June 10, 2021
You may have heard that it’s Seniors Week in B.C. from June 6 to 12. It’s an occasion we celebrate each year in Coquitlam, and we’ve continued that tradition in 2021 with a week of online and physically distant activities, modified for the safety of our seniors. You can find out more at www.coquitlam.ca/seniorsweek.
This year’s Seniors Week festivities in Coquitlam are not only about honouring our seniors, but also about giving them opportunities to connect. There’s no doubt that seniors have been inequitably affected by the lack of social contact during the pandemic.
For that reason, a lot of our programming has focused on mitigating the impact of isolation – whether it’s physically distanced seniors’ yoga in the park, Meals for Seniors deliveries, or our new Social Connections program that pairs up volunteers with seniors for a friendly phone call.
We’re also encouraging them to visit our parks and take advantage of our temporary $1 seniors’ drop-in rate. And as vaccines continue to ramp up and restrictions begin to ease, we’re looking forward to being able to do more.
Many of us have seniors in our lives – our parents, grandparents, neighbours and so on – and it’s important to be cognizant that as people age, their needs change. They may need help with physical tasks they used to manage on their own, or guidance in how to avoid being targeted by scammers who prey on vulnerable people.
We’re an aging society, and that means more and more people will need extra support and consideration in the years to come. Getting around also isn’t as easy as it used to be as you get older – and that’s a good segue to my next topic.
On June 5 we wrapped up National AccessAbility Week, which recognizes the people and places that are working to remove barriers to accessibility and inclusion.
I have some personal experience with this subject. I don’t refer to it often, but I have a bad back – a permanent disability that sometimes reduces my mobility. I also have a tag for accessible parking in my glovebox. When my back acts up from time to time, I am grateful to be able to save myself a few painful steps.
Many people know I’m an avid cyclist, so it may give them pause to see me park in an accessible spot. The reality is that walking long distances can be difficult for me, so my bicycle gives me mobility that I wouldn’t have otherwise.
It brings to mind the invisible disabilities that create barriers for so many people, and not just physical access. Not everyone understands that people experience all sorts of realities when it comes to accessibility, some of which might not be obvious to others all of the time.
One hundred years ago, people with disabilities stayed home. We’re now trying to get to the point where everyone has equal access, by continually improving our infrastructure and by coming up with new ways for more people to participate, such as virtually.
Individuals also have a role to play. Think about how you can help others with physical challenges, whether that’s shoveling a neighbour’s sidewalk or advocating for accessibility in your workplace or community. And don’t assume that just because you can’t see a disability, it doesn’t exist.
As you may have noticed, there’s a common thread in my message today. In essence, it’s about being thoughtful and recognizing that people have their own realities – we don’t know what we don’t know. For each of us, our job is to try to understand the needs and perspectives of those around us and to support them however we can.
Supporting Our Community During the Pandemic
The City of Coquitlam is here to help, with these resources:
- www.coquitlam.ca/csrp: Details about the City’s Community Support and Recovery Plan, which is supporting non-profits, businesses and residents through the pandemic;
- www.coquitlam.ca/spirit: Free activities for all ages, including fitness, arts and culture, outdoor activities and ways to stay engaged; and
- www.coquitlam.ca/covid19: City service updates and COVID-19 health resources.
Stay up-to-date about City news and service changes by: