October 1 is National Seniors Day! Please join Victoria Lifeline in acknowledging and celebrating all the ways older adults enrich our lives and our communities. At Victoria Lifeline, seniors are at the very heart of everything we do and one day is simply not enough to celebrate all the ways they make our lives better. Recognizing the valuable contributions of older adults supports a thriving, age-inclusive society where every voice matters.
Seniors are volunteers, staff members, caregivers, advocates, friends and mentors. With many active years ahead of them after retirement, seniors contribute to society in so many meaningful ways. Some older adults continue to work part time - the last Canadian census from Statistics Canada reported that one in five older adults continue to work in some capacity after age 65. Furthermore, by age 70, nearly three in ten men reported working part-time. As people live longer and spend more time in retirement, this emerging trend of ‘encore work’, paid or unpaid, is becoming more prevalent.
Older adults contribute the most volunteer hours per age category, averaging 223 hours a year according to Volunteer Canada. Many companies and non-profit organizations rely on the generosity of volunteers and Victoria Lifeline is one of them. Our volunteers are all retired and contribute almost 5,000 hours a year – the Lifeline medical alert system is installed and serviced by a dedicated group of Home Service volunteers who are committed to the clients we serve. Volunteers have been part of Lifeline from the very beginning and in the last 30+ years they have helped over 50,000 people live safely at home. We are so incredibly grateful for their dedication to both our clients and our mission of safe and independent living.
Older adults are not only generous with their time, but also their money. According to a 2019 report from Statistics Canada, seniors are the most generous charitable donors across the country. According to the report, seniors gave 42% of the total $9.6 billion in donations in 2017. Charities such as hospital foundations, community outreach programs, foodbanks and health advocacy groups all rely on donation revenue to provide services that benefit everyone. Thanks in part to the generosity of seniors, charities are able to fulfill their mandate and support the health and well-being of all Canadians.
Grandparents also play an increasingly important role in childcare across Canada. Not only are many grandparents providing free childcare, they also provide invaluable emotional support to their grandchildren. The love between a grandparent and grandchild is one of the most treasured in our shared human experience. It’s also one of the most beneficial - research studies have confirmed the importance of this intergenerational relationship to the mental health and well-being of both parties. A study from the Journal of Family Psychology found that grandchildren who were close to their grandparents reported less negative mental health symptoms than those who were not close to their grandparents.
Countries all over the world are also recognizing the important contributions of seniors and the government of Manitoba signed a proclamation in support of the day, acknowledging older people for their continued leadership, “they enrich lives by listening and sharing their extensive knowledge, wisdom and skills through working, volunteering and caregiving.”
As many seniors struggle with isolation during the pandemic, staying connected is more important than ever. Take some time out of your busy day to reach out to the older adult in your life and let them know how much they mean to you. Thank them for building and caring for this great community and for all the ways they enrich your life. Happy National Seniors Day!