Sask Seniors Association April newsletter

Len Fallows
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Seniors Week in Saskatchewan is held every year - in 2008 it was held from September 28th to October 5th. If you were unaware of this important event then take heart. According to a survey completed by the Council on Ageing in 2005-2006 you were not alone.

Seniors Week in Saskatchewan is held every year - in 2008 it was held from September 28th to October 5th. If you were unaware of this important event then take heart. According to a survey completed by the Council on Ageing in 2005-2006 you were not alone.

Seniors Week was the brainchild of a Saskatchewan Minister responsible for Seniors and was first initiated in 2002. The idea being that during this week seniors were to be encouraged to:

- Conduct activities that would recognize older persons.

- Encourage positive public attitudes towards older persons.

- Highlight the contributions made by older persons to society.

- Raise awareness and issues of importance to older persons.

- Promote an understanding of the ageing process.

- Encourage a healthy lifestyle for persons of all ages and of course while doing all of this, have fun.

So, basically, the premise of seniors week is that seniors work hard to promote older persons which they do as a matter of course. So who really is this seniors week aimed at? To a teen, anyone in their twenties is an older person and then the scale of comparison goes up from there. Even to a 60 year old an older person is someone between 70 and 100.

Who was aware of this seniors week? To help with that question the Council on Ageing received a large sum of money from Health Canada to conduct a survey in 2003 and probably because they could not believe what the information revealed they did it again in 2005. A total of 40 seniors groups were selected at random throughout Saskatchewan to determine if they were aware of seniors week. A committee was set up consisting of representatives from Council on Ageing, Saskatchewan Seniors Mechanism (SSM), Saskatchewan Health and the Provincial Advisory committee of older persons. No one from SSAI was invited. The committee was to determine from the results of the survey the effectiveness of seniors week in raising awareness about the needs, programs and activities of seniors in Saskatchewan and to assess any changes in awareness since the last survey in 2002. Note that its now only seniors they refer to and not older persons.

From a total of 173 surveys mailed out they finally received 52 responses. Of those 52 responses four declined to be interviewed, seven could not be reached to verify information, and one was a retail establishment that should not have been on the mailing list in the first place. The original mailing addresses were taken from a list of social clubs, home/respite care facilities, care centers and physical activity categories which were in the directory of SSM. One group stated they did not qualify as their ages were only between 50 and 60 so the question arises again as to what age does an older person graduate to a senior.

Of all the responses only 37 per cent of them had organized activities and that included five care homes who have professional staffing.

One comment in the responses indicated that seniors were only interested in fun things and not health. Is having fun not healthy???

The conclusion reached by the committee was that there was a recurring theme in all the responses: age of members, declining numbers and lack of financial support being the main problems. The final conclusion reached by the committee was that there was little or no change in awareness of seniors week from 2002 to 2005 amongst the seniors in Saskatchewan.

Is it stating the obvious that seniors are always aware of what the problems of being a senior encompasses, especially in rural areas.

Is it also stating the obvious that maybe it should be the rest of the population of Saskatchewan that the objects and desires of seniors week should be directed to?

Seniors helping seniors goes on 52 weeks of the year so maybe its only reasonable to want that during one of those weeks we should be the recipients of a more positive attitude towards senior's concerns from businesses, local governments, the Provincial Government and from the population at large.

If that was to happen then seniors at last may get an indication that they are a valued and valuable segment of society. That could be cause for celebration!

Which of course brings me to the budget. The Provincial Government has declined once again the opportunity to help with the funding of senior centers throughout the province, and in so doing has placed at risk the future of many of those centers. Centers where seniors can attain and maintain a degree of social and physical health that can help to keep them out of nursing homes and hospitals. Is the cost of health care not already high enough without adding to it?

What price do you put on seniors week now? Is it real or, as most seniors believe, is it just nothing but words.

In the meantime stay active and stay healthy.

Len Fallows is the President of the Saskatchewan Seniors Association Inc.

Organizations: Council on Ageing, Sask Seniors Association, Saskatchewan Seniors Mechanism Saskatchewan Seniors Association Health Canada Provincial Advisory committee

Geographic location: Saskatchewan

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