Seniors Calling. Active Living Fair

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20160120_101033Sault Ste. Marie Mayor, Christian Provenzano opened the Seniors Information and Active Living Fair, on Wednesday January 20th, 2016, by acknowledging the “great work that Terry Lou (Legros) and her staff are doing here.” The Bay Street Seniors Drop-In Centre’s Main Hall was filled to capacity with Sault seniors, community partners, provincial partners, vendors and organizations that lend themselves to keeping seniors active.

20160120_123641David Orazietti, MPP, & Mayor Christian Provenzano were both in attendance to open the Active Living Fair along with Terry Lou Legros, Supervisor of Senior Services for the City of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Municipal Councillor, Susan Myers also stopped by the Seniors Drop-In Centre to check out the Fair.

“The Ontario Government is continuing to help seniors become more engaged in their communities, including through today’s Active Living Fair in Sault Ste. Marie.” shared David Orazietti. “Our government is committed to helping Ontario’s seniors stay connected and active, in order to ensure they can live healthy, engaged and independent lives for as long as possible,” he said. “Today’s Active Living Fair is showcasing a great selection of programs and services available to seniors right here in Sault Ste. Marie.”

20160120_131402Mayor Provenzano said “It’s great that we can host these free events that encourage senior citizens to live active, and stay well informed about issues that may be of interest to you. I would like to thank the Older Adult Centre Association of Ontario, and The Ontario Seniors Secretariat, for their sponsorship of the days’ events.”

20160120_101651Janice Seppala, Public Education Coordinator, Alzheimers Society of Sault Ste. Marie & Algoma shared a presentation, “Aging with Vitality.” Janice led the group through ideas for lowering risk factors, and tools on how to open up the conversation around dementia and alzheimers. “Words can start to play hide and seek in your brain. That’s normal aging. Things do slow down, but there are ways to keep the brain active, to fill up the cognitive reserves. We can start by making healthy choices and exercising our brain.” Janice spoke about the ‘colliding schedule syndrome’. “One gift we can give ourselves” she said “is to have only one calendar that a person is following. Try to stay organized. Don’t leave cryptic messages for yourself, that seemed to make sense when originally written down, but a day or two later,(or longer) doesn’t make sense at all. Make good notes for yourself.” Janice recommends moderate daily, or regularly scheduled exercise. Walking is encouraged.

20160120_100815“Getting a good night’s sleep is very important to the cognitive functions in our brains. And a glass of red wine doesn’t hurt either. One to two glasses a day for men and one glass for women.” she said “There is a component in wine that helps to reduce plaque in your brain.” Janice can share these and many more strategies for the aging brain, “the body’s equivalent to a computer hard drive, driving everything we do.”

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Janice shared that generally the age of 65 is a benchmark for starting to see changes in the cognitive functions. Around age 65, there is a 1 in 11 chance at developing Alzheimer’s. At age 85, there is a 1 in 2 chance. Women represent 72% of those numbers.

20160120_11234820160120_112913The second speaker for the morning was from The Ontario Ministry of Finance, who gave an engaging, lively, humorous and informative presentation on the world of taxes, tax credits, benefits and more for seniors. Jeremy Bertrand, Senior Programme Advisory Specialist, Advisory and Compliance Branch Ontario, Ministry of Finance, educates thousands of seniors in Ontario through outreach presentations about the credits and benefits seniors are entitled to, and all matters of income tax. Jeremy had the group laughing along several times with what could otherwise have been a dry topic.

Jeremy Bertrand has been working with the Ministry of Finance for over 28 years, and shared “I have talked to over 30,000 seniors in the past 5 years, and I have about 9.97 million more to go.”

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Jeremy began this education outreach component within the Ministry of Finance about 5 years ago. He said “This is all about you getting your money from our government. There are several programmes available to seniors, and I want to make sure that you are aware of all of the credits and benefits available to you, that will help you financially.” Jeremy educates seniors on provincial & federal programmes that could benefit them, and brings terms like tax credits, benefits, grants, services, non-refundable & refundable credits to life. He travels across the province, and, in so doing, learns about ways municipalities are supporting seniors. “Did you know” he said “that in the municipality of Toronto, seniors are offered free snow removal services.” This was widely lauded by the seniors gathered as a wonderful idea. Watch for the letters Mayor Provenzano.

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The morning was capped off with a healthy and substantial lunch, provided by The sponsors and hosts for The Seniors Information and Active Living Fair. The afternoon presentations were on Winter Preparedness, by City of Sault Community Emergency Management Coordinator, Naomi Thibault, and an engaging exercise presentation by ‘Jewels of Oasis’ Belly Dancers.

With numbers of people in attendance around 200, the 2016 Seniors Information and Active Living Fair was a resounding success.

For information about Jeremy Bertrand’s presentation on tax benefits and credits for seniors, visit: http://www.bvo.ca
City of Sault Senior Services link: http://www.saultstemarie.ca
Alzheimers Society, Sault Ste. Marie & Algoma District: http://www.alzheimer.ca/algoma
Tips on Winter Preparedness can be found at: http://www.saultstemarie.ca