What seniors told us - Burlington

Communication and Information

  1. Access to information and knowledge about senior’s services are enhanced through civic and social engagement.
  2. There is a wide array of print material available for seniors, but it is not coordinated and it is hard to access a live person for information.
  3. Material used to communicate with seniors is inconsistent and the onus is on seniors to seek information versus providing seniors with information directly.
  4. Accurate and timely information is essential for effective planning for each stage of the aging process.
“I guess because of my participation in other thing…that is really how I get my information.”

“My next door neighbour …said she missed out on some things she thought she could have had because she didn’t know where to look for it; she said where do I find information about it? I don’t have a clue. Where would she find that information?”

“I love having the Burlington Post. Unfortunately the Burlington Post either has delivery challenges or new rules on how they deliver the Post. Living in a condominium, we are luck if we get it once a week on a Thursday and that is tied in with the grocery ads. The Post, I think, is a good communication vehicle but it is not getting out to the people who want to read it and seniors read the newspaper.”

“Easy to find information. Available at doctor’s office, library, mail, YMCA, but you have to get out in the community to find it.”

Housing

  1. Barriers such as availability of support services, cost of home maintenance, location (close to shopping, family and friends) can force seniors to make changes in their housing accommodation.
  2. Seniors need information on the wide range of available housing options/services in order to plan for housing to meet their individual needs for different stages in their life.
  3. Seniors are concerned about the affordability of staying in their own homes or moving to another type of accommodation.
“… affordability…of my husband going over to a retirement home when I went away… why don’t I have someone come in? I … called one of the private firms that do care giving or housekeeping. Well I ran into a block right there … No, there are rules and regulations. So you have a companion - then you have the Community Care Access Centre that comes in and bathes the person…it goes on and on. Everybody is specialized in what they are doing. The cost keeps going up. You don’t know what you are faced with”

Outdoor Spaces and Buildings

  1. Burlington has good walking trails but not all residents are aware of them.
  2. Seniors need more benches to sit and rest year round as well as smoother sidewalks and curb cuts to be cleared of ice and snow.
  3. Seniors need increased time to cross roads at stoplights and depend on courteous drivers, especially in areas where there are no sidewalks.
“Another thing about mobility issues with outdoor spaces, I can’t tell you how I despise those bricks that they put, interlocking bricks, those ones that pretend to be cobblestones, as you try to get your walker or canes over that and the angle at which the cuts are made. If you have canes, the canes can not sit on that angle.”

Transportation

  1. Access to reliable, affordable transportation is a key factor in Burlington seniors’ sense of independence, social isolation and community connectedness.
  2. For seniors to use public transit in Burlington, several issues need to be considered:
    • Cost of bus fare
    • Shelter stops have a bench and are cleared of snow
    • Decreased distance to walk to bus stop
    • Frequency and stops of routes
    • Accessibility access to GO Train
    • Ability to cross municipal boundaries
    • Required time to reserve Handi-Van
    • Information and knowledge of how to use transit system

3. For seniors who drive in Burlington, issues increasingly include:

    • Traffic volume and high speeds
    • Stop lights not in sync
    • Expensive parking
    • Street signs hard to see
    • Inadequate road repair
    • Lack of awareness of driver education

“… as you get older, you might lose your license or you have no desire to drive anymore, there should be a greatly reduced day pass for seniors, people past 80. Buses are quite expensive and a lot of people can’t afford them. … It becomes expensive because most of us live on a fixed income … there should be consideration to bus passes for free or very small fee. You can’t go where you want to go. You have to go where the bus wants to go.”

“ … our parish is very proactive … We have a special group of men you call if you want a ride.”

“There is no bus that comes up…I would have to walk to a street…It’s a long walk and all uphill.”

Social Participation

  1. Senior programs need to recognize the wide individual differences in people’s capacity for social engagement in various environments.
  2. Ways should be found to reduce the barriers to social participation such as cost of programs, time-consuming spousal caregivers’ responsibilities, time pressures, time of day, mental and physical health issues, language, culture, transportation.
  3. Ways should be researched to incorporate additional locations, businesses and places of worship to increase the opportunity for senior social engagement throughout the City of Burlington.

“I joined that Seniors Centre 18 years ago. I almost lived there. I could do everything. I can’t now ... No, I can’t go now. I have a 24 hour job looking after my husband. All the things I did, I danced … story writing, genealogy - you name it. You meet wonderful people.”

“I am really impressed in Burlington with the initiatives of the churches. I think the churches quietly go about their business not only of religion, spiritual side but I think they are becoming more and more engaged in the community and see their parishioners as part of the community outside of the Sunday services ...”

Respect And Social Inclusion 

  1. In general, Burlington seniors are treated with dignity and respect but many can to relate examples of ageism, patronization or disrespect in their daily life.
  2. Awareness as to how to listen to the needs of seniors with health challenges and individuals new to Canada needs to be increased.

“I think it is not to do with just being a senior for me. I feel I have tried. I have really tried to break into groups and I couldn’t, honestly. I don’t know why. I tried here more and I tried for three years. Just walking in and feeling like I should be here instead of feeling like what the hell are you doing here? I am sorry you don’t recognize that but I certainly did feel that. It is not that the people were rude to me; they just ignored me. When you come in alone, you need someone to come and say, ‘Hi, how are you? What are you looking for’?”

“The worst part of being old is the terrible loneliness. If only someone could visit me once a week and talk with me, it would mean so much to me.”

Civic Participation and Employment

  1.  Many volunteer opportunities are available for Burlington seniors. Cost, transportation challenges, time restraints due to caregiving challenges, diminished health and mobility are barriers.
  2. Opportunities for seniors in paid employment are available but the senior must be motivated to really look.

 “My husband has done volunteer work for years ... He had to stop for a while until members of the (volunteer organization) kindly offered to pick him up and get him home after meetings. There are many activities I believe my husband could assist with but he can not access them..”

Community Support and Health Services

  1.  Burlington has a range of health and community support services available, but their functions are poorly understood unless the individual is receiving services from an agency. For some seniors, communication and information sharing about the healthcare system remains a challenge.
  2. There are many health and community support services but even more services are needed to keep seniors in their homes (more volunteer drivers, visitors, overnight respite, help with downsizing, etc).
  3. The separation of Halton into two LHIN's causes confusion and problems for residents.

“Sometimes they don’t use the right language to convey what they are providing. It’s when they get down to the nitty gritty and you start talking to them - no we don’t do that. We just give you the information and you go there”

“The business of what you get on the telephone – I don’t know if it is because they don’t see you and you need face to face contact. I have had less than comfortable conversations with people in shall I say, service agencies where at times, it was almost threatening.”