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by Kalie Dutchak

CNPEA is always on the lookout for new developments and programs that support healthy and safe aging across the country. In this blog post, we shine a light on recent developments on Prince Edward Island.

Kalie Dutchak interviewed local and national advocate for seniors Olive Bryanton to learn more about new initiatives that aim to better serve the older adult population and address ageism in P.E.I. communities.

Friendly Calls, a new Red Cross program

Friendly Calls pairs a trained volunteer or staff member with an adult for weekly scheduled phone calls with the goal of combatting social isolation. Although this program is designed for ages 18+, any caller, including the older adult population can benefit substantially from receiving a friendly conversation for social purposes, or to be connected to local community resources. Volunteers can be an adult of any age and are trained by the Red Cross in psychological first aid and safety and wellbeing. To sign up as a volunteer for this program, visit the volunteer portion of the website. 

New Summerside Intergenerational Program 

The mentor/mentee style program matches young people with older individuals based on common interests. The groups and pairs meet to exchange and learn from one another. Although the older adults are seen as mentors, learning is collaborative and shared between age cohorts. The relationship-building that results from programs like this one is fundamental to eliminating ageism in communities, by creating connections and understanding between people of different age groups. Communities can find strength in intergenerational connections. To sign up for this program, send an email to .

PEI Age Friendly Community Recognition Program

This recently formed and provincially funded Age-Friendly Group is now province-wide. An age-friendly community is one that is safe and supportive of all ages, including older adults. The goals of an age-friendly community are to create opportunities for older adults to remain active in their communities through inclusive facilities, resources, and policies. Volunteers work to identify supports available to older adults within their community and ways to fill existing gaps. This specific initiative looks at how communities can work together to make positive changes. For more information on how to become an age-friendly community, email .

In addition to these three initiatives, Seniors Independence Initiative, launched in 2018, provides small amounts of money to eligible seniors to purchase items and services that they need, such as Meals on Wheels or house cleaning services. 

For Olive, all these initiatives share a common goal: to change the way we think, feel, and act about aging and older people. Many of us do not realize that ageism is an oppressive force in our communities. We collectively need to understand that we are going against our own future when we are not acting against ageism. Fortunately, there are an increasing number of older adults saying that we are no longer willing to tolerate ageism, in PEI and in Canada. 

About Olive Bryanton, PhD:olivebryanton

Olive continues to be an inspiration to her community. As part of her Ph.D. research, Olive used photovoice for social change. A group of older adult women took pictures of specific places or items that have either supported or limited their ability to age in place. They each selected their six favourite images, and the four that best represented their realities. Olive then hosted an open house where community members, academics and policy makers, as well as the Minister responsible for seniors could see the photos. Attendees were able to engage in conversation with the women from the study group. Olive’s work has inspired many people, including the Minister responsible for seniors, to think more about what is needed in communities to support aging in place.

Olive’s own ongoing research initiative focuses on individuals ages 65 and above, who live alone in the community or with a partner. The research aims to directly survey older residents about the services they use, and the ones they need and wish existed (for example: there are no emergency shelters for people experiencing elder abuse on Prince Edward Island).

Olive is also part of the AGE-WELL network. Although not exclusive to Prince Edward Island, AGE-WELL works towards creating technologies and services that help older Canadians age in place independently.

kalie dutchak headshotKalie Dutchak is currently in her fourth year of the Bachelor of Social Work program at Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton, Alberta. She is doing her final semester's practicum at Sage Seniors Association and CNPEA.


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