reminded also of the contribution seniors have made and still need to make in our lives today. At Silvera, we honour our residents and our team makes every effort to make it great to be a senior. As we continue to make improvements in our work we are making Silvera a proud place for our 1500 residents, just like Mr. Adam Helfrick, to call home.

On November 11th, the eleventh month the eleventh day at eleven o’clock, we pause for a moment of silence to honour the men and women who served and continue to serve Canada during time of war, conflict and peace. We remember the more than 1,500,000 Canadians who have served and the thousands who made the ultimate sacrifice so we can enjoy the life we have today. Together we will stop and honour them in silence and at Silvera we will always give voice to their needs.


Silvera for Seniors

Not all seniors are wealthy

October 3, 2014 by Silvera

Calgary Herald. Oct 3, 2014
By Arlene Adamson

Working as an advocate for seniors’ issues can feel like pushing water uphill. Yet, after a challenging few years which has seen headlines of flood and fire, bad food, bed sores, and a chronic shortage of affordable seniors’ housing, it finally looked like we might move forward.

Citing a severe facilities shortage, then PC leadership candidate Jim Prentice came on strong as a voice for the elderly. He vowed to overhaul the system, proceeding at “twice the pace.” We hung on every word, and then cheered at now Premier Prentice’s pronouncement that there will be a brand new seniors’ ministry.  Hopefully this will mark an end to the musical chairs of responsibility that have impeded progress and approvals like we have endured in past years. I’m not overstating it when I say we are allowing ourselves to be profoundly optimistic this will actually come to pass.

Then the latest study hit. A new Bank of Montreal release says the wealth of Canadian seniors has quadrupled since 1984. A Maclean’s article asks: “Why are we doing so much to try to help seniors when they’re already the wealthiest generation in history?” While 40% of Canadian seniors lived in poverty in the 1970s, the article continues, that figure is now 5% due to their thrifty, conservative ways. On top of that seniors get subsidies at the expense of the younger (it argues), while more deserving (it implies) millennials just don’t stand a chance of getting ahead.

Quoted economists claim that only brave policies such as clawing back the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), getting seniors to pay for their own health care, and shifting these benefits to younger generations — “generation squeeze” — will correct this.  The idea of the vulnerable senior sector is a myth, they would have you think.

Suffice it to say, I don’t agree.  All seniors are not wealthy and we need to be careful assuming they are. Those who are have likely earned it the hard way. There was the depression. There were wars.  People landed on our shores without a nickel in their pocket. Recessions weren’t invented in 2008; seniors suffered through many busts in their lifetime.

Seniors did not sit in coffee shops lamenting their lot. They worked any job regardless of “lifestyle,” did not travel, did not eat out, did not expect their first house to have en suites and walk-in closets, and yes, they reused string and foil, fixed things when they broke, and walked miles to school in winter.

Life was tough. For those seniors who have achieved a measure of wealth, they should not now have to quietly exit, stage left. And they should not have to pay again for what they have already banked in contributions through taxes or to services. That’s the deal they made with society when they worked for their retirement.

More to the point, most seniors do not live the high life, and in any case, whether or not they have any assets is a lot of noise compared to the real issue, which is the availability of quality care, facilities and services.

If you want seniors to move on, you better have somewhere for them to go. While some lodges, homes and long term care facilities are fine, many are not.

Seniors ought to age in the community along with the rest of us, enabling socialization and access to  resources that keep them mentally, physically, and most importantly, socially active. Bringing up the standard of the actual facilities that already exist would be a good place to start, but a longer term vision requires new models altogether.  This would reduce the number of people inappropriately housed in hospitals and long care facilities.

Investing in homecare and supportive living would allow seniors some independence and self-actualization. Preventative physical and mental health programs are other areas where there are cost-effective, efficacious, evidence-based opportunities to prepare for this generation of aging Canadians.

We who work in the field of seniors’ affordable housing are excited about the possibilities, and now it seems, we may have some opportunity to engage the province in these long needed initiatives.  Alberta has an opportunity to do more than pay lip service to seniors’ living conditions. I urge Premier Prentice to do as he has done already so decisively on other issues.

