BENNETT: Looking forward to becoming an elder, not merely elderly

One of the impressive revelations I have received from having the privilege of working with First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities and leaders is a much better understanding of the efficacy of their imperative of listening to their elders.

I’ve decided I want to grow up and be respected as an “elder” instead of becoming “elderly”.

Throughout the world, the aging demographic and the boomer bulge are being examined in terms of the potential impact on the economy, health and social services. Some warn of an impending Grey/Silver Tsunami.

I’m not convinced.

I believe that seniors and soon-to-be seniors are serious about staying well and active. Chronic conditions can be prevented or managed effectively without the huge costs associated with hospital and long-term care.

“Active aging” and “aging in place” are becoming the mantras.

Movements like the WHO “Age-friendly Cities” have developed processes to ensure that seniors are listened to as cities plan for the future. Accessible public transit, public washrooms, shade trees and park benches are essential for older people to be able to get out and about. We have research to show that social isolation is as “sickening” as smoking.

We want to age above the disability threshold.

We are thrilled that on May 26 at 1:30 at Christie Gardens Ann (Elizabeth) Carson, author of We All Become Stories, will join us in St. Paul’s for our Town Hall on Active Aging. Also attending will be representatives from the Toronto Council on Aging.

We hope to begin an important dialogue between experts and those with lived experience, as well as those with pretty clear ideas of what we hope our future will look like as elders — not just elderly.