Column 6 – Supporting Ageing Well

As we age, we may need help from others, for example to carry bags of groceries up to our home. We can still shop and put away our items but it is difficult. Should this stop us from being able to remain living in our home? No! The most important first step to any situation is to remember that we all need help at times. Many of us are terrible at asking for help aren’t we? We hate to admit we need some help and yet we are the first to offer assistance when we can.

Some businesses are excellent at identifying needs of their customers just by listening to concerns and trying to meet the needs. Services like drive through banking and pharmacy services are certainly helpful. I remember when I lived in Halifax what a blessing it was when I had a sleeping baby in a car seat and I could get my banking done and grab some lunch without getting out of the car!

Not all conveniences are that simple though. This is where unsung heroes come to life. People like taxi drivers who not only take us to and from our destinations, but also take the time to walk us safely to our door. I have heard people praise their taxi drivers as being very caring and taking the parcels to the home. How very thoughtful and what excellent customer service. This type of service from friends and family is what helps us stay active and well in the rural areas too, since we do not always have affordable services available.

Have you noticed other thoughtful services like recognizing that not everyone should be made to wait in line? I have noticed the great customer service initiatives like a service desk that opens up when people are experiencing life situations that have complicated the simple act of waiting in line. Kudos to businesses that take that extra step to help people remain independent and provide seats, visual aids, etc.

We all need to remember it is not a weakness to ask for help. Your need for help is giving someone the opportunity to be honored that you asked for assistance.

The Nursing Homes Without Walls project at Westford developed a Helping Tree (like the one Cumberland County produced years ago) which compiles a list of services that are helpful to refer to when asking for help.

As we continue to hear about businesses that are age-friendly without being ageist we can help educate each other on their services. I have been noticing more and more about ageism as the assumptions we put on ourselves and others regarding age alone. This is something we need to check ourselves on as we balance offering assistance and making assumptions. This is truly why it is so important for people to state their needs and wishes. We should not be assuming someone needs something just because of their age, yet we want to be able to support people to be living at their ideal. Please let me re-state what I just said, at THEIR best. It is critical we respect choice, so long as a person recognizes the risks.

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