The topic of housing for seniors keeps blipping onto my radar. It first blipped about a year ago when some 40-ish year old friends pondered their lives 30 years down the road. Where would they be living? What would the options be? And, as a gay couple, an added concern was if the 'where' and 'what' be accepting - no, welcoming - to them? Just a few months later, blip #2 when Vancouver-based QMUNITY and Vancity announced the topic for their annual International Day Against Homophobia Breakfast - "Gay & Grey - What it means to be LGBTQ, out and aging". I had already planned to attend, so this coincidence was a bonus. Two months later, blip #3 as I began working with a new client. He was moving to Vancouver from Saskatchewan, was fortunate to have just retired in his late forties, and wanted to find a property here that would serve him for as long as possible. As we talked, without my prompting, he also pondered his later (hopefully!) senior years and what his residential life would look like if he were unable to live independently. He too is a gay man, so he expressed same added concerns about a welcoming place. Not one month later, I was referred another new client. Although local to Vancouver, his move will be from tenant to homeowner. About a month into our search, blip #4. We saw a very good unit, but he recognized some issues that might not serve him well as he gets older. Though we had talked about expected length of stay in this home, our conversation that day went deeper and the exact same 'where' and 'what' rose up. Yes, he too is a gay man, but the foundational concerns aren't a gay topic.
As we all age, I'm sure we all wonder how and where we will live, particularly if we need some assistance / care. I'm proud of BC for being the first province in all of Canada with a Seniors Advocate! I feel lucky that I got to hear this first Senior Advocate, Isobel Mackenzie, speak at the Breakfast event last May, just two months after this position was announced. She promised dedication to keeping the concerns of the aging LGBTQ population in mind, but we should all be grateful that BC recognizes the importance of seniors and has taken the step to create this position. Isobel's office just released their first report on October 22, 2014 - The Journey Begins: Together, We Can Do Better.
Blip #5 came just three days ago when I received the latest CMHC (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation) Housing Research e-newsletter. Their feature was FlexHousing™. While this way to plan and build has the goal of keeping you in your home instead of having to move when your physical needs change, it still speaks to residential concerns surrounding aging.