Use our healthy aging staff as your navigator

by Brittany Faux
Healthy Aging Social Worker

In World War 2, my grandfather, David, served as a navigator for the Royal Canadian Air Force. In this role, he instructed the pilots where to fly their planes and which targets to strike. While he interpreted the maps, the pilots were able to direct all of their focus on the mission. David is now 92, and lives with his wife in a senior’s apartment building. Throughout the years, he and his family have relied on health care navigators to help them through the systems they have encountered as they age. When they needed assistance with medical expenses, meals, and housekeeping, they contacted the case worker from Veterans Affairs, who helped them arrange these programs. When David was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, his wife and children received extensive support from the social worker at their local Alzheimer’s Society. She helped them by providing caregiver support, coping strategies, and suggesting ways to manage the illness at home.

Most recently, David’s health has changed so that he requires a more supportive living environment. A nurse from Community Care Access has contacted the family throughout the process, explaining the options and costs, and making recommendations for this transition. In the war, the pilots controlled the plane, but relied on the navigators to tell them where to go. In a similar way, David and his family remain in control, but are guided through the system by their health care navigators.

At the Edmonton Southside Primary Care Network, each clinic is connected with Healthy Aging Nurses and Social Workers. This team can be accessed by any patients who would benefit from some guidance or assistance related to the many different systems we encounter as we age. The nurses can provide specialized assessments, referrals, and knowledge geared to issues common with aging. The social workers can provide help completing seniors housing and financial applications and creating personal directive and enduring power of attorney documents. The team can also help connect you with seniors groups and day programs.

Sometimes the systems that we encounter as we age can seem overwhelming and constantly changing, whether they deal with our health, finances, or where we live. Much like how the air force pilots relied on David to successfully guide them through the skies, we encourage you to use your Healthy Aging Team as a starting point to help you navigate through these systems.