Seniors need us to give — and they deserve it
Older generations built our society, Jason Lesage writes.
A couple of months ago, James — not his real name — passed away. I would see him near my office door, sitting in his wheelchair and watching people come and go in the front lobby at Queen’s Park Care Centre, a residential care facility for seniors in New Westminster.
I would say, “Good morning, Boss! How are you?” We would have a chat about the weather. James was a proud man who seemed to have lived a rich life. However, hardly anyone would come and visit. I was happy to spend time talking with him, even if it was only a couple of minutes, because I know it meant something to him. “I need some new socks. Can you buy some for me?” James requested. “Sure. Let me see what I can do,” I replied. The next week, he was gone.
As the executive director for a small hospital foundation tasked with raising funds to purchase equipment and fund programs that make life more comfortable for the residents at Queen’s Park Care Centre (many are above 90 years of age), I’m humbled to serve those who are in, or close to, their last stage in life. Many have dementia. Fortunately, there are a suite of therapeutic services and a day program for seniors still living at home that provides specialized care and gives caregivers, usually a son or daughter, a break.
The world of fundraising is quite competitive — there are many excellent not-for-profit organizations in B.C. that make a world of difference to the people they serve. What they do is important and their success is warranted. However, I’ve had many meetings with individuals and businesses in the community, and it’s apparent that seniors organizations don’t receive the same consideration as other charities. I’ve heard from more than one source that charitable giving is shifting from seniors to sectors such as arts and culture, children and youth, and amateur sports organizations. Seniors issues are just not sexy. There’s a bit of a zerosum game taking place, and this isn’t right.
Here’s my challenge: Who wants to be the Bell Canada for seniors care?
The high standard of living we enjoy today is built upon the hard work of today’s seniors. Whether they were a corporate executive, worked in front-line retail, started their own business or created beautiful art, we owe them the care and comfort they deserve.
There have been many articles written lately expounding the need for more seniors care. There are now more people in Canada 65 years or older than 15 and under. Thought leaders in seniors care are asking if different models are needed to accommodate this grey tsunami. It’s good to re-evaluate how we take care of our seniors. We also need to re-think how we support seniors care through philanthropy.
Not so long ago, mental health issues were somewhat taboo. Today, there are many organizations that are available to those who need help. Governments are directing more money toward resources and the corporate community has stepped up to the plate. This is a good thing. Seniors charities today are where mental health charities were about 15 years ago.
So, here’s my challenge to the business community. Who wants to be the Bell Canada for seniors care? Because there’s a huge niche to be filled, and it’s wide open.
As a society, we must give more consideration for seniors care. Unless you’re a senior yourself, or a son or daughter taking care of mom or dad, it’s just not on your radar, which is a shame because we’re all going to get there someday. Think of it this way: Giving to a seniors charity today is an investment in your future needs.