How a local organization will try to keep seniors from being left behind
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Wednesday, June 16, 2021
Good Morning!
On Sunday, soccer player Christian Eriksen collapsed when his heart abruptly stopped in the middle of a game at the Euro 2020 tournament. The world watched in horror. A teammate started doing CPR. A defibrillator was used. Eriksen was 29. He is 29. Eriksen was wheeled from the field, alive, his heart again pumping oxygenated blood through his arteries. The heart is a crazy thing. If something goes wrong in there, it can just stop. But this is the 21st century and, with some luck, technology can restart a heart in an instant. There are defibrillators at arenas around the valley, but it’s worth considering whether these life-saving wonder-machines are in enough places. It’s also a reminder of the value of learning CPR. Preparing for an event that was unlikely, but possible, saved a life in Denmark, and it can save lives here. —Tyler Olsen, managing editor
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The Abbotsford Association for Healthy Aging will be loaning out tablets and teaching seniors increasingly vital technology skills. 📸  Ysbrand Cosijn/Shutterstock
Closing the generation tech gap

At the turn of the 19th century, half of Britain’s men and women were illiterate. Only 70 years later, that number had dropped by half. Suddenly, the world turned on the assumption you could read and write. If you couldn’t, you were left behind.

The same thing, Petra Rentrop argues, is happening today with Canadian seniors.

“In the industrial period, in our history, machines started to do things for us… and it was more and more important for people to know how to read and write,” Rentrop said. “During that time, there’s a huge gap [in literacy].

“What we’re seeing now is that there’s the same situation where there’s a huge gap for seniors, especially in the computer era, where everything is moving online. So they’re almost helpless without these skills.”

Rentrop, 58, has seen this firsthand. She has been working with computers since the 1980s— before the era of computer hard drives, when floppy disks held the operating system. When the pandemic hit, she began helping her dad navigate things like online banking, antivirus software installation, and COVID vaccine registration. Soon, she was helping her father’s friends—all in their 70s and 80s. And now she is set to help other Abbotsford seniors embrace the future.

The Abbotsford Association for Healthy Aging recently received a $15,000 grant from United Way to provide seniors with computer support and lessons. The association also received several tablets, with data plans, that it will be able to loan out. The grant has allowed the association to contract Rentrop’s services as a teacher. She is currently holding free 1-on-1 digital lessons and the organization hopes small group lessons could be on the way soon. Simple how-to sheets are also being developed for seniors to use after their lessons.

This is the first time Healthy Aging has done a program like this—and it’s about more than just helping seniors connect their printer or video call a friend. It’s also about keeping seniors in touch with the world around them, and possibly letting them stay in their own homes for longer with things like online grocery shopping and prescription renewals. (Others agencies, including the Chilliwack Learning Society, offer similar services in other Fraser Valley communities.)

“I’ve helped people set up their computers on the internet, because they didn’t know how to do that… Some people have never used email before—or maybe just read it, but never actually attached documents,” Rentrop said. “Over the last 10 years, many seniors were like ‘I don’t need to do that. I’ll just continue to do what I always do. I’ll write letters. Use the phone book.’ But all those things are basically disappearing.”

Even though there is an easing of the pandemic restrictions that put so much emphasis on digital access and knowledge, Rentrop doesn’t see the need for those skills going away. The pandemic was merely a catalyst for an accelerated digital revolution, she said, where services will continue to have an online-first approach.

“I was helping a lady the other day. And she was crying,” Rentrop said. “She was so lost and feeling helpless.

“But I was coaching her through it, and yesterday she sent me an email, ‘It works!’” Rentrop continued. “People really need these skills so that they don't get left behind.”
Need to Know
🏒 The City of Abbotsford will pay the owner of the Canucks $750,000/year to manage the Abbotsford Centre [Abbotsford News]

🏒 There are 10 potential names for the valley’s new AHL team [Rick Dhaliwal]

🔎  An Abbotsford man is missing. He was last seen at his Langley workplace [Langley Advance Times]

🏞 Harrison Hot Springs is installing new signs to help tourists find their way around the village [Agassiz-Harrison Observer]

👶 100 babies were born at Chilliwack General Hospital in May [Chilliwack Progress]
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Chilliwack will look for a new name for Trutch Avenue, which sits opposite one of the local reserves he shrunk a century ago. 📸 Grace Kennedy
The Agenda
Chilliwack council has agreed to rename Trutch Avenue to a name of “Indigenous significance.” Council gave staff the go-ahead Tuesday to begin working on the name change for the residential road, located off Ashwell Road. Coun. Bud Mercer said he hoped the residents of the street “embrace this initiative for what it is,” adding that a name change was the right thing to do. Other councillors also voiced their support. The city will be sending letters to the 17 homes on the street for their input, and will be working with Squiala Chief David Jimmie to develop a consultation plan with local First Nations for a new name. The Current reported on Joseph Trutch’s local impact yesterday.

More than 2/3 of candidates for school district and city council broke Abbotsford’s sign bylaw during the last municipal election. A report to council says 71% of the 41 candidates in the last local elections had signs that were “non-compliant” at some point. There were also more concerns about problematic signs than in previous elections. The city had designated 15 areas where signs could be erected, but the report says most complaints regarded signs placed in improper locations. “While most candidates tried their best to comply with the various provisions of the bylaw, some candidates who found themselves in non-compliance claimed ignorance of the Election Sign Bylaw while others appeared to ignore the bylaw completely,” the report said. The Current has requested a list of the candidates who failed to comply.
COVID latest
The end of the pandemic may be nigh and there is confidence that the relatively high number of young people vaccinated in BC may reduce the threat from the Delta variant. In tomorrow’s newsletter we’ll take a closer look at which neighbourhoods have the highest vaccination rates, and which communities are still seeing relatively high case numbers.

Fraser Health
  • New cases: 108 / 123 average (down 29% from last week)
  • 139 hospitalizations (down 32% from last week)
  • No new deaths / 1,734 total
Around Town
🏞 Chilliwack and Cultus Lake residents are invited to share their thoughts on the redevelopment of Cultus Lake’s Village Centre. The online survey will be available until Aug. 5.

The Fraser Valley Huskers are looking for families to host its 17- to 22-year-old football players for the 2021 season. More information is available online.

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