Senior Scope - Useful and Entertaining Information.
A publication for older adults in Manitoba, Canada. Available in print or as a digital download.
Home button
V8N6 - December, 2009:

Spotlight feature:


“Love life and life will love you back.
Love people and they will love you back.”

~ Arthur Rubinstein

Sophie Kolt grew up in Winnipeg’s North End as a first generation Canadian. Her parents were of east European—Polish/Czechoslovakian—descent.

Growing up in the North End—a community then rich with many ethnic backgrounds—Sophie developed an appreciation of people of all cultures, forming a common bond and common purpose with them.

It was here where she developed her sense of family and community and has carried it with her all throughout her life.

Her parents were a huge influence. Her father, Joseph, was always encouraging Sophie and her siblings to do and be the best that they can, emphasizing the importance of education. Joseph came to Canada at the age of 18 and then worked for the railroad. Later he set up the Polish Press establishing the bilingual Czas/Polish Times magazine in 1914, serving North America. Sophie was informed three summers ago that her late father would be honoured by the Dafoe Library in Winnipeg for his role with the Polish Press.

An emphasis of education, music, sports and literature were instilled in the youth by family and the community as a whole. This is also where Sophie’s love of learning stems from. These early beginnings have shaped Sophie into the caring, compassionate, full-of-life and wonder individual she is today.

Sophie won’t let life slip by without taking advantage of all it has to offer. She spent her career, with a Master’s degree in Social Work, travelling around rural Manitoba for the provincial government. She often flew up north to Baron’s River and Bloodvein utilizing the only means of air travel to the north at the time, with a bush pilot, where take off and landing were on skiis in winter and pontoons in summer! Eventually, she developed a love of flying, especially in small planes. And she also developed a fondness of the north and the people living there. When Sophie travelled to these remote northern communities, Thompson or Pinawa did not yet exist. They started developing in the early 1950’s. She precedes these communities, in her words.

When Sophie retired, she was introduced to Creative Retirement Manitoba (CRM). Retirement for Sophie is a process of living and loving things with kindred spirit. That’s what Creative Retirement offers to her... and more. Sophie is a past president of CRM and sits on the Program Committee with Ingrid Wedelake. She enjoys volunteering, and simply being, there. “It is complimentary of people and acceptance. It’s a win-win for me,” states Sophie. “There are so many choices here. It’s action-directed with a purpose, with a visual show of results.”

CRM, along with other senior-oriented organizations in Manitoba, are participants of ‘Age-Friendly Manitoba’ — a program to make communities in Manitoba more age-friendly with a goal of making Manitoba the most age-friendly province in Canada. Sophie, herself, contributes to this effort in many ways on her own. She is a major advocate for seniors’ rights with a focus on safe and affordable housing. She volunteers on the Advisory Committee at 64 Nassau, a senior housing complex, to promote public policy on behalf of its tenants. Poverty in Winnipeg among seniors is another sad issue she tries to address. She has been informed that many seniors are ‘living a life of quiet desperation’ due to poverty. She would like to see government address these issues more.

Although there are numerous resources for seniors available, she feels that it’s each person’s responsibility to make themselves as well as possible to remain independent. “Aging in Place” is a nice philosophy, but Sophie feels it needs more support from families and government to be more effective.

Sophie’s involvement with Partners Seeking Solutions with Seniors (PSSS) as an active member allows her to help address addictions in older adults. PSSS is a coalition of over 50 stakeholders from across Manitoba who meet regularly and address issues of seniors and substance misuse and abuse. Sophie helps to educate people of their choices so they can take responsibility for their own lives.

Sophie used to be shy, but volunteering cured that. Volunteering is great for anyone, as status is never an issue, she explains. It doesn’t cost money and it’s a win-win for everyone involved. “You’ll find resources in yourself that you never thought you had,” she says.

Sophie encourages anyone who wants to realize a dream, that ‘it’s now, not tomorrow.’ She says to try new things. “Give yourself the privilege of being curious,” she says. “Help and be helped. The first important step is to make a choice. Find your passion. It’s worth the risk.”

Sophie made that first step a while back when she got involved with the University of Winnipeg’s campus radio program at CKUW. 95.9 FM. She co-hosted a program called “Better Than Chocolate.” Later she joined the team of hosts for the “2000 & Counting” program.

Sophie continues to dream and realize her dreams. She is one year short of a degree in music—contemporary, popular music of the 20th century. She asked if she could be a student at the Faculty of Music in a jazz program, reviving her dream to further her musical knowledge. She was accepted and currently is having the time of her life. Because she is over 65, there is no fee, either! She prides herself on being a good student, although her short term memory isn’t as keen as it used to be—an infliction that often happens as you get older. But she addresses that by appearing an hour earlier to prepare for class.

