Wisdom for the Ages

A seniors association customizes services for the elderly

There is a misconception that seniorhood is a one-size-fits-all experience.

Sage Seniors Association (formerly known as Seniors Association of Greater Edmonton) is working to demolish this misconception by recognizing that the experiences of older adults vary widely.

Sage provides more than 20 formal services to senior citizens in the Edmonton area, building meaningful relationships with each participant.

“It’s really about making a connection with that individual and getting to know them well enough to understand how we can best support them, but also really leverage their strengths,” says Karen McDonald, executive director at Sage.

One of those programs is the Seniors Financial Empowerment Network — a collaborative program that provides financial literacy workshops to seniors in the community. The program is designed to provide senior citizens with information to help protect themselves from financial abuse, exploitation and fraud. It also helps them prepare for the future.

The program is composed of seven workshops created by community partners. One of those community partners is Eric Storey, a volunteer with Sage.

“I think we can say with confidence that we are delivering information out into the community that the community is telling us they need,” says Storey. “The materials we are presenting are well-researched, accurate and we regularly ask for feedback on it.”

However, essential community programs often come at a cost. Recognizing the need for financial support, Sage reached out to Edmonton Community Foundation (ECF) for a helping hand. As a result of ECF’s funding, Sage is able to offer training sessions for volunteer facilitators, as well as the necessary
materials for the workshops themselves.

“It has always felt like a very supportive relationship,” McDonald says about working with ECF. “ECF is very well-attuned to the challenges and opportunities that exist within the voluntary sector.”

As a result of these workshops, seniors are able to learn, ask questions and protect themselves from financial mishaps in a judgment-free environment, regardless of how much financial experience they have.

“In all the presentations I have given, I have always received positive feedback,” says Storey. “Talking with the other presenters, that seems to be a common theme. You can never have too much information.”

Storey adds that he believes small projects such as these make a large impact on the community. “This is information that we think all seniors should have,” reiterates Storey. And knowledge, at any age, is power.