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On Oct. 1, SAGE (Seniors Association of Greater Edmonton) held a number of Seniors Saturday events to celebrate the 32nd International Day of Older Persons. First established in 1990, the day is now observed annually to highlight the challenges facing an increasingly large and diverse demographic. According to an article published on the Fraser Institute website, as of 2020, “Albertans aged 65 or older accounted for 13.8 per cent of the total population.” 

The first event of the day, held at Sherbrooke Community League, dealt with aging in place, specifically on how to downsize, declutter, and organize prized possessions. The second event at Alberta Avenue Community League covered the three vital documents every senior would want in place. Lina Marrazzo, from Marrazzo Law Office, outlined the purpose of personal directives, powers of attorney, and wills. 

While speaking, Marrazzo entertained a lively round of questions from 14 attendees regarding the essential documents. Marrazzao suggested, “Seniors would rather appoint someone of their own choice to make their health decisions (personal directive) and possibly the same person or someone different to handle their financial affairs (power of attorney).” Marrazzo cautioned, “If no will is present, the government will keep all money and property for 10 years. If no one comes forward, the government is the beneficiary.” 

As Marrazzo put it, “Having a personal directive in place is much better and is best done before family members have to request a doctor to declare you not of sound mind.” The enduring power of attorney is revoked when that person dies. Then, the will comes into effect.

Marrazzo also advised the attendees to make a list of investments and life insurance policies so heirs do not have to search for the information. 

SAGE’s Seniors Saturday events offered speakers who presented on a variety of topics. | Rusti L Lehay

Shelaine Sparrow, SAGE stewardship & development specialist, said, “This is the first Seniors Saturday as an experiment to ensure seniors have access to resources and information.” Prior to the pandemic, SAGE would host two forums a year where hundreds would turn out. During the pandemic, SAGE hosted online events. In the first year, 300 attended and in the second year, 400 attendees joined them online. 

Sparrow added, “We can’t replace the face-to-face events where many connections were lost.” This Seniors Saturday event is different because the organization partnered with communities. “We are hoping the communities will adopt the activities.”  

Sparrow’s hopes for the events were that seniors would also feel welcome in the communities and connect with each other. In fact, Sparrow said she overheard something that became her favourite moment of the day. “Two attendees discovered they were neighbours.” The pandemic heightened isolation for everyone, possibly most of all for seniors. “These events have a chance to bring people together.”

And on Nov. 15 and 16, people can learn and engage more by attending Age Friendly Edmonton’s virtual seniors forum. Register for free or find out more at www.seniorsforum.ca. Knowledgeable presenters will address topics and issues important to seniors across the province through both days of online sessions.

As the demographic of aging citizens increases, SAGE is right, as they state in their website, to “emphasize the potential of seniors as assets who can strengthen and enrich our communities.” Despite the challenges that increased in magnitude for seniors during the pandemic, people supported neighbours, and online programs became the norm. People adapted to the new normal. 

Indeed, SAGE’s website notes, “how the nature of communities around the world are changing as a result.” The fact that so many attended SAGE’s online events proves online communities are a real thing. Take advantage of them where you can. You need not feel alone at any stage of life.