In the midst of International Senior’s weeks (first 2 weeks of October), the Services Communautaires Canadiens-Italiens du Québec inc. has partnered with the provincial committee for awareness and prevention of elder abuse and is spreading an important message for English-speaking seniors.
The well-being of older adults concerns us all. “The last few months have turned out to be quite difficult for the general population, but particularly for the elderly of 70 years and older who have been confined to their homes, with no visits from their loved ones due to the risk of contracting COVID-19” reads a letter from Louise Buzit-Beaulieu, national coordinator of the province’s anti-elder abuse program.
“October is an opportune time to address the theme of well-being of older adults but how do we define this? Respect for dignity, self-fulfillment, self-esteem, inclusion, and security of the person.”
Here are a few examples of gestures of treating older adults with respect: Staying in contact with seniors and taking the time to listen to what they have experienced during their day; asking them what they wish to eat “instead of deciding for them”; getting them out of the house regularly to do an activity that interests them such as going for a walk or a visit to the shopping center (if public health guidelines and common sense permit it).
What to avoid doing: Force them to eat when they tell you they’re not hungry; get impatient when they ask the same question several times; infantilize them by speaking to them in an authoritative tone and not involving them in changes they will experience, i.e. moving — never rush them and give them time to get used to this major change in their life).
Unfortunately, during these last few months, the well-being of our seniors was not very valued. Whether it is financial abuse, psychological, physical, sexual, organizational abuse or ageism, any kind of abuse is unacceptable. “We can all contribute to establishing a culture of well-being. Let’s be kind and give the elderly back their worth, let’s take the time to listen to them because what they have to share is most enriching.”