Fostering respect for elders

Vancouver Island University's Elder College celebrate an anniversary last week in Parksville

Monique Hendricks (left) and fellow VIU students spoke about their Music and Memory program at last week’s ElderCollege open house and Centre for Healthy Aging launch last Wednesday.

ElderCollege marked its 20th anniversary last week with an open house, speeches and demo-classes.

Vancouver Island University (VIU) president Ralph Nilson told the overflow audience in the Parksville Civic and Technology Centre forum on Wednesday that the unique program is an important part of the university’s and the entire region’s ongoing efforts towards “fostering a respect for elders.”

He equated it with VIU’s elders-in-residence program, which recognizes the influence of First Nations on the region.

Marc Lefebvre, who was involved with establishing the Centre for Healthy Aging — which was formally being launched at the same time — later expanded on that idea.

He said he had noticed that while this is a well known retirement area, many seniors are not experiencing a high quality of life. He said 45 per cent of seniors in the area live alone and don’t get out enough for their own health. Lefebvre pointed to the proven health effects of simply socializing, along with the obvious benefits of staying physically active.

To that end the volunteer run ElderCollege, a part of VIU, is promoted as a great way for seniors to stay social and mentally active with a huge range of course topics available, which is always expanding and changing.

In one of the five minute demo classes on Wednesday, jokingly referred to as ‘speed dating,’ Ann Toby gave a brief explanation of her class Taking the Fear out of Science.

“I often talk about CPI, cocktail party information,” Toby said explaining that if you stretched all the DNA in your body end to end it could circle the sun and back. “Now doesn’t that information make you interested in the person who gave you that information?” she quipped.

Carol Wells spoke about her class on genealogy and the sometimes overwhelming work people often wade into when researching their family history and the many helpful tips she has figured out doing her own research.

The fall semester is currently underway at the Parksville and Nanaimo campuses. The annual membership is only $20 and most courses are in the $40 range for six, two-hour sessions. Pick up a brochure at VIU campuses, online at, or by calling 1-866-734-6252.

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