Montreal public health urges Quebec to do more for seniors

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Montréal Public Health urges Quebec to do more for seniors

According to Montreal Public Health, it's not just the physical health of seniors that is at stake, loneliness, poverty and isolation should also be priorities.

In the aftermath of the first leaders' debate, Montreal's director of public health, Mylène Drouin, calls on Quebec's future leaders to deploy “proven” prevention and health promotion measures to help seniors maintain their autonomy and to aspire to a healthy and active life.

In an open letter published in the newspapers that she signs in the company of four medical specialist, geriatrician and occupational therapist colleagues, Ms. Drouin points out that at a time when the debates revolve mainly around CHSLDs, hospitals or seniors' homes, approximately 90% of seniors in Quebec live at home.

This is why the signatories of the letter urge the next government to prioritize prevention and health promotion among people seniors, to promote their inclusion in society and to invest today to limit the health costs of tomorrow.

Explaining that the aging of the population is accelerating in Quebec, Mylène Drouin points out that there will be nearly half a million people aged 65 and over in Montreal by 2041.

Montreal's regional director of public health, Dr. Mylène Drouin.

However, it is also in Montreal that the living conditions of seniors are the most precarious not only in Quebec, but also among the major Canadian cities, maintain the signatories, particularly in terms of isolation.

They are more likely to live alone and in poverty, with insufficient social support. They are more tenants and of immigrant origin. Combined with the effect of age, these vulnerability factors increase the risk of disease and disability, believe Ms. Drouin and her colleagues.

And the pandemic has not nothing improved things.

Our studies show that more than a third of seniors have reported a deterioration in their physical or mental abilities during the pandemic, especially among the oldest ( 85 years and over).

At least 30% of Montreal seniors live alone, according to data from the DRSP.

The pandemic has also intensified the stereotypes and discrimination that older people generally face, lament the authors of the letter, who point to research showing that ageism has significant consequences on the physical and mental health of older women.

Public health relies on the development of local networks to help seniors obtain care and services close to home, in their community.

To improve living conditions seniors by promoting their inclusion in society and providing them with local care and services, the signatories of the letter identify five priorities where they believe the next government should invest.

The one of them is the establishment of benevolent networks around the elderly, mainly those who live alone.

Supported by community organizations, municipal services and first-line health and social services, these local networks make it possible to mobilize those around seniors (family, friends, neighbors , services) at neighborhood level to respond quickly to the needs of daily life and provide support.

According to Dr. Drouin, who was answering questions this morning from host Patrick Masbourian on Tout un matin, the idea is to build a network of sentinels by working to bring together organizations and people who rub shoulders with seniors on a daily basis to work as closely as possible with these people, a bit like we do with suicide prevention.

“Kind of like in extreme heat people are told, 'Call your neighbors if you know anyone vulnerable.' It's really about building this solidarity at the neighborhood level. »

— Dr. Mylène Drouin, Director of Public Health for Montreal

Ms. Drouin and her colleagues believe that we must also work to increase the disposable income of seniors, many of whom have to live with few means at a time when the prices of rents, energy and groceries are soaring. It is also important, according to them, to facilitate the retention of employment for those aged 65 and over not only to improve their income, but to keep them active and more included in society.

They are also asking for more quality social and affordable housing, located near intergenerational services and adapted to the needs of seniors.

Ms. Drouin and her colleagues also recommend including more seniors in decision-making that concerns them by considering them as partners with rich experience and expertise.

The letter published in several daily newspapers, including Journal de Montréal and Le Devoir, is signed by:

  • Dr. Mylène Drouin, director of public health for Montreal
  • Dr. Paule Lebel, medical specialist in public health and preventive medicine
  • Dr. Réjean Hébert, geriatrician and Public Health Physician
  • Barbara Fillion, Public Health Occupational Therapist
  • Marie-Chantal Gélinas, Public Health Occupational Therapist
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