Seniors’ Week

It’s that time of year when seniors across Canada are ‘officially’ paid tribute, as this week is Seniors’ Week (June 3–9).

Seniors make a profound difference in our communities every day. From supporting family members and friends to assisting charities and volunteering, seniors are deeply involved in our communities and their contributions benefit Albertans of all ages. They have much to offer local organizations and individuals – too often seniors hold back from getting too involved when in fact they have much to give.

Each year, Albertans are encouraged to join the festivities by attending one of the many Seniors’ Week events to be held across the province. Whether planning an event or enjoying one with the seniors in your life, folks are encouraged to take the time to acknowledge seniors and all that they contribute to our quality of life.

It’s also an important week to reflect on, as Alberta’s population, like the rest of Canada’s, is aging.

According to the province, as of March 2011, there were about 410,000 seniors in Alberta. But by 2031, when the last of the baby boomers reach 65 years of age, it is projected that there will be more than 923,000 seniors—meaning about one in five Albertans will be a senior.

An aging population will have lasting economic and social implications for our province, leading to opportunities and challenges across a wide range of areas. Responding to these opportunities and challenges will require the involvement of a variety of partners in areas such as finance, transportation, housing, health, infrastructure, municipal affairs, community services, public safety and others.

This month also includes a date designated to bring attention to seniors, but it’s about a deeply troubling issue – World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is recognized annually on June 15.

Organizations from around the world, including governments, community agencies, educational institutions and professionals in the field of aging hold events to raise awareness of elder abuse. Elder abuse can take several forms including financial, emotional, physical, sexual, neglect and medication. Often more than one type of abuse occurs at the same time. The two most frequently identified and reported types of elder abuse in Canada are financial and emotional.

Elder abuse is often committed by someone known to the victim, such as a family member, friend, or caregiver. Approximately 25% of crimes against older adults are committed by family members, usually a spouse or adult child.

Nevertheless, seniors are and will remain a very important part of our community. In other cultures around the world, they are deeply respected and looked to for their wisdom that they’ve garnered from so many life experiences.

We in North America need to adopt that kind of mindset more, and seniors’ week is the perfect time to make that shift.