By Melanie Scott
A couple of weeks ago, we reported on the sad lack of affordable and practical housing for our Chelsea-based senior citizens. Those who helped to build a community that is the envy of many and who injected cash into that community through paying into the tax base for decades may need to seek shelter elsewhere when the time comes to give up the family homestead.
According to Stats Can, over 20 per cent of Canada’s population was aged 60 or older as of the end of 2013. If we apply that formula to the MRC des Collines-de-l’Outaouais, whose population is 46,500 plus or minus, our seniors currently number 9,300. That’s a lot of housing.
The dilemma was highlighted this week with the announcement that our MRC is planning to be an ‘age friendly municipality’ by the end of 2015. Seven municipalities are working on policies and action plans that will recognize the importance of supporting seniors who wish to remain in their communities.
A discussion with a ‘futurist’ a week ago revealed just how fast things are changing in the Canadian demographic. Back in 1970, the average Cannuck lived to around 72. Thirty years later, this number jumped to 81. That’s a lot more years.
The futurist predicts that we’ll soon be living to 120. Eventually, we’ll live forever. There is, apparently, science behind the madness, all based on models and predictions and such. But this begs the question: do we want to live to be 120? There are only so many games of Hearts and so many trips to Florida that a person can endure. We’ll all end up with scads of great-great-great-great grandchildren on our Christmas lists. The mind boggles at the costs. That’s a lot of wrapping.
It seems to be in the natural order of things for generations to get the heck out of the way and make room for the next batch coming out of the oven. People who lived to 70 half a century ago were doing pretty well. People who are living well into their 90s now are doing great. But passing that amazing 100th finish line is really special. If we all live beyond that, will the Queen (who must be nearing 120 by now) still send each and every one of us a note of congratulations? Just think of the writer’s cramp. That’s a lot of postage.
Just the idea of the financial consequences of sticking around for that long brings on the shivers – if we’re all going to live that much longer, we’ll have to work that much longer. And it’s tough enough for young people to find jobs as it is.
Whether we live to 70 or 90 or 120, the fact remains: the elderly deserve to maintain their autonomy while being provided with suitable living accommodations in the communities they built. How about we focus on that, rather than living forever.