FOCUS ON SENIORS: The gift of longevity

Opinion Nov 24, 2016 by Kat Poirier Brant News

Many countries around the world are seeing an increase in residents’ average age. This recent trend has brought about changes in family dynamics and the way communities and neighbourhoods work.

For example, when the Baby Boomer generation challenged authority and convention, they redefined an age. Now this same group is once again asking questions and demanding answers, opening the doors to a new dialogue.

As a result, expectations about growing older and the way we think about aging have changed.

By challenging stereotypes and biases, millions of people around the world could be connected and actively engaged in their communities. So much potential remains untapped until challenges that hinder older populations from participating are addressed.

It is a well-known and celebrated fact that researchers and physicians are successfully extending life. This extension, called longevity, is possibly the most important development in history.

However, until policies, expectations and norms about aging are changed, longevity will be considered a burden by many.

No question, aging can be difficult. People may walk slower and experience aches and pains, memory loss and other symptoms of an older body. This reality has developed an attitude about aging that suggests seniors are no longer productive and creative, or have lost their leadership capacity. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The good news is that things are changing. In its short history, the Grand River Council on Aging (GRCOA) has been witness to many changes. Board members, staff members and volunteers are all dedicated to the group’s purpose “to promote the voice of seniors.”

This begins by listening to what people have to say.

Further, the GRCOA envisions a time when Brantford, County of Brant and surrounding areas are recognized as “age-friendly communities.” The age-friendly designation from the World Health Organization (WHO) would be the frosting on the cake and a dream come true for GRCOA chair Lucy Marco.

She has made age-friendliness her passion and life’s work, often expressing her hope to live long enough to see the designation noted on all entry points to our communities.

Thoughtful leaders are beginning to pay attention to people like Marco. Communities are waking up to the realities of this transformation. Many are responding to this demographic shift, bringing fresh ideas, practices and programs to the table.

Creative solutions are being discussed, and civic leaders are listening to what older people have to say.

Brant MPP Dave Levac is a great listener, too. His leadership skill and desire for positive change, combined with Marco’s experience over eight decades of living, make for a powerful and effective partnership.

Together, they have created the age-friendly community summit.

The summit offered eight gatherings or opportunities for people to come together, discussing a different topic each time.

The core planning group was unique itself. It was the first time anyone could remember that staff from the offices of MP Phil McColeman, Levac, Six Nations of the Grand River, the City of Brantford, County of Brant and volunteers were all seated at the same table to plan the gatherings.

The summit series focused on outdoor spaces and buildings, transportation, social participation, community support and health services, housing, civic participation and employment, respect and social inclusion, and communication and information.

A final report is scheduled for release in April 2017. In the meantime, the preliminary reports are available at the GRCOA website at www.grcoa.ca under “Age-Friendly Planning.”

Elsewhere, new approaches to healthy living that encourage a wellness and lifelong care approach are being encouraged.

Age-friendly housing and transportation options are being studied.

Lifelong learning and study is offered by post-secondary institutions, permitting part-time or full-time study that best meets the needs of the mature student.

Older adults have evolving tastes for the clothes they wear, the food they consume and the social networks they join. Exciting new markets can be explored and developed to meet growing needs.

The GRCOA, a non-profit organization, is made up of wonderful volunteers who give generously of their time and lived experience to listen to what seniors and others have to say. This valuable input supports the development of age-friendly practices.

The combined experience of the nine retiree board members and the six agency representatives, the staff, and the members of the communication, sustainability and events committees make the GRCOA work every day.

Most of the retirees are grandparents. Some have part-time jobs. Many enjoy travelling and vacations. They are busier now than when they worked full-time. The agency representatives are all extremely busy with their own employment and many are raising young families as well.

With the miracles of the internet and email communication, these amazing leaders are working together to build an age-friendly community.

Let’s celebrate longevity. Let’s look forward to the encore acts and accomplishments of this dedicated group of volunteers.

