Seniors in B.C. need more help

Providing for our elders

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 they are experiencing.

My summer was spent hearing from many seniors who are feeling forgotten in the current B.C. 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 (some are) 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 time where one cannot go out and get another job, or make ends meet another way. I have spoken to seniors who are having to chose between food or rent to make ends meet.

Healthcare: Seniors are losing their doctors, having to wait longer for surgeries and are not 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 time to wait for their surgeries and their bodies fail faster and take longer to recover if not treated.

This is not the way to care for our seniors, those who 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, grandparents, uncles and aunties and our neighbours. They deserve dignity and respect.

The pandemic showed us just how vulnerable this segment of population is. I watched as family members were separated, leading to their senior parents’ decline. I watched as senior couples struggled to use technology to maintain their health or use government agencies. I also 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, greater pension amounts with more financial supports for seniors’ emergencie, a focus on seniors’ community centres for support and healthy living – keeping seniors healthier longer and when their health is weakening, make sure 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 as 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 [email protected] or call my office at 250-712-3620.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Renee Merrifield is the BC United MLA for Kelowna - Mission and the Opposition critic for Environment and Climate Change, as well as Gender, Equity and Inclusion.  She currently serves on the Select Standing Committee for Finance as well.

A long-time resident of Kelowna, Renee started, and continues to lead, many businesses from construction and development to technology. Renee is a compassionate individual who cares about others in the community, believes in giving back and helping those in need through service.

She values your feedback and conversation, and can be reached at [email protected] or 250.712.3620

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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