Old age isn’t for sissies.
Aging is a little like Canadian winter — early reminders of its onset are wisely heeded
because conditions will only grow more severe as time passes. Ignore them at your peril.
So it is with society as a whole. The population is ageing, a fact that has been emphasized for years in the face of rising health-care budgets, long-term care shortages and a looming labour crisis.
Taking a closer look at the issue, Frank Dwyer of Kamloops Voters Society doubts that the City is adequately prepared for the more pronounced demographic shift that lies just over the horizon. He sees shortcomings with some of the most basic considerations.
Numbers tell part of the story. Over the next 25 years, the number of city residents aged 65 and over will increase by 103 per cent. One in every four B.C. residents will be a senior by 2031.
In August, Kamloops, along with Clearwater, were among eight B.C. communities recognized for their age-friendly ways by Ralph Sultan, minister of state for seniors. Communities were judged on outdoor spaces and buildings, housing, participation and employment, communication and information, transportation, community and health services, respect and inclusiveness.
“The celebration, I can tell you, was pretty muted,” said Dwyer, who questions the substance behind the recognition. “We received $1,000 and a poster. And I’m still trying to figure out where the poster went.”
Three years ago, the City produced an age-friendly community plan, but it leaves much to
be desired, chiefly follow-through action. It was the same year the City increased user fees for Heritage House, provoking protest from seniors groups that use the facility.
Just as the post-war population boom required a major expansion of public education, it will take a significant investment to bring communities along in accommodating the specific needs of seniors.
Dwyer suggested updating the plan and posting it on the City website as first steps. There is a seniors advisory committee, but it deserves an elevated status. As well, there are some relatively simple and inexpensive adaptations at street level — more benches at high-volume transit stops, for example, or longer intervals for pedestrian crossings.
Greater focus is needed, not only on the quality of health care, but also on quality of life care.
We Say editorials represent the viewpoint of The Daily News and are written by publisher Tim Shoults, city editor Tracy Gilchrist, or associate news editors Dan Spark and Mark Rogers.