April 22nd, 2024

AISH resident seniors struggle to make ends meet

By Tim Kalinowski on March 18, 2021.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDtkalinowski@lethbridgeherald.com

A Lethbridge man is trying to raise awareness of the difficulties of paying for the increasing cost of housing in local private assisted living and seniors’ residences while on a fixed income.
“I am concerned about what it costs seniors to live in private living facilities, because the cost is a lot more than a lot of people can afford to pay,” states Arthur Wailes, who is permanently disabled and living on AISH in one such facility. “I just think that is something the government or whoever would possibly be able to do something about.”
Wailes says he gets just under $2,000 for his monthly payment from AISH. After rent and meal costs are deducted at his facility, he says there is not a lot leftover for other personal costs he has to pay for such as personal hygiene products or even toilet paper.
“Every year your rent goes up a certain percentage,” he explains. “That’s part of the deal, and AISH only gives you a certain amount to live on, right? Once a person’s rent goes up above what their money is coming in, what are they supposed to do?
“Next year, I won’t be able to afford to stay here. AISH gives you a little less than $2,000 (in my case), and my rent is almost as much as I get. Next year, my rent will be as much as what I get.”
Wailes, who suffers from depression and anxiety alongside various physical ailments, says he will be looking to move next year in order to find a more affordable living space.
“I am trying to find a less expensive place to live,” he admits. “I am going to have to go somewhere where the meals aren’t included, right? So I am going to have to consider something like Lethbridge Housing, which I am already approaching (them) to do. I am making attempts to move to a less expensive place.”
But this isn’t just about his personal situation, Wailes insists, which he says he is managing for the moment– he reached out to local media to tell his story because he feels if it is tough for him to pay his costs, it must be even tougher for seniors on fixed pensions trying to get by in these types of facilities.
“You just do without stuff,” he explains. “Like you make your clothes last a little longer. If you need a new pair of shoes, you just have to make due with what you have. You just do without a lot of personal stuff. If you want the money to go have a coffee or something, you get anxiety about that because you don’t want to spend that money on those extra things.
“It only adds to my (mental health) issues, right? I already have depression and anxiety, and it just increases my depression and anxiety having to worry about money all the time. There is this constant anxiety around money.”
Wailes says he hopes the story might start a conversation which leads to changes in the way government involves itself in privately-run assisted living and seniors’ residences.
“If it is weighing on me then I am sure it is weighing on other people (on a fixed income) too,” he states. “I think the government should consider when it comes to places like this, even though they are private living, making it cost-effective for people. I think it would be good for places like this if there were some (government) guidelines they have to go by as far as costs go, and stuff like that.”

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