The pandemic has been particularly challenging for many seniors, so Nanaimo will have some making up to do in its efforts to be an age-friendly community moving forward.
Nanaimo city council adopted an age-friendly plan in 2019 and since then, volunteers have been working on ways to implement some of the plan’s goals.
Some of the initial work has included development of a Nanaimo Age Friendly Community website that serves as a directory for community programs, services and businesses, along with social media outreach and consultation with stakeholders.
“A lot of people think they know what seniors want, rather than asking them…” said Eileen Page, a director with the Nanaimo Age Friendly Community Society. “We think it’s really a good time to connect with seniors and say, ‘hey, these things have happened, are these valuable, and what else is there that you want to see happen?’”
She said the COVID-19 pandemic has “detoured” avenues for social inclusion for seniors, though she notes that it has also created new opportunities for online gatherings such as Zoom meetings and workshops.
“There’s ways to have groups and participative things, so that would be helpful,” Page said. “[Though] we’re very aware there’s lots of seniors still who do not have that sort of technology.”
Nanaimo Age Friendly Community has a few specific questions for seniors as the next phase of its engagement. It wishes to ask seniors if they have access to employment and volunteer opportunities, if they are accepted in roles of civic participation, and if they have opportunities for social inclusion. The society is also curious how seniors rate the level of respect they generally receive. As well, Nanaimo Age Friendly Community wants to know if seniors are accessing the Facebook page and the website and other seniors directories.
The volunteers say they have a lot of objectives they wish to address, and keeping seniors informed and connected is a start.
“We try to make sure that things are glued together so that seniors can find who offers what at any particular time,” Page said.
Residents 55 and older or their family members or caregivers are asked to contact Nanaimo Age Friendly Society by e-mailing email@example.com or calling 250-924-5520.