Seniors on Prince Edward Island need support from the PEI Disability Support Program to maintain independent lives in their own homes. 1,630 Islanders 65 years and older with disabilities need assistive devices and homecare.
– Seniors on Prince Edward Island need support from the PEI Disability Support Program (DSP) to maintain independent lives in their own homes.
The current policies support the institutionalization of seniors with disabilities in public or private institutions.
“1,630 Islanders 65 years and older need some assistive devices and help with activities of everyday life,” Stephen Pate of PEI Disability Alert told the PEI Legislative Standing Committee on Health Social Development and Seniors.
Assistive devices include wheelchairs, walkers, grasping handles, bathroom bars, hearing aids but does not include normal eye glasses.
8,980 seniors on PEI have disabilities out of a total 18,830 seniors. The number of disabled seniors is expected to increase by 20% as Baby Boomers retire.
“The good news is that only 18% of seniors with disabilities still need help,” said Pate. “Many seniors have other means to look after funding their disability supports.”
By not providing the same supports as working age adults with disabilities, the Province of Prince Edward Island is eventually consigning seniors with disabilities to institutional care which costs more than home care plus disability supports.
“The lack of disability supports for seniors devalues their place in PEI society and is an abuse of their human rights,” said Pate.
By regulation, Islanders who are 65 years old cannot apply for PEI DSP assistance.
“That is both a travesty of human justice and human rights,” added Pate “and costs taxpayers more when the disabled are not kept in their homes but forced to live in institutions.”
Islanders with disabilities who are covered by the PEI DSP become frozen at the level of disability support on their 65th birthday.
“They will be living with a sword over their heads,” said Pate “fearing an inevitable decline in their health will result in unfunded needs. They have no control over declining health and not enough support from the Province to live independently.”
“If someone needs more assistance and they are living in poverty, their only hope of survival is to get placed in a full care seniors home, where wheelchairs and other devices are provided,” said Pate.
Senior refers to someone who is 65 years of age and older. Persons with disabilities include those whose everyday activities are limited because of a health-related condition or problem.
The PEI Legislative Standing Committee on Health Social Development and Seniors meets semi-annually to hear from advocacy groups and interested private citizens. It is chaired by Paula Biggar (Liberal MLA).
Statistics on people living with disabilities have been compiled by Statistics Canada and published in two reports in the past decade Participation and Activity Limitation Survey 2001 and 2006.
By Stephen Pate, NJN Network