Dr. Roger Wong’s memories of his grandmother include her favourite song, Moon River, and the way she used to cook his favourite dish, spot prawns in sweet tomato sauce.
He and his grandmother were close, he said, until his family left Hong Kong and moved to Canada when he was in Grade 12.
But it is the memory of his grandma’s twilight years at a care facility in Hong Kong — where she lived in a room lined with steel cots — that has animated Wong’s life’s work: To help seniors maintain their independence, stay healthy and live at home as long as possible.
“The key thing is to act before it’s too late,” said Wong, a geriatric doctor and professor of geriatric medicine at the University of B.C.
Aging doesn’t automatically mean moving into a care facility, he noted. Even seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s who are in the early or moderate phase of the disease can live at home.
In Canada, over 90 per cent of people age 65 and older stay in their homes and communities, according to Statistics Canada. Among seniors in their 90s, about half lived in private households.