Seniors bring advantages to community

Seniors make up the majority of volunteers at Saanich Volunteers

The “Grey Tsunami” is a term that is frequently tossed around today when looking ahead and considering the impact that a growing number of seniors may have on our community. For the most part, we hear about the pressure that will be placed upon community resources to accommodate the needs of a more mature population.

At Saanich Volunteers, we support folks in retaining their independence through drives to appointments, help with shopping, gardening, home repairs, visits and income taxes. But just who are these volunteers who support the members of the “tsunami” with their needs? Well, you might be surprised to hear that it is mainly seniors themselves.

The majority of our volunteers are over the age of 65. It would appear that, for a variety of reasons, our senior population is willing and able to contribute to the needs of our community. Perhaps it is because they understand and empathize with their neighbours in need or that they have a bit more time on their hands than the younger generation but, for whatever reason, we would be in a much worse position if we did not have these seniors to rely upon.

In addition to their contributions to Saanich Volunteers, did you know that many young families today in Greater Victoria would be in dire straits if it were not for the help provided by grandparents with childcare?  Seniors assist their children with the purchase of homes in our beautiful city so that these young people can continue to reside in the neighbourhood.

On Vancouver Island, 60 per cent of local clients receive parental support, with 37 per cent of parents funding less than 25 per cent of the downpayment, 44 per cent funding 25 to 50 per cent, and 19 per cent funding more than half of the agreed upon downpayment.

On top of that, grandparents play an ongoing role in child care. In a study of 13,626 grandparents from 1998 to 2008, more than 60 per cent of grandparents provided grandchild care over the 10-year period.

We are indeed fortunate to have a growing number of seniors in Saanich and Greater Victoria who are continuing to contribute to our community. We are grateful at Saanich Volunteers that we can be a conduit for support and share in the assets that the Grey Tsunami brings to our organization and neighbourhood.

Gail Snider is the executive director of Saanich Volunteer Services.