More than 200 enthusiastic seniors and their families attended the Seniors Active Living Fair hosted by Lennox & Addington Seniors Outreach Services (SOS) on Friday, Feb. 10, 2023.
The free event, intended to bring much-needed awareness to programs and services available to seniors in the community, was held at the SOS gymnasium, located at 12 Richmond Park Drive in Napanee.
Diane Talas, Program Director of SOS, said that she applied for and was awarded a grant of $2,500 by Older Adult Centres’ Association of Ontario (OACAO) and the Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility (MSAA) to host the in-person event.
Featuring opening remarks by Napanee Mayor Terry Richmond, the fair gathered representatives from SOS’s own programs, as well as other local service providers who offer activities for seniors. Attendees received a sampling of a variety of activities and services designed to reduce social isolation, support mental health, promote active and healthy living, offer social engagement opportunities, and highlight partnerships, independence, and learning opportunities for seniors. Family members and care partners were also encouraged to participate.
Part of the idea behind the fair was to reintroduce older adults to SOS in order to showcase programs and service delivery models that they have planned to strengthen their communities, organizers explained. It was also an opportunity to reconnect older adults to SOS and get them excited about the next chapter in this post-pandemic puzzle.
Talas said that both SOS and the other service providers at the fair were surprised and encouraged by the large number of people who attended. “Feedback was really good from both the vendors and the attendees. And I think probably COVID has a lot to do with that, too. People were pretty excited to get out and get to something like this.”
She said that she received nothing but positive feedback both in person and on the post-event surveys taken by SOS. “People were asking me, ‘Oh, are you going to do this again soon?’ And on some of the surveys, it’s also mentioned, ‘I hope you’re going to do this again next year.’”
Visitors to the fair were treated to light refreshments and live demonstrations of the various fitness programs offered by SOS.
One popular attraction was an “Assistep” demonstration, showcasing a support bar that attaches to stair-rails, allowing people with mobility issues to walk up and down stairs more safely. This invention only recently became available in Canada, according to Jim Closs, an accessibility expert and President of Live Easy Inc.
Another group that participated was the Victorian Order of Nurses (VON). A feature of their display was their SMART (Seniors Maintaining Active Roles Together) exercise and fall prevention classes. These classes are designed to help improve strength, balance, and heart health while reducing both social isolation and hospital visits relating to falls. VON’s representatives noted that the SMART classes are ideal for individuals who find it hard to take part in traditional exercise classes due to low mobility or poor health.
VON also spoke to attendees about their Assisted Living, Adult Day programs, Dining programs, and more in the Greater Napanee area and beyond.
Also on hand at the fair were representatives from the Ministry of Transportation and the Ministry of Finance, helping seniors connect to the services available to them from the Ontario government.
Participants could pick up information packages about a number of provincial services for seniors, including “A Guide to Programs and Services for Seniors in Ontario,” “Powers of Attorney,” “How’s Your Driving? Safe Driving for Seniors,” and “Dental Care For Low-Income Seniors,” among others. Talas said she was also happy that MPP Ric Bresee made the effort to attend and meet with constituents.
Other displays were hosted by Lifeline Medical Alerts Canada, Lennox and Addington Hospital Foundation, Rural Frontenac Community Services, Align Home Health Care, HearingLife Canada, the Transplant Advocate Association, Loyalist Denture Clinic, the Rotary Club of Napanee, Pro Plus Technology, and more. Talas was happy to have such a variety of different exhibitors come out and take part.
Participants who filled out SOS’s surveys about the event were entered in a draw for gift certificates from President’s Choice. Jill Conway, Teresa Dorey, Maggie Di Grappa, and Anna Semenuk each won a $25 gift card.
If you missed the Seniors Active Living Fair but are interested in learning more about any of the services listed here, please contact Lennox and Addington SOS online, or call them at 613-354-6668, ext. 110.