Written By: Pat Kelly
You might be curious why ageing and senior’s inclusion is such a hot topic. Why would the government of Canada – and governments around the world – invest millions in programs that are targeted at helping people stay healthy longer?
Because the world is ageing faster than ever before in human history. The number of people over 60 will reach one billion by 2020, and two billion by 2050. The number of older people will continue to rise in almost every country in the world. This change in the huge numbers of older persons, is pushing demands on economies and health systems everywhere. Campaigns encouraging people to engage in an active lifestyle, are resulting in healthier people needing fewer healthcare services, and more older adults continue to work and volunteer, helping ease the burden placed on pension programs.
As so many more people are living longer, the Bronson Hub in Ottawa, is reconsidering how Bronson Centre organizations can better assist the transition from middle to old age and re-evaluating what “old” means.
While the positive aging movement invites us “to come alive, to live our best possible lives,” too often the strategies and choices offered are designed for a 60-year-old with the good fortune of a pension plan, good health, surrounded by friends and family in a community they’re grown to love.
But where are the healthy and affordable choices for the rest of us?
The Bronson Hub uses a collective impact approach – many organizations working in common cause- to help all of us figure out how to adapt and thrive in a future that is uncertain and increasingly impacted by limited resources and other challenges, including low income, living alone, language barriers, loss of friends and family, mental and physical disabilities, etc. …
Too many positive aging advocates have yet to embrace affordability and access as core principles. Little is written or said about how to help older adults in financial jeopardy and with poor job prospects “live their best possible lives.”
Imagine you find yourself living on your own, after years of being surrounded by loved ones and friends. Your house is empty of conversation, except for the television. The friendly clerk at the grocery store becomes the highlight of your week. While you may want to get out more often, you have a hard time navigating sidewalks and elevators on your own.
Each new day feels the same as the last. Lonely.
Such social isolation—a loss of the connectedness essential for well-being—is a daily struggle for many older men and women.
There are far too many Canadians facing this future.
The promise of the Bronson Hub is to leverage the knowledge, the new ideas, campaigns and research available to our team, to give older adults in our Ottawa community – innovative, accessible and affordable options for creating a meaningful life.
Our job at the Bronson Hub is not to create a set of specific projects to enhance health and psychological well-being, but to work with other organizations to provide information and experiences that will help seniors recognize their own potential for positive change, and help overcome the fear that sometimes holds us back.
Fear of immersing ourselves in the world can lead to disconnected, stagnated lives. When fear becomes overwhelming, people remain uncomfortably stuck in their situations, not able to move forward in life.
It is through our immersion in a world of experiences, activities, social occupations that new discoveries about our potential and a positive enjoyment of life takes place.
New projects will be developed over the next few months, offering opportunities to:
· participate in arts and cultural activities,
· dance and movement,
· helping to transform the courtyards and outdoor spaces into friendly, useable gardens and recreation areas.
· Longer term projects will offer community food sharing and a coffee shop for socializing and employing seniors.
· Others will help Bronson Centre organizations create revenue development plans that generate sustainable income which will enable them to offer more and better seniors’ programs and services.
· Additional plans are underway to provide opportunities for sharing individual and organizations stories that reduce isolation and racism and create common history and connection.
These approaches are community-oriented, with a reliance on inter-dependence. And that’s exactly the point. By its very definition, isolation is not something we can fight on our own. There is no shame in accepting that—but there is much to gain.
Bronson Hub projects will leverage the power of ordinary people and everyday activities and experiences that feel fun and creative to add social connection to daily routines.
Bronson Hub activities and experiences will help reduce seniors’ sense of helplessness, depression, emotional weariness, emptiness, loneliness, or physical and cognitive fatigue. The Hub will encourage reflective individuals, who, after gaining a greater knowledge and appreciation of the power of meaningful activities in the process of keeping healthy, will be able to recognize their options and overcome fears, make affordable choices that promote health, and experience meaning and inclusion in their daily routines.
The team at the Bronson Hub includes both young professionals and seniors – we know growing older for some, feels like a scary time filled with change and loneliness. But it doesn’t need to be that way. In fact, it shouldn’t. We’re social creatures and growing old isn’t a solo sport. That’s what positive aging is all about.
How we choose to define, view, and accept the changes is crucial to our ability to “age gracefully.” Positive aging allows us to weather the expected and unexpected changes we experience.
As we begin our journey to make the Bronson Hub the destination place for positive living in Ottawa, let’s start with some wisdom about better living for all of us:
· Celebrate your age
· Defy expectations
· Grow your friendships
We welcome your feedback and ideas anytime – just send us an email at: