Seniors symposium puts focus on healthy aging

Originally published in the Penticton Western News on October 14th, 2010. To go to the Penticton Western News website please click here

For almost two decades, the Seniors’ Wellness Society has sponsored the annual seniors symposium, with no plans of stopping anytime soon.

Sandra Dean, president of the Wellness Society, said it’s an amazing feat for a society to keep such a big event going.

“We’ve been lucky, we’ve had a lot of support through the years,” she said, noting that the symposium is the largest event of its kind in North America. “We have just decided that it needs to keep going because it is one way that we do honour our senior citizens and let the community know what is there for them, why it is important and bring some attention to their needs.”

This year, the theme is “Enhancing the Quality of Life,” continuing the group’s focus on healthy aging and the factors contributing to it.

The conference part of the symposium will feature a talk with Susan Eng, manager of the advocacy program for the Canadian Association of Retired Persons in Toronto, as well as Geoff White, a lawyer, seniors advocate and board member with the Kelowna chapter of CARP.

“They’re centred in Toronto, but we have a local chapter here in Kelowna and they are sponsoring her to speak to us through video conferencing,” said Dean.

“The big thing is that we’ve got a very full slate of exhibitors. It’s a popular year for people getting out there to show what’s available for seniors,” she continued. “We’ve got a full slate of entertainment during the day too, which is kind of fun.”

Sponsors Sun Fun Tours and Expedia Cruise Ship Tours have kicked in some prizes, including trip vouchers that will be part of a raffle draw.

But as much as there is to do, see and listen to at the symposium, Dean said the chance to meet up with old friends and other seniors at the event is also a big factor in its success.

“People come to visit or to meet people they haven’t seen for a long time,” she said. “It’s very much a social event and an opportunity to find out what’s going on.”

Last year’s H1N1 influenza vaccination clinic at the symposium was so well received by the seniors community that Interior Health has decided to bring their regular flu clinic to the event again this year.

The Senior’s Wellness Society and the South Okanagan Volunteer Centre will have a booth right up front, Dean said. The volunteer centre, another initiative spearheaded by the Wellness Society, is promoting ways for seniors and new retirees to get involved in the community.

“What we’re doing is profiling organizations that offer the ultimate volunteer experience so that if a senior or a retired person is coming to the community and wants to volunteer, they’ll see the organizations that are offering up some pretty good experiences,” said Dean.

© Penticton Western News

Keywords: seniors, healthcare