I have recently been thinking about the fact we have experienced troubling times in our past and it was our senior population that lived through most of it.
They survived World Wars, economic depressions and political unrest that far out-shadow much of what we experience today.
Our seniors were resilient, hard-working and committed to building a strong and prosperous country. It is important that, as a community, we show our gratitude for their significant contributions to our way of life by ensuring that they live out their lives with dignity and respect. We must have a sense of responsibility for the well-being of our elderly neighbours, and help them remain engaged in meaningful experiences.
In addition to ensuring the physical health of our elders, it is equally important to protect them from scams, abuse and fraud. Delta Police takes any incidence of elder abuse seriously and it is important that if you are aware of a family member, friend or neighbour who may be at risk that you call us. We must not turn our backs on our seniors; they certainly didn’t turn their backs on us when the going got tough.
As our population ages, elder mental health will become a priority for governments, communities and the police. It is anticipated that rates of dementia will double over the next 20 years, placing pressure on families and our health care system. Now is the time to plan for the future, and that includes community-based strategies in which we all play a role.
Delta Police Community Police Stations have introduced a new program, “Adopt-a-Grand-Friend” that pairs volunteers with seniors living in isolation. Our volunteers visit seniors in their home, play cards, listen to stories and go for walks; and they do so with the underlying goal of ensuring their “Grand-Friends” are safe and healthy.
We also encourage seniors to volunteer at our Community Police Stations to help keep them active and engaged. Art Arnold, one of Delta Police’s long-serving volunteers, spent countless hours giving his time to the Tsawwassen Community Police Station. He was totally committed to public safety in Tsawwassen and worked his shifts with the enthusiasm and energy of a person half his age.
When Art was 96 years old, I asked him why he volunteered his time for Delta Police. He told me it looked good on his resume. Art passed away in 2011 and when I think of him, I think of a quote from James Kouzes, that “we will be remembered not for what we do for ourselves, but what we do for others.”
There is no reason for our seniors to live in isolation. There is no excuse for turning our backs on the wisest members of our communities. All seniors have the right to enjoy their lives to the fullest and we must work together to ensure they enjoy the golden years.
If you know anyone interested in the Delta Police Adopt-a-Grand-Friend program, call the North Delta Community Policing Office at 604-599-7280.
Jim Cessford is the chief of the Delta Police Department and has spent more than 40 years in law enforcement.