Thunder Bay has the third highest percentage of seniors in Ontario and local not-for-profit organizations are preparing for what they’re calling the grey tsunami.
With the aging population growing, the Ontario Trillium Foundation hosted a symposium Friday at the Oliver Road Recreation Centre to discuss how not-for-profits and charitable organizations will respond to an inevitable increase in demand.
OTF CEO Andrea Cohen said in northern rural communities, there isn’t just an aging population, but many seniors are isolated at home and require transportation support as well as social supports to keep them active and connected to the community.
“Being able to have meaningful volunteer work or other kinds of activities that can keep them at home and healthy and out of long-term care or acute care,” she said.
Cohen said what she’d been hearing Friday from a number of diverse Thunder Bay organizations is that they are providing innovative and creative solutions to some of the issues seniors face.
“Part of the activity of the day was to bring those great minds together to think about what else should we be doing?” she said, adding they would be examining demographic trends and looking at ways to improve partnerships and integrating services to ensure Thunder Bay continues to be age-friendly.
Regional Food Distribution Association executive director Volker Kromm participated in the symposium and said the focus on active aging is important to the RFDA because they’re a volunteer-run organization.
“The people we really depend upon for leadership or for expertise are those retired individuals or people that have time,” he said.
The RFDA has many volunteers with expertise in areas like retail and industry that help with a gamut of tasks like operating forklifts, managing the warehouse and education and training in the kitchen.
“It’s the older adults that keep us in business and keep providing services,” Kromm said, adding he’s also heard from city food banks that the number of seniors using the banks is also increasing.
By participating in Friday’s symposium, Kromm said it brings awareness to these issues and provides an opportunity to network and gain direction from trends highlighted by the OTF.
“I think we can be more prepared, access some of the programs and funding they have and deliver more to our community,” he said.
“I think this is a wake-up call for us and we’ll start thinking about how we can change our programs,” Kromm added.
Click here to report a typo or error
You must log in to add comments.
Create a new account
Remember me next time.