Now that the holiday season is well upon us, let’s raise a toast to Denmark. Yes, Denmark, the little country that could… and does treat its elderly citizens with compassion, love and respect.
The Danes even passed a law giving every nursing home resident the right to fresh air – every day! Remarkable. Yes the right to fresh air is actually enshrined in law, unlike so many elder rights “wall posters” which aren’t worth the paper they’re written on, like British Columbia’s much ballyhooed but hollow Residents Bill of Rights… the one that does not even mention the fundamental right of a person to not consent to (forced) treatment.
And let’s raise a glass to the feisty elderly women of France who, outraged at the prospect of “life” in a seniors’ residence, became real estate developers and built retirement homes for themselves in a brand-spanking new 6-story Paris apartment building – which they also run and operate themselves. Three cheers for the women of Baba Yaga’s House.
These good works are models of courage, cooperation and simple decency that we in Canada and the United States should be using as a beacon to guide us to a future where our elderly citizens can live their lives free of fear, free of abuse by doctors, nurses and aides, and free to live life where and how they wish.
Two documentaries recently aired on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in the fall of 2012, one about Denmark’s efforts and the other about the intrepid Parisian women. Kudos to the CBC for taking a leadership role in the Canadian media to portray possibilities beyond what our politicians seem to be able to envisage.
We wish each and every elderly citizen and their loved ones a very joyous holiday season, in whatever spirit you celebrate the coming light, whether it be pagan or Christian, Muslim, Jewish or Hindu. May you be nurtured by a profound reverence for life and nature. The gift of love, of time spent together, of compassion, even of fresh air, these are some of the most precious gifts you can give an elderly person, especially one who is in a seniors’ residence. And, these pleasures are all free. Please give.Now, a couple of gifts for you. Prepare to be inspired!
In Denmark, It’s their (wonderful) Life
November 14, 2012
CBC Sunday Edition Host Michael Enright’s introduction: There’s a big old brick house on the west side of Copenhagen where 23 men and women live like a family. Seventy per cent of the family has dementia. They take Caribbean vacations together. The 98-year-old man on the second floor has (more…)