Representatives from organizations that provide services and programs for seniors met at the office of MLA Jackie Tegart on Feb. 12, to share information about what is in place to support seniors in our communities, identify gaps, and see who can fill them.
“Do seniors know what services are available, and can they access that support?” asked Tegart.
Yoriko Susanj of the Elizabeth Fry Society said that about 75% of those accessing the food bank in Ashcroft are aged 55 or older, and that donations such as Boost, Ensure, and adult diapers are badly needed. She noted that since the Community Bus stopped serving Cache Creek they see far fewer seniors from that community. “They just can’t get to Ashcroft when the Food Bank is open,” she said (the first and third Wednesday of each month).
Better at Home’s Nancy Kendall outlined the program’s scope, such as the snow angel service, doing light house- and yard-work, and friendly visits, but added that transportation is a major issue. “I have to tell people ‘I don’t have a ride for you’ too many times,” she noted. She encourages people to use the HandiDart service on Wednesday and Friday afternoons, where the bus is available to pick people up at their home, bring them to town, and drive them home again for $2.00, but said that still left many seniors with mobility issues struggling to get between businesses once they’re downtown.
Juanita Little said that the Interior Health Community Home Care/Home Support program is able to offer personal care, such as shower assistance, help getting dressed, and palliative care, but said that if people are able to get about they need to come to the health care site. Shirlee Johnson, a Seniors’ Income Tax Volunteer, said that she can help seniors—or anyone whose annual income is less than $30,000 per year—do their tax return for no charge. And she noted that “Filling out forms and applying for things generally is difficult for many seniors.”
Tegart asked the group what could be done by those present, and their organizations, to help support seniors. “They need to know what’s out there and maximize what’s available.”
Kendall suggested a newsletter that would feature contributions from the groups providing services to seniors. A Seniors’ Resource Fair was also suggested, which would allow seniors to talk to those providing services and learn about what’s available in and around the community.
Tegart also noted that the 11th edition of the BC Seniors’ Guide is now available. It’s a comprehensive guide that contains information and resources on benefits, healthy living, health services, housing, transportation, personal security, finances, and much more. Copies of the guide, which is free, are available through Tegart’s office, the E. Fry Society, Better at Home, and other community organizations.