Nelson city councillor Michael Dailly

COLUMN: Create community karma: help a senior

Widening our definition of extended family to include unrelated seniors has the potential to improve the quality of life for all involved.

Making the choice to widen our definition of extended family to include unrelated seniors has the potential to improve the quality of life for all involved. To the many people in Nelson who work, volunteer, or casually assist to improve the lives of seniors, people with disabilities, or others, you are creating wonderful community karma! Thank you!

One of the reasons Nelson is such a great place to live is the fact people care for each other. We know our neighbours. Scores of us have adopted Nelson as our home and so it follows that we see our neighbours as our adopted extended family. I am writing this article to both inform seniors of supports available and to let those of us not yet seniors know there are opportunities for us to get involved in helping others. A good place to learn about advocacy is the Office of the Seniors Advocate. Their website can be found at seniorsadvocatebc.ca.

The website has information about Health Care support and assistance, for example a random survey of seniors conducted in 2015 showed that only 39 per cent of seniors were aware of the Medical Services Plan premium assistance program and many seniors who were eligible for MSP premium assistance were not applying for it. If you have an adjusted net income of less than $30,000, you qualify. This threshold will rise to $42,000 on Jan. 1, 2017. Do you or someone you know not realize they qualify?

Whether you own or rent your home, or live in a supported or assisted living environment, there are programs to help with your housing needs. “Aging in place” means staying in your own home and community as you get older. Good planning can help. Think about how your housing needs may change as you age, and make sure your home is suitable. Adapting your home in small ways can help you stay safer and more independent. Simply installing handrails and bathtub grab bars can help prevent falls and related injuries.

Home Adaptations for Independence helps low-income seniors and people with disabilities finance home modifications for accessible, safe and independent living. Eligible homeowners, renters and landlords can receive up to $20,000 per home in the form of a forgivable loan. Another program, the home renovation tax credit for seniors and persons with disabilities, assists eligible individuals 65 and over and persons with disabilities with the cost of certain permanent home renovations to improve accessibility.

Another way homeowners can reduce immediate expenses is to defer taxes. The regular tax deferment program is a low interest loan program that allows you to defer paying all or part of your property taxes on your principal residence if you are 55 or older, a surviving spouse of any age, or a person with disabilities. The current rate of interest is 0.7 per cent or about $14 annually for a $2,000 tax deferral.

Locally the Nelson and District Seniors Co-ordinating Society is working to provide home help services including cooking, house cleaning, shopping and other support services at an affordable price. They can be reached at 250-352-6008 or through nelsonseniors.ca.

If you have questions about transit, Handy Dart, rideshare, carshare, or the volunteer driver program, the Nelson CARES’ Age Friendly community initiative has established the West Kootenay seniors transportation co-ordinator to help you with your transportation needs. They can be reached at 250-352-2708 or through their website kootenayseniors.ca where you can also find interesting activities for seniors in the Kootenay seniors events and activities calendar.

Asking for help and answering that call is nothing less than a miracle opportunity to show once again how much more we can accomplish together.

For further information or to comment, I can be reached at mdailly@nelson.ca.

Nelson city councillor Michael Dailly shares this space weekly with his council colleagues.

 

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