During last week’s Senior Caregivers Conference, Montreal’s Senior Action Committee proved that a local seniors’ network can make a big difference in the lives of friends and family who may sometimes need a bit of help as they continue to care for their loved ones.

Initially organized by well-known seniors’ activist Ruth Pelletier, the day-long conference worked on assorted issues that affect senior caregivers on a daily basis. As learning how to remain positive about life’s many changes tended to dominate the day’s conference, Dr. Christopher McKinnon joined Dr. Jill Aucoin as the two psychologists led a solemn discussion about the loneliness, stress and anxiety that often define a full-time care-giver’s life.

“The first part of the conference was relevant, but what they had to say about death, grief and bereavement was very interesting,” said Westmount’s Nancy Ship.

As both an octogenarian and as an active senior, Ship attended the conference as an ‘...interested observer,’ because she deeply cares about senior issues that are usually overlooked and sometimes overwhelmed by more persistent and pressing issues that dominate the daily news cycle. During a quiet afternoon interview over a cup of tea, both Ship and Pamela – a friend who did not wish to provide her last name – described the conference “...as a step in the right direction.”

While addiction issues defined another discussion, Ship said that it was sad to see how quickly a minor luxury such as a glass of wine with dinner can turn into a bottle a day habit for so many lonely seniors. While painkillers and assorted sleeping medication always carry their own risk, Ship and other seniors believe social isolation continues to be the big problem that can ruin a senior’s life. According to Pamela, living on a minimal pension doesn’t help because it doesn’t take long before inflation transforms what used to be an adequate lifestyle into little more than a daily grind of dull and desperate poverty.

“Just take a walk through any supermarket,” she said. As a former retail specialist, Pamela said that the price for groceries “...was outrageous.”

While last week’s conference organizers made a major effort to remind caregivers that “...they are not alone,” they also did their best to mention that there are both people and assorted facilities who can help caregivers cope with the many challenges that become part of their daily life.

Seniors Action Québec will be holding two more conferences about senior issues over the next two months. On May 3rd, they will be discussing assorted housing issues and geriatric healthcare will be the topic of the June 13th conference.

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