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Building an age-friendly community in Chilliwack According to city stats, by 2036, 22 per cent of the population will be 65+, compared to 17 per cent today.
Jennifer Feinberg The Progress Chilliwack’s population is aging. It’s been a trend for more than 20 years, and it’s expected to continue, said Mayor Sharon Gaetz. So how do you make a community more age-friendly?
Driving Miss Daisy is a senior’s service that provides accompaniment & assistance with safe, reliable & properly in insured transportation.
One way is adopting new “adaptable housing standards,” which the City of Chilliwack did in 2012. They found it was cheaper in the long run to make the changes now for seniors to age in place down the road. “The ability to age in place is important for aging seniors’ overall health and well-being,” Gaetz says.
Quality of life surveys conducted in Chilliwack a few years ago told city officials it was of prime importance for the community’s aging citizens to be able to stay independently in their homes for as long as possible.
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So a range of changes were implemented. “Prior to introducing the bylaw requirement (50% of all new units must be built to the adaptable housing standards), we found that developers were not ‘voluntarily’ building to these standards.” Continued: AGE/ p15
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Above and beyond Alina Konevski The Progress Not even open heart surgery can keep a self-proclaimed hiking addict off the trails. Wells Jones has been roaming the mountains of B.C., Alberta, and just about anywhere else he can get to for decades. Although fresh air and exercise are part of his reasons, B.C.’s natural wonders hold a greater pull. “The beauty of the nature around Chilliwack is really what has captivated me. And what I love to do is to share it with other people who have the same love for nature,” he said. This year alone, the 67-year-old has taken Continued next page
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Club provides inspiration to climb higher groups up to Mt. Cheam, the opposing Lady Peak, and Coquihalla highway’s Needle Peak – that last, a technical steep climb involving scrambling over jagged rocks, has been his toughest this summer. Recently he cycled 75 km through Sooke on Vancouver Island. Another trip this July took Jones to Glacier National Park in Montana with the Chilliwack Outdoor Club, where he serves as president. He couldn’t complete one particularly tough climb, but he wasn’t worried about it. “Any trip you survive is a good one,” he said. The retired elementary school teacher had open heart surgery nearly nine years ago. As doctors were replacing his mitral valve, a cardiopulmonary bypass took over his heart functions during the procedure. The day he came home, he could only walk to the end of the
block and back. Gradually he progressed to walking around the neighbourhood. Then on the Rotary Vedder River Trail. Getting back to hiking the kinds of mountains he was doing prior to surgery took years of effort. As recently as four years ago, Jones’ heart would pause beating for up to five seconds. He now has atrial fibrillation, and wears a pacemaker to regulate his heart rate. This “creates another obstacle,” Jones says, that he has to monitor. Has he ever considered taking it easier? Absolutely not. “My wife would say I was addicted to hiking. Just being out there in nature, some would say commuting with nature. The visual beauty, the smells, the fresh air, the birds, the animals, the water, the rock, the trees, every aspect of nature. Also being with people who also love being out there in nature,” said Jones.
When the climbing gets tough, and the heart rate rises and breath tightens, as happened on a recent hike up Mt. Cheam, Jones knows to slow down. “I struggle at times, but I’m also fairly persistent. Sometimes it’s just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other. And that’s how you climb a mountain. One step at a time,” he said. And that’s the advice he gives to newbie hikers. “It’s really important to work slowly. It’s like any form of workout or exercise that you don’t overdo it too quickly. You work up to it...It doesn’t matter what your age is. I know people well into their seventies who hike. It’s just a matter of proper preparation.” Part of that is knowing where you’re going, he says. An easy ‘in’ is heading into the woods with people who know what they’re doing, such as many of those in the Outdoor Club.