Please don’t wait to start the job of ensuring seniors have safe, dignified, healthy environments. We are standing by with plans-in-hand.


Silvera for Seniors

Why is Silvera at CIFF?

September 23, 2014 by Silvera

What is the CIFF Connection?

This fall, Silvera for Seniors is doing something new. For the first time in our history, we are a sponsor of the Calgary International Film Festival (CIFF). At first glance, it might not seem like a natural connection. What is a seniors-serving organization doing at the CIFF where the hipsters, movers and shakers, and arts patrons can be found?

The answer is quite simple. We are there to raise awareness about seniors in our community by connecting with Calgarians in a new way. Silvera wants to make it great to be a senior in Calgary. That’s our purpose. We know all too well that Calgary is an expensive city and if you are a senior on a fixed income, it is a challenge to enjoy a good quality of life here. So being a voice for seniors is very important to Silvera’s work.

There is another reason Silvera is part of the CIFF. As part of our sponsorship, we are showing our favourite Sassy Seniors videos in advance of the screening of all documentary films. These funny videos, which show our very own residents pranking young Calgarians in everyday situations, highlight that seniors also have a sense of humour and zest for life. “Underwear Drop”, “Skater Boys” and “Crosswalk” turn the tables on youth in an unexpected way. These videos are also a great pre-amble to this year’s films like “Advanced Style”, which portrays the fashion sense of aging New Yorkers. Our goal is to get people thinking about seniors in a new way, and humour is a great way to break down stereotypes.

We are honoured to be the voice seniors in our community and will find new ways to continue to share our message about the value of seniors in our community with Calgarians of all ages. See you at the Festival!

You can enjoy all of our Sassy Seniors videos by visiting our YouTube channel.


Sassy Seniors

Sassy Seniors prank Calgarians

May 30, 2014 by Silvera

Fun video series dispels common myths about aging!

There are a lot of misconceptions and myths about seniors that are hard to break. While some may see seniors as frail, past their prime and perhaps a bit grumpy, there is a group of “sassy” seniors who are making it their mission to show seniors in a new, fun-filled and even mischievous light.

June 2 – 8, 2014, is Seniors’ Week in Alberta and to celebrate, Silvera for Seniors, a Calgary-based seniors’ housing and advocacy organization, is reminding people that seniors are much more than their age via a series of light-hearted and funny online videos.

The popular series, called Silvera’s Sassy Seniors, was inspired by such popular prank shows as Just for Laughs.

The American TV series, Betty White’s Off Their Rockers, is similar in its aim to dispel stereotypes about older adults by placing them in unexpected, but common everyday life scenarios.

Our favourite Silvera’s Sassy Seniors video is “Underwear Drop,” in which several good samaritans experience a bit of a shock when they stop to help a Silvera resident retrieve a dropped package in a shopping centre!

Another viewer favourite is “Crosswalk,” in which another sassy Silvera resident turns the tables on unsuspecting younger pedestrians by offering to help them cross the street!

The idea for the 10-video series came from responses to a survey Silvera conducted with its residents, which asked seniors to get candid on everything from sex to technology. Their responses confirmed that many of the commonly held assumptions regarding older people are just plain wrong.

Respondents said they disagree wholeheartedly with many of the myths relating to those aged 65 or older, including the notion that seniors are old, sick and sit around their houses. Seventy per cent of respondents would describe themselves as either “vibrant or happy” or “humorous and living life to the fullest.” Their responses also contradicted the idea that seniors are set in their ways and unwilling to try new things.

In fact, seniors are more active than many other Canadians, with almost 70 per cent exercising weekly, and 19 per cent exercising daily. And when it comes to wanting to try new activities, skateboarding, surfing and dancing topped their lists!

“Seniors are a vibrant, fun-loving group of people who have so much to give back to our community,” says Arlene Adamson, CEO of Silvera for Seniors. “Our residents want people to understand that they are young at heart with a desire to contribute and engage with younger people.”

She adds that Seniors’ Week is an ideal time to honour – and remember – all that seniors can give to our community.

