One year ago, Canada closed its borders in order to limit the impacts of the newly announced global pandemic. At the same time, the entire world also shut down to prevent the virus from spreading further. Everyone hoped these measures would help us fend off the novel virus and we would be able to return to normal in a few weeks, but one year later we are still fighting.
Although we believed our early measures were enough to stop the pandemic, it became clear that not all our communities were well protected and this led to disastrous consequences. In April and May, Quebec and Canada came face to face with their failing elder-care system. Our elderly communities had fallen through the cracks of our preventative measures and senior care homes had become a terrible place filled with isolation, neglect and Covid-19. Between April 1 and June 1, 3600 people died in Quebec’s CHSLDs. An already under-staffed system became exacerbated by the burden of pandemic causing irreparable damage to our elderly. This year alone they faced intense isolation and loneliness, unintended neglect from their overburdened careers, and the spread of Covid-19, this took an immense toll on their mental and physical well-being, which will only have more consequences in the future.
Hope For Dementia’s goal has been to fill this gap in our healthcare system that has forgotten about our senior citizens. We recognized there was a lack of preventative measures in place to guard our senior citizens’ mental health and prevent the onset of dementia and other neurodegenerative conditions. Our #JustConnect campaign and Intergenerational Learning Program launched in September of 2019 with the sole purpose of connecting our elderly with our youth through technology, ensuring our seniors are not left behind. We wanted to make sure they were able to stay socially engaged with their family and friends even if they were physically separated. Only after the start of the pandemic, did we realize the impact our work had on the senior care homes we visited. It was now more important than ever to continue our campaign and encourage others to take up the mantle as well. We realized that for our campaign to be effective, seniors isolated in care homes needed more means to contact their loved ones. Over the course of the year, we donated over 100 tablets to senior care homes, so they would have a way to connect with their loved ones, and we hope to give even more.
“The impact of our work throughout the years has made a difference. Moving forward, we will to continue to be proactive and come up with innovative ideas to educate others, prevent disease and safeguard the brains of our elderly community, but we need the public’s help more than ever. This year has proven that each of us matters more than we realize, and together we can make a great difference.”
– Fati Davoudi, Director of Hope For Dementia
This year has taught us a lot as a society and nation. We have learned that each of our individual efforts matters more than we could have imagined and when those actions are part of a collective they make even more of a difference. Overcoming a pandemic is not a problem only some of us can solve, it requires a united effort and collective action. We have also sadly learned which communities are being neglected in our society, and we must use this opportunity to do better and ensure vulnerable groups, like our elderly, are better protected and supported in times of crisis. At Hope for Dementia, we know our services are needed more than ever and we must continue to do our part to support our elderly.
Looking forward there is a light at the end of this tunnel. The development of multiple vaccines and the rapid distribution to our seniors and front-line workers gives many of us hope that there is an end in sight. But as we leave this year behind, we must remember the harsh lessons the pandemic has taught us, and work so that they never happen again