Edmonton, Canada – September 28, 2022
Saturday, October 1 will mark the 32nd International Day of Older Persons, first established in 1990 and celebrated annually to highlight the challenges facing an increasingly large and diverse demographic, and to emphasize the potential of seniors as assets who can strengthen and enrich our communities. This year’s theme - the resilience of older persons in a changing world - will help focus attention on the ways the COVID-19 pandemic not only deepened existing issues faced by seniors, but the ways in which they also stepped in to help their friends and families adapt, and how the nature of communities around the world are changing as a result.
In Edmonton, the Day of Older Persons will be celebrated in part with a series of free events being held across the city to help seniors connect with information, resources, and each other. As part of this first annual Seniors Saturday, five communities – Alberta Avenue, Calder, Malmo Plains, Sherbrooke, and Southwest Edmonton – will host sessions on a variety of topics, including legal documents you should have, living well with frailty, and how to declutter and downsize when you’re ready.
“Seniors Saturday is in part the result of things we learned during the pandemic,” says Nicole Smith, Sage’s Director of Research and Community Engagement. “COVID-19 certainly highlighted gaps and issues facing seniors in Edmonton - not the least of which was the impact of isolation - but it also showed us how important our communities are, and how neighbourhood-based connections and supports can be the most important thing in the world.”
This desire to help seniors connect in their communities was coupled with a need to rethink their annual Seniors Forums – full day events where hundreds of seniors would gather to attend sessions on a variety of topics that matter to them.
“We know there is a need for this information – we’d been holding these Forums since 2006 and they are always sold-out events,” says Smith. “But we didn’t think it was wise to host 1000 seniors in a closed venue for a day-long event, given the continued prevalence of COVID-19 and the advent of flu season.”
In 2020, Sage responded to the pandemic restrictions that were in place by moving their annual Forum online, where seniors could join by phone or computer to hear speakers and talk about the things that matter to them. Despite the persistent stereotype that seniors aren’t good with technology, the Virtual Seniors Forum was a success and was held again in 2021 – the third annual Virtual Forum is currently being planned for November of this year.
“It’s ironic, really,” says Smith. “We were forced to take the Forum online because of the pandemic, and ended up reaching a whole group of people who would never have had access to it otherwise – people who are homebound, for example, or who live in rural and remote communities.”
The reality is though, that the virtual option is not enough – some people don’t have access to the technology needed to participate, and others simply don’t want to participate online – and there is, of course, that need for person-to-person connection, and the powerful potential of neighbourhoods to support healthy and active aging.
So, Sage worked with community partners and sponsors like the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues, Age Friendly Edmonton, and Servus Credit Union to provide a creative solution that could offer valuable information, increase social participation for seniors, and support healthy, intergenerational connections in neighbourhoods across Edmonton.
“We’re hoping that Seniors Saturday sparks some ideas and excitement for seniors in these communities,” says Smith. “We want to help people learn from each other, make connections, and really engage together to help make their neighbourhoods as strong and vibrant as possible.”
Ultimately, this first Seniors Saturday is about supporting healthy and active aging for seniors, but it is also about building better, more connected, and age-friendly communities. And for a day dedicated to the resilience of older persons in a changing world, it seems like a fitting start.
Seniors Saturday events:
Legal Documents You Should Have (Will, Personal Directive, Power of Attorney)
Time: 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Alberta Avenue Community League
9210 118 Ave NW Edmonton
Living Well With Frailty: What it is, and how to combat it for a more vibrant life
Time: 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Calder Community League
12721 120 St NW Edmonton
Time: 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Malmo Plains Community League
11525 48 Ave NW Edmonton
Aging in Place: How to downsize, declutter, and organize your prized possessions
Time: 12:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Sherbrooke Community League
13008 122 Ave NW Edmonton
What is Elder Abuse: What you should know and how you can be helpful
Time: 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
South West Edmonton Seniors Association
11304 25 Ave NW Edmonton
Director of Research and Community Engagement
Sage Seniors Association (Sage) is a community-based senior-serving organization that works from and with the strengths and needs of individuals and communities in the greater Edmonton area. Underwriting a holistic spectrum of services and programs is a vision of a community where all seniors are valued and have the opportunity to live according to their beliefs, abilities, and aspirations.www.MySage.ca