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'Age Friendly London Conference' supports seniors and shows they have to offer

Whatever your first thought might be when you hear the phrase 'conference on aging,' chances are what was happening at the Hellenic Community Centre on Thursday morning wouldn’t be the first thing that came to mind.

A mix of pop music, hip-hop, and classic rock filled the air as those attending the conference got their groove on.

The host of the dance party was Layne The Auctionista.

Layne is a public speaker who uses energy and entertainment to help support philanthropic endeavours.

"It doesn't matter the age, whether you’re five years old or whether you're 85 years old. You know what, we're human beings, we want to have experiences and we want to have fun," said Layne.

The theme of this year’s Age Friendly London Conference was ‘Fun Through the Ages.’

Layne said people often get caught up in responsibilities linked to being an adult and lose their inner child, but recapturing that inner child can be instrumental in later in life, "Keep active, keep the brain active, and keep connected with friends and family. Go to the park and just chat with folks. That's going to help us."

The theme of the Age Friendly London Conference held on Oct. 4, 2023, was 'Fun Through the Ages!' (Gerry Dewan/CTV News London)

In 2010, London was the first in Canada to declare itself an age-friendly city, focusing on programs and initiatives that can help people thrive later in life.

"I worked with older adults who were very isolated and needed to connect and there's so many resources they didn't know about,” said Bev Farrell, who coordinated the conference.

Farrell is a therapeutic recreation specialist who retired from London’s St. Joseph's Health Care two years ago.

Farrell said initiatives that have spawned from the age friendly declaration don't just support older Londoners, but benefit the community as a whole.

Canada continues to face an aging population. According to Statistics Canada, in 2010 about 14 per cent of the population was 65 or older. In 2022, that number had risen to 19 per cent. It's expected to be over 22 per cent by 2030.

Available products and services were on display at the Age Friendly London Conference on Oct. 4, 2023. (Gerry Dewan/CTV News London)

Conference organizers say studies show active and engaged older residents stay healthier and continue to contribute to society.

"I'm an example,” said Farrell. “I retired two years ago and I’m still involved and participating in stuff and coordinating stuff. Working a little bit part-time sometimes but engaging in a lot of fun activities myself."

Ashley Patterson is a community engagement and policy specialist with the City of London.

She encourages people to visit the Age Friendly London website to learn more about the initiatives, "You can sign up for our biweekly news letter there, become involved with our working groups and making London more age friendly." Top Stories

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