“Attention must be paid!” shouts
the 12-member cast of We Decide as
the play ends. The recent production
by GeriActors & Friends, an
intergenerational theatre company,
explores how aging involves letting go.
The play’s main message is that older
adults deserve respect and are capable
of making tough decisions about their
futures, such as whether to move into a
long-term care facility.
Formed in 2001, GeriActors is based
at the Seniors Association of Greater
Edmonton. The group includes older
adults and students from the University
of Alberta and local high schools.
Members write and perform original
plays about attitudes toward aging
and offer outreach theatre programs to
seniors across the city.
Social activity benefits our health
WRITTEN BY DOUG HORNER
Janet Fast, a professor of human
ecology at the U of A, studied GeriActors
for a research project on health and
creative aging. She says the troupe’s
older members feel they’re keeping their
minds active by learning and creating
stories. “They’re also making huge
contributions, not just to the young
people they’re working with, but to other
older people.” The sense of belonging the
group fosters is an essential attribute.
Research links social activity to health.
Spending time with others can prevent
loneliness and depression and help
people weather changes to their health,
income, living situation and social circle.
Fast says it doesn’t matter what people
do as long as they engage with other
people. “The main message that comes
from the research on social engagement
with older adults is that it needs to be
something that is meaningful to them.”
It’s simple: a rich social life comes
from satisfying activities that connect
people to people, whether it’s taking a
soapstone carving class, volunteering at
the food bank, hosting a radio show or
learning a new computer program at the
local library. “The number of alternatives
and opportunities that are evolving are
almost unlimited,” Fast says.
Here are just a few ways older
adults can connect with others in their
communities. Visit seniors.alberta.ca
for a full directory of the more than 300
seniors centres across Alberta.
It’s simple: a rich
social life comes from
that connect people to
Two members of GeriActors & Friends perform on
stage in Edmonton.