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Seniors feel forgotten since lifting of COVID restrictions: advocate

Bill VanGorder believes there has been a big increase in discriminatory comments about seniors since the pandemic started
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An advocate says many seniors are feeling forgotten since Nova Scotia's state of emergency ended.

It was lifted on March 21, just shy of two years to the day after it was first declared. Since then, gathering limits, physical distancing and mask requirements are no longer in place in most settings.

"They're really feeling they're getting a mixed message and they're not getting the care and attention they got when we were under the state of emergency," stated Bill VanGorder, the senior spokesperson CARP, formerly known as the Canadian Association of Retired Persons.

"We have the highest case rates and the highest death rates since COVID began," he added. "We hear from the experts that the risk of death is 95 times higher for those aged 70 and over than it is for those under 50, so why isn't the government at least suggesting everyone take care so we reduce the risk for the most vulnerable?"

The risk of hospitalization is also 10 times higher for those 70+ compared to those between the ages of 18 and 49.

Health officials have stated our province is past the peak of a sixth COVID-19 wave, however last week it still reported 3,415 PCR positive results, 77 hospitalizations and 22 deaths in the seven-day period ending May 2.

With health protocols no longer in place, VanGorder has heard from a lot of seniors who don't feel safe making essential trips to grocery stores or pharmacies.

"Masking should be mandatory in those areas where older Canadians and vulnerable Nova Scotians have to go if they're going to have any kind of a normal life," he told CityNews Halifax.

"It's such a simple thing to do and we're all used to masking now. We've all got all kinds of them in our pockets and our purses, so why not?"

He also believes there has been a big increase in discriminatory comments about seniors since the pandemic started.

"We hear things like 'Well they're old, they're already sick, they're already in long-term care facilities, so of course we expect them to die or be vulnerable,' and that is ageism," VanGorder explained.

Even though masks are no longer mandatory, public health officials, including Dr. Robert Strang, continue to strongly recommend we wear them.

VanGorder said the simple measure protects others and shows them you're concerned for their safety.

"We know as seniors that we have to take precautions ourselves," he said.

"Now that there aren't rules that are enforced, we have to look after our own health, but there are ways the government could make it easier."


Meghan Groff

About the Author: Meghan Groff

Born in Michigan, raised in Ontario, schooled in Indiana and lives in Nova Scotia; Meghan is the editor for CityNews Halifax.
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