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Beating the Drum for Diversity


When 82-year-old Natalina Boselli was hospitalized recently her broken English made communication with health professionals difficult.

Natalina’s situation is not unusual.

By 2021, adults 65 and older will form 18 percent of the Canadian population and include more than 200 ethnic groups, according to the 2001 Census.

In a recent report, The National Advisory Council on Aging (NACA) warned Canadian seniors who belong to minorities are in danger of being left behind when developing new policies and services.

Research suggests as people age, culture assumes an increasingly important role in their lives. For instance, in Ethnic Seniors and Healthy Aging, lead researcher, Sucy Eapen writes: “Culture shapes the senior’s attitude to pain; ideas of comfort and well-being; conceptions of health and illness; notions of appropriate treatment, dietary preferences, and regulations; and verbal and non-verbal communication styles.”

NACA recommendations relate to income, health and health care, family support and community services.

The report: Seniors From Ethnocultural Minorities is available at: