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“Just live a healthier lifestyle” …is not a strategy to help elder Canadians live their best lives.

There are a number of books and articles by respected writers and journalists, PBS television shows and Ted Talks, products, exercise regimes, diets and surgeries out there that suggest that we can delay or avoid aging. They claim that it is in our power…no, our responsibility to do all we can to …what? Stay young? Not grow old? Not die? Die healthy?

This is not to say that healthy living is a bad thing, but it’s not a strategy to care for and help people as we age, and our bodies and minds get weaker. Getting weaker is normal. And after a long life, a longer than ever life, of hard work and decent living, we all deserve to spend our last years living with dignity while receiving good care.

This avoidance conversation feels like we are sticking our heads in the sand and letting governments off the hook regarding their responsibility to provide decent, affordable care for all of us who are going to need assistance. News flash…most of us will. Canada ranks 6th in the world with regards to an average life expectancy of 81.2 years with most of the top five clocking in a few months longer and Japan at number 1 with 83 years.

Furthermore, this kind of talk piles on the shame around aging and our insane obsession with staying young. News flash is impossible to stay young. Time and gravity don't work like that. As a society, we need to plan for the fact that we will likely grow old, then ask for and receive help as that happens.

We need HONEST conversations about how to create more supportive living and care options for seniors so we can avoid crisis situations such as:

- falls down the stairs in the house we stayed in because we got a reverse mortgage and stayed there far too long

- granny dumping because of burnt out family caregivers (google it, it’s a thing)

- far too many people living with dementia in isolation and suffering daily (one person living this way is too much)

- elders who have no family to advocate for them and simply fall through the cracks

Let's not pretend the solution is another spin class and more kale. Don’t we all live with enough guilt already? This is really important, and it is affecting all of us.

In our next newsletter, we will invite you to contact your local MPP (or MLA, MNA, MHA) as well as the Minsters of Health so we can demand that care and planning for our elders become a priority. Hopefully by then, the Omicron disaster will have peaked, and we can get out of this limbo and get down to helping our loved ones with more than a band-aid solution.

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