© GUARDIAN PHOTO BY SALLY COLE
P.E.I. writer Linda Jean Nicholson proudly displays a copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul’s O Canada: 101 Heartwarming and Inspiring Stories by and for Canadians, which features her story entitled Eyes Wide Open.It’s one of three stories about Prince Edward Island in the book.
A recent survey by the P.E.I. Senior Citizens’ Federation indicates the primary area of concern for Island seniors is staying healthy.
“We’re not at all surprised that seniors are worried about their health,” says seniors’ federation president John Kenny. “The result of this survey confirms what we already knew.”
Taken in early summer, the survey focussed on two primary areas: programs for seniors and areas of concern.
Nearly half of all seniors indicated staying physically active was their number one concern followed by maintaining good health (43 per cent), being able to remain at home (38 per cent), staying independent (37 per cent) and maintaining mental sharpness (30 per cent). The primary financial concerns of seniors were increasing cost of medications (23 per cent) and having ample finances (20 per cent).
“We conducted the survey to assist us in planning future programs,” said Linda Jean Nicholson, executive director of the seniors’ federation. “The top contenders were no surprise, but we had anticipated safety issues would be higher - only nine per cent of seniors were concerned about feeling safe and secure. And access to health care was another surprise – less than nine per cent had concerns regarding accessing health care and only two per cent were concerned about obtaining health information. It’s the bottom numbers that indicate what our government is doing right.”
The survey also asked seniors to select programs they would like to attend. “It’s critical that we offer programs to meet seniors’ social and educational needs. Research has shown people who are active and socially connected are healthier.”
More than half of the seniors surveyed (61 per cent) are interested in computer courses, followed by cooking (23 per cent), cribbage (22 per cent), nutrition (19 per cent), bowling (18 per cent), and photography (17 per cent).
“The federation has a very popular computing for seniors program,” says Nicholson. “We’re well aware of the need in this area, but we were amazed computers were number one. Obviously, Island seniors know the value of good computer skills in today’s society.”
Half of seniors who completed the survey live in rural P.E.I. and 80 per cent are age 60 to 80 years. “The only segment where we fell short,” says Nicholson, “is the male to female ration. A majority of those who complete the survey – 79 per cent - are women.”
The least popular program which had zero takers were for martial arts, chess, and cyber safety.