The impact of inflation on seniors

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon

This week I did an interview with the Business Editor at the Canadian Press, about the impact of inflation on seniors. Here at Veiner and Kerby Centre, we are very concerned about how inflation is affecting seniors of all income levels.

In 2017, 11 per cent of Calgary’s population was aged 65 or older, with a 23 per cent population increase projected to occur by 2022. The population aged 75 or older is expected to grow by 14 per cent during the same period. Risk factors associated with social isolation among seniors include age over 75, low income, living alone, health or mobility difficulties, and language or cultural barriers. 

Currently, 26 per cent of Calgary seniors live alone and almost 40 per cent of unattached Calgary seniors live in poverty. The median income for seniors living in Calgary is $22,625. As the total senior population grows, the number of seniors living in low-income situations will also grow. These individuals are at greater risk of being socially isolated because they often can’t afford essentials like transportation, program fees or even professional assistance may they need it.

Approximately 1 in 4 Calgary seniors state it is difficult to afford the food they need because of increases in living costs. Combining these trends with rising inflation, and the cumulative effect on our seniors’ population is frightening. 

Our Food security programs have grown significantly since the onset of covid and now include: Free food markets twice a week; A food pantry; Grocery delivery; and Community kitchens. In Medicine Hat, our Meals on Wheels volunteers deliver 2800 meals to isolated seniors in the community.

In Calgary and Medicine Hat we have continued to offer outreach and support, more and more of what we do does not occur inside of the Veiner Centre or the Kerby Centre but instead in the communities where seniors live.

In 2021 our food security program in Calgary served  5,500 people and our volunteers made food hamper deliveries to 1,300 isolated seniors. Only halfway through 2022, we have already served almost this many people, so we have — quite literally — doubled the demand for this outreach.

Because low-income seniors are more at risk for social isolation, we now have several new initiatives to help combat this, including social calling (volunteer run), sidewalk seniors, peer-to-peer mental health supports, virtual programming (including online informative presentations), education and recreation classes and our new Wellness Connection Centre. 

I suppose when I talk about the new services we are providing for seniors impacted by growing inflation – I would be remiss not to thank all of you. We could not do any of this without your donations of food to our Pantries, and your time to pick up and deliver; meals, groceries and food hampers.

Thanks to all of your online donations, cheques in the mail and driving around southern Alberta providing outreach and support for seniors.