In celebration of Seniors’ Week, we invite you to share your favourite Sassy Seniors video. Visit Silvera for Seniors’ YouTube channel to find your favourite!


State of Seniors in Calgary

February 11, 2014 by Silvera

Presentation to the Downtown Rotary Club on Feb. 11, 2014

By Arlene Adamson, CEO of Silvera for Seniors, of one of the province’s largest and oldest non-profit seniors’ home organization.
Thank you for the introduction and for all you, and all that the Rotarians do, day in and day out, to make our city a better place.

In fact, building a better city and supporting vulnerable Calgarians has been core to the work of the Rotary Club since its beginning, 100 years ago. Congratulations on your legacy of community involvement and for reaching this tremendous milestone.

And that’s why, it’s such a great pleasure to be here today, to share my thoughts and shed light on an important issue, which is the state of seniors in Calgary.

Above the 25 plus years I’ve spent in the public sector, and my passion for the not for profit,
I am first and foremost a daughter.
I have a parent (93) who has to negotiate “the health and housing system” for better, and is often the case, for worse.
I coordinate the care supports needed for my Father.
I advocate for his safety.
I make every effort to ensure he has a full life.
I pray for his peace and happiness.
This is where the head meets the heart. Seniors’ care is more than a job for me – it’s personal.

When I look out at all of you – I know it’s personal too.

First of all – we’re all here – which means aging affects each and every one of us.

But beyond that, its movers and shakers like all of you, who started Silvera in the first place.

In the late 1950s, a group of prominent Calgarians, not unlike yourselves, came together to create affordable housing, for seniors who live on meager and limited incomes. Those leaders, together, built the Bow Valley lodge in Bridgeland, which we still use today….

And I would venture to guess, those same leaders that started the appeal for affordable housing in the 1950/60s, approached others Calgarians asking for their support, and they sat in this very room.

For years we held the banner of the “Metropolitan Calgary Foundation.”
Then in 2012, we turned 50, and we adopted a new name, one that better reflects who we are. The Silver-era….Silvera

Today we have 26 communities across Calgary and we are serving 1500 low-income seniors. Our housing levels are independent living to supportive living where we provide 3 meals, housekeeping, some activities and non-medical support staffing 24 hours a day.

Our mandate has not changed over the years…we are still serving low income seniors. And there is still a need for us to provide services and affordable housing …in fact, the need is even greater as our population ages.

And, I hope I’m not alone, in saying ….. what we are doing now …is simply not enough.

Just look at the headlines…with unprecedented and well warranted scrutiny to how seniors are treated in care facilities.

Hardly a day goes by, where there isn’t an incident, an article, a letter to the editor, or god forbid- a tragedy – where the news isn’t casting a spotlight on what this stage of life can look like.

These are not pretty images. And it’s not easy to be a senior – I’m told that weekly.
In my role, in leading an organization, that provides housing and services for low-income seniors ….

And in my role as a daughter, of a much loved dad, who lives in one, I can tell you that I feel the public and private pressure, the expectation – the demand – to do better by our older Calgarians. And I am very concerned, about how, I , how we, can make that happen.

Here’s a snapshot of some of the issues.. Our resident’s average age is 86, they come with very complex needs, and they are living longer and it is becoming increasingly difficult to provide the services needed. The time to act is now because within the next 17 years, 1 in 5 calgarians, will be a senior. And low income seniors are being left behind, many will prematurely call a hospital home for lack of housing and in home supports.

Yet, Seniors do not make appealing or trendy subjects for charitable donations. If I asked you to take out a $20 dollar bill, and rip off the portion you might donate to support seniors’ initiatives, I suspect you could hear a pin drop. People want their money to go to help ‘important causes’ – but what’s the explanation as to why there is essentially zero in charitable donations to seniors’ issues? Not a worthy cause?

The historic flooding in Calgary is still imprinted in our minds. It affected many, news coverage was huge and it was the center of every conversation. There was a lot of need and the urgency to give —-and Calgary saw an outpouring of donations.

