Communities need to advocate for seniors

a significant and growing portion of our population’s need for help and support increases, so does their difficulty in getting it.

Nanaimo News Bulletin

If you don’t know where to turn for help, or can’t navigate the maze of bureaucracy to get to the right person, it’s going to be difficult to access assistance.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly the paradox many seniors face as they age. Just as a significant and growing portion of our population’s need for help and support increases, so does their difficulty in getting it.

That message was clearly articulated from the floor this week at an NDP-organized roundtable discussion on aging issues. It’s hardly a new issue – seniors and seniors’ advocates have related the problem for years.

Nonetheless, the problem persists. And it’s worsening, particularly with the first wave of baby boomers already into official seniorhood.

Whatever efforts have been made at the local, provincial and federal levels to address the conundrum, seniors remain more or less unable to access help when it’s needed.

And by then, the original issue is more often than not further exacerbated by the delay caused in the attempt to navigate the labyrinth toward accessing help.

What’s to be done?

First and foremost, every community needs to invest in seniors’ advocacy.

That investment might be through financial assistance or simply providing space and resources to assist existing advocates – Nanaimo has several spread through different volunteer and non-profit organizations – in co-ordinating and unifying their efforts.

Once that’s accomplished, the availability of that co-ordinated resource – aimed primarily at directing people in the right direction, if they can’t solve the issue then and there – must be made widely known throughout the community.

The help is usually already available at some level of the system, people just need someone to direct the traffic.