Healthcare Heroes Presented by Cam Clark Ford | Supporting our seniors

Story by Stacie Gaetz


Photos by Kristy Reimer

Spring 2024

Jo Cadieux never thought that sitting in the waiting room of a medical office would lead to a new career path.

But then the retired teacher overheard an elderly woman trying to book a follow-up appointment at the reception desk.

“She kept saying things like, ‘I don’t know if anyone can drive me that day,’ and, ‘My kids are at work so I can’t come then,’ and I thought to myself, ‘I can drive her, I can help!’” says Cadieux.

This experience inspired her to investigate whether Airdrie has a service that helps seniors get to their appointments and she not only found A Friend Indeed, doing so inspired her to apply for a job.

A Friend Indeed – Creating Connection

Although A Friend Indeed is not a seniors’ transportation service, it does connect seniors with “friends” who provide non-medical support. Friends provide companion care services that can include driving seniors to appointments and places like the grocery store. A Friend Indeed has both paid and volunteer positions.

“We pride ourselves on really getting to know the individual from their family and from our visits,” says Robyn Pearson, owner and founder of A Friend Indeed, who started the service 13 years ago in Airdrie.

“We engage in meaningful activities that are important to them. That can be anything from painting to playing cards to going for a walk. We are fast-tracking a meaningful friendship that will benefit both parties.”

Cadieux, who taught elementary school for 27 years, has been working with A Friend Indeed since September 2022 and says she sometimes feels like she gets more out of her friendships than the senior does.

“It is so rewarding to connect with someone so deeply and on a different level,” she says.

Cadieux adds that one of her most memorable connections is with a woman named Donna.

“When I met Donna, she wasn’t interested in anything I was bringing to the table,” says Cadieux, with a laugh.

“Everything I brought out of my bag of tricks was an epic failure, but then one day I show up and she has this certain glow. I suggest we ‘bust out’ and go for a drive and some tea. She doesn’t usually go out, so I was surprised when she said yes. She was so joyful during that outing. She talked about how beautiful the trees were and how nice the sun felt. She had me in stitches the whole time.”

Cadieux says, after she spends time with her clients listening to their stories, laughing about the funny thing their grandchild did, or creating something together, she often giggles all the way back to her car.

“It doesn’t feel like work,” she says.

“If you have any time to spare, this can be the most rewarding thing you can do with that time.”

A Friend Indeed currently provides services to Airdrie, Calgary, Cochrane, Didsbury and area, and is looking to branch out into Red Deer later this year.

Seniors in Airdrie

According to the 2023 Census, 7,907 people over the age of 65 call Airdrie home, making up roughly 9.8 per cent of the population. That’s up from 5,453 (or 7.3 per cent) in the 2019 Census.

Indeed, according to, the population of seniors in the province continues to rise faster than other age groups. A slower population growth rate coupled with increasing life expectancy means seniors will constitute a greater share of Alberta’s population in the future.

In addition to transportation services, Airdrie seniors may need support in areas such as managing finances, housekeeping, preparing food, yard maintenance, mobility and daily living functions.

Airdrie Care Community – Enriching Lives

Sarah Holliday decided to do her part in supporting local seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I have always been extremely passionate about helping others and that just felt like the right time to do it, when so many people needed help,” she says of her shift from working in sales to becoming a health-care aide.

Holliday has worked at Airdrie Care Community since August 2022. This is a new supportive living community that serves 126 residents.

According to wellness manager Karin van Goudoever, “Airdrie Care Community strives to enrich our residents’ lives and well-being and have our residents be able to be an independent as possible and feel in control.

“We strive to reduce feelings of helplessness, loneliness and boredom. Our wellness team (nursing team), recreation team and volunteers work hand-in-hand to achieve that goal.”

Holliday says she treats each resident like a member of her family.

“It is rewarding to be a part of their lives and to provide care and companionship to them,” she says.

“Just because they are in a home doesn’t mean they can’t be productive members of the community, and having their basic needs met helps them do that.”

Staying involved in one’s community while growing older is part of healthy aging. A community that supports older adults in staying as healthy and active as possible for as long as possible encourages greater social inclusion.

Holliday says being a part of seniors’ lives and truly caring about their well-being improves their mental health, which can have a direct impact on their physical health.

“We truly connect with residents on an emotional level, and that can help them be more motivated in other areas of their lives as well,” she says.

Pearson agrees: “The turnaround that you can see in someone’s physical health if they are having their mental health needs met can be nothing less than astounding.”

If you are a senior, or know someone who is, Airdrie has a number of supports available:


Airdrie Over 50 Club: A place where mature adults can gather and participate in a variety of recreational, social, cultural and artistic endeavours.

Community Links:

Airdrie Senior Outreach Program: provides educational presentations, workshops and Senior Connect training to the Airdrie community.

Friendly Visiting: a program for seniors in need of companionship through social, recreational and supportive visits at the senior’s home or in the community.

Seniors Wisdom Circle: a safe and supportive space to connect with others.

Senior Transportation Program: for those 65 and older.

Senior Services: referrals are made through the Community Links intake service.


A Friend Indeed: Non-medical companion care services tailored to seniors in the Airdrie, Carstairs, Didsbury, Olds and Calgary areas.

Nurse Next Door: Home-care services that provide peace of mind.

Judicious Home Care Services: Non-medical home-care service agency serving clients in Airdrie and surrounding areas.



Airdrie Care Community: New supportive living community that serves 126 residents.

Cedarwood Station: A community that provides independent living to seniors in its 87 suites.

Bethany Airdrie: Bethany Airdrie offers a well-developed connection to the community including local churches, community groups and schools.

Luxstone Senior Living: A senior residential community where residents can age in place and enjoy their retirement years.

Rocky View Foundation: The Foundation has provided affordable housing options to independent seniors living in Rocky View County for more than 63 years.