When Airdrie senior Brigitte Laschinsky retired several years ago from her career as an early childhood educator, the transition from working 14-hour days to having an entire day to herself was not an easy one.
"Retirement was a little bit overwhelming. In the beginning, I did not know what to do with myself."
It wasn't until a neighbour of hers introduced her to the Airdrie over 50 Club that Laschinsky began to truly appreciate her retirement and spare time.
"There were more opportunities for me to reach out to people that I never really had the time to do before. It was great to have that friendship and that camaraderie and I found that the ladies at the over 50 Club were quite open to new people coming in. It was easy to fit in and I really enjoyed being with them," she said.
The week of June 6 to 12 has been proclaimed by the city council as Seniors' week in Airdrie and as part of the many ways the city and its residents are celebrating and honouring seniors, The Airdrie 1st Club, The Over 50 Club, Community Links, Cedarwood Station, Luxstone Senior Living, and A Friend Indeed have all prepared events geared towards engaging seniors in the community.
"This is the first “event” we’ve been able to host since 2019, so we are very excited to be able to celebrate with the seniors in our community again this year!" wrote Laurie Jacob-Toews, the Community Engagement Services Manager for Community Links.
Laschinsky noted that COVID-19 had an isolating effect on seniors in the past few years, and events like this are integral to helping seniors stay active, engaged, and wanted.
"We did miss our friends. We couldn't see them.[That's why this week] is so important right now. We can reach out to seniors and say, 'Hey, come join us. We're going to have some fun and we're going to maybe meet new seniors that have never been there and I think that is very important as well.'"
Laschinsky underscored that during the COVID-19 lockdowns, many seniors, whose spouses passed away, were at particular risk of being cut off from contact.
"These people are so affected by the virus that kept us in lockdown for so long. I mean, the Airdrie over 50 Club was almost closed for two years, so a lot of them lost contact," she said. "I think it's important that we reach out. I think that is commendable for these groups that have put this senior week on. I wish to thank them for that."
She said she has been very lucky in that regard as she and her husband just celebrated 52 years of marital bliss. However, Laschinsky did say it took more than a glance from her husband before she was swooning in love.
"I met him in Europe and we got married in Europe. I met him actually, through my dad. They used to work together. Love at first sight? I think more like second sight," Laschinsky joked heartedly.
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