'You have to look after your own health': Yukon seniors encouraged to keep active at Whitehorse event

Saturday's events at the Canada Games Centre Whitehorse included two 15-minute drumming sessions teaching participants how to use the drum to celebrate, make music, heal, and have fun. (Sissi De Flaviis/CBC - image credit)
Saturday's events at the Canada Games Centre Whitehorse included two 15-minute drumming sessions teaching participants how to use the drum to celebrate, make music, heal, and have fun. (Sissi De Flaviis/CBC - image credit)

Watercolour painting, pilates and pickleball were just a few of the activities offered to seniors in Whitehorse on Saturday to mark United Nations' International Day of Older Persons.

Resilience in a changing world is this year's theme for the day and also the focus of drop-in sessions organized by the City of Whitehorse and Yukon's ElderActive Recreation Association, said ElderActive's program coordinator David Jennings.

"Coming out of a pandemic, people have lost that activity, they haven't lost the drive, it's just getting the activity going again," said Jennings.

Seniors had the chance to attend sessions on nutrition and e-bikes or play shuffleboard and take drumming lessons.

"It gives the opportunity for seniors who've never tried [an activity] to give it a try to see if they like it," said Jennings.

Sissi De Flaviis/CBC
Sissi De Flaviis/CBC

Jennings says staying active, both physically and socially, is extremely important as people age. That's why the day's goal was to foster community and also show Whitehorse residents various resources to keep moving and stay connected.

Yukon's aging population

Over the past decade, the Yukon has experienced a huge growth in the sector of the population that's 60 and older.

A Yukon Bureau of Statistics' report comparing March 2012 to the same month in 2022, showed an increase of 91.4 per cent (973 people) in the 75-and-older age group. The 60- to 74-year-old group increased by 64.9 per (2,913 people).

That compares to a 17.3 per cent increase in the number of children up to the age of 14 years and a three per cent increase in the 15- to 29-year-old age group.

"We need more active seniors in the community," said Sandra Lansfield, who attended Saturday's event.

Sissi De Flaviis/CBC
Sissi De Flaviis/CBC

"I think because of the way our health care is right now, where it's hard for people to find doctors, you have to look after your own health and be proactive," she said.

Although Lansfield said she has not personally struggled to find a family doctor in the Yukon, she knows people who have either lost their doctor or have been waiting for years.

She said one way to keep healthy is to keep active.

"Even if it hurts a little bit, keep moving," she said.

To mark the day, Tai Chi Yukon also offered a free tai chi session for seniors at Takhini Elementary School.

Sissi De Flaviis/CBC
Sissi De Flaviis/CBC