When Christina Ragneborg, Director of Senior Services at Abbotsford Community Services (ACS), heard about Aging Well, she recognized an opportunity to help seniors prepare for the future. An initiative of BC Healthy Communities Society (BCHC) and the Government of British Columbia, Aging Well provides materials, facilitation and funding for communities to assist seniors, and people who are soon to retire, plan for a healthy, independent future.
Five pilot communities received a grant from BCHC for future planning work in one of the five action areas -- finance, health and wellness, housing, staying connected and transportation. As one of the pilot communities, Abbotsford hosted three workshops with nearly 400 participants.
The first workshop focused on falls prevention and had seniors on their feet learning exercises, as physical activity has been shown to help prevent falls in seniors. A hearing and optician service attended to help seniors recalibrate any prescriptions they may have. The second workshop gave seniors the opportunity to cook food with healthy but possibly unfamiliar ingredients like quinoa. The final workshop provided information on wills, power of attorney and funeral services, as well as PharmacyBC and Lifeline.
Hosted within weeks of each other, the workshops solidified a burgeoning relationship among providers of professional services to seniors. These previously unconnected groups formed a professional network, the “Mission, Abbotsford & Chilliwack Senior Service Providers Association,” which, in turn, hosted a Seniors’ Wellness Fair with Ragneborg’s assistance.
For the seniors who participated, many of whom are isolated, the workshops provided invaluable information as well as a forum for seniors to connect with one another. One woman, who had given up her volunteer service with ACS because of health issues, expressed how the workshops made her realize how lonely she had become. She became inspired to return to volunteering with the support of Ragneborg who committed to finding her a volunteer role that will meet her needs.
ACS is building on the success of the workshops. As a direct result of the healthy eating workshop, it has partnered with the Abbotsford Association for Healthy Aging to deliver six, three-hour, healthy cooking classes. A retired Home Economics teacher volunteered to lead the classes with help from other volunteer co-facilitators. ACS also received approval for the BC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon Program to provide a minimum of $15 worth of coupons per week/per senior, that can be redeemed for healthy and local produce, meat, and dairy.
For more information on the Aging Well program, visit https://bchealthycommunities.ca/agingwell