Age-Friendly Communities Introductory Meeting: From a Senior’s Perspective

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Submitted by Sharron Colter

Many 55+ adults do not want to be labelled older, aging, elders or seniors. One of my friends suggested we are rejuvenated or recycled teenagers. Many of the 55+ population on the Northern Bruce Peninsula feel young –at – heart and want to be responsible respected citizens and residents. The Age-Friendly Communities Introductory Meeting held on May 15th was attended by 17 people.
Thank you to Wally Halliday who introduced the Age-Friendly Community concepts with a power point presentation and a Council on Aging Grey Bruce Brochure. The attendees were encouraged to learn more about the Council on Aging Grey Bruce through the website, www.coagb.ca
The majority of the attendees want to meet again on Tuesday June 11 at 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and consider a “Senior Community Advisory Committee” for the Northern Bruce Peninsula which will encompass a collective collaborative voice for all ages. The location of the meeting to be announced. All residents of the Northern Bruce Peninsula are welcome to attend this meeting.
At a recent Age-Friendly Community International Convention held in Toronto, there were four areas identified as priority needs for the older adults in our society. The four areas are Ageism, Age Discrimination, Social Isolation with Loneliness and Health Care.
The Age-Friendly Community areas were identified by the World Health Organization, WHO.
There are 8 areas to consider for an “Age-Friendly Community.” The Northern Bruce Peninsula could be designated a Rural Age-Friendly Community eventually as some of the following areas are adopted or adapted to smaller rural communities:

Outdoor Spaces and Public Buildings – An attendee was encouraged to look at a specific part of the trail that could be wheelchair, walker or safe walking accessible.

Transportation – What kind of transportation is available to the population who cannot or no longer drive? Is there transportation that is affordable, accessible and available? Are there sidewalks for safe walking?

Housing – Is there affordable, accessible and available housing on the Northern Bruce Peninsula so that residents can age well in their community?

Social Participation – Are there accessible opportunities for cultural, recreational, educational and spiritual activities in a caring and accepting environment? A recent research study from McMaster University indicated that isolation and loneliness is at epidemic proportions in our society.

Respect and Social Inclusion – Are there opportunities to maintain self-esteem and independence that helps to fulfill personal goals? Is there an awareness that ageism should not be tolerated for older adults who have experience and wisdom to share? A “Neighbour to Neighbour Group” would be too simplistic for a well- educated, caring, experienced and independent population of retired people on the Northern Bruce Peninsula.

Civic Participation and Employment – Are there opportunities available to use the knowledge and experience of older adults which may allow them to supplement their fixed incomes or to volunteer?

Communications and Information – Are there strategies in place to deliver information about upcoming events and essential services that are accessible to older adults with varying abilities, income and other resources? Many older adults do not have a computer or a smart phone. Thank you to the staff of the Bruce Peninsula Press for printing the newspaper that is current and reliable for the residents of Northern Bruce Peninsula.

Community and Health Services – Are there opportunities that provide physical and mental well-being events for the residents? Is there an awareness of programs that promote behavioural strategies that sustain a healthy lifestyle and a feeling of well-being?
Thank you to Linda Isbester for sharing information about the Safe Communities Committee that meets monthly to discuss safety concerns and ideas to make the South Bruce and Northern Bruce Peninsulas safe places to live.
As Bruce County gathers their information through the GPS survey to prepare a strategic plan for all of Bruce County, the uniqueness and the higher number of 55+ retired people living on the Northern Bruce Peninsula in comparison to the average number in cities in Ontario, need to be considered in the future strategic plan.
Join the discussion on Tuesday June 11th at 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Contact Sharron Colter at 519-793-3473 or e-mail at dshcolter@cabletv.on