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Kirwan: Is it time for Greater Sudbury to declare a seniors' care emergency?

City already declared a climate change emergency; perhaps it's time to do the same regarding our aging demographics
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By Robert Kirwan

Is it time for the City of Greater Sudbury to declare a seniors' care emergency? 

This question is sure to come up this week when hundreds of local seniors, caregivers, service providers and individuals of all ages who are concerned about the future of our seniors gather at the Caruso Club in Sudbury for a full-day community conversation to address the issues and concerns facing our senior citizens and their caregivers.

The Greater Sudbury Seniors’ Summit 2019 is being hosted by the Seniors’ Advisory Panel to the Mayor and City Council. It will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m on Thursday, Oct. 24 in the upper hall at the Caruso Club on Haig Street in Sudbury. 

As many as 400 people are expected to attend the summit. There is no cost to attend the event. Refreshments and nutrition breaks as well as a buffet lunch will be provided free of charge.

The format for the summit will consist of small group discussions lead by 40 or more table facilitators. The first part of the morning will focus on identifying all of the specific issues and concerns faced by seniors. 

This will be a chance for members of the public to sit together with professional service providers and have their voices heard. The balance of the day will be spent coming up with local solutions and plans of action to address those issues. 

A follow-up session will be held Nov. 21 to develop strategies for implementing local actions across the community. This is a call to action that will produce results.

Anyone interested in attending the summit can register in advance by calling 311 and asking to speak with Sherri Moroso or by sending an email to sherri.moroso@greatersudbury.ca.

This is an opportunity for seniors and their caregivers to tell us about their lived experiences. We want to listen to you as you explain your “real” concerns. We also want you to be part of the solution. 

The City of Greater Sudbury is home to almost 30,000 residents who are 65 years of age and older. Most of our seniors want to age in place in their current homes or in some suitable and affordable accommodation in their existing neighbourhood or community. 

But in order to do so, we are going to have to change the way we deliver services to meet their needs and we are going to have to approve new policies which will are geared to seniors. 

Many seniors are already providing caregiving services to their spouse, but they need help. They need more home care services in order to be able to remain in their home. 

Going to the hospital or to long-term care is a last resort that very few people want to even consider. 

A recent study from the Angus Reid Institute suggests that we already in a state of senior care emergency. It is time for us to come up with a Greater Sudbury Senior Strategy to deal with the situation before it gets any worse. 

The Angus Reid study found that 28 per cent of Canadians in their 40s and 50s are already providing caregiving for a parent or in-law, while another 33 per cent expect to be doing so at some time in the future. 

With almost 48,000 residents between the ages of 45 and 64, this means that about 30,000 of our current citizens will be accepting responsibility for health and well-being of a loved one now, or in the future.

The study found that half of those people who are currently providing care say they are making real sacrifices to balance their caretaking responsibilities with their day-to-day activities. 

Many of those in their 40s and 50s are still caring for their own children, so having to provide for their elderly parents as well is extremely difficult. 

The challenge is to come up with a plan that will reduce the financial and emotional strain that our seniors and their caregivers are experiencing.

We have all heard the horror stories about hallway medicine. We have all heard about the lack of long-term care facilities. We have all heard about the lack of affordable housing for our seniors.

We have all heard about the impact of loneliness and social isolation on the health of our seniors. We have all heard about the shortage of PSWs to provide home care. 

Despite all this, we all agree that our seniors deserve to age with dignity and should have access to the range of health and social services which will enable them to live in their homes and neighbourhoods. 

The Seniors’ Summit 2019 is a Call to Action to develop a local seniors strategy that will effectively deal with these problems. 

We are already in a state of emergency when it comes to senior care. It is time for us to do something about this. 

It is true that it takes a village to raise a child, but it also takes a village to take care of its elders. 

Join us at the Seniors’ Summit and become part of the solution. 

Robert Kirwan is the Greater Sudbury city councillor for Ward 5.
 




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