Seniors in Canada are living longer and healthier lives than previous generations. The number of those 65 years of age and older has increased from 4.8 million in 2010 to almost 7 million people in 2020. By 2031, the year that the youngest baby boomers will turn 65, approximately one in four Canadians will be a senior. (www150.statcan.gc.ca)
Seniors play an important role in families, communities and workplaces. They have helped build this country and continue to contribute to its success. (https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/programs/seniors-action-report.html#tc2a)
The question to keep at the forefront for the development of care for the aging population is what will, and what should, quality of life look like in that time? In answering that question, one must ask what is my role in the achievement of that quality?
As I reflect on the years spent in the care of the elderly I am mindful of the stories I would hear from residents of the long-term care homes, and the guests in our adult day programs as we were privileged to walk alongside them in their journey. At times significant details of a life-story would be missed or lost in memory. I recall reading the obituary of one of our residents and realizing that this dear lady sang at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. A snippet of her life. I remember thinking, if only I had known this there would have been much more to talk about. Would knowing more detail provide enhanced care?
In these days of COVID-19, we hear of the struggles experienced by seniors in residential settings and seniors in our cities and communities who are living alone; family members faced with restrictive measures for safety; the critical need for staff members to enter into situations where the caring for the elderly, while rewarding, can be complex and exhausting; the urgency placed on government to do something, and quickly, to improve the quality of life and level of care; and there is a clarion call for immediate engagement from various stakeholders.
What does it look like to be an agent of change? How can one contribute to the quality of life for elderly persons in care OR in the community?
- Listen to the stories. Pay attention to detail. The stories will often hold life lessons. Ask questions.
- If you have elderly friends, parents, siblings, or relatives in residential care settings and independent living settings, get involved. Stay informed. Visit. Volunteer.
- Become a voice. Be an advocate. Speak up when there is a need.
- As the Canadian demographic changes, there will be increased opportunity to step up and become an agent of change.
Micah 6:8 The Lord has told us what is good. What he requires of us is this: to do what is just, to show constant love and to live in humble fellowship with our God.