The Waterloo Age-Friendly Committee, which was established in 2010, released new resources for older adults in October. These resources include the Aging Well Directory, the Wellness Calendar, and The Guide to Improve Social Connectedness.
“We work in collaboration with the city to identify opportunities to really strengthen overall connectedness and belonging for folks across the age spectrum, including older adults,” Jenny Flagler-George, chair of the Age-Friendly Waterloo Multi-Agency Committee, said.
The committee focuses on community-informed work and facilitates community involvement through tactics such as holding an annual Age-Friendly Waterloo forum. The forums generally follow a certain theme, with 2020’s being “Respect and Social Conclusion”, and involve the committee asking the public questions to understand the community’s priorities.
“We’ve really dedicated [our] engagement to focus on ideas that have emerged through [discussions with the community], such as ensuring a sense of belonging for older adults across various communities in Waterloo Region, with a focus on newcomers and folks from equity-deserving groups,” Flagler-George said.
Community feedback led to projects such as the Aging Well Directory, a document that lists agencies, institutions, support networks and cultural groups, as well as health, recreation, transportation, and housing resources along with any other information that may be useful for older adults living in Waterloo. The comprehensive directory provides names and contact information for companies and services relevant to older adults.
The Aging Well Directory for 2022- 2023 is available both online and in a printed format at Waterloo recreation facilities and public libraries.
“When we develop resources and tools we try to always ensure that they’re accessible in multiple formats to ensure that they are getting out to as broad an audience as possible,” Flagler-George said.
Another project by the Waterloo Age-Friendly Committee is the My Wellness Calendar, a tool that gives older adults in the community a way to monitor their daily health.
“[The calendar] allows individuals to track how they’re feeling each day and gives them a place to record [their] important appointments, birthdays, events, and, using a four-point scale, starting from ‘I feel excellent,’ ‘I feel good,’ ‘I feel average,’ ‘I feel poor or bad,’ older adults can also record how they are feeling daily,” Flagler-George said. The calendar also points to other resources in the region and can be shared with family and health professionals to help monitor mental/ physical health and well-being. The My Wellness Calendar can be found online or at Waterloo recreation facilities and public libraries.
The calendar also points to other resources in the region and can be shared with family and health professionals to help monitor mental/ physical health and well-being. The My Wellness Calendar can be found online or at Waterloo recreation facilities and public libraries.
“The City of Waterloo, as well as the Age-Friendly Waterloo Committee, has identified social connectedness as a key priority, which, I think, [is] strongly reflected in the city’s strategic plan as well,” said Flagler-George. The Guide to Social Connectedness project was led by Tiffany Smith, Manager of Community Programming with The City of Waterloo. This guide encourages access to resources in the community and provides eight specific tips for avoiding social isolation. For example, the guide advises being mindful of changes in your mood, self-esteem, and motivation.
“Something that I would say is pretty unique to our committee is that we have a strong university collaboration. We work with Dr. John Lewis from Planning at the University of Waterloo who helps to support our access to a lot of student work. So we work very closely with masters students and co-op students to help ensure that the work that we do not only is rooted in community, but also that it’s evidence-based and has solid evaluation components along with it,” said Flagler-George.
Waterloo received the Age-Friendly Community Recognition Award from the Province of Ontario in 2018. Waterloo has also been given an official designation as an age-friendly community by the World Health Organization.
Those interested in joining the Waterloo Age-Friendly Committee are encouraged to reach out to Jenny Flagler-George at jflagler@uwaterloo. ca.