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Recognizing Manitoba’s seniors and elders

Need for seniors’ services is growing

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October generally means frosty nights, falling leaves and carving jack-o’-lanterns for Halloween.

It’s also a time for Manitobans to honour seniors and elders across the province. On Oct. 1, Healthy Living, Seniors and Consumer Affairs Minister Jim Rondeau proclaimed it Seniors’ and Elders’ Month in Manitoba to recognize the extensive contributions seniors make to the province.

"I am proud to proclaim October as Seniors’ and Elders’ Month in Manitoba to reaffirm our commitment to the needs and interests of older Manitobans and our ongoing support of age-friendly communities throughout the province," Rondeau said.

Launched in 2008, the Age-Friendly Manitoba Initiative encourages policies, services and structures that support and enable older adults to live securely, enjoy good health and continue to participate fully in society. Eighty per cent of Manitoba’s population lives in communities that are becoming age-friendly, Rondeau said. The RMs of Macdonald and St. Francois Xavier have joined the initiative.

Sanford and Headingley have become home to numerous former Winnipeggers who’ve decided to retire to rural communities. In addition, many long-time area residents have decided to remain in the region even after they retire.

These factors have increased demand for seniors’ programming and services. The RMs of Macdonald and Headingley each have a resource co-ordinator responsible for overseeing services for a growing number of seniors within their communities.

Support Services for Seniors are community-based programs promoting health and well-being while assisting seniors to remain living independently as long as possible.

Leanne Wilson, the resource co-ordinator for Macdonald, said while there are many independent seniors participating in the recreation programs offered through the Macdonald-Headingley Recreation District, she’s hoping to expand programming to those who require extra assistance to participate in activities.

She’s currently seeking a co-ordinator for the new Rendez Vous Club program, designed to provide relief for caregivers and social interaction for people who may be somewhat isolated socially because of physical or cognitive impairments.

"We don’t know exactly how many people are in this situation, but there are a number of them," she said.

While there is no handi-transit service available in the area, Wilson said, volunteers are willing to drive people who want to participate.

Another support offered through the Macdonald Services to Seniors office is the Victoria Lifeline program that provides help for seniors in emergency situations such as a fall by using an electronic device to summon help. Foot care clinics are run every eight weeks in Sanford and Starbuck.

Karen Lough, program co-ordinator for the Macdonald-Headingley Recreation District, said local seniors continue to be interested in computer technology.

"That’s really what they want to try and learn," she said, adding older individuals want to keep up with what their children and grandchildren are doing online.

The number of registrants in seniors’ courses keeps climbing, Lough said, with exercise classes being another popular area.

"We’ve having really good participation."

Headingley Seniors Services co-ordinator Jean Ammeter agrees that more and more seniors are looking for ways to spend their leisure time.

"The younger seniors are especially active," she said.

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