The cost of rent is proving to be one of the main challenges B.C. seniors are facing in the Lower Mainland, says seniors advocate Isobel Mackenzie.
Mackenzie was in White Rock Nov. 26 to debunk some of the “myths” associated with senior living. She was invited by the Canadian Federation of University Women to be a keynote speaker for a members-only event.
The myths, she says, are that B.C. is going to be “overwhelmed” with seniors, they are going to flood the nursing homes, a high percentage of them will be diagnosed with dementia and they have a lot of money that they’re not spending.
The points were similar to those she made at a Feb. 3 event in the White Rock Community Centre.
Mackenzie talked to Peace Arch News last week about some of the challenges seniors are struggling with.
She said approximately 20 per cent of seniors do not own a home. Seniors that rent are “disproportionately poorer” than seniors who own a home, she said.
“Rents can rise at the rate of inflation plus two per cent. And in this market, most landlords are raising their rent the maximum they can. That’s a challenge for seniors.”
Old Age Security (OAS) payment, the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS), all rise with the rate of inflation.
Another concern Mackenzie has is the overuse of anti-psychotic medications in care facilities.
“For whatever reason, British Columbia does not do as good of a job as other provinces in managing misappropriate use of anti-psychotics. We have a higher use of anti-psychotics without diagnosis than other provinces.”
She added that the province could do a better job of helping seniors co-ordinate doctor appointments, medical tests and medication schedules.
“These are small things that can become overwhelming for all of us, frankly. For some people as they age it’s a bit more overwhelming. Yet, you’re completely independent and able to live independently,” Mackenzie said.
A recent study published by the Canadian Institute for Health Information reported that seniors make up for 25 per cent of opioid poisoning hospitalizations.
The study says seniors are at a greater risk of opioid poisoning because of “multiple medication use and age-related changes to the body.”
Mackenzie said she’s waiting to wade into the issue because the “headlines are consumed with the fentanyl crisis,” which is a “different issue with different solutions.”
Mackenzie said White Rock is a “brilliant” city in which to retire. Both of her parents live in the city.
“I think it’s reflected in the number of seniors you have there as well.”