Services for newcomer older adults

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Immigrants who are 55 and older may have a more challenging settlement journey compared to their younger counterparts. According to Chris Friesen, director of settlement services for the Immigrant Services Society of B.C., “immigrants and refugees who come to Canada later in life face unique challenges in terms of income, livelihood and social integration” ( Vancouver Sun). This is especially true of newcomers who do not belong to Canada’s larger ethnocultural communities. Because of this, they may have lesser chances to be part of an established social network.

English equals integration

Reports show that many experience culture shock and isolation especially because of the language barrier. Newcomers who can’t understand or speak English are not able to relate to their new community; they would rather stay at home. This may lead to depression and other health problems related to isolation. This cuts their opportunity to continue living productive and active lives.

Older adult immigrants don’t have to experience this pattern of despair. Manitoba has many programs and services that provide assistance and support for continued learning, immersion in the community, recreation and other avenues for growth.

  1. Language training

    You need English to be able to communicate with your grandchildren, speak to your neighbors, become more involved in the community, and get a job.

    There are several language programs in the province designed for you. A good example is A&O Support Services for Older Adults’ English Conversation Circles which is a free, 10-week program that hones your English conversational skills, whether you are a beginner or an intermediate language learner. You can go to: Senior Immigrant Settlement Services to check their courses and register. Your nearest senior centre or immigrant serving organization will also have English language programs you can enroll in. Meanwhile, English Online’s flexible and free language courses can be seen here if you want to try online learning.

    To supplement your classes, get your library card and start reading books at your local library or join their book club. Everyday habits like listening to English songs, watching TV shows or movies, or reading story books to your grandchildren will speed up your proficiency. For other ideas for improving your English, read the article 10 easy ways to improve your English.

  2. Recreational activities

    Staying busy and interacting with others will keep your mind active. Start by exploring your neighborhood. Take walks or play with your grandchildren at the park. Community groups for yoga or meditation as well as other in-person activities may be on pause during the pandemic but there are other ways to stay connected. A&O has several COVID-19 response programs that provide social connection as well as basic assistance such as delivery of groceries and medication.

  3. Volunteering and mentoring

    Your community will definitely benefit from your experience and wisdom. Share your time at your community center, church or immigrant serving organizations. Your ability to speak your native language can be an advantage when helping out other immigrants from your home country. Look for opportunities here:

  4. Health care

    Continue to take care of your health by watching what you eat (consulting a dietician is free) and exercising. Older adults should have at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more to achieve health benefits and improve functional abilities (Healthy Living and Seniors). Add to this some muscle and bone strengthening activities using major muscle groups at least two days per week.

    Know about your Manitoba health care coverage to be aware of your options (read 5 important facts about your Manitoba Health Care coverage). Find a family doctor to get regular check-ups and appropriate health advice.

  5. Skills training

    No one is too old to learn new skills. Aside from honing your English, you can also learn new arts and crafts, gain computer skills, or pick up a new sport like golf or fishing. The Winnipeg Public Library and Immigrant Centre Manitoba offer free basic computer trainings. Meanwhile, Creative Retirement offers affordable learning programs on various topics.

    If you’re looking to enhance your employment skills to fit the Canadian workplace, go to Career Development ( to read up on strategies, resources and access a job banks listing to assist you in joining the workforce. You can also register with Manitoba Start or Success Skills Centre.

*Please note that some of the in-person programs mentioned here are on hold in line with the public health guidelines set by the province. Check information on the links or call the service provider to verify program availability.
Article updated December 21, 2020.

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Community Resources

Seniors’ Guidebook for Safety and Security was developed by RCMP for guidance. You can download the pamphlet through the link.

Senior Centre Without Walls is an A&O Support Services for Older Adults program that offers free educational and recreational programs over the phone.  Call 204-956-6440 or go to A&O Support Services for Older Adults for more information.

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Supports for newcomer older adults in MB

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