It’s time to talk about seniors.
I have the most amazing parents and in-laws who are in their 70s and 80s respectively (don’t worry, mom – I won’t tell them your actual age).
Our conversations often circle around to some of the issues that they are experiencing.
My summer was spent hearing from many seniors who are feeling forgotten in this government’s budget, programs and focus.
Here are some of the issues they are dealing with.
Housing: Seniors are incredibly vulnerable when it comes to housing. They often will rent, and if evicted, find it incredibly difficult to find other accommodation.
Additionally, the accessibility requirements for housing change as we age, making it more difficult to find appropriate housing. Even if housing is found, the cost is often far outside of the fixed income of a senior.
As the cost of housing in both ownership and rental has increased, seniors are in a particularly difficult position and close to homelessness.
Inflation: While inflation has been difficult on society as a whole, seniors are often on fixed incomes and are harder hit by inflationary pressures.
Imagine working your whole life, saving faithfully, investing, and having a pension, only to see that money become less valuable in your later years.
This is a season where one cannot go out and get another job, or make ends meet another way. I have spoken to seniors who are having to choose between food or rent to make ends meet.
Healthcare: Seniors are losing their doctors, having to wait longer for surgeries, and not being able to access home care when required.
Despite having worked and paid as a taxpayer into the system, the system is failing them.
They don’t have a margin of time to wait for their surgery, and their bodies fail faster and take longer to recover if not treated.
This is not the way to care for our seniors – those that cared for us and built our province into what it is today.
As a society, we need to look at how best to care for our aging population. They are our parents and grandparents, uncles and aunties, our neighbours, and they deserve dignity and respect.
The pandemic showed us just how vulnerable this population is.
I watched as family members were separated, leading to their senior parent’s decline. I watched as senior couples struggled to use technology to maintain their health or use government agencies.
I watched the wave of loneliness and separation crash over this generation, not able to see their grandkids or children.
Their savings becoming less valuable, their health failing more, and their needs not being addressed.
This must change. It’s time to get serious about our seniors.
We need to see more long-term care facilities with single residency rooms; we need greater pension amounts with more financial supports for seniors’ emergencies; we need to focus on seniors’ community centres for support and healthy living – keeping seniors healthier longer; and when their health is weakening, make sure that home supports, community care, and primary care is available for them.
It’s time to show our seniors how much they mean to us and keep them a healthy part of our community longer.
My question for you this week is this:
What gaps do you see in how seniors are cared for in our society, and how would you change it?
I love hearing from you! Please email me at Renee.Merrifield.MLA@leg.bc.ca or call my office at 250-712-3620.