The Security of the Elderly

Commentary by E. Fakotakis Kolaitis

On Wednesday, March 14th, HCGM’s Social Services Director, Eleni Fakotakis participated in the presentations and discussions surrounding the security of elderly people, organized by the Table de concertation des aînés de Montréal.

All citizens, including the elderly, have a right to life, liberty and security.  Too often, our elderly clients cannot leave their homes because of fear due to slippery weather conditions, pollution that may affect their breathing, construction noise, environmental visibility issues, poor conditions on sidewalks, etc.  The City and our elected officials have to work with the community organizations to help solve these problems and to help the elderly to remain active participants in society as they age.

33% of the Quebec population has physical and intellectual limitations and experience fear when they walk on Quebec sidewalks.  Of this percentage, 57.2% of these people are over 65 years of age.

To facilitate the elderly person’s participation in city life as much as possible and to respect their autonomy as much as possible, we have to facilitate their using public transport, a sidewalk has to be adequately lit at night, clean and safe, with no holes, bumps or ice to manoeuvre. End of sidewalks need to be very visible and clearly identified with color and markings that help to guide an elderly to know where to walk when they have to cross and to be able to see if a vehicle is coming.  Whenever possible, a green space can separate a sidewalk from the street. The lights at an intersection have to allow adequate time for an elderly person to cross.  Elderly should have the comfort of a bench to sit on when walking to their CLSC, hospital, doctor, recreation center, church, or waiting for a bus.  When there is construction, a temporary passenger sidewalk has to be set up to ensure pedestrian safety.

This is a work in progress, the City is constantly making improvements. Each borough has their ”Plan de déplacement”.  It is everyone’s responsibility to participate in making our streets and sidewalks safer for all. The experts and the people who use them, the pedestrians, the cyclists and motorists. We can all inform our borough when we notice things that may be dangerous to the elderly, people with limited abilities or even for children because safety is everyone’s concern.