“We have in our club people who have many, many years of experience and training,” said Jones. The club sometimes offers courses such as wilderness first aid, mountaineering courses, and rock climbing to its 170 members. “What we provide through the club, businesses charge hundreds of dollars for. Even a day. We provide a minimal fee... Some of our trips are worldwide. Others are into places like Mt. Assiniboine and fantastic places in the rocky mountains.” Jones joined hiking in his 40s, after a doctor advised him to exercise after a medical scare. He has become a firm believer in the sport. “It’s really important to keep active, because if you quit, then you’re done, right? You just have to keep going and not give up.”
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ElderCollege offers lifelong learning Jenna Hauck The Progress You’re never too old to go to school, and ElderCollege has been around for 14 years to prove it. “ElderCollege is an opportunity for lifelong learners to get their fill of education,” says Carol Lees, ElderCollege coordinator and student. The school for seniors has been in existence since 1999. Alberta Rafferty was the first student ever to register, and she still attends to this day. The first year of ElderCollege started with eight courses at the old downtown UFV campus.
“It’s such a positive thing to see the 60-plus-yearolds sitting beside the 20-year-olds outside Tim Hortons, and talking about their classes.” the spring. This month marks its 15th fall semester and there are 22 courses to choose from. Travel With Me is the most popular course where armchair travellers go around the world with different presenters each week. Students will get to see photos and hear stories from seasoned travellers. Tapestry For Thought is a mini lecture series featuring topics such as the Doukhobors, a history of the CFB lands, global warming, and more.
Rafferty recalls the first course she took. “It was Tapestry For New this year are French Thought. I met a very close friend Conversation, Introduction to of mine, Jill Smith, in that class. Memoir Writing, and Valley of We’ve travelled together and Rainbows Nature Walks. we’ve become lifelong friends.” ElderCollege offer classes twice a year — in the fall and in
ElderCollege also works with local high schools in order for
the young students to get their mandatory work experience hours. High school students help out with ElderCollege’s cellphone tutorial class and computer classes. The majority of the fall classes are six weeks long, start in October, and run until midNovember. Each class ranges in size from 15 to 45 students, and all of them (except Travel With Me) take place during the day. Costs range from $25 to $60 per class. “It’s our connection to the university that has allowed us to keep the course prices so low,” says Lees. “We have always been affiliated with UFV and they have been so good to us over the years.”
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“One of the most significant aspects of ElderCollege is it’s run almost entirely by volunteers,” says Lees. “All the instructors are volunteers — they are doing it out of the goodness of their hearts. The instructors have a lifelong love for learning and they just want to share their passion. Our volunteer list is at 176 people, who will help with pretty much anything. I’m humbled by all of it.” All ElderCollege classes are held at the new UFV campus on the former CFB lands. Young college students walk the halls with their fellow senior students each semester. “It’s such a positive thing to see the 60-plus-year-olds sitting beside the 20-year-olds outside Tim Hortons, and talking about their classes,” adds Lees. ElderCollege currently has 500 members, aged 50 to 101. Annual membership fees are Continued: LEARNING/ p8
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Students line up to register for Elder College’s Tapestry For Thought course at the Landing Sports Centre.
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“Each of those 90-year-olds are as bright as any 50 year old,” says Lees. And the best part about ElderCollege? “No exams!” says Rafferty. “I was always petrified of exams when I went to school, but there are no exams at ElderCollege.” Most fall courses already filled up on registration day, but there are a few spots open in some of the classes. Students can still sign up by mailing in their registration form or by going in to the ElderCollege office at UFV. Courses can be paid for by cheque or cash only.
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For more info, call 604-702-2611, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or go online to www.ufv.ca/eldercollege. Registration day for the spring semester will take place in January at the Landing Sports Centre.
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On registration day on Sept. 17, they recognized seven students aged 90 and older, and gave them lifetime memberships and one free course of their choice for the fall semester. Alberta Rafferty was one of those recognized, along with Jean Scott (ElderCollege’s oldest student at 101), Fred Thompson, Mary Jolin, Art Hill, Norma Boyes, and Joan Sutcliff.