For Silvera, we had to evacuate 600 seniors from our 5 facilities in the Bridgeland area. An overwhelming task, a tremendous financial impact and… for our staff it was a monumental effort, to move a fragile population, quickly and safely.
And ….although we had lots of media coverage on the challenge to move seniors – donations didn’t pour in… we received a total of $1,000 dollars which was two donations and one of them was a donor from Ontario. I don’t think it simply people don’t care, I believe we don’t think of seniors, in general as a society we certainly don’t think of seniors as a cause. Perhaps we don’t realize, many are very low income and many are vulnerable.

The flood emphasized the need for Silvera’s services. Many residents had no one for support. We evacuated to the emergency centre, knowing our residents couldn’t lie on the floor for hours, forget days, and we knew we needed to immediately coordinate homecare support, arrange oxygen, get meds delivered – so we relocated to hotels. But even in the hotels, our residents were failing, within just a couple of days.

Those who had Families and friends, and took them into their homes, —- many were calling us daily and asking. “Have you reopened? We can’t manage them, please, when will you reopen?”

Some seniors were returned unbathed, unchanged, and without having taken their meds consistently. It was a clear demonstration of the need for appropriate housing and supports for our seniors – like those provided by Silvera.

Still – society continues to put seniors and their needs on the backburner. Like time isn’t of the essence. Staring us in the face is this huge cliff and yet we mostly focus our efforts and funding on the needs of upcoming generations. Maybe we assume seniors are all off golfing, living the “freedom 55 life”, but that’s not reality for low income seniors. Many are alone, and in affordable housing they are also “Out of sight, out of mind”, where we also don’t see the glimpse of our future could look like.

What or when will be our motivation to change how we support seniors in our communities?

I can tell you that on holidays, seniors’ centers are deserted.
There are very few visitors and many of our seniors have outlived their loved ones or they are not in town, sadly some don’t have caring family…

As much as we try to make our facilities as homey as possible, nothing can replace the attention, love and care of family, friends or that connection to others in the community.

That’s where Silvera comes in.

Silvera would like to be an advocate for social change, and in doing so, bring seniors’ issues, front and center.

As a society, and as the great city that Calgary is, we recognize the benefit of culturally diverse communities that incorporate those of varying income levels, of different genders and ethnic backgrounds, and we hope eventually – an integration of all ages – including seniors.

Silvera’s part in that, is not only to provide affordable and high quality care within our own facilities, but also to build communities, that are vibrant and integrated.

We need support for the services, we offer today. We need to ensure seniors live with dignity and meaning.

For the future, we know we need to build seniors housing and communities differently.

That’s why Silvera is pleased to be participating in the RESOLVE COLABORATIVE capital campaign.

As one of the 9-agencies in RESOLVE, the campaign has the potential, to be first CAPITAL campaign of its kind, which will put Calgary on the map – in building affordable housing. We hope that leaders will again step up to build more affordable housing in our community.

And this brings me recent news, and the talk about risk, and an elephant in the room, which is the fire at the seniors’ home in Quebec.

That fire tragically killed 28 parents, grand-parents, aunts, uncles, friends – people who had given their lives to contributing to the fabric of Canadian society. People who deserved better.

I can tell you without a moment’s hesitation that every manager at every seniors’ facility across the country fears what happened at that senior’s home.

The truth is, most affordable housing for seniors (and I don’t mean private seniors housing) was built 30 – 50 years ago, and they are old buildings and wood frames. And because the challenging truth: there’s no good way to evacuate 85 year olds.

We saw that in the June floods.

Even the act of merely conducting a fire drill, for this demographic, can be dangerous.

Many seniors have some level of dementia and would be confused as to how to leave a burning building without one- on- one care. Most have some physical disability and likely couldn’t negotiate an exit without one on one support. Many, if not most, take medications to sleep and would likely not wake up in a fire without being roused, one by one.

I remind you, too, that most seniors’ affordable housing was built in the 50s, when “senior” meant the ripe old age of ‘55’. And those same buildings likely haven’t been upgraded – to the extent that that’s even possible – because of low budgetary priority and lack of funding for seniors.

