Well it certainly looks and feels like summer is over for this year, what little of it we had. Those few beautiful hot summery days in September were marvelous but unfortunately there was just too few of them. Even those hot days were sandwiched between cold and rainy days, which were enough to make the farmer wonder if his crops were ever going to see the inside of a bin before the wrath of winter sets in.
Senior centers all across the province are just now responding to the plea for detailed information on their financial status and from what I have seen of them it’s a really woeful tale, especially in those rural areas. Numerous centers that have an income of about $500 are faced with expenditures of some $5,000 to $6,000. Most of that expenditure sits squarely on the shoulders of the cost of energy, power, water, telephone and taxes.
The $6,000 generally represents the expenses of a center that has had to reduce the number of days it can be open. Centers that used to open five days a week are now struggling to have their doors open two days a week. Each day that a center has to be closed a senior has to go without the comfort of companionship, social activity and a chance to attain and retain a level of overall health that helps them in their every day lives.
A special senate committee on ageing’s first interim report published in 2007 had reported that the average age of seniors living in rural areas was much higher than the seniors living in urban areas. The reason for that was the out migration of younger people, and the growing tendency for some people to seek retirement in those rural areas. So if retirees live in small town Saskatchewan then why do we not see them? They certainly do not seem to be entering the doors of the senior centers.
Those people who are retiring at this present time do not actually see themselves or regard themselves as seniors, and there are huge differences in the expectations of present day retirees as opposed to those who retired some 15 to 20 years ago.
Personal financial situations can also vary tremendously. People who were starting to enter the work force 60 years ago had no idea just how much they would need for retirement in the year 2000 so they find themselves now a little short changed in the pension area. It is also true of course that private pension schemes were not as lucrative as they are at this present time. Also not too many private firms who were offering employment in the 50s and 60s had pension plans for their employees.
That senate report also spoke about defining a "senior". They expressed the thought a 65-year-old in the early 50s is not the same as a 65-year-old in 2007, that they are entirely different people. The report goes on to state that seniors are, on average, much healthier and certainly have many more years ahead of them. Although the healthcare now is better than it was, that alone does not make the present day senior healthier. To a large extent seniors have resisted the temptation to abandon their accustomed life style and join the race to the fast foods and instant packaged foods.
A healthy diet and good home cooking has been their standby all their lives and they have no wish to desert it now. They also still recognize the need to retain as high an activity level as possible in their day to day lives. That along with good health care is why they are healthier and living longer. Many grandmothers now tell me that they are being approached by daughters and grand daughters to be taught culinary skills, all in an attempt to have healthier lives.
Whether we as seniors like it or not the computer is here to stay and it has become very obvious that we will have to adapt. It is clear that computers can aid in communication and education in all our lives and in order to update SSAI’s ability to communicate with its many members we are in the process of opening a web site or web page. More about that in the months ahead.
For those centers that do not have access to a computer the answer maybe to touch base with Sask Tel Pioneers in your area, they can sometimes help with a donation of a computer. Your local school children will be only too pleased to help with any instruction required.
The Saskatchewan Seniors Association Inc ( SSAI ) will be holding another raffle with tickets being on sale starting early in 2010 with a 25 per cent return on tickets sold going to the centers who sell them and we hope this time that all centers will join us in selling them. The organization of the five-pin bowling tournament is well under way so have your teams ready to register.
Hope to hear from you all but in the meantime stay active and stay healthy.
Len Fallows is the President of The Saskatchewan Seniors Association Inc.