P.E.I. seniors' advocate 'absolutely delighted' to present at WHO meeting

·2 min read

P.E.I. seniors' advocate Olive Bryanton was on the world stage this week, speaking about older adults at a virtual meeting of the World Health Organization.

A well-known voice for seniors on P.E.I., Bryanton got the chance to present at a WHO meeting Thursday during which the baseline report for the decade of healthy agingwas released.

"It was exciting to be invited to represent older persons," said Bryanton.

Bryanton was asked to speak after having a long conversation over Zoom with WHO staff.

"Of course I was absolutely delighted, and had no idea what I was doing," laughed Bryanton.

I think this report is going to change the way aging and the aged are looked at. - Olive Bryanton

Bryanton helped establish the first seniors' centre on P.E.I. and has worked to advocate for older adults for decades. She received her PhD from UPEI in 2019 at the age of 82, writing her dissertation on aging women in rural communities. She is still working at UPEI as a research assistant.

"It was a real thrill to be with such knowledgeable people about aging and the aging process," said Bryanton.

Matt Rainnie/CBC
Matt Rainnie/CBC

The new report found there are more than 142 million seniors around the world who are currently unable to meet all their basic daily needs. Bryanton said that is happening on P.E.I. as well.

"There's a lot of older adults even in our little province who do not have the finances they need to get the basic things in life. And until people can have their basic needs met, they can't go any further," she said.

New report could go 'a long way' to eliminating ageism

Bryanton said that after reading the full report, however, she came away feeling excited.

"It's finally looking at older adults as people with capabilities and strengths," she said. "And they're not the vulnerable people that we were hearing about earlier on, they're actually people who can take control and can support the research that's going on and advise the research that's going on."

Bryanton stressed that older adults have to be part of the decisions made about them.

"I think this report is going to change the way aging and the aged are looked at. It's looking at them from a perspective of being valuable in the communities and I think it's going to go a long way to eliminating ageism."

Happy to represent P.E.I.

Bryanton said she hopes to be invited to another meeting with WHO staff in January to brainstorm next steps for the research.

"I just found them so easy to talk with and I was in awe, actually, with the people I was sharing the day with," said Bryanton.

"I thought how lovely that little P.E.I. was actually going to be representing the older adults across the world."

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