Keeping seniors at home

Survey finds top three needs are transportation, grocery shopping and housekeeping

Transportation, grocery shopping and housekeeping were identified as the top three concerns for Mission seniors, according to the Better at Home survey conducted in May.

Survey organizer Pam Alexis recently released the results and identified Mission Community Services Society as the lead organization to implement programs to help keep seniors living in their own homes longer.

There are about 5,000 seniors in Mission and that number is expected to double in 17 years. By 2030, seniors will make up 19 per cent of the local population.

“Our senior population is growing rapidly,” said Alexis, who distributed 575 survey and analyzed the results of 200 which were returned. Numerous people from different cultural and economic backgrounds participated in the study.

What Alexis found most surprising was the need for transportation wasn’t just about getting from one place or another, it was also about having appropriate vehicles, which allow seniors to get in and out of with ease.

It’s difficult to walk up and down the hills of Mission and “you have to be pretty badly off to qualify for HandyDart services,” she explained.

Mission Seniors Activity Centre president Bob Ingram said the findings “definitely reflected comments from our members.”

One of the most common things among seniors is they want to stay in their own home for as long as possible, he explained. “A lot can look after themselves with a little assistance.”

Everyone is limited, whether it’s their physical ability to cut the grass or fix things around the house, or their financial ability to hire help to get those projects done, said Ingram, who believes the program has a lot of potential to assist the aging population.

“Generally speaking, health services isn’t the major need.”

The Better at Home program is funded by the B.C. government and managed by the United Way of the Lower Mainland.

Once Alexis finalizes her report at the end of the month, an advisory panel will be formed to apply for grants and decide how to roll out the services required, hopefully by year’s end.