By 2036, it is estimated that 35 per cent of our population will be over the age of 60. Mental illness, particularly depression, is under-diagnosed in our aging populations (World Health Organization, 2001). We can not assume that mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression are normal signs of aging or that the progression of dementia cannot be delayed (Mental Health Commission of Canada [MHCC], 2012).
The MHCC has developed a framework placing older adult mental health and awareness as a number one priority. It promotes mental health, recovery and well-being, but it requires a group effort. It requires collaboration and cooperation between all sectors.
The MHCC recognizes the link between mental well-being and economic prosperity. They acknowledge that older adults are stigmatized and discriminated against despite their life-long community and social contributions. This is wrong and can only lead to devastating effects on older adults’ mental health and well-being.
People are getting older and living longer while fertility patterns continue to decline (Natural Resources Canada, 2009). What does this mean for older adults living on the Sunshine Coast? Who is going to care for our seniors if they outnumber the younger people in our communities?
I have a vision as an LPN and RPN student. I have a strong passion to see all citizens live healthy, happy and meaningful lives in their own homes and in their communities for as long as possible. It is not only essential to the well-being of our parents and grandparents, but also to the sustainability of our resources.
Now, more than ever, it is up to all of us to ask ourselves how we can make a difference.
Leanne Beaton, Sechelt