Submitted by: Susan Flowers, Manager, FCSS
On February 4th, over fifty men in the Cochrane and area community converged for a day of speakers, displays, a catered lunch, and a chance to connect with other men at the inaugural Men in Retirement Gathering.
Organizers were delighted with the turnout; and both committee and participants were impressed with the day’s presentations. Topics included:
• Adjusting To Retirement & Depression – a Mental Health Perspective,
• Dealing With Isolation – Role Change From Spouse To Caregiver,
• Financial Management in Retirement,
• Naturopathy In Men’s Health,
• Heart, Prostates & Colon Health – a Physician’s Advice
• Exercise As We Age, and
• Caring And Living Well – keynote address from David Irvine.
The conception of this project came about when it was noted, by the Town of Cochrane Recreation, Arts and Culture staff connected to seniors’ programming, that few men were attending the local seniors’ centre; Seniors On the Bow. FCSS was approached to discuss the possibility of collaborating to create an opportunity for retired men to gather and so a meeting was convened at a local coffee shop, with a few interested senior men in attendance. A retired community member quickly emerged as a natural leader and a champion of this initiative. He worked with FCSS, Recreation and a small team of volunteers to:
• determine a theme,
• develop a list of topics, and
• spread the word to other men and groups with whom he had been connected.
On the day of the event, it was evident that these men want to be connected to one another and to their community and that they indeed saw value in the offerings. The participant evaluation forms reinforced that belief with 66% of attendees reporting that they experienced positive change.
During the volunteer appreciation and debrief meeting, it was determined that the gathering would take place again in 2018. Participant evaluations and committee feedback will contribute to new and expanding themes for the 2018 conference. A local physician and key speaker at the 2017 conference has already volunteered to return and is thinking of different topics that he could cover. Work is proceeding toward a 2018 Men in Retirement Conference, with FCSS support.
Since the debrief meeting, our Community Champion has chaired a meeting to discuss next steps. This includes next year’s conference and the unintended but happy outcome of a possible quarterly men’s coffee gathering.