Can you Hear Me Now?
I have finally admitted my hearing is not as good as it once was due to listening to very loud rock music and constant headphones blasting out the tunes. My grandmother warned me about what was going to happen to my ears, but that does not mean my hearing is completely impaired, or I can’t communicate. Some days however, I feel like other seniors in the fact that no one is listening to me. I, along with others, are hearing just instrumental music out of the mouths of politicians these days and none have any lyrics.
When my father was a town councillor in Cowansville, Quebec, I listened to the man grumble about a lot of issues, but never once about senior advocacy. In those days, elders seemed to be respected more and there was no internet, so there were basically just a few ways to communicate.
Now, in a similar role like my father, fighting for senior advocacy is at the top of my lists. These days a lot of senior’s voices are not being heard and I ache to hear commitments to provide necessary services to all seniors. Did you know that ageism is one of the most tolerated forms of discrimination in Canada?
Some seniors have told me they felt they were ignored in the last elections- especially those with low incomes. But this is not the first time, nor will it be the last. What will it take? Should I send a random text to a government number and say,”I hid the body!” Will I finally get someone to respond then?
When COVID-19 began, there was and continues to be a shortage of communication for seniors who do not have internet access, or someone that could help them. I asked a representative from a Health Unit at a United Way meeting how a senior without the internet was going to know how to get information about shots. How would they be able to find their results? I was told quite emphatically they could check the results on Twitter. I asked again, “what if they do not have
internet?” I was told they could get other people to help them on the internet. Well, that was not a good enough answer for me.
How does a senior without the internet, or the means to understand, how to use a computer cope with today’s pandemic and other things? Then there are the seniors who do have issues with the internet in very rural areas, with spotty internet, or none at all. The issues facing today’s aging generations have not been taken seriously on many government levels.
Each month I look at my senior pension and wonder if I did not have another job, how would I pay for anything. How much time do seniors have when they finally sell their home and live in these retirement residences that cost $3000-$6500 a month? Or, add on the charges for extras like tying their shoes and other similar things. What happens after the money runs out?
As the baby boomers age, and another generation moves into retirement these basic infrastructures that they never fixed are going to collapse. These many patchworks of tax credits and empty promises will fail to support anyone that will be in long term care in the future. What about the seniors aging at home? Home care is often overlooked and not talked about as much as other institutional parts of the health care system.
Let me tell you how someone finally listened to seniors in Ontario. The Golden Girls Act. Bill 69 was inspired by four Port Perry seniors who, in 2016, wanted to move into a house together. After realizing that a retirement home, condo or apartment was not the ideal living arrangement, these four seniors decided to cohabit together, designed a home that would meet their collective needs. But the law would not let them do it.
Upon meeting the Golden Girls, Durham Member of Provincial Parliament, Lindsey Park, was inspired to do what she could to promote this project and ensure that other seniors did not face similar hurdles at the municipal level. In February 2019, MPP Park introduced
a Private Member’s Bill in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, titled The Golden Girls Act, 2019. The Bill was debated in the Legislature and passed Second Reading with all-party support and passed in May 2020.
Seniors are feeling greatly left out. During these COVID times many are slowly isolating themselves because of lack of communication. No matter what governments promise, it is just not enough. According to a new study conducted by Campaign Research Inc:
91% of seniors plan to stay in their own home or apartment as long as possible,
75% of seniors believe the government has a role to play to ensure people make informed, safe decisions
95% of seniors believe that being in their own home with the support of home care is the safest environment for them to live during a pandemic.
96% of seniors believe it is either very (84%) or somewhat (12%) important for the government to provide home care workers with personal protective equipment during times of pandemic to assist with infection control measures.
Is anyone listening out there? Should I check to see if I have an expiry date on me somewhere? It’s not the distance that keeps seniors isolated or confused– it’s just something called communication that needs to put some heavy duty work boots on.
From my weekly column in The Sherbrooke Record