by Zain Bakhitar

Oncore Seniors Society, in partnership with the City of Kamloops and the Centre for Seniors Information, celebrated the third annual Seniors Symposium at the Sandman Signature Hotel; this year’s theme was “Healthy Aging in the Community: Aging in a New Age.”

Master of ceremonies Mel Rothenburger, inaugurated the event by welcoming guests.

Following a brief blessing by long-time band councillor Chief Fred Seymour, B.C. Health Minister Terry Lake announced $5 million additional funding for the Better at Home program, which helps enable seniors to continue living in their own homes longer — rather than residential care.

Concluding his speech, Lake paid homage to the United Way of the Lower Mainland CEO Michael McKnight, who was also present.

Keynote speaker Dr. Neena Chappell, professor of sociology at the University of Victoria brought her expertise to the event, opening the “classroom” portion of the event.

“There are clear downsides of aging and physical health declines; the upsides of aging, though, is that we are as happy or happier than when we were younger, so there is an inner experience, if you like, which is actually very positive when we are elderly,” said Chappell.

Highlighting the aging process, Chappell also mentioned, “Aging is a different experience for each individual and everyone has a unique perspective and set of priorities that takes precedence in their lives.”

The Symposium was an opportunity for seniors and caregivers in the Kamloops community to gather and take part in various workshops on several different topics throughout the day, from the safety of seniors to making retirement investments for the future last longer. There was also a session on smartphone safety.

Aside from informative workshops, guests were encouraged to join Tania McCartney in a YMCA Chair-Based Yoga session, help themselves to coffee and tea and peruse the trade show exhibitions.

The trade show included local businesses and non-profit agencies, along with government information booths.

“A session I participated in this morning was called Conversations with the Council on Aging presented by a group called the Interior B.C. Council on Aging Society and they are a seniors’ advocacy group. They are seniors who gather other seniors together and find out what the issues are for seniors and then they lobby through various ways to bring change forward,” said Oncore’s General Manager of Programs and Services Keith Bonnah.

According to the Interior B.C. Council on Aging Society, communities need to bring awareness to and offer possible solutions for issues affecting an aging population through research and by drawing on the knowledge and experience within relevant sections of the community.

“It is very useful and enlightening to learn about other people’s situations and what services are available and what issues they are dealing with as they age. We tend to focus on the negatives of aging but there are a lot of good things, such as: people are able to establish deeper relationships and their values change as they age,” said Rothenburger.

Rothenburger also emphasized the importance of generations relating to each other. “The more generations relate to each other the better.”

The month of June is Seniors’ month and there is a variety of activities available for seniors all around town.