FOCUS ON SENIORS: The gift of longevity

As the population ages, seniors look forward to encore acts and celebrations

Opinion Nov 24, 2016 by Kat Poirier Brant News

Many countries around the world are seeing an increase in residents’ average age. This recent trend has brought about changes in family dynamics and the way communities and neighbourhoods work.

For example, when the Baby Boomer generation challenged authority and convention, they redefined an age. Now this same group is once again asking questions and demanding answers, opening the doors to a new dialogue.

As a result, expectations about growing older and the way we think about aging have changed.

By challenging stereotypes and biases, millions of people around the world could be connected and actively engaged in their communities. So much potential remains untapped until challenges that hinder older populations from participating are addressed.

It is a well-known and celebrated fact that researchers and physicians are successfully extending life. This extension, called longevity, is possibly the most important development in history.

However, until policies, expectations and norms about aging are changed, longevity will be considered a burden by many.

No question, aging can be difficult. People may walk slower and experience aches and pains, memory loss and other symptoms of an older body. This reality has developed an attitude about aging that suggests seniors are no longer productive and creative, or have lost their leadership capacity. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The good news is that things are changing. In its short history, the Grand River Council on Aging (GRCOA) has been witness to many changes. Board members, staff members and volunteers are all dedicated to the group’s purpose “to promote the voice of seniors.”

This begins by listening to what people have to say.

Further, the GRCOA envisions a time when Brantford, County of Brant and surrounding areas are recognized as “age-friendly communities.” The age-friendly designation from the World Health Organization (WHO) would be the frosting on the cake and a dream come true for GRCOA chair Lucy Marco.

She has made age-friendliness her passion and life’s work, often expressing her hope to live long enough to see the designation noted on all entry points to our communities.

Thoughtful leaders are beginning to pay attention to people like Marco. Communities are waking up to the realities of this transformation. Many are responding to this demographic shift, bringing fresh ideas, practices and programs to the table.

Creative solutions are being discussed, and civic leaders are listening to what older people have to say.

Brant MPP Dave Levac is a great listener, too. His leadership skill and desire for positive change, combined with Marco’s experience over eight decades of living, make for a powerful and effective partnership.

Together, they have created the age-friendly community summit.

The summit offered eight gatherings or opportunities for people to come together, discussing a different topic each time.

The core planning group was unique itself. It was the first time anyone could remember that staff from the offices of MP Phil McColeman, Levac, Six Nations of the Grand River, the City of Brantford, County of Brant and volunteers were all seated at the same table to plan the gatherings.

The summit series focused on outdoor spaces and buildings, transportation, social participation, community support and health services, housing, civic participation and employment, respect and social inclusion, and communication and information.

A final report is scheduled for release in April 2017. In the meantime, the preliminary reports are available at the GRCOA website at www.grcoa.ca under “Age-Friendly Planning.”

Elsewhere, new approaches to healthy living that encourage a wellness and lifelong care approach are being encouraged.

Age-friendly housing and transportation options are being studied.

Lifelong learning and study is offered by post-secondary institutions, permitting part-time or full-time study that best meets the needs of the mature student.

Older adults have evolving tastes for the clothes they wear, the food they consume and the social networks they join. Exciting new markets can be explored and developed to meet growing needs.

The GRCOA, a non-profit organization, is made up of wonderful volunteers who give generously of their time and lived experience to listen to what seniors and others have to say. This valuable input supports the development of age-friendly practices.

The combined experience of the nine retiree board members and the six agency representatives, the staff, and the members of the communication, sustainability and events committees make the GRCOA work every day.

Most of the retirees are grandparents. Some have part-time jobs. Many enjoy travelling and vacations. They are busier now than when they worked full-time. The agency representatives are all extremely busy with their own employment and many are raising young families as well.

With the miracles of the internet and email communication, these amazing leaders are working together to build an age-friendly community.

Let’s celebrate longevity. Let’s look forward to the encore acts and accomplishments of this dedicated group of volunteers.

