Peterborough Challenges Population to 'Rewire' Thinking About Aging

Peterborough Challenges Population to 'Rewire' Thinking About Aging

Country's highest density of seniors to study provincial plan on the future of senior care

PETERBOROUGH, Ont. - Peterborough is positioning itself to be a leader in a new way of viewing seniors, their health, challenges and ways of life.

The seniors planning table for the city and county has co-ordinated a series of events to mark Seniors' Month in June. In the lead-up, table members and others will study the recommendations from the report submitted to Health and Long-Term Care Minister Deb Matthews, Living Longer, Living Well.

Planning table co-chair and seasoned geriatrician Dr. Jenny Ingram says it is crucial for those leading seniors' care in the country's most dense senior population to not just be informed, but be a leader for the minister, whose job it is to choose and implement a seniors' strategy.

“I'd like to see the government use Peterborough as a test market for new strategies,” Dr. Ingram says. “We need to showcase the diversity, energy and power of the burgeoning seniors community to create a shift in the way we view our own society.”

Ingram and a dozen others sitting at the planning table have orchestrated a series of events for Seniors' Month. They will culminate with a conference, the P's and Queues of Healthcare, Politics and Aging at Trent University June 27, at which Matthews will speak and answer questions.

The author of Living Longer, Living Well, Dr. Samir K. Sinha, who is the provincial lead on Ontario's Seniors Strategy, will also speak.

According to Statistics Canada's latest data, the number of seniors in Canada will more than double by 2036. Issues ranging from violence and abuse, to medical costs for an increasingly older population, home care, transportation, housing, sources of income, even literacy, will move along the same continuum, Dr. Ingram says.

“This changing demographic that all of us are living through is something that many people are viewing rather negatively,” she says, likening it to the way the culture viewed the no-smoking campaigns when they first emerged.

“Now it’s become part of us, it’s the Canadian way. The same with bike helmets and the same with car seat belts. They were all viewed as a problem at the beginning. I feel the demographic of seniors is next, and we have the ability to be leaders in the transition.”

In Peterborough, statistics revealed last year by Statistics Canada show that nearly one in five people was aged 65 or older. That was the highest ratio in the country among municipalities. Trois-Rivieres, Que., was next on the list at 19.4 per cent, followed by Kelowna, B.C., St. Catharines, Ont., and Victoria, B.C.

“People don’t understand, they don’t have that basic intuitive relationship with this group as a whole,” Dr. Ingram says. “They know their own grandmother, or mother or neighbour, but most people think of seniors as being slow drivers, being forgetful, living in long-term care homes and resting on the outskirts of society."

Click here for information about the Planning Table, Health Minister Deb Matthew's talk, and the speech by Dr. Dr. Samir Sinha June 27.

— More to come

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Jeanne Pengelly

Jeanne Pengelly joined Axiom News in 2012 as a video producer and online editor. Along with her 20+ years of experience in journalism, Jeanne holds a Masters in Journalism from the University of Western Ontario (1988), and has two undergraduate degrees with the majority of her course work focussing on the history and sociology of science and medicine. Jeanne has worked as a radio news director, education reporter, the editor of a small northern newspaper, freelance writer, and television journalist. She developed and produced a training program for young journalists, which included one of the first community television newsmagazine programs in the country - an accomplishment that won Jeanne and her co-producer a national award in 1994. Contact Jeanne: jeanne@axiomnews.ca, or 705-741-4421 ext. 30.

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