Seniors came to learn about healthy living, safety and more during the recent Aging in Place conference at Fleetwood Community Centre.
Sessions at the event, held in June, included fraud protection and old-age security sessions, fitness and bird-watching classes and a forum on how to access and use e-books.
Coun. Barbara Steele, who does a lot of advocating for seniors and is chair of the city's seniors advisory and accessibility committee, said these types of events are important to ensure seniors are well educated and avoid isolation.
Steele said she has seen the mistreatment that seniors experience first-hand, and said she's committed to ensuring the rights of seniors are recognized - and that those in need of assistance receive it. She has facilitated several forums focused on educating seniors and their families on how to avoid elder abuse, and is an advocate for quality care and housing of seniors throughout Surrey.
"This is all about education, and all about socializing. We want seniors to know what's available for them in the city."
But the Aging in Place event went beyond what the city offers, and included information on how to avoid scams, the importance of power of attorney, how to speak up about elder abuse and much more.
Through her work with seniors, Steele became aware of a situation where an elderly couple was sent away for a vacation. While they were gone, their children, who had power of attorney, sold their home.
"And that's not an unusual story. The parents were devastated," she said.
The goal of the conference, and the many other forums the city plays host to, is to educate people about the realities that exist.
The city also encourages people to come forward with their stories, in the hopes the city can help.
"These types of things are happening all over the place. This is what we do - we educate. I have a passion for it," Steele said.
But the events are also about having fun. At the Aging in Place conference, there were Zumba classes and a gardening for arthritis sufferers workshop. And attendees were informed about the city's seniors programming at rec centres and the like.
"The social aspect is extremely important. Sometimes seniors don't have family around, and don't get out of the house much. To have them at these events, and to educate them about all the classes we offer, it can make a big difference."
Looking to the future, Steele said there is work being done to make Surrey more senior-friendly.
She said the city hopes to begin youth and senior integration into its community programming, instead of separating the two groups.
Another concept Steele would like the city to look at is the "Golden Girls" living model, which is often done in the U.S., and involves several seniors living in a house together.
"That's one way of avoiding isolation," she said. "So we're working on some ideas like that."
The city is also planning on making the area's driving landscape more friendly to seniors, and is looking into larger street signs to help with visibility.
Watch for details about upcoming forums at surrey.ca.
© Copyright 2013