As community developer for the United Way, Better at Home program, I have the task of estimating how many Penticton seniors are isolated and or vulnerable. The majority of older adults wish to live independently as long as possible but as the risk of physical and cognitive decline increases with age, the risk of vulnerability also increases.
According to B.C. Stats, “For the first time, since reporting began, persons 65 years of age and older outnumbered 0-14 year olds in B.C.” Penticton’s senior population is much higher than the provincial average. We are living longer and the number of residents over the age of 90 has more than doubled in the last 10 years. As we age, other risk factors increase such as social isolation as we lose our friends and loved ones. Access to suitable transportation is vital to participate in the community and being connected to community decreases the likelihood of elder abuse, neglect or self-neglect.
The vast majority of our seniors are socially active, healthy and capable but we also have others who struggle with day to day tasks that the agile take for granted. Furthermore, life circumstances can very quickly change the picture for any individual and can lead to a significant loss in quality of life. How many seniors do we have in this community who could successfully maintain their independence with a little bit of practical support? Penticton has an opportunity to launch the new Better at Home program with the help of the United Way to provide non-medical home support services such as light housekeeping, grocery shopping, transportation to appointments, simple home repairs, friendly visiting, light yard work and snow shoveling. In order for this to happen, we need the support and the will of the community to identify priorities and make this program a reality for Penticton. If you, or someone you know, need this kind of support, please add your voice.
I encourage all seniors and stakeholders to attend the community meeting on Nov. 30 from 9:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. at the Penticton Seniors Drop-in Centre where the findings of this project will be presented along with a final chance to provide input. Lunch will be provided and transportation can be arranged with advance notice. To register for the Better at Home community meeting or provide input to this project, please call Myrna Tischer at 250-492-0065 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.