Seniors in Canada
Los Angeles/Jan 23, 2024
Our senior’s population is increasing steadily. According to recent figures there are close to 8 million seniors in Canada currently. Over 20% of them are over age 65. Most of the seniors have made significant contribution to the growth and development of this country. Unfortunately, a lot of them are on fixed income and are facing a lot of hardships. Some of them are subjected to emotional, physical, and financial abuse. Also, many seniors face social isolation and other related problems. Furthermore, as a person ages, his/her physical mobility and cognitive abilities also decline. On top of that many seniors become inflicted with mental health issues like anxiety, depression, and dementia. The people who suffer the most are usually older adults with physical and mental health issues, those with low income, older caregivers, Indigenous people, and newcomers. To make lives easier and more comfortable for the seniors, especially older adults in our society, a multipronged approach may be the best way.
The first and foremost and most important players in this process are the family members of the senior. They need to take a lead role in ensuring the safety and well being of the senior member (s) of the family. Unfortunately, some of the seniors may not have a close family member or members to look after them. In this case their close relatives and/or well wishers need to step in. These care givers need to be very patient and compassionate in working with seniors as some of the seniors may not be easy to work with. Once these caregivers gain the senior’s trust things usually move smoothly.
A lot of seniors depend heavily on provincial and federal assistance programs such as OAS, GIC, CPP etc. The recent unprecedented increase in the cost of living has made it very difficult for most Canadians to cope with the financial pressures. This is more so in case of seniors most of whom are on fixed income. One often hears stories of some of the seniors who are forced to make a choice between buying groceries or paying for their medications. This should not be happening in a wealthy country like Canada. Our provincial and federal governments need to pay more attention to such situations. Also, especially our federal government, should be focused more on making lives of Canadians in general and seniors in particular more comfortable rather than issues outside our jurisdiction. We need to pay more attention on promoting and facilitating healthy lifestyles for all Canadians in general and seniors in particular.
Finally, every level of government -municipal, provincial and federal needs to provide appropriate facilities and resources for seniors to socialize, exercise and share their stories and experiences with each other. Also, a concerted campaign to create more awareness about the issues relating to ageism, social isolation, and elder abuse will be in order. Such measures should enable our seniors to adopt healthy lifestyles and enjoy a productive and healthy life. We owe it them.
(Balwant Sanghera is a retired School Psychologist and Community Activist)