By Laura Keil, Publisher/Editor

Work is underway on a new seniors housing project that will hopefully pave the way for long-term care in Valemount.

As things stand now, Valemount residents requiring long-term care are shipped to McBride or elsewhere around the province, far from their community, friends, and often from family too.

In order to gain the medical services they need, they give up emotional support and quality of life. Imagine being confined to a bed in a different town.

But McBride is only an hour away, health officials might say. It’s true, but for Valemount visitors it means booking off most of a day for a couple-hour visit, plus the cost of gas. As one woman said in our story this week, it means you can’t just pop in after getting your groceries for a quick “Hello.” Being part of a small community means that when you pop in to visit one person you are able to visit with others as well. Staying local as you age means it’s easier for young grandchildren and friends to come by more often, and a continued feeling that you belong to the community.

For a long time we’ve accepted that births and deaths are not part of our community life. We’ve accepted that these events must take place elsewhereâ€among strangers. The strangers may be kind, but they are strangers nonetheless.

What happens when we lose our elders too soon because they have nowhere to go?

We lose part of our history. We lose part of our identity.

And our seniors languish far away.

It’s time for all of us to pitch in to change that.