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​Seniors Matter(s): Council on Aging!

May 3, 2023

I have researched many senior support groups over the past few years, and I have recently discovered another one right in our backyard, and many similar local support groups are all over Canada.

The Council on Aging or the collective voice of seniors, started when a summit was held at the Bayshore Community Centre in Owen Sound in 2014. The purpose was to gauge the interest of Grey-Bruce seniors in forming their own Council on Aging.

Multitudes of seniors descended on Owen Sound, and many signed up to show their support for the first ever rural Council on Aging. Heard over and over was, “It's about time!”

An application for funding was submitted to the senior secretariat (Ontario ministry of seniors affairs) through the Active Lifestyle Senior Centre in Owen Sound. Funding was received, Nov. 14, a steering committee was formed, Dec. 14, and the first Grey-Bruce Council on Aging met March 30, 2015.

The group’s goals are:
  1. To provide older adults in Grey-Bruce with a platform to make their collective voice heard at the municipal, county and provincial levels.
  2. To encourage municipalities to embed the age-friendly community concept in their strategic plans to resolve issues and concerns of their older adult residents.

The strategy is to develop community advisory committees in each of the 17 municipalities in Bruce and Grey counties. These committees, made up of municipal residents, interface with the older adult residents in the community and bring forward their concerns and issues, along with any proposed solutions they may have, to the municipal council.

The advisory committees are the eyes, ears, and conscience of the municipality in their community.

Each selects one of its members to sit on the Council on Aging, giving each municipality equal representation.

This whole concept is designed to give older adult residents in Grey-Bruce a collective voice.

What is an age friendly community?
  1. Outdoor spaces in public buildings inspire confidence and personal safety and accessibility.
  2. Transportation is available, affordable, convenient and safe to use, this is all inclusive from public transit to sidewalks.
  3. Older adults do not have to leave their community to find housing that is affordable, accessible and close to health, commercial and social services.
  4. Social participation in cultural, recreational education and spiritual activities is accessible in a caring environment.
  5. Respect and social inclusion are evident to maintain self-esteem, independence and provide opportunities to fulfill personal goals.
  6. Civic participation and employment opportunities are available to use the knowledge and experience of older adults to allow them to supplement their fixed incomes.
  7. Seven communications and information on events and essential services are reliable, delivered in a format that is accessible and appropriate for older adults with varying abilities and resources.

Community and health services are provided to support the physical and mental well-being of residents, along with awareness programs to promote behaviours that sustain health.

What does a Council on Aging do for seniors?
  • Provides a PLATFORM for older adults to make their Collective Voice heard
    Encourages municipalities to embed the “Age-Friendly Community” concepts in their Strategic Planning
  • Through support organizations, provide educational opportunities to ensure our older adults know what services and programs are available to them Right Now

OAGB Strategy
  • Facilitate the set-up of Community (Senior) Advisory Committees in all 17 municipalities in Grey-Bruce
  • Each committee provides one delegate to sit on the Council on Aging
  • Equal and effective representation for Older Adults across Grey-Bruce

Community/Senior Advisory Committees:
  • Heart and Soul of Organization
  • Interface directly with Grey-Bruce Older Adults
  • Provide input to the Age-Friendly Community Plans
  • One delegate each to Council on Aging makes it sustainable
  • Avenue for two-way communication
  • Let Seniors know what help is available and how to access that assistance

Using a wheel analogy:
  • The Hub is the Council on Aging
  • The RIM represents all OLDER ADULTS in GREY BRUCE
  • Each Spoke is a community advisory committee
  • Each committee provides one rep to sit on Council on Aging

Age-Friendly Communities:
  • Promote eight key elements: (WHO)
  • Outdoor spaces and public buildings (accessibility)
  • Transportation
  • Housing
  • Social participation
  • Respect and social inclusion
  • Civic participation and employment
  • Communication and information
  • Community support and health services

Outdoor Spaces/Public Buildings:
  • Key Themes – Access and Safety
  • Streetscapes, Parks, Grocery Stores, Pharmacies
  • Removal of Barriers that limit access to vital Health and Social Services
  • Secure Neighbourhoods encourage Outdoor Activities, Community Engagement, Opportunities for Physical Fitness and Social Participation.
  • Safety Detractors - Crime, Traffic, Noise, Poor Lighting

  • Themes: Accessible and Affordable
  • Older Adult Mobility is affected by: – Physical/Mental Health Status
  • – Access to Personal Transportation – Proximity to Important Amenities
  • – Perception of Safety
  • – Awareness of Alternative Transportation
  • – Design of: Signage, Traffic Lights, Sidewalks

  • Key Aspects: Structure, Design, Location and Choice
  • Appropriate Housing Models offer:
  • – Diversity of Prices, Styles and Locations – Proximity to Services
  • – Support different Levels of Need
  • – Renovation Programs to support “Staying at Home”

Social Participation
  • Leisure, Social, Cultural and Spiritual Activities Contribute to:
  • – Positive Mental Health
  • – Community Awareness
  • – Build Personal Relationships – Prevent Isolation

Respect and Social Inclusion
  • Experience Conflicting Types of Behaviour toward them:
  • – Not always respected, recognized, included – Community Attitudes
  • – Inter-generational Understanding
  • – Lived Experience not Valued
  • – “You Lived in Another World”!

Civic Participation and Employment
  • Older adults do not stop contributing to their communities upon retirement – Volunteering
  • – Older adults possess a wealth of Knowledge, Talent, and Lived Experience:
  • Contributing to local councils
  • Contributing to Community Development
  • Creating interesting Volunteer Opportunities
  • – Many crave lifelong learning
  • In some circumstances they are forced to take paid work to make ends meet.
  • – Economic Security Keeps Older Adults in their Community

Communication and Information
  • It’s vital to get timely, practical information to manage life and personal needs.
  • – Community events and Important services:
  • – Delivered in Formats that are:
  • Readily available
  • Appropriate Formats
  • Not everyone has a computer?!

Community Support and Health Services
  • General Physical Well-Being:
  • – Nutritional Status
  • – Presence or absence of: • Chronic Conditions
  • Acute Conditions
  • Cognitive Functioning
  • – Emotional Health:
  • Confidence, Self-Worth, Depression
  • Factors of Healthy Behaviours and Life Choices

The Council on Aging motto is: Together We Can Make It Happen!

For more information, contact the Active Lifestyle Seniors Centre at 519-376-8304.

It’s nice to know of another support available locally.

‘Till next time!

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