3.1 Conclusions

In the next decade, the NWT seniors population will increase 1.5 times. The NWT also has a rapidly growing seniors population with low literacy. Literacy difficulties among seniors are expected to continue into the future with Aboriginal literacy declining and increasing information and communication technologies. These seniors have difficulties functioning independently in their home, community or work. Seniors today and in the future need help to overcome literacy difficulties encountered in the activities of daily living. Many NWT seniors use literacy supports if they are aware of and are attracted to them.

Many community groups are advocating for and providing services to seniors. Community groups provide literacy outreach and drop-in helping services; interpretation in official languages; workshops such as for diabetes adapted to the mainly senior clients, and literacy learning activities in English and Aboriginal languages. Literacy supports are seldom a ‘stand-alone’ activity. Literacy supports are becoming more integrated with health, culture, recreational and political services involving seniors. Seniors prefer literacy supports that are part of community life and services. Existing programs and services would be more effective if they involved literacy supports.

A small segment of the NWT seniors population needing literacy support turn to community learning centers, literacy committees, Aurora College and/or Aboriginal language councils. Classes, tutorials, learning groups, gatherings/Christmas feasts, sewing circles, cooking classes, home visits and outreach are common approaches ways to attract seniors to more formal activities.

To make seniors access to programs easier, literacy providers and senior-serving organizations offer transportation, a ‘call-around’ service, and a familiar location for the literacy activity. Aboriginal language literacy activities are sometimes onthe- land and bridge the gap between youth and seniors.

Seniors literacy is a ‘hard sell’. Seniors may be shy or uncomfortable sharing their literacy difficulties. Some seniors have the attitude that they are too old to learn, and are satisfied to get help from someone in their family or a community agency. NWT seniors may be reluctant to enroll in or they drop out of certain activities. It is an objective of many community groups to support the independence and participation of all citizens. Many community groups use needs assessment and word-of-mouth promotion to raise seniors awareness of and provide literacy supports.