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Friday
Apr112014

We ALL need a MAC! 

      Whistler gave me an outstanding welcome on Monday night, with well over 100 people attending my talk. I wasn't surprised given that the event was organized by MAC (Mature Action Committee). You may recall that MAC was one of the groups I highlighted in The Perfect Home as a reason for optimism about our chances for healthy aging. The organization was set-up in the mid-90's to tackle senior housing needs and has expanded to address all aspects of growing old in Whistler. Their goal: to make their town a model community for aging in place. They have over 200 members, which is impressive for a place where people pride themselves on staying young forever. They're making it fun to be old, even "hip", by throwing great parties, sponsoring terrific activities and attracting people who want to be associated with success. Whistler has about 1900 full-time residents aged 50+ and this number is due to increase as people retire to their vacation homes.

      One of MAC's successful strategies is partnering. They work with the local health care providers on medical issues, with the seniors centre to develop programming, and with nearby communities on transportation solutions. They want to have seniors involved in all decisions that affect them both through a senior advisory committee at the Municipal level and having senior spokespeople on all appropriate boards. This senior engagement is another tenet of their work, also encouraged through a volunteer program of Seniors Supporting Seniors.

      Another successful strategy is research. They hold an annual Town Hall Meetings to find out what aging in place means to the residents and what might prevent them from staying in Whistler for the long term. They ask people for their ideas for solutions and for advice on MAC's role. As President Sue Lawther says, "We get dozens of smart practical ideas from this forum. We give each solution a priority, identify what agency owns the issue and meet with them to determine an action plan going forward."

      We all need a MAC in our community!

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