In February of this year, Bill 70 was passed to proclaim that the month of June be recognized as Seniors Month in Ontario.
“By proclaiming the month of June as Seniors Month, the Province of Ontario formally recognizes and celebrates the work seniors have done and are doing in our communities. Seniors Month will place a greater significance on the health and well-being of our seniors and will serve as a catalyst to keep our older adults socially connected and engaged in their respective communities. It will also encourage inclusion and promote age-friendly communities.”–Seniors Month Act, 2023
This year’s theme is “Working for Seniors” and this month is an opportunity to recognize the seniors we know (and may already work with in some capacity), who are continuing to make a difference in our communities. We can also pause to recognize all the seniors in our lives and in our communities who worked hard over a period of many years to build the world we live in today. As of 2020, there were over 2.5 million seniors over the age of 65 in Ontario.
When I was a child (thousands of moons ago) I used to think that gray hair or retirement meant the individual was certifiably old. They would be ready for a rocking chair on the porch, a pair of knitting needles and life would kind of stop. Even then, that was a skewed perception but especially now, our seniors are vibrant and engaged in activities to not only stay fit but many are delaying retirement or getting a second wind with new careers. Many, many seniors are volunteering regularly and finding ways to stay connected and consistently contribute in their communities.
I think about my 81 year old neighbor who retired from being a teacher 25 years ago. Until recently, she was volunteering three days a week with two different organizations and on the board of another. She still volunteers a couple mornings every week now. There is also the gentleman at my mom’s long term care home who designs, plants and takes care of the gardens every year. His wife has passed away but he still goes almost every day to make the gardens beautiful for the other residents and their families.
You may be a senior who contributes to your community in some way or you know someone who does. Thank you all for taking the time to make a difference in small and larger ways.
If you are not a senior, how can YOU work for and celebrate seniors this month (and on an ongoing basis)? Here are some ideas to consider:
- Look for opportunities to volunteer at a local seniors’ center or if possible, a long term care home. A friend of mine goes once a week to a local seniors home to play Bingo with the residents. If you play an instrument, they may also be interested in having you entertain for an hour or so.
- Offer to help a senior neighbour with a chore like mowing the lawn or watering the garden.
- Take the time to stop and have a quick conversation…connect.
- Our older adults are our wisdom keepers. They have years of lived experience and life lessons to share- is there someone you could invite for a walk or a coffee and have a longer, more meaningful conversation?
- Regularly check in with senior neighbours just to see if they are OK or need anything.
- Another great way to celebrate seniors this month would be to join us for a month of fun activities with our Take On Life Challenge. As fundraisers, we will be doing activities all month that seniors often do in Long-Term Care–puzzles, board games, pet therapy and more. Your participation will help our volunteers work to raise public awareness through our Wayfinding program and continue our advocacy for significant change to long-term care.
- You can also learn more about how Ontario is recognizing the contributions of Seniors this month.
How will YOU celebrate Seniors Month in 2023?
–Tymbi Gonsalves, Concerned Friends Volunteer