This article bugged me all weekend. On Saturday morning, the Saturday Life section of the Ottawa Citizen led off with a front page story about the increase in suicide among the elderly – especially men. While the experts gave varying opinions an underlying theme was loneliness and isolation. The article raises good questions about the support – or lack of support – we give the seniors in our community. Gerald Weiviott, senior psychiatrist at Montreal’s Allan Memorial Institute speaks about the compounding of depression in seniors with a lack of support and apathy on the part of society. It is hard to go forward through difficult circumstances when no one seems to care. It goes without saying that if there was a spike in the increase of suicide in any other demographic, we would be focusing our attention and resources.
It seems to me that as a society it is too easy to walk away from the general debt we owe to citizen’s in the senior years of their lives. A debt which should be repaid with care and concern for their needs. It is too easy to look at the outer shell of the person, which is worn down by the years and ignore the inner person – which retains the same essence as his or her 21 year-old self. We would all do well to reach out and enjoy the richness and wisdom that an older person could bring into our lives, remembering what your mother always told you, “what goes around, comes around.”