General News

Fifth annual Caledon Senior’s Day a huge success

June 13, 2019   ·   0 Comments

Written By KIRA WRONSKA DORWARD

June is Senior’s Month. Caledon, with its increasing demographic of retirees and residents over 65, has a vested interest in recognizing and meeting the needs of its seniors. 

Accordingly, Wednesday June 5 was the Town’s fifth annual Senior’s Day, both an acknowledgement of the important role seniors play in our community, as well as an information session for eligible Caledon residents to learn what services are available to them in their golden years.

For Mayor Allan Thompson, Senior’s Day is of particular importance. 

“This is something I read in the mayor’s election in 2014, that senior’s felt their voice wasn’t being heard, and I found that quite concerning because to me, they are the backbone of our community. They’re the majority of our volunteers and have a lot of indigenous knowledge of our community, so I felt quite concerned that they didn’t feel part of it.”

Since his 2014 inauguration speech, in which he mentioned the issue needed to be addressed, the Town has subsequently formed the Senior’s Task Force- a group of seniors from across Caledon who have developed the 55+ Strategic Plan. In addition, a Coordinator of Adult 55+ Services named Katie Sawyers, was hired in 2016 to act as “the conduit to giving seniors a lot more input into decisions being made in the Town,” concludes Thompson. All these initiatives, he says, ensures “that they are heard loud and clear.”

Speaking with Sawyers, who was present at the event along with many of the Town’s notable institutions including the library, OPP, firefighters and Rotary Club, she hoped the event would continue “to be a forum and expo in information and services to spread awareness of what’s available.” 

The drop-in free event, held annually the first Wednesday of every June at the Caledon East Community Complex, held information sessions and presentations on various topics pertinent to those in the 55+ age range. This year’s topics were united around a common theme, “connecting seniors to programs, people, and possibilities.”

“We’re all about connecting this year,” continued Sawyers. “Senior’s Month ties into this as a celebration month for older members of the community with the offer of free events.” 

Sawyers and her team were also eager to spread the word about 211, a Canada-wide connecting service for any social services that provide resources based on location- an invaluable tool for seniors who often struggle with transportation issues.

Sawyers and her team hope people will be interested in attending again next year to bring both awareness and people together with a fun day out that includes a free lunch (this year provided by Gourmandissimo) as well as information and resources.

Also present at the expo were various community groups and organizations who offer services particularly tailored to meet the needs of seniors. In particular, Caledon Community Services was present to discuss their service range, which extends from health and wellness programs to assisted living and transportation. 

Representative Kim Shadlock wanted to remind those community members in the 55+ age range about Thursdays at The Exchange, a combination exercise and lunch program, “which is a great opportunity to come together and network and enjoy spending time with others.” 

Also part of the services extended by CCS is the Caledon Specialist Clinic, which brings specialists in from Headwaters to see people locally. In addition, Shadlock wanted to remind the community about the hospice companion and seniors-helping-seniors program, as well as the transitional care centre in Alton.

Of most importance perhaps is CCS’s transportation program, which Shadlock reminds us is “really valuable in the community where it’s rural.” Of all of CCS’ initiatives, Shadlock says, “we’re providing leadership for services to seniors. We want to offer support to seniors for when they need them. There are a lot of programs that support their needs, but it’s about communicating them to the community.”

In addition to CCS, the OPP and Caledon Fire Department had representatives attending the expo to inform and remind seniors of their safety options. PC Safety and Media Relations Officer Iryna Nebogatova was particularly happy to be of service on Senior’s Day, “having just gone through some personal issues in my life regarding my father and his recent passing in Ukraine, I now have a different perspective on some of the issues that our senior community is facing. Getting closely involved in the senior community was a way of giving the support to the residents of Caledon that I couldn’t give to my father due to the distance between us,” says Nebogatova, with tears in her eyes. 

“In the last few months, I delivered presentations on Elder Abuse and Scams for the seniors’ homes. As helpful as it was for the seniors, it was equally as therapeutic to me. So, to be here today is my way of giving back and showing my support for the elderly community in any way I can. Whether it’s giving a legal advice, having a friendly conversation, or simply sharing our stories.”

The Fire Department was also on hand to remind seniors about fire safety. Public Education Officer Jillian Boyd expressed how, “seniors are sometimes harder to reach because of the rural nature of Caledon, so it’s harder to get our message across to them. [They] are a vulnerable portion of our community, and as we age our mobility issues can be affected. We don’t have the same reaction time, there may be lack of resources to assist with the maintenance of smoke alarms, so it’s important to provide them with home escape planning and how they can plan around their abilities, as well as supporting them in their homes with the right information about smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.”

Boyd points everyone to the Home Safety Fire Guide on the Town of Caledon website at www.caledon.ca/fire, and reminds all residents about the three lines of defense in fire safety: prevention, detection, and escape.

In addition to the OPP and the Fire Department, Caledon Public Libraries have new programs in place for seniors, all about keeping pace with technology. Debra Mann, the Coordinator of Digital Literacy for CPL, was on hand to explain about the new courses the library and her department have developed based on what they learn from seniors at similar events. 

“It’s our role as a community resource to connect residents with new technology,” explains Mann. “It’s also a great place for seniors to socialize within general interest programs, as well as technology programs.”

Mann outlined two new courses being offered by CPL, one entitled Appy Hour and the other Tech Savvy Teens. Both courses are designed to familiarize seniors with smart phones and new technology to keep them connected to the world around them, in every sense. For more information, please visit www.caledon.library.on.ca. “We’re a great resource for seniors,” Mann concluded.

Finally, the Palgrave Rotary had a station in the expo, notably manned by members of the target 55+ age group. Ian Kettle, the President elect come July, was there to “promote Rotary International and what our village club is all about. A lot of people have heard of Rotary, but they don’t understand the programs and projects we do locally in the community…A lot of retirees are always looking for something extra to do, so I think volunteering and helping people is something really cool to do.” Kettle pointed out Rotary is also for all ages and families, and they are always welcoming guests from outside. “It’s not an exclusive club, we like to help people, so it’s a nice vehicle for that.”

Overall, the Town of Caledon’s fifth annual Senior’s Day was a great success. Over the delicious and healthy bagged lunch provided by Gourmandissimo, various attendees and all longtime Caledon residents shared their thoughts about the event.

“Some of the presentations have been very helpful,” commented Libby Senior (whose last name is not a pun). 

“It’s filling us in on stuff that we didn’t know before, details,” says Cheri Cowan.

“Yeah, so when we get ‘old’, we’ll know,” jokes Katja Cater.

“It was very informative, I hadn’t been before so I’m glad I went,” added Donna Sparkman.

“Lunch was excellent,” concluded Sheila Tutty.



         

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