St. Albert Over Coffee – Seniors Day Programming with Dawne Fowler

Great conversations happen over a cup of coffee.

Thank you to the many St. Albertans who have shared a cup of coffee and invaluable insights with me during my tenure as Councillor.

This post is my first in a series called “St. Albert Over Coffee.”  What better way to begin than with Dawne Fowler, a dedicated advocate for seniors day programming in St. Albert.

Dawne’s determination to enrich the lives of aging St. Albertans is inspiring.  Over coffee, Dawne spoke passionately about the need for special programming for isolated seniors in our community.

“The statistics confirm the need,” Dawne said.  “St. Albert’s population is aging. And the longer we live the greater the risk of developing some form of dementia.”

Indeed, St. Albert’s 50 plus age group makes up more than a quarter of the population. Even more telling, the 70 – 74 age group is the fastest growing in St. Albert. Given that almost 40% of people over 65 will experience some form of memory loss, Dawne’s commitment to develop and implement a seniors day program focusing on enhancing mental acuity is not only commendable, but an urgent requirement.

There are many different kinds of dementia which is the loss of thinking or memory skills.  It is one of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease. Dementia is progressive and magnifies with time.  It is caused by brain damage and, contrary to popular belief, is not a normal part of aging (although it is a factor).  Smoking, genetic predispositions, gender, aging, alcohol use, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, high levels of homocysteine and obesity all are factors that contribute to the risk of developing dementia.

So, what do we do?

Dawne points to research that suggests fundamentals such as exercise, diet, and socialization are very important parts of daily life for seniors.  More important are activities that challenge us mentally and physically such as learning something new using fine motor skills or something that challenges the brain such as a new language.  Combining mental and physical activities helps open new pathways in the brain.  There are many activities that can help delay the onset and progression of dementia.

Dawne is planning the programming to be used at the Seniorizing in Alberta Society and hopes to have a centre opened in 2018.  It is my privilege to know her and to support her in her quest to enhance the lives of seniors and their families in our community.

Thank you, Dawne!