I take pleasure in dispelling the myth being spread by a major car insurance provider about the emerging dangers presented by a growing and greying population of Canadian drivers to all of our safety on the road. Their supposition is nothing more than unadulterated bigotry and active ageism - my opinion. In fairness to the good work that they do in other insurance related categories, I won’t name them.
While my focus in this column is upon elders, here is an issue that can and does impact people of all ages. I can’t seem to find Canadian statistics but in the US, more than 230,000 people are sent to the ER each year specifically due to an injury sustained while bathing, showering, or using the bathroom facilities, and yes, most of them are elderly!
The 2016 Census Canada data is out. Among the discoveries not often spoken about is the number of elders aging while living alone.
Every once in a while, a door-to-door or telephone scam is discovered locally; someone claiming to be a utility company requiring payment or that an award has been won; ‘just send a small administration fee and we’ll provide you with the details’! Regrettably, these scams continue to occur and regrettably, it is seniors who are often targeted and fall victim. Elders, especially those older and living alone crave human contact and are generally less skeptical of an apparent authority’s authenticity.
As Canadians, we spend a bit longer than do other nationalities hibernating during the winter and are very familiar with the need for a good spring cleaning of our homes come nicer weather. This experience is not exclusive to any age group, all of us seem to confront the need to de-clutter from time to time but when an elder has a home filled with a lifetime’s worth of stuff, the task can seem more daunting!
I recently turned 55 and hence, I officially joined those Canadians aged 55 and above categorized by demographers as ‘elders’. Not sure how I feel being referenced by that term! I mean, Canadians live, on average, well into their 80’s so who among us aged 55 to say 70 who yet enjoys good health, really feels like an ‘elder’ on the inside?
Many of us have participated in the challenging decision to register a loved one in a long term care facility. This decision is often made necessary due to the consequences of old age; that time when an aged person loses the ability to completely care for themselves in the activities of daily living; called ADL’S (Activities of daily living). Things like dressing and bathing, walking, cooking and feeding oneself. While the wait for placement is long, about 103 days, there are more than 637 facilities in Ontario to choose from.
As Canada’s elder population expands, it naturally and continually draws a greater percentage of those numbered among the generation or two below the aged, into formal and informal elder caregiver roles. Despite the current demographic challenge of aging, Canadians also have, on average, much smaller families.
Employers are more challenged than ever to attract and retain knowledgeable and skilled workers. Baby boomers are rapidly retiring and millenials, while abundant, often job shop and hop. So what’s the solution; older workers! Who exactly? It could be anyone over the age of 55.
The mix among age groups in our population continues to tilt towards an older population. Who better to serve the graying population than capable and abundant graying and available elders!
All of us get lonely, even those of us well-connected socially or from large, close-nit families. We are social creatures by nature we humans, regardless of our age! The thing is that as elders age, more when they are in their late 70’s and 80’s, they get out less often and through the phenomenon of natural occurring personal losses, have fewer friends and family members alive among them. That makes visiting older elders all the more important.