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Helping seniors feel safe in their community

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AMHERST, N.S. – Cumberland County’s senior safety program has helped eliminate a lot of barriers in five years.

As the organization was celebrating $20,000 in renewed funding from the Department of Seniors, its co-ordinator was saying it is reaching out to more seniors and helping to remove barriers preventing them from contributing to their communities.

As the organization was celebrating $20,000 in renewed funding from the Department of Seniors, its co-ordinator was saying it is reaching out to more seniors and helping to remove barriers preventing them from contributing to their communities.

“We’ve come a long way in just a few years,” Ray Bristol said. “When we first started this program and the senior safety academies we were fortunate to get a dozen people to come out to them. Now we are getting a lot more interest and much more participation.”

Cumberland North MLA Terry Farrell, who made the presentation on behalf of minister Leo Glavine, said there is a large senior population in Cumberland County and government believes older people are an asset to their communities and the province.

“We’re all aging, but living in stronger and healthier communities will help us age well now and into the future,” Farrell said. “By providing the grant means that safety and inclusive programs are going to be available to everyone. It can be easier for older Nova Scotians to feel isolated or disconnected. That’s what support services such as this are so essential.”

Funding provided by the Department of Seniors, the Municipality of Cumberland and the Town of Amherst – as well as the in-kind services of various community organizations – has enabled the program to develop successful programs such as the safety academies, Vital Signs training to front-line service providers, fire and fall prevention programs and Safer Spaces training.

The safety co-ordinator also provides one-on-one consultations with seniors in their own homes, providing information on services that are available.

“Quite often seniors are not aware of services and require help in navigating the paperwork and application process to obtain these services,” Bristol said.

These consultations have helped seniors obtain grants for home improvement to allow them to continue living in their own homes, provided assistance in obtaining ambulance rebates and filling out forms and applying for assisted housing and Continuing Care services.

Bristol said he also works with groups such as Empowering Beyond Barriers, the Cultural Diversity and Social Inclusion Committee, the Interagency Committee on Family Violence and the Aging Well Network.

It has also developed partnerships with the Cumberland YMCA, the Cumberland Public Libraries, the town’s recreation department, CANSA-Nova Scotia Works and the Tantramar Seniors College.

“Financial restrictions are often a restricting factor for seniors and often prevents them from obtaining the help that is required to live healthy, safe and independently in their own residence,” Bristol said. “Funding sources such as today’s announcement ensure the sustainability of the program and the ability to provide these needed services to Cumberland County seniors free of charge.”

darrell.cole@tc.tc

Twitter: @ADNdarrell

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