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Forever Young Katie Bartel The Progress For Charlie Young, his saxophone is just as much a part of him as his beating heart. The 93-year-old has been playing sax since he was 14 – 79 years. And his love for the woodwind instrument grows with every breath he blows. “Oh I just love it,” he said, imitating the movement of play with his fingers in front of him. “It’s a wonderful feeling, when you’ve got a nice reed on and you’re playing well, it’s the thrill of playing... a lovely glow.” Continued: MUSIC/ p10
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Charlie Young keeps the music going evidence of benefits with music and seniors, and a lot has been shown.”
MUSIC from page 9 Even when Young’s eyes deteriorated to the point of near blindness, his fingers continued to play. “I don’t read music anymore; it’s now all up here,” he said, tapping his head. Young fell in love with the saxophone the moment he first laid eyes on one in a music shop. The shape, the shine, the silver. “It looked so beautiful; I was hooked,” he said. The beloved instrument took him to stages around the world, and even though he’s now technically “retired” from his professional playing days, he admits he’ll never truly retire from music. Every week, Young plays for Chilliwack Rotary Club, he’s conducted sing-a-longs
“It’s fascinating the value people put on music and how it manifests itself later in life” ~ Darren Blakeborough
at Hampton House, where he’s resided for several years, has also played numerous events for the retirement home, and has even competed and won Senior Star, a local talent competition similar to American Idol, but for seniors. Playing his music, feeling his music, he is sure, keeps him young at heart. He’s not wrong. Several studies have quantified the value of musical activity for the aging population. Not only
does music provide a happy nostalgia, it’s also played a pivotal role in therapy for those suffering dementia, and has been linked to calming agitation and alleviating pain. “It’s fascinating the value people put on music and how it manifests itself later in life,” said Darren Blakeborough, UFV communications professor with a masters in gerontology. “We’ve certainly seen, I would say definitely in the last decade, a lot of research specifically looking for
In fact, just last year, Blakeborough participated in a research project that had a group of eight-year-old girls taking a ballet class with a group of elders at a care home in Mission. Some participants were in wheelchairs, or had walkers, some with severe dementia or other cognitive issues, but for one-hour every week, these two groups from opposite ends of the age spectrum combined their lives. “The absolute joy and pleasure on their faces for that 60 minutes told the whole story,” said Blakeborough. “You kind of always knew that music mattered, but now we’re getting it quantified.” email@example.com twitter.com/schoolscribe33
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Moving toward a more age-friendly community AGE from page 3 They held a focus group to engage both developers and seniors. “We worked through the details, identifying that the costs to build the units to be adapted over time were minimal compared to the cost of retrofitting after the fact,” says the mayor. The standards guide and direct how new apartment units are built at the construction stage. A total of 32 new units that comply with the adaptable standards have been completed so far in Chilliwack, and there are more on the way to comply with the 50 per cent directive. Adaptable standards include: building wider doorways and hallways to accommodate wheelchairs for example, as well as reinforced walls for grab bars in washrooms. It’s making enough room to turn around in a washroom with a walker or wheelchair, and opting for doors and faucets that open and close easily. These standards are contained within the B.C. building code but municipalities can opt into them by varying degrees. In addition, doors now open automatically at The Landing Sports Centre and Evergreen Hall, and the entire bus fleet is accessible with low floor models that all have wheelchair ramps. Also HANDIdart services are getting a boost next year. City funds go to YMCA and Senior Resource Centre for seniors activities and the YMCA received increased funding to ensure that programming for seniors prioritized.
A total of 32 new units that comply with the adaptable standards have been completed so far in Chilliwack. More are on the way.