The tragedy in Quebec is awful, but what I don’t think people realize, is that it also impacts seniors quality of life here in Calgary …. We saw it after the floods, every time it rained last summer … our residents became more anxious for their own care and safety. And that stress – impacts their health, because with increased anxiety comes increased incontinence, eating issues, disorientation, sleep disorder, depression and more medications. All adding pressure on staff who have to respond to their growing needs and impacting organizational costs.

Senior’s safety and happiness and quality of life – that’s what keeps me awake at night.

Beyond new buildings, which we will address in our future —– TODAY seniors are outliving their family, have limited support, limited community engagement and risk of a lower quality of life. Not for profits like Silvera, we are offering the basics, but when you serve low income populations – there aren’t the funds to add the extra services or activities that would improve the quality of life.

I hear the stories and witness it everyday —- seniors who often can’t get out or can afford the bus pass or taxi, sitting waiting for something to happen, yearning to have a fuller more meaningful life (beyond waiting for their 3 meals) — perhaps a visit by someone in the community, maybe opportunity to learn a new skill like playing a musical instrument, or computer training …an opportunity to be engaged – have a purpose when get out of bed. To be valued.

Many of our residents, when you have limited income, you – have to choose between — refilling a prescription or “the extras” — and the basic needs always win out.

Like… one of our residents – Jack said to me – he would love the opportunity to tinker with a car or learn fly fishing, however with no family and having been challenged his whole life with severe dyslexia, he was always alone, always low paying jobs so couldn’t afford a car – he said it well “living waiting to die kills your soul.” JACK PASSED AWAY NEVER tinkering with a car.

Or the resident in our Bow Valley community who never participated, only for us to find out… he had hearing loss and needed funding to get hearing aids. Now he joins in all the sing-a-longs.

Or the gentleman in our Valleyview community who ran out of funds for his incontinent products by the third week of every month …and that’s why he was soiling the chair consistently the last week of every month.

We can’t continue to turn a blind eye to the isolation, loneliness and need that is the reality for our seniors every day in our communities.
And so we get back to the movers and shakers in this room. How can you help?
Yes, money matters.

First, you can leave this room and rethink “seniors” as a cause to invest in.

Then for those of you who have a job you’re going back to, or have company you lead, please put seniors issues, into your corporate social responsibility agenda and build employee engagement with seniors as a priority.

And finally, be an active voice for seniors in our city or an advocate with government to lobby for change.

Seniors today, need —you and me, to take the lead. Seniors right now are waiting, hoping for change, living on memories of 20, 30, 40 years ago.

That’s not good enough – I think it’s the decent and humane thing to do is to support this vulnerable population.

And let’s face it, in about 5 minutes – we are all going to be there.

Remember that small group of socially minded Calgarians, who stepped forward to care for low-income seniors 50 years ago — well, I ask you today –to please take up their torch.

END of Speech


Let’s not abandon our seniors

December 21, 2013 by Silvera

By Arlene Adamson

Let me start by saying that as a professional in this field, I, too have been watching, reading and listening to the news stories of poor care of seniors, and it makes me shudder. I worry about seniors in general, but I also fear for the senior-care sector. The pressure on staff to meet the needs and the expectations of family, while at the same time the reality that the demand is only going to become greater with the growing population of seniors, is reaching the red zone on the alarm scale.

Poor care is unacceptable; and there absolutely must be accountability, but beyond that I also fear for our society, and believe there is another conversation due within the context of these incidents that must be considered. I get incensed when I hear of how some seniors have been so let down, but I also wonder why it takes this level of horror to bring public outcry to the needs of seniors. I wonder where the community and families are.‎ People complain vociferously that their relative hasn’t been attended to in months. Care facilities bad: caring families good, is the theme, as if all care can be painted with the same brush. While families are understandably outraged at poor care and we need crack down on bad professional care-givers, there is also an opportunity to talk about how we can all respond to the need for change.

