Jewish Senior Alliance’s Commitment to Elders
JSA’s Peer Support Services include free counselling, friendly home visits, telephone calls, bereavement support, accompaniment to medical appointments and a referral hot line. Our Advocacy and Outreach programs take the forms of a magazine Senior Line, published 3 times a years, a website www. jsalliance.org with an Events Calendar, and our four Empowerment Seminars, Spring Forum and Fall Symposium—all of which provide extensive reporting and presentations on current issues and existing programs for the elderly.
B.C. Care Providers
B.C.’s health system is not prepared for the challenges of its aging population which includes 25,000 seniors living in long-term residential care facilities. The B.C. Care Providers Association recommends that B.C. improve services to seniors in the community with the goal of the province becoming “an aging centre of excellence.” This will require more funding and changes in policy: Improvements in dementia training of caregivers and developing new continuing care models with an emphasis on caring for seniors in their own residences.
Developing Better Alternatives to a Difficult Situation
The deficiencies of our present municipal, provincial and federal policies are recognized. More professional caregivers must be trained and budgets must be enlarged. Society is in the midst of a major transition and transformation— largely due to advancing technology. There is hope that the young adults of today will play a key role in this transition as they have the experience of growing up with various technologies and social media in a way that older generations did not. New technologies offer the opportunity to bring people closer together (for example, by facilitating communication over long distances with ‘Face Time’ and ‘Skype’).
Evolving Attitudes towards Dementia
Most importantly, attitudes towards dementia are evolving. With education and guidance, caregivers can learn to interact with cognitively impaired seniors in more humane, less stressful ways. University students are living in seniors’ residences to the advantage of both populations. A Toronto long-term care centre houses a daycare that brings children by to play with residents. Prevention and retardation of the development of dementia is at the forefront of scientific research. We encourage the establishment of a Provincial Seniors Safety Strategy focusing on falls prevention, residenton-resident aggression, reducing adverse medication events, suicide prevention, and elder abuse.
What does it take to create caring communities?
The bottom line is: if we want to live in a caring community, then we have to do our part to make it happen. When individuals are separated from their biological families, one can intentionally create support networks with people of your choosing. Whatever your interest is, whether it is owning a dog, or folk dancing, or working out at a gym, friendships and support systems can be formed. A group of single women can live together and take care of each other.
Non-profit organizations, such as Jewish Seniors Alliance, are working tirelessly to get more governmental financial support for services for the elderly. CARP is launching its new Dementia Campaign, calling for immediate action to address the glaring gaps in the system, including the lack of support (limited financial support and no training) for caregivers. It is our responsibility to ‘add life to years,’ to create a society that values its elders by providing the necessary services and the respect and dignity they deserve.