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Chilliwack and District Seniors’ Resources Jenna Hauck The Progress For 22 years, the Chilliwack and District Seniors’ Resources Society has been keeping seniors active, healthy, social and educated. “There are so many seniors who don’t know what to do when they come in the door. They don’t know how to go out and meet people. They’re lost and lonely and they are looking for something to do to meet people,” says Lynda Hayden, CDSRS executive director. That’s where the society comes in. It offers countless programs, activities and services to more than 1,000 Chilliwack seniors. The most popular activity they offer is their bus tours. “The bus tour are a huge part of our program. That’s the backbone of our society,” says Hayden. Continued: p19
John Hooyenga plays pickleball offered by the Chilliwack and District Seniors’ Resources Society at Evergreen Hall. JENNA HAUCK/ PROGRESS
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Society is about improving quality of life from page 18 Since they have their own 20-person bus, the society is able to keep the cost of the trips down. “We try to have a variety of trips that are affordable for everyone.” CDSRS has about 15 bus tours per month, the majority of them are day trips. They range in price from $20 to $200. Some of their recent bus trips include Saltspring Island, the PNE, Granville Island, Chinatown, Seattle Duck Tour, Indian Arm boat cruise, and New Westminster Quay. They take trips to go shopping, see theatre performances, go to casinos, and more. Next month, they have an international trip planned. “We have 29 members
going to China in October. It’s a beautiful, 15-day trip which includes a cruise down the Yangtze River,” says Hayden. And they have another trip planned for Hawaii in May. The CDSRS also has a variety of sports and activities like pickleball, badminton, floor curling, yoga, crib, carpet bowling, bocce ball, dancing, and table tennis. In addition to physical activities, they offer numerous personal and in-home services such as pet care, grocery shopping, home repairs, gardening, plumbing, driving services and hairdressing. CDSRS has heaps of information for seniors on home health care, housing registry, independent and assisted living, affordable housing, intermediate and extended care, plus resources
for caregivers as well. They even have a list of equipment for sale by its members such as hospital beds, bath chairs, walkers, scooters and canes. One of their very successful programs is their income tax program, says Hayden. It is volunteer-run and is a service offered to CDSRS members by donation. This year CDSRS filed 1,000 tax returns for local seniors. Hayden is also proud of the society’s Snow Angels program where volunteers go out in the winter months and shovel seniors’ driveways and walkways. The society currently has 1,200 members. The annual membership fee is $20 per person. Anyone aged 40 and older can join CDSRS. The ripe, old
age of 40 isn’t your typical senior, but “we had to drop the age to accommodate the request of individuals coming into the society,” says Hayden. Thanks to the variety of activities and services offered, many friendships have been formed over the years that CDSRS has been running. “We want people to feel fulfilled and meet others. Is about quality of life,” says Hayden. For more information, visit the Chilliwack and District Seniors’ Resources Society office at 9291 Corbould St. between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. For more info call 604-793-9979, email cdsrs@ shawbiz.ca, or go online to www.cdsrs.ca. firstname.lastname@example.org twitter.com/PhotoJennalism
Celebrate the Best Part of Life OUR PROGRAMS INCLUDE:
• Line Dancing • Seniors’ Repair Service • Chair Yoga • Income Tax Program • Seniors’ Dances • Various Sports and Tours geared for seniors We offer hosted day journeys and overnight bus tours. Popular entertainment venues and casino trips are often part of our program. For trip lists and more information, visit our office or check our web site www.chilliwackdistrictseniorresourcessociety.com MISSION STATEMENT: To provide programs and services required to maintain independence and promote healthy living for seniors and persons with disabilities.
