Spaces still in high demand for those with low income or high-level care needs

CBC News · Posted: Jun 03, 2019 3:17 PM PT

A new study from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation shows vacancy rates at some seniors’ facilities in British Columbia are up for the first time since 2012.

According to the CMHC, vacancy rates for standard spaces, also referred to as independent living spaces, increased from three per cent in 2018 to 4.2 per cent in 2019.

The study also shows non-standard spaces, which are units for residents requiring at least 1.5 hours of high-level care — such as people living with dementia — decreased from 2.1 per cent in 2018 to 1.3 per cent in 2019.

Eric Bond, an analyst with CHMC, said the increase for standard spaces is likely due to a greater availability of services  in the home so people can choose to age outside of a facility, as well as because the province has opened new facilities since 2012.

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Seniors who like animals should have opportunities for human-animal interaction

Recently, a 104-year old man from California was in the news because of his love for his rescue dog. After being turned down by several rescue organizations, Lionel’s Legacy allowed Milt Lessner to be a long-term foster for a senior dog, Layla.

“We’re trying to stay in good health, both of us. So far, we’ve succeeded and we’re still alive,” Milt Lessner

In a nutshell, this story shows both the benefits and challenges for seniors wanting to have a pet. New research by Prof. Marie-José Enders-Sleggers and Dr. Karin Hediger, published in Anthrozoös, reviews the scientific literature on pet keeping for older adults. They find that pets can provide social interaction and protect against loneliness, but a lot could be done to make life easier for seniors with pets. And just as for millennials with pets, housing that doesn’t allow pets can be an issue.

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Being able to keep a pet should be possible at any age, Enders-Sleggers and Hediger write:

“The ability to interact with animals should be preserved throughout the course of life for those who enjoy interacting with animals, whether through pet ownership or other forms of human–animal interaction.”