FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Virtual Seniors Forum: An opportunity for conversation, connection, and celebration
Edmonton, Canada – September 24, 2021
There is a stereotype that seniors and technology don’t mix. As all ageist tropes - this couldn’t be further from the truth. Last year, over 250 people attended the first Virtual Seniors Forum, and we are on track to double that this year. The Forum, which will take place online and by phone September 27-29 and October 1, offers information, resources, and facilitated discussions on a wide variety of topics related to aging well in community.
This is the second year of virtual event delivery for the Forum, which has had its advantages. “It's our responsibility in this time of increased health risk for all people - especially to individuals who are at increased risk of infection from COVID-19 - to do our best to make an event accessible and valuable and yet still as safe as possible” says Anne Summach, a Nurse Practitioner and Teaching Professor with the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Alberta. “Not only does it provide safety, it also provides increased access to this information for seniors who might not otherwise have been able to access the event.”
The pandemic showed us that there is a desire for this kind of online engagement among seniors, and even when we go back to hosting it in person, the Forum will keep some virtual aspect as well, “I see this type of hybrid approach beneficial in my work as a university professor,” says Anne. “Individuals can participate in a way that meets their learning needs.”
Information sessions at the Forum are led by engaging, knowledgeable presenters who will be addressing issues and topics that are important to seniors across the province. Topics include supportive and facility living options, learning about the resources available for mature drivers, standing up against ageism, understanding how social factors are impacting culturally diverse seniors, and more - including Anne’s session on assessing your personal risk during COVID-19. “My session is going to focus on four main themes around how to be safe during COVID-19: information about vaccinations, patterns of disease in Alberta, assessing your own personal risk, and what you can do to reduce your risk.”
Anne will also touch on how COVID-19 has impacted mental health. “I don't think we can minimize the effect that covid and isolation from covid has had on people's mental health. We know how important connection with others is for all people but for older adults particularly.”
The event not only provides information, but an opportunity to celebrate the resiliency of older adults. The Forum concludes on October 1, which is International Day of Older Persons, and will include an introduction to Zumba, live music, story sharing, and performances by the GeriActors, an intergenerational theatre troupe.
The Virtual Seniors Forum is presented by Age Friendly Edmonton, and organized by Sage Seniors Association and key stakeholders from the seniors’ sector. For more information about the Virtual Seniors Forum, or to register to attend the event, please visit www.seniorsforum.ca.
Nicole Smith, Director of Research and Community Engagement
Sage Seniors Association