Chilliwack & District Senior Resources Society
9291 Corbould Street, Chilliwack, BC | p 604-793-9979 | f 604-793-9966 | e email@example.com
20 prime OF YOUR life
Johan and Debrah
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Behind their house in the downtown Chilliwack area, Johan has constructed a container garden. Of course, lots of people do this, and lots of people have very nice setups. But Johan’s backyard is something else. Big boxes line the yard, filled with assorted veggies, each of them painted in all the colours of the rainbow. Part of the back of the house is painted too, making the whole thing look like a box of Lucky Charms. On the day your friendly neighborhood reporter drops by, there are balloons everywhere, a sizable kiddie pool and a picnic table loaded with food. Johan’s backyard oasis was several years in the
making and meets with nearly unanimous approval from everyone who sees it. “Some people might be a bit put off by it,” he smiles. “But it’s for the grandkids, and they like it.” The backyard represents what’s most interesting about Johan and Debrah — two people who do their thing and don’t really care what anyone else thinks. At that age where everyone tells them they should be slowing down, they are speeding up, determined to live life as fully as they can. In Debrah’s case, speeding up meant getting on a horse. “Growing up on a farm, my cousins and I had this old horse named Barney. We’d pull him up to the fence and the six of us would pile on him,” Debrah recalled. “He was so old and boney, but I always had it in my head that Barney was this
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Steinberg keep the bucket list filled galloping steed, with his mane blowing in the wind and me on his back. And as I got older, it was always on my someday list to do that again.” Years went by. Debrah got arthritis. Hands. Knees. Ankles. All hurting, and a doctor telling her to forget about horses. Go find a weekly bridge game. “And a lot of people would follow that advice. But let me tell you something,” she says. “When I’m on a horse, my hands don’t hurt. My knees don’t hurt. My ankles don’t hurt. It’s like being a little kid again, being so engrossed in what you’re doing that all those nattering little things don’t matter.” Zack is a lesson horse that Debrah met for the first time last year — a gentle creature
Johan and Debrah Steinberg both stay active. Debrah recently started horseback riding, and Johan competes in triathlons.
Continued: LIFE/ p22
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22 prime OF YOUR life
Couple learns to embrace life LIFE from page 21 with a temperament perfectly suited to new riders. “The first time I met him, I told my coach (Tom Berry), ‘I’m still kind scared of horses even though I really, really love them,” she says. “And he said, ‘See that horse? I’ll tell you something. You walk right under that horse and he won’t hurt you.’ I said, ‘No way! Are you crazy?’ But I ended up doing it, and Zack just looked at me like, ‘Oh. This is the walkunder-me part.’” For Johan, speeding up meant rediscovering an old passion. The energetic 60 year old recently launched into an ambitious training program, guided by Chilliwack triathlete Anthony Toth.
One day in mid-August, Johan took his bicycle out for a short 90 kilometre ride. In five years, his plan is to compete in the world championship of Ironman racing, an annual race held at Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. “I think what I’m totally doable, because you see, all the other people I’m competing against will be dead by then,” Johan jokes. “All I’ll have to do is show up!” He did Ironman once before, when he was 46 years old, and considers it one of the best experiences of his life. But until he was 55 years old, Johan worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week as an ear, nose and throat specialist. Burnout and disillusionment with the healthcare system eventually led to a drinking problem, which eventually led to two months of rehab.
And that led to no one being willing to provide disability or health insurance for the South African import. “So what do I do? It’s stay healthy or die, right?” he laughs. “This whole thing is my health plan.” Still, he’s another one who’s supposed to be strolling a golf course at a leisurely pace, or logging a half hour on the treadmill. NOT running, biking and swimming miles on end. “Society says at this age you have to do this, and so we do,” Johan says of the retire-andgive-up approach he sees. “But I’ve got this obsessivecompulsive personality. As I’ve aged the compulsion part has gone away. But the obsession part is still there. Right now, the obsession is to stay healthy.”
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If Johan has his way, he’ll be working and doing triathlons until he’s 85. If Debrah has her way, she’ll be riding horses until she’s 90. Both agree on simple advice for those who are sitting at home, letting time pass them by. Don’t be afraid to take a leap and don’t be scared to ask for help. “Different people are inspired by different things, and I have a friend who would never go to a barn and get poop on her shoes,” Debrah laughed. “But she does something else that makes her happy. We should never let what we do get dictated by stereotypes and what everyone else thinks we should be doing. That’s the good thing about my bucketlist. I’m never just checking things off. I’m adding to it too.”
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