Picturing a better future for Island seniors
Ken Williams appreciated being asked to show, through photography, that it can be challenging for aging Islanders to find the services they need.
The Ebenezer resident was one of more than 250 Islanders who participated in talks leading to the development of Prince Edward Island’s action plan for seniors, near seniors and caregivers. In addition to taking part in discussions, seniors were invited to use images - through a process called photovoice - to demonstrate their thoughts, feelings, hopes or concerns about the provincial government’s relations with the aging population.
“I really appreciated the challenge of using photovoice,” said Williams, 78. “One person submitted highway traffic signs saying one highway this way, one highway that, and another highway over there – and it just talked to me about seniors trying to get through a government bureaucracy.”
The Departments of Health and Wellness and Family and Human Services convened participants including Williams to help shape programs and policies to meet the needs of Islanders as needs change with age, and services that can also support family members and caregivers of Island seniors.
Williams said he understands that government faces a variety of challenges serving aging citizens, but he sees his role as pointing out both the challenges and opportunities.
“On PEI we don’t always have the bucks; we don’t have all the resources that are necessary, but we have to be open to seeing what help we can provide,” he said. “We on PEI are an aging society. It’s growing by leaps and bounds. We have all these people here. It's important to know how are we are going to look after them.”
“PEI has a great foundation of program and services that benefit seniors,” Health and Wellness Minister Robert Mitchell said. “However, there is important work to be done to build their health and wellness and to meet the needs of our growing and aging population.
"Our new seniors action plan will play to the strengths of what makes Prince Edward Island mighty – a connectedness that allows us to focus on what matters most, which is helping one another live the best life possible in our Island community.”