Peter Watts: Supporting seniors in Alberta

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“It’s time to change how we support seniors in Alberta.”

That’s the headline to a news release from the Alberta Seniors Communities and Housing Association.  Executive director, Irene Martin-Lindsay, expanded on the headline during an interview on the Alberta Morning News on Saturday morning.

“We’ve been canvassing our membership to identify issues with which they are concerned,” she told me.  “We need to reduce and simplify the navigation process for seniors and families.

READ MORE: ‘We feel like we’re the forgotten population’: N.S. disability advocate calls for dedicated care homes

“These people need to be able to find their way through the various government departments that impact their day to day lives.  Breaking down the silos and simplifying the questions about such things as health care and housing are important to our members.

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“Seniors’ housing is a $7-billion business in Alberta.  The budget of the province’s seniors department is one per cent.  We all know that seniors are growing in numbers in this province.  It’s time for those voices to be heard.”


A somewhat related topic is the question of seeking information for an informed decision on medically assisted dying.  Some seniors who live in facilities associated with the Catholic Church have found it frustrating being denied access to information because of the church’s religious beliefs.

READ MORE: Alberta needs legislation to ensure medically assisted death is accessed equally: advocates

“Canadian constitutional law offers a way to settle the seemingly intractable battle of rights over medically assisted dying in faith-based health facilities,” says University of Alberta law professor, Eric Adams.  “It comes down to diversity and respect.

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“Institutions and physicians who have conscientious objections to medically assisted suicide may choose to opt out of providing these services.  But they should not stand in the way of people who wish to go in that direction, or who are simply looking for information on the subject as they consider their individual options.”

Indeed, if the patient’s rights and needs are put at the top of the list, it should be a lot easier to figure out how best those rights and needs can be served by government.

And it’s an important question for each of us.  We all hope to live long, productive lives.  As we age, we want to believe that we will have the services we need.  We want to be in charge of our lives for as long as possible.  We want to feel that governments recognize that right and that the policies they enact will serve that purpose.

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It does not seem too much to ask.




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