What seniors told us - Oakville

Communication and Information

  1. Access to information and knowledge about seniors’ 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. In general, communication practices with Halton seniors are inconsistent. The onus is on seniors to seek information as opposed to providing seniors with information directly.
  4. Accurate and timely information is essential for effective planning for each stage of the aging process.
“…you get a lot of information coming to this (caregiver support) group. One question can start up a whole discussion, and there’s feedback from those with the same situation.”
“…so you had to ask for it (the Parks and Recreation booklet), so that’s a change. It previously was delivered to all households in
Oakville.”

Housing

  1. Having a wide range of housing options available helps to address needs for different types of accommodation as people encounter the transition stages in their later years.
  2. Some seniors will need assistance with assessing their housing needs and making the difficult decision of knowing when to make a change in their accommodation. For example, whether to downsize to a condo or apartment or move to a long term care home.
  3. Whatever stage they are at seniors in Halton are concerned about the security, safety, affordability and proximity of services to their accommodation
  4. Aging at home policies will need sufficient community supports, especially home maintenance services, to enable seniors to stay in their homes safely, and longer.
“It will cost people more as their needs increase too. Because every single thing you get done for you, you pay for. That’s why I am here.”
“I find the rates high. $40 a shot to get your driveway cleared $50 a week to have your lawn mowed. ...”
“We moved from a house to a townhouse and at that time probably should have moved to a one story house and now we really have to think about our next step because of health issues”

Outdoor Spaces and Buildings

  1. In general, Oakville planners have done a good job in providing sufficient green space, parks, boulevards and walking trails.
  2. Seniors in Oakville need more places to sit and rest year-round. They also need safer sidewalks and crosswalks, legible traffic signage, better snow and ice removal and more access to public washrooms.
“A lot of people here have breathing or back problems…they need that bench…it’s not there in the winter time.”
“…in China there is music in the park which is free; no one organizes…people just come…line dancing, singing, Tai Chi…make friends there and talk.”

Transportation

  1. Access to reliable, affordable transportation is a key factor in Oakville seniors’ sense of independence and community connectedness.
  2. Public transit in Oakville has improved for many seniors, but there are still areas where improvement can be made (e.g., affordability for low income seniors, driver training for those with assistive devices; better communication about fares, routes and schedules).
  3. Cost of transportation is a barrier to mobility for lower income seniors, especially taxis.
  4. For seniors who drive in Oakville, issues increasingly include:
  • High speeds and higher traffic volume
  • Poor signage
  • Inadequate or inconvenient parking
  • Inadequate road maintenance/repair
  • Practical, operational driver testing
“If you are mobile, public transit may be your option, but if you are less than fully mobile, there is no option other than taxi – the expensive option.”
“One comes the first Tuesday of every month that goes straight to (the mall) and back. I’ve taken it once and it’s fantastic.”
“You have to establish with every taxi company that you are a senior. There is a discount but they won’t give it to you unless
you establish that with them at the beginning.”
“I don’t like driving myself anymore. I get more cautious than ever, and cognizant of, you know, the rush. It’s the impatient jam …
especially on a Friday, it’s gridlock, and the less you drive the less you want to. I don’t drive that much…I try to use the bus as much as I can. I am not that experienced, and I think for every person, as soon as they turn 65, it should be mandatory to learn how to use the public transit…I go online sometimes because it is not that clear, by the schedule when or where the bus actually stops.

Social Participation

  1. Seniors’ services/programs need to recognize the wide individual differences in people’s capacity for social engagement; services should be inviting and welcoming for those who are less outgoing or less inclined to engage in social activities.
  2. Ways should be found to reduce the barriers to social participation (e.g., cost of programs, spousal caregiver responsibilities, time pressures, mental or physical health issues, language, culture, transportation, etc.
“I am isolated as my old friends that still live in Mississauga are older and do not drive. I don’t see them often. There is nothing going on in my apartment. I have not become involved in the church or seniors recreation centres. I am not really a joiner.”
“If they lowered the cost for courses and membership, they’d have more seniors here. The ones coming here own their homes.”

Respect and Social Inclusion

  1. In general, Oakville seniors are treated with dignity and respect; however, many can relate examples of ageism, patronization, or disrespect in their daily life.
  2. There is evidence of a growing “grey power” voice in Oakville to address local issues affecting seniors in the community.
“I am just in the beginning stages of people assessing who you are because you have white hair or whatever, and thinking they are
guessing what you are capable of or not capable of…I have had the experience several times when people will assume I don’t
understand, and then kind of turn the paper I need to sign and say to me this is just saying this, so you have to sign down here. I can read. Let me read it for myself. They assume I don’t understand. They assume less, rather than asking me what I am capable of in the first place. It’s patronizing.”
“We fought for one a count-down light. We won last year and they finally put it in…on the corner. But one thing we are trying to fight for now is the sound signal, because we have several people who are blind, and one gentleman in particular…went right across on
a red light. My heart’s in my mouth. Luckily, most people are very good about stopping, but then in rush hour traffic there is no way…To get the count-down, we went right to Council. We took a busload up and it works very well. They were very receptive.”

Civic Participation and Employment

  1. A range of volunteer opportunities are available for Oakville seniors. Time constraints due to spousal care responsibilities are a barrier to civic participation for some, diminished health and mobility are barriers for others.
  2. Opportunities for seniors in paid employment are less available than volunteer opportunities. Many seniors are engaged in some form of volunteer activity.
“I am 65 but I became aware of what it must be like for people who are alone. That’s why I started to become interested in this. I
wanted to start volunteering to as soon as my knee was better…to do something for seniors.”
“I think there are so many opportunities to volunteer…if people are the least bit lonely or don’t have enough to fill up their days.
There is just a ton of things to do.”

Community Support and Health Services

  1. Oakville has a range of health and community support services available but their functions, access and integration are poorly understood. Communication and information-sharing about the health care system remains an ongoing problem.
  2. Navigating the health care system effectively is more difficult for seniors without an advocate, especially in terms of planning for hospitalization, home care or outpatient services. Dealing with the costs of drugs, specialist services and post-operative services is challenging
“Our personal needs are very small now, but (there is) difficulty in getting a family doctor, or long waits for an appointment even after acceptance. There is too little emphasis on staying healthy instead of treating disease … The system needs to be improved before we go the way of the U.S. – more and more cost for less and less results.”
“…I would love to be able to volunteer – to be some kind of advocate, because I think somebody needed to be with me (in hospital).
I would like to help people who are in the situation that I was in ... I would like to have somebody there”