Senior safety program celebrates 10 years

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Published on December 06, 2013

Retired Constable Tracey Brooks, Staff Sergeant John Ennis and senior safety coordinator Dawn Thomas talked over the origins of Digby’s senior safety program.

Published on December 06, 2013

The Digby RCMP thanked Digby’s mayor Ben Cleveland and warden Linda Gregory for the support their councils have given the senior safety program.

Published on December 06, 2013

Valerie White and Jocelyn Yerxa of the Nova Scotia Department of Seniors accept a certificate of appreciation from Digby RCMP members Cpl Sean Boulger and Cpl Tim MacDonald.

Published on December 06, 2013

Angela O’Neil of the Digby and Area Health Services Charitable Foundation receives a certificate of appreciation for their support for Digby’s senior safety program.

Published on December 06, 2013

Retired staff sergeant Phil Barrett was recognized for his support of Digby’s senior safety program.

Published on December 06, 2013

Jason and Sonya Frost of Boliver’s Service Centre receive a certificate of appreciation for their support of the senior safety program.

A column by Dawn Thomas, Senior Safety Coordinator with the Digby RCMP detachment

The Digby and Area Seniors’ Safety Program has been reaching out to seniors in our communities for 10 years. My eight years as the coordinator are full of memories and a few special stories.

My favorite is of an old man who had called the police two winter nights in a row. He was upset and afraid that people were outside of his house. There were no footprints in the snow and no signs of anyone around. They calmed him and left.

He called the police again the next night. This time, he thought people were outside trying to kill him. He was given help for the night and I was asked to make a visit the next day.

His pills were color coded but piled loosely in an egg carton. He showed me a vial that had tiny writing simply saying: take as directed. There were bloodstains on the floor and a small bottle of booze at his bedside.

I took him to outpatients for a once over and we had his new pills packaged so he knew when to take them. I called the Care Coordinator who set him up with oxygen and we arranged visits at home for company. We did a fall assessment of his house and added some grab rails and got rid of the loose floor mats and obstacles.

Through the program we made a difference in his life, and he and I are still close to this day.

Most frustrating for me is when seniors make bad decisions. However, everyone has the right to make up their own minds. One man taught me that my small perspective and my need to be right was wrong for him.

Several of his neighbours had called to complain that a woman was taking his money. She had isolated him from the few people who seemed to care. He told me she drove his car, she used his bankcard and he gave her large sums of money for many reasons that seemed manipulative to me.

After several visits and candid conversations trying to help him see the light, he grew angry with me. He put his finger in my face and said, “Dawn, she is my friend and the only friend I have. My family doesn’t care about me; I have done them wrong for years. If she is using me that is my business; at least I know she’ll be back to see me tomorrow”.

I’ve learned from working with financially abused seniors that it’s difficult for them to see their situation as we see it. They trust that their “abuser” is doing the right thing.

Over the years, I have found a home for a man who slept in his car, helped a mentally ill son get help caring for his aging mother and I delivered food bank parcels to a woman who lived in the woods.

I met a man who lived in a bus, found an older woman who wandered from home, and came across a burning home.

I’ve visited families who argue and families who love.

The program has taught seniors to drive cars and scooters safely. We’ve encouraged appropriate and safe legal decisions from professionals. We’ve helped caregivers find assistance and support through others. We’ve taught personal safety and home security and safe and independent living.

The Seniors’ Safety Program has been a big part of keeping many seniors safe and healthy.

Congratulations to the Town and Municipality of Digby and the Digby and Area Health Services Charitable Foundation for their dedication and passion to the seniors and families of our area. Thank you to all the community partners and businesses who add to the success of the program.

Organizations: Area Health Services Charitable Foundation

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  • Doreen Sarty
    December 07, 2013 - 13:42

    What a wonderful program. Is there anything like it in Halifax.? You all are doing a great thing for people.Kudos to you!!