SASKATOON -- The Saskatoon Council on Aging wants people to denounce ageist comments, actions and thoughts that portray the idea that it’s okay if a person in their 80s dies from COVID-19, since they were going to die anyway.

“We just really want to make sure right now that we combat those kinds of thoughts,” board member Catherine Arnold told CTV News.

“It's not okay for that many older adults to be dying as a result of something that there is prevention for and that all of us can work together to prevent. So it's not that we've specifically had anyone make that comment publicly. But that perception, ageism, is certainly present in society and as an organization that's something that we try to promote and combat, that ageist attitude.”

That measure is one of several the council is asking the public to practice after Saskatchewan surpassed Manitoba to have the second highest number of active COVID-19 cases per capita, behind Alberta, and double the national average, according to the council.

Death due to COVID-19 in long-term care facilities is rising at an alarming rate across Saskatchewan, the council says. Within a two-day period, 92 per cent of deaths occurred in residents over the age of 80.

Aside from the harm the disease causes and the danger it poses in long-term care homes, Arnold said older adults living in isolation or assisted living may have difficulty getting food, or find that services normally delivered to their home may be reduced.

“Certainly contact with family has been reduced. And that can have huge impacts on older adults who already may be experiencing a certain amount of isolation, the ability to get out and socialize, group activity. And older adults may not have the same ability with technology to connect, but others do. So yes, there's certainly a huge impact for older adults.”

Catherine Arnold

In addition to denouncing ageism, the council asks people to:

  • Act together as a community to follow public health guidelines with zero tolerance for non-adherence.
  • Take action now to prevent further spread that could further increase the rate of death and tragedy for older adults and their families
  • Support health care workers who work tirelessly to care for those who are vulnerable, sick and isolated often at high risk for their own health and safety
  • Take COVID-19 seriously.
  • Celebrate the coming of the vaccine and support the plans for prioritization as determined by the experts.