What can we do as citizens? Do we just lean in and criticize, or can we do more? Do we rely too much on care providers to take care of our family? Do we do enough as family or volunteers or even donors?‎ In my view, the primary issue is how much we’re personally prepared to fit seniors, that is, our Moms and Dads, Nana and Grandpa, or elderly neighbour – into our busy lives. The sad truth is that while we’re enthusiastically packing shoe boxes for strangers in other countries, running races and holding casinos for every other cause – we’re not prepared to invest five minutes or five cents into something that will in some way affect 100% of the population. We invest passionately in the next generation, and we’ll obsess about our own wants (my house, my vacation, and my Christmas wish list), but we don’t value maturity and experience. Life-spans seem to have a hump day beyond which there is no more relevance, no right to attention or accommodation. It’s not a circle-of-life; it’s linear, and there’s a drop off.

We see examples of this all the time. We’ll go to ridiculous ends to baby-proof our homes, but Granny leaves the stove on once and as ingenious as we are as a society, we can’t come up with something better than – time to find her ‘a home’, like she doesn’t already have one. Moms with toddlers struggle their way through intersections taking ages, and we smile; the aged better move it or their canes will be clipped by honking, impatient drivers. It’s metaphoric.

They’re happier in a home, we say. They have friends, we say. It’s too disruptive to them to take them out, or to have them over, we say. While it is their home and yes it should feel like a community with connections to new friends – nothing replaces family. As someone who visits and makes the rounds at Christmas and holiday events, birthdays, really anytime – I can tell you that, for seniors in care, nothing replaces feeling like part of the broader community. Sadly this Christmas, I know few families and others will make it in for a visit to our residents. It’s heartbreaking.‎ The notion that we can just abandon the elderly in homes and then expect ‘the government’ to do what we can’t, or more likely, won’t do, is I believe, the bigger issue. Of course we should be diligent about what happens in seniors’ homes, but as families and friends, we’re their ultimate care-givers. Yes care facilities should be funded properly and there is a higher cost to care for seniors, but not everything is an issue of money. We don’t need more government, we need more family, more community. You can’t legislate love, not even at Christmas.‎


Calgary Flood

Emergency preparedness for seniors

July 18, 2013 by Silvera

In a natural disaster, seniors are at heightened risk. Ten things seniors and the agencies that serve them can do to prepare for an emergency.

By Arlene Adamson

The recent floods in Calgary caught people by surprise. The water came quickly, and although many Calgarians were on alert to leave, when the evacuation order was finally issued, speed was of the essence.

One of the 26 Calgary communities that had to be evacuated was Bridgeland, near the Bow River. For over 50 years, the area has been home to lower-income Calgary seniors in affordable housing provided by Silvera for Seniors. When the evacuation order was issued for Bridgeland, it meant that almost 600 seniors needed to leave the area in a hurry.

It’s important to remember that some segments of the population – children, disabled people and seniors – are at heightened risk during emergencies. Indeed, the only tragic death from the floods in Calgary was a senior, 83-year-old Lorraine Gerlitz. Another in High River, Alberta was a female lawyer with cerebral palsy, Jacqui Brocklebank.

The seniors at Silvera in Bridgeland were very lucky – the flood water did not reach our communities, and there was only ground water back-up. But they were still evacuated from the facilities, their homes, and lost core services for several days.

Here are some of the lessons we learned from this crisis, and a list of what seniors who live independently or in supported residences – and the families and agencies who support them – can do to better prepare for an emergency or disaster:

Five things seniors can do to prepare for an emergency:

1. Keep a record of medical conditions, allergies and current medications with you at all times, if possible. Note the name and contact numbers for your usual pharmacy and doctors in case you need to renew a prescription in a hurry.
2. Keep all of your current medications and an overnight toiletries bag together for ease of collection and quick transport. Same goes for any essential medical equipment.

3. Make a plan of action, and discuss it with your emergency contacts, for what to do in case of an urgent situation; include back up plans, such as determining a safe place to meet up should you be separated or out of communication. Keep an address book with your emergency contacts handy.

4. Make sure your home or residence has an ‘emergency kit’ which contains 72 hours’ worth of non-perishable food, water, can opener, flashlight and back up batteries, hearing aids and batteries, incontinence products, battery-powered radio, copies of important documents and a first aid kit.

5. Consult Canada’s Public Health Agency which lists a number of helpful resources on emergency preparedness: Emergency Preparedness and Seniors and Your Emergency Preparedness Guide.

