A conversation about aging

By Emily Stonehouse

It’s no secret that Haliburton County has an aging demographic. 

With over 35 percent of the population falling within the 65 and up age range, the concerns around aging safely, sustainably, and comfortably are a hot topic for the county as a whole. 

That’s why the Rethink Policy Change Group paired up with the Haliburton Highlands Long Term Care Coalition to form what is now known as Aging Together as Community (ATAC); an organization dedicated to fueling the fires of these holistic conversations, and coming up with resolute shifts in standard mindsets and protocols. 

Bonnie Roe, a spokesperson and organizer behind the ATAC group, has been working diligently on bringing these conversations forward. Her efforts over the past year – with everything from community events to question and answer periods – have brought the topic of aging to the forefront of people’s minds, and she hopes that these initiatives will culminate into one major event: the Inspiring Creativity and Empowering Change Conference, slated for Jan. 27. 

“We wanted to host an event that would bring people of all ages together,” she said to the Echo, “and that’s always been our goal; to be an intergenerational event.” 

The full-day conference, hosted at the Pinestone Resort, will run from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m., and will include lunch and beverages throughout the day. 

While the event itself will organically spark dialogue around aging in the community, Roe noted that the agenda also includes a full roster of talented keynote speakers, who will bring a variety of experience, knowledge, and insight surrounding the topic of aging. 

“These speakers are the most renowned in their fields,” said Roe. They include Hereditary Chief Randy Chipps, an Elder of the North West Coast and Coast Salish First Nations, from a long line of Hereditary Chiefs and Healers, Dr. Pat Armstrong of York University who specializes in long term care and women’s health, Dr. John Lord, a published author and leader with Seniors for Social Action Ontario, Sue Lantz, a published author and managing director of Collaborative Aging, and Danielle Turpin, a PSW and president of the Homecare Workers Cooperative, and the executive director of the Cooperative Care Alliance. “It’s going to be a really well-rounded day,” said Roe. 

The speakers will be broken into a series of keynote presentations and panels, with representation from local service providers as well, including the Haliburton Highlands Health Services. 

Roe noted that while the focus of this event is sustainably aging, it’s not an event necessarily catered to those who fall exclusively within the senior bracket. All ages are welcome, and to round off the full-day of conversations and questions, ATAC has invited the local Rotaract and Interact clubs to discuss how they fit into the complexities of residing in a senior-centric community. The two organizations are designed for high school kids and those aged 20 and up to give back to the community, and get involved with local initiatives and fundraisers. By giving the youth-based organizations a seat at the table, ATAC hopes to blur the lines of aging demographics, and spark conversations between multi-generational initiatives and prerogatives.

“We are really seeing this conference as a catalyst for more movement,” said Roe, noting that the final event of the day is an open space, where all speakers and attendees can sit down, and discuss potential solutions for comfortably aging in Haliburton County, as well as what they all learned throughout the day. “We have had a lot of these discussions,” said Roe, “so now it’s really about where to go next.”  

The deadline for registration is Jan. 13, and can be done by visiting the Aging Together as Community event page on Facebook, or emailing agingtogetherhc@gmail.com.