As May comes to an end, the IFA would like to take the opportunity to reflect on the events of this advocacy filled month. Over the past 30 days, results from a representative national survey provided further insight into how Canadians perceive their vision health; as well as what myths continue to be perpetuated. Results were shared all month long on social media channels. IFA Vision Health expert members were highlighted with expert spotlights, as were current news articles surrounding vision health and older adults.
Vision Health Month also presented the opportunity to collaborate with Bausch and Lomb on their ‘Why Eye Care’ campaign. It is a pleasure to promote vision health advocacy by supporting other organizations with similar missions. Central to the Eye See You Campaign, advocacy efforts were showcased in the first ever edition of the Eye See You Newsletter. The Newsletter showcased updates from Eye See You partners and other supporting organizations, which was released to over 200 subscribers. It is hoped that the newsletter continues to engage partners and individuals who believe in the importance of vision health promotion in Canada.
On 28 May, the IFA, in collaboration with the Eye See You Campaign, held an insightful plenary discussion about dispelling myths surrounding the vision health of older people. Speakers included:
Also, in attendance at the reception, and shared opening remarks about age-related initiatives in Ontario, was Minister Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility.
This stimulating discussion was moderated by older people champion advocate Ms Laura Tamblyn Watts. Held at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, Canada, the conversation focused on three major themes:
Panelists were each asked prompting questions related to the above-mentioned themes, which led to a wonderfully interactive expert conversation. Further focus was held on the vision health of older adults; it was thought-provoking to have such an array of professionals of varying expertise lend their thoughts on the topics at hand. The discussion was not only about vision health and older adults but showcased the gaps in the Canadian healthcare system in a profound way. It highlighted the need to address access to care and treatment, health equity, screening measures, and patient education. Much of which the Eye See You campaign run by the IFA and supporting partners aim to achieve.
The question and answer period allowed audience members to connect with all of the esteemed speakers and allowed further inspiring conversation. The IFA would like to extend their gratitude to all the presenters, the moderator, and attendees for making this event a great success. In addition to the events held throughout Vision Health Month, there will be a Post-Conference education series Webinar on Functional Ability, themed specific to Vision Health, taking place today, 5 June. Featured speakers are Ms Louise Gillis from the Canadian Council of the Blind and Mr Thomas Simpson from the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. Register here.
It has been a wonderful Vision Health Month 2019, and it is hoped that efforts to fight for the best access to vision loss treatment and patient education about vision loss can be sustained all year long.
Guest Blogger: Chris Lynch, Deputy CEO and Director of Communications and Publications, Alzheimer’s Disease International
For the millions of people affected by dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, there is still a lot of work to do to change people’s attitudes and perceptions around it. Although there is growing acknowledgement that this is not a natural part of ageing, stigma surrounding dementia is still a major barrier to governments, policy makers and health and care professionals, even in countries with burgeoning awareness campaigns. Many people are not aware that people can have younger onset dementia in their 30s and 40s and have misconceptions around the ‘face’ of dementia, as there are many. These attitudes may explain why people defer acting to seek out information, help, give advice, get diagnosed and support when they are first worried about their memory or that of someone close to them.
In order to change perceptions, we must improve understanding of the scale of the global challenge posed by dementia. Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) is carrying out the largest survey ever attempted on people’s attitudes around dementia. Results of the survey will form the basis for the next World Alzheimer Report, to be released during World Alzheimer Month in September 2019.
The survey takes about 10 minutes to complete and is available in 30 languages. The questions are predominantly multiple choice and targeted to four key groups:
The survey takes only a few minutes of your time but completing it will benefit people living with dementia and their families around the world. Every time someone completes the survey we are a little bit wiser about the challenge we all face.
This work will help to sharpen advocacy with governments around the world; many governments prefer not to tackle dementia and rely on the lack of a movement and of an open conversation to stay inactive on the subject.
The survey will also help to sharpen advocacy for risk reduction strategies in every country. With the expanded 5 x 5 approach of the World Health Organization (WHO) to include mental health and neurological conditions, we are slowly seeing progress in this area. The recently-launched WHO guidelines on risk reduction of cognitive decline and dementia should provide inspiration for individuals and policy-makers to adopt lifestyle behaviours that will decrease the likelihood of developing dementia. However, in order for risk-reduction strategies to be successfully implemented, there needs to be an open dialogue about dementia and increased awareness. In this way, the survey will
The survey is open until 14 June. Please consider filling it out and share with your friends and colleagues. We urge you to use this project as an example of how civil society can and should enhance the understanding of an area of health in order to stimulate and bolster governmental action.Complete the Survey Before 14 June
As the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, a pivotal turning point for LGBTQI rights, rapidly approaches there is perhaps no better time to reflect on the work, sacrifice and contributions of LGBTQI elders. On May 16th the United States celebrated ‘National Honor our LGBT Elders Day’ highlighting not only the progress that has been made but also the barriers that still exist, particularly for older LGBTQI individuals.
In spite of the criminalization, violence, homophobia and the profound loss associated with the AIDS epidemic, LGBTQI elders persevered in driving the agenda for LGBTQI equality. They refused to allow society to ignore their presence, pushing back on gender stereotypes and heteronormative culture more broadly. LGBTQI elders paved the way for new generations of LGBTQI individuals to not just exist but to flourish.
As Michael Adams, CEO of SAGE Advocacy & Services for LGBT Elders, discusses, it is of the upmost importance that the barriers LGBT Elders face today are brought to the forefront of the public consciousness and that advocacy efforts begin to address the unique needs of these individuals. The loneliness and isolation that many older individuals face is often exacerbated for LGBTQI Elders whose support systems are often smaller and punctuated by losses in earlier life due to the AIDS epidemic. Furthermore, LGBTQI Elders often face discrimination in long term housing and care facilities, forcing many to return to the closet they fought so courageously to escape.
In recognition of the ‘National Honor our LGBT Elders Day’ the IFA would like to reaffirm it’s commitment to the inclusion and recognition of all individuals regardless of race, age, culture, ability, ethnicity, nationality, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, and socioeconomic status and invites individuals and organizations to join the IFA ‘Older LGBTQI People Call to Action’ to help address the inequalities faced by older LGBTQI individuals.