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Editorial: Take care of our seniors

Editorial: Take care of our seniors

BC’s Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie is asking all British Columbians to look out for the elderly in our community.

“While the provincial health officer has advised that most people who contract COVID-19 will experience mild symptoms, it is a more serious illness for the elderly, and we need to ensure that people who are not feeling well refrain from close contact with seniors and those who have underlying health conditions. We also need to support seniors to ensure they are properly washing their hands, cleaning surfaces they come into contact with, limiting their exposure to others in the community who may be ill and practicing social distancing for the time being,” said Mackenzie. 

“Seniors living in the community often depend on care workers, family and friends to assist them with everything from taking their medications, grocery shopping and cooking meals to more complex personal care needs. These seniors may find that some of the people they rely on may be feeling unwell and it is recommended that person refrain from direct contact until they feel better. That is why, now, more than ever, it is important for all of us to look out for our elderly friends, neighbours and family members living in the community,” added Mackenzie. 

In BC, there are 990,000 people aged 65 and over, or 19 per cent of the population.  There are 124,000 people age 85 and over in BC (two per cent of the population), and two thirds of those are living with medium to high complexity chronic conditions. 

The Seniors Advocate is asking all British Columbians to contact their elderly friends, family, and neighbours who might need some extra help and see how that person is doing. “It could be anything from helping a senior get some groceries, taking out their garbage, bringing over a cooked meal or bringing them up to speed on the latest COVID-19 recommendations from our provincial health officer. These are things we can all do to help, and they are important measures to keep seniors who are living in the community healthy and to reduce anxiety both for seniors and for their family members.” 

The Office of the Seniors Advocate (OSA) has a toll-free information and referral line for seniors or others looking for community resources not related to health care. “We have a toll-free number that people can call to find out about community resources that might be available, and we have just partnered with bc211 to expand our hours of operation,” stated Mackenzie. 

Seniors with non-medical related inquires can phone the OSA’s toll-free number at 1-877-952-3181. For medical questions, please phone 8-1-1. 

Submitted by BC Seniors Advocate

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