FOCUS ON SENIORS: The gift of longevity

As the population ages, seniors look forward to encore acts and celebrations

Opinion Nov 24, 2016 by Kat Poirier Brant News

Many countries around the world are seeing an increase in residents’ average age. This recent trend has brought about changes in family dynamics and the way communities and neighbourhoods work.

For example, when the Baby Boomer generation challenged authority and convention, they redefined an age. Now this same group is once again asking questions and demanding answers, opening the doors to a new dialogue.

As a result, expectations about growing older and the way we think about aging have changed.

By challenging stereotypes and biases, millions of people around the world could be connected and actively engaged in their communities. So much potential remains untapped until challenges that hinder older populations from participating are addressed.

It is a well-known and celebrated fact that researchers and physicians are successfully extending life. This extension, called longevity, is possibly the most important development in history.

However, until policies, expectations and norms about aging are changed, longevity will be considered a burden by many.

No question, aging can be difficult. People may walk slower and experience aches and pains, memory loss and other symptoms of an older body. This reality has developed an attitude about aging that suggests seniors are no longer productive and creative, or have lost their leadership capacity. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The good news is that things are changing. In its short history, the Grand River Council on Aging (GRCOA) has been witness to many changes. Board members, staff members and volunteers are all dedicated to the group’s purpose “to promote the voice of seniors.”

This begins by listening to what people have to say.

Further, the GRCOA envisions a time when Brantford, County of Brant and surrounding areas are recognized as “age-friendly communities.” The age-friendly designation from the World Health Organization (WHO) would be the frosting on the cake and a dream come true for GRCOA chair Lucy Marco.

She has made age-friendliness her passion and life’s work, often expressing her hope to live long enough to see the designation noted on all entry points to our communities.

Thoughtful leaders are beginning to pay attention to people like Marco. Communities are waking up to the realities of this transformation. Many are responding to this demographic shift, bringing fresh ideas, practices and programs to the table.

Creative solutions are being discussed, and civic leaders are listening to what older people have to say.

Brant MPP Dave Levac is a great listener, too. His leadership skill and desire for positive change, combined with Marco’s experience over eight decades of living, make for a powerful and effective partnership.

Together, they have created the age-friendly community summit.

The summit offered eight gatherings or opportunities for people to come together, discussing a different topic each time.

The core planning group was unique itself. It was the first time anyone could remember that staff from the offices of MP Phil McColeman, Levac, Six Nations of the Grand River, the City of Brantford, County of Brant and volunteers were all seated at the same table to plan the gatherings.

The summit series focused on outdoor spaces and buildings, transportation, social participation, community support and health services, housing, civic participation and employment, respect and social inclusion, and communication and information.

A final report is scheduled for release in April 2017. In the meantime, the preliminary reports are available at the GRCOA website at www.grcoa.ca under “Age-Friendly Planning.”

Elsewhere, new approaches to healthy living that encourage a wellness and lifelong care approach are being encouraged.

Age-friendly housing and transportation options are being studied.

Lifelong learning and study is offered by post-secondary institutions, permitting part-time or full-time study that best meets the needs of the mature student.

Older adults have evolving tastes for the clothes they wear, the food they consume and the social networks they join. Exciting new markets can be explored and developed to meet growing needs.

The GRCOA, a non-profit organization, is made up of wonderful volunteers who give generously of their time and lived experience to listen to what seniors and others have to say. This valuable input supports the development of age-friendly practices.

The combined experience of the nine retiree board members and the six agency representatives, the staff, and the members of the communication, sustainability and events committees make the GRCOA work every day.

Most of the retirees are grandparents. Some have part-time jobs. Many enjoy travelling and vacations. They are busier now than when they worked full-time. The agency representatives are all extremely busy with their own employment and many are raising young families as well.

With the miracles of the internet and email communication, these amazing leaders are working together to build an age-friendly community.

Let’s celebrate longevity. Let’s look forward to the encore acts and accomplishments of this dedicated group of volunteers.