Save us from cranky senior citizens

This week, our columnist Claudette Sandecki tackles seniors' eternal kvetching

Am I the only taxpayer weary of seniors’ eternal kvetching?

Browse any newspaper and you’re apt to read an article demanding more community support for seniors. Seniors have never been shy about letting governments know what would make them happier, more comfortable, physically more secure.

Some cities even pretend to seek their input through committees whose sole mandate is to funnel seniors’ thoughts directly to council.

What a ruse.

The B.C. Ombudsperson reported last year that the number of publicly subsidized residential care beds increased by 3.4 per cent between 2002 and 2010. Meanwhile, the over-80 population increased by 34 per cent. Does this funding gap make our society look sincere about supporting seniors?

Typically their leading complaint is the scarcity of affordable housing. Logically, the law of supply and demand ought to be a solution. In other words, if you’re unable or unwilling to increase the supply of affordable housing, shrink the demand.

And how to shrink the demand? Easy. Chip away those amenities that lead seniors to assume your community welcomes them. Folks don’t hang around where they’re not wanted. Better yet, to dissuade them from moving here in the first place particularly if their main motivation for relocating late in life is to be close to  grandchildren.

If you’re unsure where to apply your chisel, read the typical list of characteristics that make for a senior-friendly city, then work at downgrading  categories where the city scores highest.

Many seniors want to  live independently as long as they are physically able, near friends so they can visit without driving; within walking distance of amenities like library, church, and doctors’ offices. They seek ploughed and sanded sidewalks and parking lots, and businesses with doorways wide enough to accommodate electric wheelchairs.

Those who own dogs would choose to live handy to a  park where they could stroll with their pets. Snort in derision if you must, but never underestimate the importance of a pet in a senior’s life. Lax leash laws are a turnoff for all, whether or not they struggle with mobility problems. For nothing enlivens a senior’s constitutional quite as thoroughly as trying to maintain balance while ankles are wound in leash by their pooch dodging the fangs of some attacking canine too precious to be regulated by any control by-law.

To put the brakes on new retirees moving into town to be closer to grandchildren, move aggressively to root out the in-between generation. Do that by reducing local employment, first discouraging investment and the approval of  major projects in the area. Employment opportunities would dwindle. When jobs dry up, families drift away taking their kids and future grandparent retirement problems with them.

Unfortunately, the results of this measure might not be evident for 20 years or more.

Turn a deaf ear; why pretend to listen? If council eliminated its senior committee, presto, no more pesky demands.

Ignore calls to repair potholes and sand icy parking lots. Let those who live independently shovel their own snowy walkways. Plow their driveways full of snow the minute they finish shoveling.  Seniors would have to be dense not to catch council’s drift.

No single one of these measures would significantly reduce the influx of housing-hungry seniors immediately. Measures this drastic should have been instituted years ago. But now you can only go forward from where you are.

For a quicker, decisive reduction, offer each senior a free one-way January ferry trip along a scenic route to Anchorage and abandon them on an ice floe. It  solved the Eskimos’ elder problems.

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