Seniors! If you’re reading this, Alberta Avenue Community League (AACL) wants to hear from you.
In April, the league launched an online survey to learn more about mature adults age 55 plus in the community, their interests, their needs, and their use of technology. The survey is open until mid-May, with an option to ask for telephone help.
A New Horizons for Seniors grant from Employment and Social Development Canada is helping fund AACL’s seniors’ programs. “Future activities will be shaped by the desires of those who want to participate,” says Valda Roberts, vice-president of the league. “We have ideas for programs, but are these the ones that will really satisfy the participants?”
Knowing more about local seniors is the survey’s goal. If some questions seem personal, it’s because they are. Do you live alone? Do you have a support system? Do you use technology? Do you have mobility issues? Do you need help? The answers will say a lot about what seniors want and need.
For Serena Archambault, a part-time program assistant at AACL, the survey gives her a chance to continue learning. She will soon graduate from the University of Alberta in sociology, with a minor in economics, and a certificate in applied social science research. Last year, Archambault worked as a league volunteer with four students from The King’s University on social isolation research. The new survey grew out of this.
To date, the response to the seniors’ survey has been positive and honest. Archambault observes, “A lot of seniors want more connection. They don’t have as much support as they would like.”
A big surprise is that seniors, or “older adults” as she prefers to call them, are fully mobile. “Seniors don’t want to be a burden, but they do want somebody to talk to,” says Archambault.
This summer, look for socially distanced outdoor gatherings for seniors taking place behind the league hall. “We may be painting, we may be singing, we may just be hanging out with refreshments,” says facility manager Karen Mykietka, a member of the seniors’ planning committee.
In the fall, watch for new activities inspired by the survey responses.
Canning and pickling workshops in the league’s commercial kitchen, for example, are one way to bring people of various ages together. “We have untapped talent that can be shared. It’s usually older people who know how to do these things. Younger people would appreciate learning how,” says Mykietka.
Before COVID-19, the league focused on gathering the community together at events and block parties. With COVID-19 still an issue, the league is digging deep into new ways to end isolation. One focus will be teaching basic computer skills so that individuals can use social media platforms such as Skype, Zoom, and Facebook.
“From the survey, we are learning that seniors want to get more comfortable and knowledgeable about how to use these popular platforms,” says Roberts. “They help to lessen the pain of isolation brought on by COVID-19.”
To complete the seniors’ survey go to http://bit.ly/AACLSeniorSurvey.
For assistance, call 780.479.6237 and leave a message for a call back.