All of Sophie’s efforts have not gone unnoticed. She recently was the recipient of the 2009 Murray Smith Award presented by the Manitoba Council on Aging, for her leadership and contributions to improve the quality of life for older Manitobans and her involvement
with Partners Seeking Solutions for Seniors. She is extremely honoured for this as she knew Murray Smith and his wife Muriel personally. She felt that her learning was enriched by his teachings and personhood. “He was so unassuming, yet so powerful,” she explains.

Sophie realizes that when she’s helping her community, she is also helping herself. When Sophie isn’t advocating for some cause or other, she seizes opportunities to enjoy nature and beauty. She is a notorious cloud-watcher and enjoys a beautiful sunset. She loves the crunching sound of walking on crisp snow. She loves plants, joining the
St. James Horticulture Society 10 years ago. She loves learning. She loves the magic of life. She simply loves life.

(Read more in the Dec/09 issue of Senior Scope)



2nd Annual Be a Santa to a Senior program - providing holiday cheer to Winnipeg seniors

Home Instead Senior Care and Age & Opportunity have joined together to bring this new program to the older adults living in the Winnipeg area. The purpose of Home Instead Senior Care’s community service program, Be a Santa to a Senior, is to positively impact the community by providing holiday cheer and gift giving to older adults who are least likely to receive a present during the holiday season, those who are lonely and/or financially challenged. This affords the opportunity to include other like-minded agencies and community partners involved to reach out to older adults and let them know about programs and services that are available to them all year long.

The ‘Be a Santa to a Senior’ program was a bigger success than last year. These gals made it all happen... with a little help, of course.
L-R: Julie Donaldson of Home Instead Senior Care; Deborah Lorteau, Project Coordinator - Housing Program, Age & Opportunity; and Stacey Miller, Manager, Community Services,
Age & Opportunity.

Last year, 150 gifts were delivered to older adults in the community. This year, we reached out to about 276
participants. Some of them in the project last year commented on how lonely it is during the holiday season when their families are far away or passed on, and one commented that this was the first time someone had bought her a gift for Christmas. Others asked for teddy bears or fleece blankets to have something warm and cuddly to hug or hold onto. The gifts generally range up to a price of $25.00 per gift, but many of the sponsors were very
generous and bought the participants extras to make it more special for all involved. Some of the agencies involved last year included the Fort Garry Women’s Resource Centre, Holy Rosary Church, Lion’s Place, the Senior Healthy Aging Secretariat, the offices of the Personal Care Homes, the Westhaven, Victoria & Phillips Lifeline, West Broadway senior’s group, and Oakview Place. Many of the staff and volunteers from Age & Opportunity sponsored gifts and volunteered their time to help in the delivery of gifts. This year, there was a wider variety of volunteers, many of whom bought, wrapped and delivered the gifts as a group from their offices.

It’s a group effort at the gift wrapping party at the Westhaven. You don’t have to be an elf to be a Santa’s helper.

One family who volunteered together, even brought a supper to each of the seniors they were visiting

There are three ways to get involved in this worthwhile project: sponsor an older adult, refer an older adult to the program, or volunteer to be a driver. Participants are informed of the project and are asked for their consent to receive the gift and visit.

The number of gifts wrapped and delivered this year totalled about 276, nearly doubling last year’s amount.

This year’s project is ‘wrapped up’ for another year thanks to all of the hard working volunteers!

Deborah Lorteau thanked the Santa’s helpers at the Westhaven who volunteered to wrap gifts, but it was they who were thankful.

"No, thank you for giving us the Christmas spirit," expressed Gladys McNeill. Another stated, “This program allows each of us to open our hearts a little more during a holiday season that can be difficult for so many people no matter what age. Once again I want to say ‘thank you’ for this small gift of helping out."

For more information visit or or contact Julie Donaldson @ 612-9257.
For volunteer or sponsorship information, contact Stacey Miller or Deborah Lorteau @ 956-6440.

(Read more in the Dec/09 issue of Senior Scope)


Season’s thievings:
ID fraud and holiday shopping

The busiest retail season of the year is about to begin, and with an increase in financial transactions comes an increase in opportunities for fraud artists. This year, keep your holiday shopping joyous by taking a few extra precautions:

Shopping in person:

• Even though you will be rushed and thinking about a thousand things, try to remain alert to your surroundings.

• When paying with a credit or debit card, never lose sight of your card. Whenever possible, swipe your card yourself rather than giving it to the cashier.

• Never leave receipts at bank machines, bank wickets, in trash cans or at unattended gasoline pumps. Shred all paperwork that you no longer need.

