B.C. Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie speaks to a group at the Legion on Dec. 11.                                 Melanie Law photo

B.C. Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie speaks to a group at the Legion on Dec. 11. Melanie Law photo

B.C. Seniors Advocate presents in Quesnel

The provincial advocate spoke to a group of around 35 people on Tuesday

Isobel Mackenzie, the provincial Seniors Advocate, was in Quesnel Dec. 11 to present to locals about seniors’ issues, including caregiver needs, long-term care, property tax deferment and more.

The B.C. advocate, who works in Victoria, B.C., came to Quesnel at the request of local seniors advocate Susan MacNeill, who is the coordinator for the Seniors Advocacy Service.

“Isobel makes herself available to communities, and we requested a date for her to come,” says MacNeill.

Mackenzie presented at Quesnel’s Legion Hall on Tuesday morning, as part of the Seniors Advocacy Service’s Lunch ‘n Learn program, with a complimentary meal served by the Legion. More than 35 people attended, and heard information on Quesnel’s Poverty Reduction Strategy, as well as strategies around having seniors live at home in the community rather than going into long-term care too early.

“I think the fact that a lot of people, out of frustration, are putting their loved ones into care far too early … that’s one of the issues that keeps coming up, it was an ongoing theme, I think,” says MacNeill.

“[Mackenzie] talked about the fact that yes, that’s true; in their surveys what they’ve found is that a lot of people that are in care really could be managed to live comfortably at home still.”

MacNeill says resources for seniors need to be spread further to encompass care for those who could live at home.

Mackenzie also spoke about seniors’ contributions to community, including the time they spend volunteering. According to her office’s data, 40 per cent of seniors 65 or older volunteer, as well as 31 per cent of seniors 85 and older. Mackenzie noted that seniors are some of the top volunteers in communities, particularly in rural areas like Quesnel. She also noted that 74 per cent of seniors age 85 and older live independently.

The group was given time to ask questions of Mackenzie, and many were taking notes on the presentation, as the provincial Advocate spoke about various subsidy plans available for seniors, as well as financial aid she hoped would be implemented by the province and the federal government in the future.

“We are very happy with the turnout, it was well attended and the information was great,” says MacNeill.

READ MORE: Still too many B.C. seniors in care facilities, or at home on drugs