Five things seniors’ organizations can do to prepare for an emergency:

1. Reach out to new and existing partners and ask for help in case of an evacuation. Ensure that you look for appropriate alternate accommodation that can address seniors’ specific needs if they are frail and need extra supports, as evacuation centres are not often appropriate for longer-term stays.

2. Keep an up-to-date contact list of service partners in a readily available, central and virtual location.

3. Practice, practice, practice – it is far easier to evacuate during an emergency if evacuation drills are part of your regular planning and operations.

4. Ensure that staff contact information is up-to-date and easily accessible to those who need it. A centralized and web-based timetable and staff schedule is an excellent idea to keep everyone synchronized and in the right place at the right time. Use new social media technologies (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to help keep everyone updated.

5. Ensure residents’ emergency contact information is updated regularly, as details can change often.

We also learned throughout this crisis that although many of our seniors are in poorer health and need extra supports, the majority faced this crisis with resilience and grit. When faced with monumental challenges, they just pushed through it. Seniors are not done living yet, and they have a wealth of experience to share with us all.

Arlene Adamson is the CEO of Silvera for Seniors, a non-profit organizations which provides a home to over 1,500 lower-income seniors. She is also co-chair of the Seniors and Special Populations Sector Housing Committee, and on the steering committee for the Alberta’s Housing Access Link.


Verna Pollack, Silvera for Seniors Blog

Some Thoughts About Seniors

May 23, 2013 by Silvera

By Silvera Resident Verna Pollack – Shouldice Manor

In this age of transitions where the “Gay Community” is being accepted and valued more and more, I would like to put in a word for the Grey Community — our seniors. We are all around you and welcome the respect and affection that speaks to our value in the community.

While “the young and the restless” dominate our TV screens, let’s not forget the beauty to be found in silver hair, the wisdom in a life of experience and the joy and laughter to be shared from a life well lived. All this, and many of us are still pretty darn good-looking, to boot!

In recent conversation with a delightful elder, we discussed how time will write an interesting story upon the blank page of a charming enthusiastic young face, adding lines of experience and wisdom as we age. How comforting it can be to share the gifts of one’s life experiences — joys and sorrows — that so fully express our humanity. It is often there for all to see, right on the lovely face of one who is aging.

Our world moves faster every day and our young people and children rush right along with it. Do you know how pleasant it is to slow down once in a while to enjoy some quiet with a senior? Don’t for a minute think that those seniors have bowed out, either. Rather say they have discovered a balance, for most seniors know how to invite their soul once in a while. Life lessons have taught us that.

Ever hear of the Raging Grannies who trek about North America, confronting wrongs and political ills with humour and grace? They are certainly not sitting at home in a rocking chair. I have a friend in his 70s who still runs in marathons and others who still hike and climb our Rocky Mountains. This year, raising funds for the Alberta Wilderness Association, the oldest person to climb the stairs to the top of the Calgary Tower was a friend of mine in his 80s. Think the old folks just sit around? Not so! Most of us are very busy living our life to the fullest of our abilities.

There is an old image of boy scouts helping little old ladies and men across the street. Perhaps that is not a bad idea sometimes, but I suggest that, more often than not, those little old ladies and men are very busy helping the family raise that boy scout, filling in and cheering them on when parents cannot be there. Life is a continuation of all things.

Seniors are definitely out there — the sassy ones, the quiet ones, vigorous or gentle, funny or serious. We are out there. Look for us.
We are The Grey Community and seniors rock!

Verna Pollack – Shouldice Manor, Calgary, Alberta



March 28, 2013 by Silvera

By Peter Greaves, Silvera Resident at Alder Court  

If you’re like me, the 21st century is a lot different to the age I grew up in. The sense of family seems, to some extent, to have gotten lost.

I don’t think it’s anybody’s fault. I’m sure you brought your children up the best way you could, and tried to stress the importance of family. But our children’s lives are so busy with jobs, children to take to swimming, etc. Unfortunately, grandmas and grandpas are one of the things that often get squeezed out in the busy rush. My children live here in Calgary, yet I hardly hear from them.

