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Age-Friendly movement takes root in Manitoba

Dunnottar illustrates how communities can remove barriers for seniors

Healthy Living Minister Jim Rondeau presents Jan Legeros and Dunnottar Mayor Richard Gamble with an Age-Friendly Manitoba award.
Healthy Living Minister Jim Rondeau presents Jan Legeros and Dunnottar Mayor Richard Gamble with an Age-Friendly Manitoba award.
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Long Term & Continuing Care Association of Manitoba

Winnipeg Health Region
Wave, March / April 2013

What does it take to make a community age-friendly?

The residents of Dunnottar, a village of 1,800 people in Manitoba's Interlake, appear to have the answer.

The community signed on to the Age-Friendly Manitoba program and started working on its milestones - specific goals designed to make the community friendlier for seniors - in 2011. One year later, the community met all of its objectives, according to Jan Legeros, Chair of the Dunnottar Age- Friendly Committee. In fact, the community is one of six to receive an award recognizing this achievement from the Province of Manitoba.

Dunottar's experience is important because it illustrates what can be done to make communities more welcoming for seniors, says Legeros, who is also the Executive Director of the Long Term and Continuing Care Association of Manitoba (LTCAM).

"As an organization that advocates for its members and the seniors they serve, we see the Age-Friendly Manitoba program as an important tool for helping create friendlier communities for people of all ages," she says.

As Legeros explains, age-friendly communities value and support the contribution of older people, celebrate diversity, refute ageism, reduce inequities, and provide opportunities for healthy choices that enhance independence and quality of life. The key features are a focus on transportation, outdoor spaces and buildings, housing, social and civic participation, community support, and health services.

LTCAM is doing its part to support the cause. The Age-Friendly Manitoba program will be one of several topics highlighted at LTCAM's 10th Annual Provincial Conference and Exhibition, "Reaching New Heights" on May 14 at Winnipeg's Victoria Inn. Healthy Living, Seniors and Consumer Affairs Minister Jim Rondeau will deliver a keynote address on the subject.

"The first step in creating an age-friendly community is to establish a committee that can identify the priorities." says Legeros.

The Dunnottar Age-Friendly Committee determined that its highest priorities were communication and engagement, not just within the village, but also with the surrounding communities. Dunnottar has very unique and challenging characteristics in terms of population. Although there are 1,800 registered voters, only about 800 people live in the Village year-round. In summer, the population expands to over 3,000. Because of this, the committee knew that its strength would lie in its ability to establish a robust inventory of resources, through building relationships with surrounding communities on behalf of the village constituents.

This spring, the committee will be one of a number of groups hosting a free educational program on safety and security - another important area of interest for seniors. The other groups include LTCAM, the Gimli Seniors Resource Centre, the Gimli New Horizons Centre, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Manitoba Association of Seniors Centres.

Among other things, the program will cover issues such as frauds and scams, substance abuse and gambling, planning for the future, elder abuse, mature safe driving, falls prevention, Internet safety and scooter safety. The presenters are experts from across the province. The sessions are free and will take place every Thursday from May 2 to June 13 in the afternoons at the Gimli New Horizons Centre.

To register for the programs, call 204-642-7297 or send an email to gsrc@mts.net.

In addition, the committee is currently working on traffic safety issues and exploring how to make the piers at public beaches more accessible.

"Dunnottar has piers that get you up and over the rocks on the shore, to the water," says Legeros. "Everyone uses those piers. They're social places where you meet all your friends. But they're impossible to use if you're using a walker or a scooter to get around," she explains. "We're looking at a solution for this."

Wave: March / April 2013

About Wave

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.

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