Retired Educational Assistant with OCDSB. Volunteer with SEOCHC and OHC to help with seniors social integration programs in her apartment building.
I want to help seniors living in poverty to have the safety and respect that the rich take for granted. I observed that many people walk in the hallways as exercise. I suggested putting up signs of exercises so they could add to the walking. This amazing team has taken that idea and it is now becoming a possibility. The healthier we are the easier it is to look after ourselves. The more visible we are the better chance we have that someone will miss us if we aren’t around for a few days.
I moved into my OCH seniors’ apartment building just under three years ago. I spent the first year observing how difficult life is for many people living there and wondered if anyone knew or even cared about how unfair it is for seniors to live like this just because they don’t have the financial security that other seniors’ enjoy.
I called many seniors’ residences that advertise, “they care about the people not the money”. I asked how their subsidies work. Most tried to ignore me but I did not give up until they admitted that they don’t offer subsidies. One of the bigger names even changed their advertisement when I made a fuss over the false advertising.
Only the rich can afford to live out their old age in these luxury homes. The poor stay alone in apartments infested with cockroaches and bed bugs. They must do their own cooking, cleaning and personal care.
Many don’t speak English or French. Many don’t have family.
Early in my second year living there I attended a meeting where they were looking for volunteers to help run some social integration programmes. I volunteered and have been doing as much as possible ever since.
We have had many deaths. That is common in the older population. However, three residents have died alone in their apartment. One had been dead for weeks but neighbours couldn’t get anyone to listen to the fact that there was a problem.
Several of the older people here are still traumatized by that and worry that will happen to them too.
With more and more involvement in the community it is easier to keep track of who we haven’t seen in a few days. We check up on each other more now. One of the programmes I got involved with was the twice-weekly exercise program.