• Do not keep a written record of your bank PIN number(s) or your social insurance number in your wallet or hand bag.

Shopping on-line:

• Shop only from your home computer – it’s much safer than shopping at a terminal in an internet café or library.

• If you plan to buy something, go directly to a store’s website by manually typing its address into your web browser. Don’t click on links in an
e-mail message even if you know who sent it.

• Verify secure connections. When shopping on-line, do not enter any financial information if you see a broken-key or open padlock symbol on your Internet browser. This means the transaction is not secure and could be intercepted by a third party. When the key is complete or the padlock is locked, your browser is indicating a secure transaction.

• Consider using a company acting as escrow (reliable third party), a credit card with a low credit limit or a single use payment card.

• Unlike secure order forms on a web site, e-mail messages are not private. Do not send confidential personal or financial information by e-mail.

• Avoid spam (unsolicited marketing
e-mail) by being careful about disclosing your e-mail address both on and off-line.

• Monitor your bank and credit card and statements on-line. Electronic statements allow you to review your purchases and payments as they happen rather than waiting until the end of the month to review your paper statement. Immediately report any discrepancies to your bank or to the company that issued the credit card.

Other tips:

• Promptly remove mail from your mailbox after delivery and do not leave pieces of mail lying around your residence or office.

• Shred or otherwise destroy pre-approved credit card applications, credit card receipts, bills and related information when they’re no longer needed.

• Do not provide personal information such as your SIN, date of birth, credit card numbers, or PIN over the telephone or via e-mail. There are more secure methods for providing this valuable information when it is legitimately required.

• Avoid mail or telephone solicitations disguised as promotions. Criminals involved in this type of scam typically offer you an instant prize or an award for the purpose of obtaining personal information, such as your credit card numbers.

This holiday season, be a Scrooge with your personal information. If, despite your best efforts, you feel you’ve been victimized by a scam or a fraud, you should report it immediately to the police service of jurisdiction in your area.

Cst. Ben Doiron
Winnipeg RCMP
Commercial Crime Section

(Read more in the Dec/09 issue of Senior Scope)


Having a Safe Holiday

The holiday season is a busy time. Between now and the end of the month we will spend time with relatives, reconnect with old friends and join in community events. The holidays, for many, mean changes in schedules, traveling, overeating and a whole lot of stress. Here are a couple things to consider when preparing for the holidays with your health in mind. Research published by the American Heart Association has shown that the holidays can be a dangerous time – with an increase in accidents and heart disease – particularly for older adults. Let us look at a few of the possible risks during the holidays and what you can do to keep yourself safe.

Holiday feasting

• Celebrating with friends and family is an important part of the holiday season, but do not let these events wreak havoc on your health.

• People with diabetes sometimes find it hard to join in on holiday celebrations. When planning holiday events keep regular meal times in mind, make sure to provide low-sugar or sugar-free options, and have a variety of diet drinks on hand.

Too much to do

• The holidays can be very stressful with all the running around, all the money to spend, and all the people to see. Make sure to keep the holidays in perspective.

• Try prioritizing holiday events. Set the most important parties and dinners in your calendar first and only accept invitations to holiday functions you have the time to enjoy.

Going on a trip

• Holiday travel often involves staying with relatives. Stairs and other falling hazards should be something to keep in mind when planning your holiday travel. Talk to your family about your safety needs. Staying at a hotel may be a safer idea if you have limited mobility.

• Many people put off seeing their doctors during the holiday season, especially when traveling away from home; remember that your doctor and other health care professionals are your best source of information about your health.

• When planning your holiday visits, consider people for whom the holidays may be a lonely time, especially older adults who are separated from their families.

First aid and CPR training can be a great way to keep you and your family safe year-round and first aid kits can make a unique and stress-free holiday gift. We hope these tips help you to have a safe and joy-filled season.

For more info on First Aid and CPR Training, contact St. John Ambulance at 784-7000 or visit

(Read more in the Dec/09 issue of Senior Scope)


First-ever MSOS Senior Idol named

(L-R) Ed Lefteruk – third place; Bonnie Gabbs – second place; Kimberly Wiehs, MSOS Executive Director; and Wilfred R. Perry, Senior Idol.

Wilfred R. Perry is Manitoba’s Senior Idol after his performance of ‘Cry, Cry, Cry’, followed by some lively jigging, was judged the best of 14 acts at the Manitoba Society of Seniors’ (MSOS) Senior Idol finals on Nov. 18 at Club Regent Casino’s Jaguars Dance Club.

Comedienne Donna Gabbs won second place and singer Ed Lefteruk placed third.

