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November 12, 2014

Getting Old

As an official 65 year-old, I'm entitled to ramble on a bit.  In today's Chronicle Herald is one argument for accessibility legislation.  Here's another, coincidentally supported by a lead story on home-care and nursing homes (a term pretty much out of fashion):

As you know, the Province of Nova Scotia is poised to introduce Accessibility Legislation and it has embarked on a program of soliciting public input.  Even I admit this doesn't sound very exciting, and the vast majority of Nova Scotians would not be expected to have an opinion one way or another.

Except that, one way or another, we all stand to gain.  Especially us senior citizens, hoping to live out our lives in one piece.  There are components of this legislation that matter less to seniors, like employment, but accessibility for people using wheelchairs is indistinguishable from accessibility for people using walkers or people who are going a bit slow this morning, thank you very much.  Low-floor buses and decent transportation are just as important in keeping us retirees engaged in the community as to getting you worker bees to your job.

Being a weather chicken, in the winter I live in a place called Fearrington Village in North Carolina. Business Week thinks it's got its share of interesting folks.  It's not quite the anteroom of eternity, but it's a stop along the way.  The average age is 73.  I think it's about evenly divided between people who want to 'age in place' and those who expect to move to 'continuing care', as it's more fashionably called.

Doesn't look like Lynne.  Looks like me, but isn't.  
At least at the beginning, aging in place is possible because the infrastructure here is largely accessible, thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act.  It's not magic, but there's a reasonable expectation that a business, sidewalk or service will be accessible and safe. Later on, if there are decent home care alternatives and you have a house that isn't your enemy, you can stay independent.

The government has a stake in this because it's far cheaper to provide in-home services than to pay for beds in continuing care facilities.   And far better to provide safe infrastructure than to clean up the mess.

They say that disability touches us all - we have a relative with a disability or an aging parent.  But it gets even more personal when you wake up one day and discover you're not 19 anymore.  As evidence that we're not as spry as we used to be, consider that in 2011 3,232 Nova Scotians had a knee or hip replaced, up 42% from 2,268 five years before.  A total of 13,773 in five years.

The New York Times just had a sobering two part series on the hazards and consequences of falls. Nova Scotians who have had intimations of their own mortality should pay attention and applaud the development of accessibility standards.

If things go well for you, accessibility will be important in your sunset years.  If you are so inclined, you can visit the website of Nova Scotia's public consultation process and make a comment.  The public meetings run from November 13 to December 3.  If you don't care about the gory details, you can just write a sentence or two in the Other Comments section,  saying you are a senior or aspiring senior who expects the government to be proactive, timely and decisive.

And it never hurts to let your MLA know.  Send me a copy!

Gus Reed

1 comment:

Anne Sinclair said...

Thanks for this. I am very excited about the idea of the new legislation. I plan to attend the Halifax session, and in preparation I'm wondering if you have any main points that you think are essential that we should be putting out there.