February 21, 2013 - 6:34am

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, February 21, 2013

NANAIMO, BC – Vancouver Island University has launched a new Centre for Healthy Aging and Community-Engaged Scholarship that will benefit seniors.

The Centre’s mandate is to promote excellence in healthy-aging research, education and practice. It has a special focus on seniors’ health care improvements, active and productive aging, and the creation of age-friendly communities.

Project Manager Lynne MacFadgen says an ‘age friendly community’ is one that recognizes and supports seniors as vibrant and contributing members of their communities.

“An age-friendly community focusses on respect, social inclusion and learning from those who really know what is needed to improve the lives of older adults,” she says.

MacFadgen is working closely with VIU’s Faculty of Health and Human Services (HHS), Oceanside Healthy Aging Initiatives Committee, older adults and their caregivers, the municipalities of Parksville and Qualicum Beach and a diverse range of seniors’ organizations and health care practitioners.

“Together with our community partners, we aim to help older adults lead healthier, fuller lives in their communities,” says MacFadgen.

“We have an ideal opportunity to ‘blaze a trail’ together, as we have higher proportions of seniors than any other region in the province.”

MacFadgen says 47 per cent of the population in Qualicum Beach and 37 per cent in Parksville are aged 65 years and older.

“We can be a model for other communities in BC in terms of addressing population aging challenges and opportunities,” she says. “Eventually, many of the other regions of the province will be facing similar issues.”

An important goal of the Centre for Healthy Aging is to conduct community-based research that supports the health, wellness and quality of life of older adults. Recently, MacFadgen worked with the municipalities of Parksville and Qualicum Beach to secure a $20,000 grant from the Union of BC Municipalities to improve our understanding of seniors’ integrated health care needs and issues.

She is pursuing additional research grants and collaborative ventures to support the mandate and goals of the new Centre.

The Centre for Healthy Aging is offering a series of free Research Networking Luncheons to stimulate community dialogue on issues that matter to older adults and their families.

A session called Current Developments for Addressing Abuse, Neglect and Self-neglect of Older Adults, will be offered in Qualicum Beach on Feb. 28.

“This is session is for anyone who wants to learn more about the latest developments for elder abuse prevention, identification and response, and how communities can work together to support vulnerable older adults,” says MacFadgen.

On March 19, a session called Community Based Research – How Well Are We Listening to Older Adults’ Voices? will be held in VIU’s Nanaimo campus library boardroom. “Presenters will discuss ways to collaborate with older adults so that their voices are heard in the research process,” explains MacFadgen.

About 40 people attended the first educational session in Parksville last week. Discussion focused on the importance of older adults and their family caregivers being accepted as true partners in care. “We’re looking forward to equally interesting and informative sessions in Qualicum Beach and Nanaimo,” adds MacFadgen.

There is still room available in the Qualicum Beach and Nanaimo sessions, although space is limited. Register soon by calling 250-248-2096, email, or drop by VIU’s Parksville-Qualicum Centre at 100 Jensen Avenue East, Parksville.

“Our Centre for Healthy Aging looks forward to being an important part of the community,” MacFadgen adds. “We want to engage seniors and our community partners in the activities of the Centre to promote productive and healthy aging, in age-friendly communities that respect, involve and support all members.”

Tags: In the Community

Sign up for our VIU news and experts email