It’s a different age, and, as seniors, we need to adjust.

We need to stay busy, involved, alert, and keep that brain muscle active.

We all have gifts and talents we’ve spent a lifetime learning; share those skills with others our age. Get involved — don’t vegetate or tell yourself it’s too much trouble/effort.

Learn to paint, tie flies, sing, learn a new language, paint Ukrainian eggs, anything that might interest you. Stay active. There’s a huge need for volunteers, so get involved. Get a computer — a whole new huge world can open up to you.

As we get older, time can become a huge burden — or it can become a wonderful renaissance.


This Alberta Election, the Senior Vote Is Golden

January 16, 2013 by Silvera

Elections Alberta 2012 Banner During the last provincial election in Alberta there was an abysmal voter turnout rate of 40.6 per cent. But this was not the case with voters over the age of 65 who voted in significantly higher numbers. And political parties took notice.

Routinely, three out of four Alberta seniors can be counted on to vote in municipal, provincial and federal elections. This contrasts sharply with the 45 per cent of reliable voters between the ages of 25 and 44.

At first blush, this could seem less than relevant, given that Alberta’s seniors population is only approximately 425,000, or about eight per cent of the total population. But when you take into account that just over 940,000 Albertans are too young to vote, that leaves 2.27 million eligible voters for the forthcoming provincial election — and almost one in five are seniors.

More important are the vast number of soon-to-be-seniors on the horizon. The first baby boomers turned 65 last year. Over the next 25 years, the population of Alberta seniors is set to double. This generation is beginning to think ahead to their retirement years, and wonder what the government has in store for them when they become seniors. With the federal government’s recent rise in Old Age Security (OAS) criteria to age 67 from 65, many people are wondering if provincial governments will have to pick up some of the slack.


MCF Housing for Seniors CEO hoping to make difference

November 26, 2012 by Silvera

By David Parker, For the Calgary Herald September 15, 2011

Board of Directors - CEO Arlene AdamsonI take great pleasure in talking to people who just seem to fit their job and who are passionate in working to achieve the goals they have set.Arlene Adamson is such a person, totally at ease and excited about her new role as CEO of MCF Housing for Seniors.

She has a great track record throughout her journey that brought her to MCF; facing challenges she cared about that have helped her develop skills that will ensure the organization can help seniors enjoy life more.

Born in Fort Smith, N.W.T., into a family very involved in the small community they moved south and after graduation Adamson got her first recreation job in the forensic unit of an Edmonton hospital. In the early ’80s she moved to Calgary and joined the Red Cross, responsible for water safety training in Southern Alberta and then became assistant manager of the blood clinics.

Later, Adamson worked in development and communications for the Canadian Cancer Foundation, which soon relocated her to head office in Toronto, where she was responsible for national fundraising programs.

While visiting friends in Calgary, her parents were involved in an accident and wanting to look after them she found a way to stay in Calgary when she was asked to help the YWCA, which at the time was struggling with its brand position, had financial challenges and although doing great work, not enough people were aware of its achievements.

An “I can make a difference” person, Adamson took on a new role of director of communications and fund development and successes such as the negotiations with Vermillion Energy to support the YWCA Training Centre elevated her to the position of COO.

Her experience with her parents has given her a special understanding of the needs of seniors and MCF gives her the opportunity to help her 320 staff and 150 or so volunteers invest in not only providing low-cost housing but giving seniors a quality of life that will help them to thrive in their latter years.

MCF currently has nine supported lodges and 16 independent facilities and plans are underway to build on its site off Bow Trail by Shaganappi golf course.

But Adamson wants more than a seniors’ home – her vision is for a place that will be fully integrated into the community; a model that could engage young people in relationships that would no doubt benefit them as well as seniors.

Next year is the 50th anniversary of MCF. It is a time when there is a huge need for more housing for seniors, in particular for those with no hope of being able to afford private-care residences who just might need expensive hospital care if subsidized accommodation is not available.

Adamson is on a mission to get more housing for vulnerable seniors with a deeper, wider support system and will get Calgarians involved to make it happen.