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Most Hamilton seniors fare well in Vital Signs report, but many are at growing risk of isolation

Hamilton Community Foundation President Terry Cooke discusses the challenges facing the seniors population during an event in Dundas.
Hamilton Community Foundation President Terry Cooke discusses the challenges facing the seniors population during an event in Dundas. Hamilton Community Foundation

The president of the Hamilton Community Foundation says there are some problematic trends within the latest snapshot of the city’s senior population.

On one hand, Terry Cooke says the Vital Signs report shows “extraordinary” growth in the senior’s population of almost 93,000, adding that they are living longer and almost three-quarters of them own their homes.

READ MORE: Vital Signs highlights progress, but also troubling disparities in Hamilton

On the other hand, 11 per cent fell below the poverty line of $20,386 according to the latest data, and there’s been a 20 per cent increase in the number of Hamilton seniors accessing food banks in the past year.

Cooke says they are “predominantly people who retired without indexed pensions and without any significant life savings and they are clearly vulnerable and have been really feeling the hardship.”

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READ MORE: More Hamilton food bank users than ever at extreme risk of homelessness

The Vital Signs report, which is drawn from Statistics Canada and other data sources, also shows that 13 per cent of local seniors are still in the workforce, doubling the percentage compared with 2001.

Cooke says “most often it’s people working in rather challenging jobs, that aren’t that well paid and who really are economically precarious.”

READ MORE: $1M investment means expanded dental services for low-income Hamiltonians

He adds that another statistic that needs attention is a 26 per cent increase over the past decade in seniors living alone and facing the risk of “isolation.”

Cooke says that threat means ensuring access to public transit and other services that allow them “to get around and take care of the essentials of life.”