A Message from BSOSS

This week World Elder Abuse Day was observed on June 15th. As we are approaching day 100 of social distancing, I believe it is important to acknowledge the new stresses and uncertainties social distancing has brought. Some seniors may be at higher risk for elder abuse because of life style changes to reduce our risk of exposure to Covid19. I want to explore some of the areas you or someone you know may be experiencing increased abuse risks as well as to direct you to resources that can assist and support you as we continue to follow Dr. Henry’s wise advice to be kind, be calm and be safe. Shining a light on difficult topics is a way to open up our conversations and acknowledge that awareness is the first step in making a change.

Elder Abuse includes physical, emotional or sexual harm an elder may experience by people who are responsible for their care or well being. Neglect is a form of elder abuse that can be the result of the actions or inaction of someone in a position of responsibility but self-neglect is important to acknowledge too. Self-neglect looks at choices we as seniors might make that expose us to harm. The most prevalent form of elder abuse in BC is financial abuse. There is a link included here to a message from Isobel McKenzie Seniors Advocate and the BC Securities Commission on financial elder abuse. It is informative and worth the 5 minutes it takes to watch.

The need to rely upon others, shame or embarrassment increases the risk of elder abuse. Not knowing where to turn for support and assistance also contributes to increasing our risk.

The city of Burnaby under the leadership of the PCN network, (Primary Care Network) swiftly organized a series of committees bringing non-profits, Fraser Health and the Division of Family practice together to brainstorm and provide solutions and resources to address the changing needs of Burnaby’s families. As we have worked together to reduce the risk of transmission we needed to identify resources to address the new risks created by isolation, dependence, and increased financial costs.

BSOSS has been actively involved in the Technology Committee. Our primary sources of information from the federal, provincial and municipal governments has been via the internet. The digital divide, “the gulf between those who have ready access to computers and the internet and those who do not” (Oxford Dictionary) has really had an impact on many seniors. If you are reading our news letter you are on the inclusion side of the divide. All of the sources of information that I have links to require access to a computer and the internet. If you know someone who cannot afford and requires a device to connect them to the internet-donated and refurbished tablets, telephones, laptops and desktops are being collected for distribution- please get in touch with us at 604-230-3310 and we can put their name on the needs list. This has been one of the aims of the technology committee.

The Social Isolation and Seniors committees are attended by agencies serving seniors, youth, families, people living with disabilities, the homeless, those below the poverty line-in short all of us. It has been very enlightening to learn of the wide range of needs and the impact of some of our Covid driven solutions. Think about how challenging Plexiglas is for the visually impaired. Transportation for those who cannot drive and are not comfortable with the risks associated with public transportation. Domestic violence for those who are living in small accommodations while possibly dealing with unemployment, addictions, unhappy relationships and fears about the future. Loneliness-the other side of the overcrowded coin became the new reality for many: no hugs, no hand shakes, no shared meals, no celebrations, alone and mourning so many losses. Food security where and how to access food has been especially challenging for seniors who may not have had access to masks, gloves or transportation. For food supports contact either bc211 or Burnaby Neighbourhood House at www.burnabynh.ca, or 604-294-5444. If you require support regarding domestic abuse contact Dixon House www.dixonsociety.ca or call 604-298-3454.

A second pandemic continued to take a toll in our community-addictions and over doses. Recently Dr. Bonnie Henry shared 180 British Columbians died in May from overdoses-more than the total number of lives lost to Covid. Judy Darcy Minister of Mental Health and Addictions says, “…the majority of people who use drugs use alone in shelters, hotels, or at home…”. I know at BSOSS we have offered many workshops on challenging topics but drug use/addictions in seniors is a topic we need to add to our agenda. The Ministry of Health has developed an app, again you need to have access to a smart phone or device, that could help save your life or the life of someone you care about that may be using drugs alone. The Lifeguard App is a new and innovative approach that can directly link people to emergency responders if an overdose does occur.   Click on the link below to learn more.

Another insidious form of abuse has reared its ugly head during the pandemic. Burnaby is an inclusive multicultural community unfortunately there are people who forget to be kind. BSOSS supports zero tolerance for any form of racism. Burnaby also has zero tolerance. If you have experienced racism or been a witness to a racist act please visit, Burnaby Together where there is a form which is translated into a variety of languages and complete the form. You do not and should not tolerate being treated badly by anyone. Burnaby Together wants to know when this happens so they can provide education and support.

Please take care of yourselves. I hope that this information will be able to support you or someone you know. Please share it with friends who do not have access to the internet. Next time I will share some information on innovative programs the working committees are coming up to bring seniors together with youth to create connections and understanding during Covid19.


Dorothy and Faryar