Seniors Advocate Meets with Seniors in P.G.
Prince George, B.C. – The seniors of tomorrow will be different than the seniors of today says BC Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie.
Prince George was one of the stops on Mackenzie’s tour of the province and says her visit is a two way street “I like to talk a little about the office and the work we’re doing, and I like to hear from people, their issues, their concerns their perspective on some of the work we’re doing.”
Mackenzie has been B.C.’s Senior’s Advocate for two years, and in that time has released 7 reports on everything from appropriate housing to care. She has made numerous recommendations to government and says progress is being made ” First of all, we’re raising awareness and that in itself is a step forward. Number two, I think the government is listening and in some areas it is acting, not in all areas but that doesn’t mean they aren’t going to act, they just haven’t done it yet.”
She points to legislative changes in assisted living as one of the positive changes, “Which I think for people in the north is key, the North has one of the highest percentages of people in residential care that don’t need to be there and one of the reasons is we didn’t have appropriate assisted living legislation.” She says there has also been positive action on support for caregivers “I think the province’s ears perked up at the sound of what’s going to happen if we don’t support these caregivers, and I think most recently in response to our directory on residential care and the care hours the Minister of Health has launched a specific investigation into what are our care hours and are they adequate.”
17% of B.C.’s population is over the age of 65, a percentage that is expected to climb to 24% of the population by the year 2031 and with people living longer there will have to be a shift in thinking “I think what has to shift is the stereotyping of people simply because they are aged 65 or because they have grey hair and to recognize the contributions that are made, can be made, and will be made, and I think that will come.”
Having made stops in Houston and Vanderhoof before arriving in Prince George, she says the issues facing rural seniors are really no different than those facing seniors in more urban regions “The issue is the same, transportation, housing, but why it’s an issue is different, and the solution is different.” She says one things is clear, there is no “one size fits all” solution “Not even for seniors in the same community never mind different communities.”
She says the first wave of activism for baby boomers was activism for their parents, “That’s the wave we’re in now and the next wave is going to be the activism for themselves and a big part of that is going to be ‘listen to me, I know what I want I know my mind and don’t tell me what to do’. She says the seniors today (which she pegs as being over 80) have different attitudes from those yet to come “Those folks came from an era of respecting authority, following the rules, not challenging the rules, they are a fairly compliant lot. Well the next wave coming through is not so compliant, so I think that will push things quite a bit.”