As Canada's population ages, Victoria's service industry adapts to meet the demand. A mobile generation, family members often live apart in different provinces or countries. Running errands or getting groceries may prove to be difficult as the years march on, and fewer relations close by to lean on means that an aging population must find ways to comfortably live their lives.
Luckily, several options exist for those needing assistance with prescription or grocery delivery, transportation, paying bills or making decisions about housing. Whether one is operating on a limited budget or has mobility issues, there are local services available to meet each individual’s needs.
Grocery shopping can be one of the most difficult everyday tasks to complete for seniors who decide to age in place. Without a car or someone to help carry the bags into the home, this chore can seem gruelling or even impossible. Many grocery stores in Victoria offer home delivery options.
Customers can choose to shop at the store and have their groceries delivered later in the day, which may suit those who have easy transportation but are unable to lift heavy bags. Individuals can also shop online or by telephone and choose a convenient time for their groceries to be delivered: volunteers cruise the grocery aisles filling the order, it’s then packaged and delivered to the customer’s door. If a product the customer ordered is unavailable or questions arise, the volunteer will contact the individual directly. Most grocery stores do not require a minimum order and their delivery fee is often a flat rate, no matter the size of the order. Contact local grocery stores for specific requirements or guidelines.
Several businesses in Victoria also offer homemade, nutritious meals that are packaged and ready to heat. Others offer meal plans that can be tailored to specific dietary needs, at reasonable prices that include home delivery.
Most pharmacies also offer home delivery of prescriptions. Ask your local pharmacy about the services they offer and whether delivery is free or if they charge a small fee.
Seniors Serving Seniors is a Victoria-based information and referral resource. This not-for-profit, volunteer-run organization will celebrate its 30-year anniversary in 2011. Seniors Serving Seniors was created to support the well-being of an aging population by providing information, organizing events and representing the collective interests of their volunteers and members.
Over the years, Seniors Serving Seniors has compiled an extensive directory of services available to individuals, which is published in a directory every two years. It covers a wide variety of categories, including home help, counselling and transportation.
“I think the directory is a valuable tool because it’s a comprehensive, all-in-one book,” says Jane Sheaff, executive director of Seniors Serving Seniors. “It’s popular for people to search for services online, but I think having the directory is faster. We’ve already done the research for seniors to access it all in one spot. You’re often looking in a time of need and it can be frustrating [if it's not convenient].”
Jane notes that while there have been different services available for a long time, there is more variety now. Some services have appeared as a direct result of the needs created by an aging population, such as services to help pay bills or find suitable housing.
While generic delivery services have been available in the past, an increasing number of stores are taking delivery on themselves, rather than relying on outside courier services.
“Victoria is a really aware community,” says Jane. “There are a lot of people coming to the support of seniors in Victoria, and I think we can be proud of that.”
AUGUST 2010 SENIOR LIVING MAGAZINE VANCOUVER ISLAND