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January 21, 2013

Research Grant Will Help Seniors’ Centres Address Changing Needs

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Alberta’s seniors will benefit from improved and more responsive programs and services offered by seniors’ centres thanks to new research about to get underway.

The Alberta government is providing $70,800 grant to the University of Alberta, the Alberta Association of Seniors Centres (AASC) and the Seniors Association of Greater Edmonton (SAGE) to carry out the year-long study. The research will look at ways to ensure seniors’ centres are financially sustainable and offer the programs and services the province’s growing seniors’ population needs.

“We know that active and engaged seniors are healthier seniors, able to stay in their homes and communities longer and with fewer visits to their doctor or to the hospital,” said Health Minister Fred Horne. “Alberta’s seniors’ centres have a lot to offer their members to keep them active and engaged, and this grant will help ensure our seniors continue to have access to programs and services that promote continued good health.”

From fitness classes to educational opportunities to social engagement, seniors’ centres provide valuable programs and services for seniors across the province. Alberta has more than 400 seniors’ centres that offer a wide variety of programs, services and supports that cater to diverse groups of seniors. As the population ages, some centres are facing challenges recruiting and retaining volunteers, low or declining memberships, and operational costs.

The study will look at the ability of seniors’ centres to offer programs and services to their members; examine the future needs of Alberta’s seniors, and how seniors’ centres can meet these needs; and explore funding models that can best support the sustainability of seniors’ centres.

“Seniors’ centres play a vital role in the lives of seniors who live in communities throughout Alberta,” said Roger Laing, President of the AASC and Executive Director of SAGE. “We are pleased to work with the University of Alberta and the Alberta government to research the strengths and challenges that seniors’ centres face as more Albertans age in place in their communities. And with the growing number of aging baby boomers, this research will be particularly valuable.”

“Seniors’ centres in Alberta are essential to sustaining and growing a model of successful aging in the province,” said Dr. Kyle Whitfield, Associate Professor in the Faculty of Extension at the U of A, and the Lead Researcher for the study.

“These centres can foster and enhance seniors’ quality of life by promoting active participation in the community and social contact, which contributes to improved physical and emotional wellbeing. Because our aging population is growing, knowing more about the needs, key issues, challenges and opportunities for capacity building amongst seniors’ centres is a necessity.”

Click here to read the original news release.

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