Age-Friendly Programs in British Columbia

In June White Rock Chapter Chair Bruce Bird represented CARP at the Active Aging Symposium sponsored by the BC Ministry of Health. He kindly offered to report back on the age-friendly programs that are happening throughout British Columbia. Here is a list of the programs he uncovered, if they are happening in your community you might want to try one.

Age-Friendly Projects in British Columbia

• UBC Farm. The farm invites students and seniors to meet regularly at the farm on the UBC campus. The students plant vegetables under the tutoring of seniors, most of whom are retired farmers.

• Cordova Bay Community Place – A place for All Ages. The Cordova Bay, Victoria, 55+ Association took over space in an elementary school to develop a community centre in which seniors and students intermix. A Place for All Ages (5 to 95) is an open, friendly atmosphere which develops mutual respect and raises money for projects in Africa. The project has been so successful that a school slated to close because of declining enrolment is now growing because young families are moving to Cordova Bay to take advantage of the school.

• Langley Lodge. The lodge has a very successful program of enlisting volunteers to perform many tasks at the lodge.

• Cooking with Grandma the Nutritious Old-Fashioned way. In this program seniors show young children how to cook from scratch. Among other items, they bake cookies and enjoy them with the seniors and often with the parents when they arrive to pick up their children.

• Projects that Bridge Families, Friends and Loved ones with Elders in Care. This program takes place at George Derby Centre, an extended care home for war veterans. All the veterans have developed collages of their lives which they proudly display on their doors. These collages introduce a personal element missing from most care homes and are great conversation pieces.

• Age-Friendly communities in Saanich and Abbotsford. Both of these municipalities have embarked on a program to make all facilities, parks and trails friendly for seniors.

• Senior-Friendly Employment Project. The Victoria Silver Threads coach seniors on writing resumes and handling employment interviews. They also identify employers interested in hiring seniors.

• Sexual Health and Intimacy in Care Facilities. Fraser Health has a program to enable seniors in care facilities to have intimate relations without feeing guilty or embarrassed.

• Chronic Disease Self-Management Program. This Program teaches seniors how to accept chronic disease and limit its impact through attitude and lifestyle choices.

• Falls Prevention in BC. Fraser Health encourages seniors through training and fitness exercises to avoid falls which can have dire consequences for them.

• BRRPA (BC Recreation and Parks Administration) Initiatives. BRRPA offers help to make parks and recreation facilities friendly for all ages.

• Staying Healthy and Safe: A Health Promotion Initiative. COSCO (Council of Senior Citizens Organizations of British Columbia) has produced a series of presentations on health, accident prevention and fitness for seniors to be given to community groups. They have received funding from the United Way and Coastal Health Authority. They are also holding a two-day conference in Richmond September 15 and 16 called “Seniors’ Health, Housing and Income in a global Age-Friendly Community. The Ministry of Health is helping to finance the conference. Cosco has 85,000 members and is now affiliated with a national organization making submissions to the Federal government.

• Fit Fellas. This group of senior men meets daily at the West Vancouver Seniors’ Activity Centre to engage in fitness activities. Many of the members also participate in local runs and do charitable work.

• Vital Living for Healthy Aging and North Shore Keep Well. These two programs deal with various aspects of helping seniors to keep fit and healthy.

Keywords: seniors, programs