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BC Federation of Retired Union

BC FORUM News - From The Advocate, Autumn 2020



Recognizing the contributions of older persons, even in the midst of a pandemic

By Agnes Jackman

BC FORUM Regional Representative and representative to COSCO


October 1, 2020 marks the 30th anniversary of the United Nations International Day of Older Persons (UNIDOP). This year’s theme is “Pandemics: Do They Change How We Address Age and Aging?” and it focuses on raising awareness of the needs of older persons and their contributions to the societies in which they live.

The COVID epidemic has particularly shone a spot light on the long standing inadequacies of the delivery of long term care to the minority of seniors now in Canadian long term care (LTC) facilities. (1.2 % of Canada’s seniors 65 and over live in LTC.) At one point, early in the spread of this virus, four out of five of those infected in Canada lived in LTC. The majority of these seniors lived in privately owned, for profit, residences. Changes are badly needed!

Those in power in Canada now are more ready to better listen to those who have knowledge of the status quo of the conditions in LTCs. And listen they are being made to do! The letters and reports with recommendations are flying to these dignitaries at all levels from individuals and organizations, many of which are seniors themselves. BC FORUM, COSCO and many affiliates have been very active in this process, provincially and federally. COSCO has formed a Task Force Committee on LTC that is working in conjunction with the National Pensioners Federation (NPF).

The dilemma now is deciding on what changes should be made. How do we better protect our frail elderly from future poor care and exposure to infections without needlessly further isolating them from those significant others who would provide them with love and attention to augment the care provided by facility staff? What is the right balance? Seniors themselves should definitely be part of the making of these decisions.

Another dilemma facing us this year is how do we recognize and celebrate October 1st as the UNIDOP with the current COVID social distancing requirements, which are particularly needed to protect seniors, who are more at risk?

A number of organizations are hosting online events in connection with the IDOP. The United Nations itself has organized a virtual commemorative event that will be held on October 1, 2020 from 9 am to 12 pm (New York time).

If you know of an event in BC related to IDOP please share the details with me at <agnes.jackman@> and I will pass on the information.

COSCO has requested that, again this year, B.C. governments (provincial, municipal, township, district and village) proclaim that October 1st be recognized as the International Day of Older Persons and that, if they have a UNIDOP flag, they fly it.

Finally, here are some suggestions on what we can do as individuals:

1) Chat with an older person

If we take the time to get to know an older person, even one in our own family, we may see them in a new light and learn something about ourselves in the process.

2) Volunteer your time

A lot can be done to make life easier for older people, Find out about organizations in your area that work with the elderly and see what you can do to help.

3) Become an advocate

The United Nations says “enhanced attention to the particular needs and challenges faced by many older people is clearly required.” It’s important to recognize, as the UN says, “the essential contribution the majority of older men and women can continue to make to the functioning of society.”


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