Editorial: Get ready for the senior boom

Take a look through our special Saanich Care Guide today and you’ll notice a few rather telling statistics

Take a look through our special Saanich Care Guide today and you’ll notice a few rather telling statistics.

It seems our aging population – much like the rest of Canada – is on the cusp of a retirement and senior boom. No surprise there.

At the time of the 2011 census, about one-fifth – or 18.3 per cent – of the Saanich population was 65 and older. But compare that number to Saanichites aged 60 and up (30 per cent of the population) and you soon realize we’re in for a bump in demand for senior-specific services in the immediate future.

We’re a mecca for retirement, not only thanks of a mild climate, but also because the municipality is pursuing its goal of becoming an age-friendly poster child. (Admittedly, it still has a long way to go on constructing sidewalks to encourage pedestrians.)

Through the District’s enviable network of recreation and community centres, active living is accessible and largely affordable. Aging at home will be a key facet in maintaining health care services as demand increases, and the District does a good job of informing seniors on its available programs through Parks and Recreation’s Active Living Guide.

As Coun. Susan Brice points out, Saanich will soon embark on a recreation strategy for older adults, one that appeals to all levels of fitness and ability. But the municipality can only do so much. Our Care Guide also highlights how families do heroic work as they care for aging parents at home. As long as those families can access support services when needed, the model is one to applaud. Saanich Volunteer Services Society does an amazing job of plugging the shortfalls in public service through its network of 150 volunteers who help about 1,000 mostly-senior clients each year. Half of those clients live alone.

In his inaugural speech last December, Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell also vowed to create a mayor’s advisory committee on seniors issues, though no word on when that might be established, but the District is moving in the right and necessary direction to deal with a senior influx.