Age awareness has meaning to everyone at every life-stage, so by leading a charge advocating for community home care for older adults the question is; how are we serving our community if we don’t bring a broader range of insights to the issue? After reading Carol Goar’s Dec.9 Toronto Star article “Senior citizens are mobilizing against ageism”, it occurred to me that we need doable solutions that everyone can share in.
In my work with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Toronto over the years, I’ve always been drawn to their ‘strength based’ approach to mentoring. Simply put, volunteer mentors are trained to allow the child to be who they are without ‘fixing’ them or trying to make them ‘better’. It’s about accepting them ‘as is’ and building their self-confidence. This in turn allows them to be equipped with a toolbox of life skills that (as studies confirm), serve them as they mature.
Likewise, the conversation on confronting ageism raised by organizations like Carewatch needs to be strength based. What are the skills that all segments of the population (from Gen X, to Millennials, to Boomers) bring to the table, and how can we take each groups strengths to assist those who need help. What if we made care of seniors who wish to remain in their home a community issue, not just a family or government issue?
Let’s look at ageism through a different lens by examining an inter-generational approach which would allow learning and support at all ages. If we looked at community home care as a way to build a foundation for a caring community – we would all be better together. And it’s not just about health care delivery. There are other basic living and social needs to be served with more of what we might call an “age share model”.
For example, how about having a high school student earning community hours by teaching a housebound senior computer applications that could open a new world to them? Cyber-Seniors is an example.
What if a local apartment/condo dweller who loved to garden was matched with an older homeowner who was unable to tend to their garden, and took on the task of planting and tending a vegetable or flower garden in their yard? Tyze is an example of one of those doable solutions; an inter-generational social network.
So literally – let’s look in our own backyards to find other workable options for advocating quality community care.