Impoverished seniors suffer old age ‘insecurity’ as food prices, cost of living rise

Seniors need some help

The cost of living in the Okanagan is hitting seniors hard as we head into the winter months.

According to the Seniors Outreach and Services Society, not only is Kelowna’s population aging but the number of seniors is expected to double between 2006 and 2040. British Columbia has the highest rate of seniors living in poverty in the country.

In an effort to help, the Seniors Outreach and Resource centre is ramping up its resources heading into the holiday season.

Seniors Outreach and Resource centre executive director Vi Sorenson tells Castanet that calls from seniors who can’t afford to buy food are increasing.

“We have been receiving calls from folks in their 80s and 90s who don’t drive, have no money and need volunteers to go to the food bank for them. It’s heartbreaking,” says Sorenson.

“Many of these older seniors are single, vulnerable, isolated and living alone with no family. Some are living in budget motels, campers and converted cargo trailers, even cars, as they can’t find an affordable place to live. The more it costs for housing, the less the seniors have to spend on groceries. It’s as simple as that.”

There are a number of ways people can help, including the adopt-a senior program or by putting a hamper together for seniors or donating gifts or cash. There is also an online 50/50 raffle that will be drawn on December 10.

“What we see happening is that many senior couples move from colder climate areas to Kelowna in their retirement in search of milder weather that is easier on their joints and reduces pain. Unfortunately, for the seniors with no family or friends in the Okanagan, when one of the spouses passes, the other is left alone, grieving, lonely and overwhelmed. And many are on lower incomes," Sorenson says.

Sorenson says they want seniors to maintain their dignity and feel connected and cared for, especially during the holidays. Seniors Outreach is a non-profit society, working to enhance the lives of seniors in Kelowna.

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