Dr. Verena Menec
BY JOEL SCHLESINGER
Winnipeg Health Region
Wave, November / December 2012
Nothing would please Dr.
Verena Menec more than
helping to make Manitoba
the best place on earth to
grow old. And she has spent
much of her career trying to
do just that.
A professor in the
Department of Community
Health Sciences at the
University of Manitoba's
Faculty of Medicine, Menec
is considered a leader in working to make Manitoba "age-friendly,"
a term used to describe an approach to creating a welcoming
environment for the province's aging population.
As Menec explains, an "age-friendly" community is one that
provides a wide range of supports. It's about affordable and safe
housing, accessible transportation and welcoming neighbourhoods
as much as it is about providing comprehensive health-care
services. Without these basics, seniors are hard-pressed to live
healthy, fulfilled lives.
"If you're a senior and you don't have transportation, you can't
get to the health-care services," says Menec, a social psychologist
specializing in gerontology who has been studying age-friendly
programs in communities across the province.
What she's found is that while many communities do some
things very well, such as providing affordable housing, they may
not do a good job of linking that housing with good transportation.
"Many communities have fragmented services and we end up
with people who aren't healthy and don't have as good a quality of
life as possible," says Menec, a Canada Research Chair in Healthy
Aging and Director of the Centre on Aging at the U of M.
Menec says her work aims to bring seniors, their families
and government departments together to create an age-friendly
province that will improve the well-being of aging Manitobans. It's
a multi-pronged approach for preventive health care, making sure
every Manitoban and government department understands the
connection between healthy communities and healthy seniors.
"If seniors are healthier, they have a better quality of life and
ultimately less use of the health-care system."
Back to "Leading the way"
Wave is published six times a year by the Winnipeg Health Region in cooperation with the Winnipeg Free Press. It is available at newsstands, hospitals and clinics throughout Winnipeg, as well as McNally Robinson Books.
Read the November / December 2012 issue of Wave