“All the finalists put on an excellent show,” said MSOS executive director Kimberly Weihs. “This event shows the many talents of Manitobans age 50 and over.”

The first-ever Senior Idol event was a partnership between MSOS and Manitoba Lotteries. A capacity crowd of approx. 325 attended the finals. Celebrity judges were Marcy Markusa, CBC Radio’s Morning Show co-host; Moose, HANK-FM Morning Show co-host; Doug Speirs, Winnipeg Free Press columnist; and Rob Altemeyer, MLA for Wolseley.

The Manitoba Society of Seniors is a non-profit organization formed in 1979. Our mission is to represent Manitobans age 50 plus by promoting their needs and concerns and by presenting a positive image of older adults in the community.

For more information, contact:
Marcia Dzik
Manitoba Society of Seniors
204-942-3147, ext. 302

(Read more in the Dec/09 issue of Senior Scope)

Online Fraud & Internet Scams

Anyone who uses the internet or email has most likely encountered some form of fraud or scam, even if they did not recognize it for what it was. Others have been made painfully aware they were involved in a fraud or scam after losing money or sensitive information to one.

Avoiding frauds and scams may seem a daunting task at first, but there are some simple, effective steps you can take to help prevent being the victim of a fraud or scam online.

The first thing to do is ensure you have your computer and email properly secured.

Many people use generic passwords to access their email accounts, such as ‘1234’ or, ‘password’. While this certainly takes the difficulty out of having to remember and enter a complicated password, it also leaves your email account extremely vulnerable to a hacker which can then use your contacts and email identity to their advantage for a fraud or scam.

Ensure your email password is difficult to guess. Adding a few numbers on the end of a word used for a password is also a good idea, as it adds extra security. For example, if your password is ‘redshoes’ adding a 93 to the end will increase it’s security significantly. If you are concerned about forgetting the password, write it out on a sticky-note and affix it to your computer monitor so you will have it handy if needed.

Having a proper antivirus program is essential for keeping your computer secure. Many viruses and malware will steal your information such as passwords, email contacts, banking information, etc. So, even if your email password is something no one could ever guess, it won’t do you much good if a virus is taking down that password and sending it off to someone anyway.

Unfortunately, most anti-virus and internet security programs marketed to consumers offer very poor protection, are difficult to use and will slow your computer down to the point where it is hardly working. It seems odd, but the companies that offer the worst programs are also the companies that are the most well known and, coincidentally, also the most expensive. Luckily, there are a number of excellent, easy to use, and free antivirus products available, if you know where to look.

The antivirus program we recommend and use on a regular basis is Avira. It is made by a European company and is quite popular in Europe. They offer a residential version for free, and it can be downloaded at The reason we use Avira over other programs is it has consistently offered better protection and detection capabilities than other antivirus programs, it is free and it also uses very little system resources so it does not slow down your computer.

The second way to avoid fraud and scams is simply to use caution when it comes to online correspondence. Even if you are receiving an email from an address that you know is your friend’s address, don’t provide them with passwords or monetary info until you have verified with them either in person or over the phone that the request they have sent you is legitimate. In the same way, when receiving emails from companies or people you do not know saying you have won contests or they want you to cash a money order for them, etc., don’t respond or provide information to them, either, as those are emails intended to draw you into scams or frauds, or steal information from you.

Additionally, beware of companies or organizations that you believe you know asking for your passwords or account information via email or online. For example, if MTS is your internet service provider, and you receive an email from a sender whose name appears as ‘MTS’ or ‘MTS Internet Service’ or something similar, and that email asks you for your passwords or billing information, call MTS to ensure the email is legitimate, as most companies or internet service providers will NEVER ask you for that information online or via email. Most scams and frauds are done by the scammer pretending to be a person or company that the individual they are scamming trusts, which is why it is important to be extra cautious, and verify through non-email or online means the legitimacy of the requests for information or money you receive.

Hopefully after reading this, avoiding online fraud and scams may not be as difficult as it might have seemed.

Timothy Barron
Winnipeg Computer Pros
(204) 885 - 2177

(Read more in the Dec/09 issue of Senior Scope)


Senior Scope - highlighting the programs, services and savings for seniors.

Anyone who is a senior or knows a senior enjoys reading it. And who doesn't have a parent, grandparent, relative or friend who isn't aging? Better yet, who isn't aging? We all are.

Senior Scope offers useful and entertaining information with a focus on active, inspiring individuals, 55 and over, who are happy to share their stories.

Send your comments or story suggestions to






















Home | About | Archives | Events | To Advertise | Contact | Links










Senior Scope
Publisher: Kelly Goodman
Phone: 204-467-9000
Box 1806 Stonewall
Manitoba, Canada
R0C 2Z0