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Whistler seniors gear up for future

Seniors lifestyle fair puts the 65+ set in touch with service providers

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Seniors housing is available in Whistler, but it is unlikely that an assisted living complex could sustain itself at this point. Squamish Renaissance, a new assisted living complex in Squamish, is at 52 per cent capacity one year after opening its doors. Renaissance administrative assistant Lesley Rommel said the hardest part of getting seniors to address their living situations has everything to do with the perception of independence.

"They generally feel that they're getting gotten rid of, but once they move in and see how beautiful it is and that it's not a place where they've gone to get sad they do complete turn-arounds," she said.

She added that mountain communities can be very isolated places for the elderly.

"If you're a recluse in the city usually there are more neighbours that will notice that you didn't come to Save-On (Foods) that day, but in some of the outlying areas where you might not see somebody everyday it might be days before you notice, and it might be too late at that point."

RCMP constable Tara Merrie was on sight at the fair teaching seniors about elder abuse, regulated funeral organization and personal safety. As she handed out self-assessment driving tests for seniors she encouraged them to take a little "honest time" about their own mature driving abilities and to tailor their road time appropriately.

Also on hand were a number of brochures outlining fraud and scams geared towards the elderly.

"Education is the most important thing in crime prevention. If people are equipped with understanding how they're being targeted we are that much closer to preventing a crime from actually happening," said Merrie.

"Historically, there is a lack of reporting, generally people think they should have known better. They think 'I've lived this long, I've travelled, experienced the world. How did I not know this guy was a fraud?' We often don't even hear about the fraud because the person is embarrassed that they were bamboozled and tricked."

The fair wasn't focused on all things solemn. A number of tables featured cookbooks and nutritional suggestions specific to the aging body. Others offered options for keeping fit and social during the long winter months.

Seniors who love to ski but prefer a little companionship and instruction were pointed towards the Whistler Seniors Ski Team booth, presided over by the buoyant Wendell Moore. The team has 230 members, two-thirds of who are over the age of 65 and five over the age of 80. Members typically set out on ski days with a coach in groups of seven, which Moore says is a great way to limber up during the ski season or to ski safely if balance or eyesight is becoming an issue.