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Letter: Seniors just need supports

Dear editor: Newfoundland and Labrador’s aging population consists of a fluid group of people, many of whom worked for wages well below the national average, paid taxes, volunteered in community organizations, and bought appliances when broken — not when a new style or colour came to market. Most had one, maybe two, couches in a lifetime.

Seniors are now looked upon as the social problem. How will governments manage? Well seniors are a changing demographic, for sure, but most of the problem has been government’s creation.

Community-based organizations such as the VON provide services we need within our society. It is puzzling that we let the service slip away with little thought to consequence. Wraparound services once offered by religious and service organizations who owned seniors homes and housing has been whisked away by health-care boards who view people with regard solely to fiscal management. Those wraparound support services once offered a sense of options. Has planning solely focused on keeping hospital beds free and less so quality of life for seniors throughout this province?

Various public information booklets tell us when our loved ones need more help you need to arrange for someone to come in, all the while knowing that someone is a fictional character that likely you will not find. That level of service is limited and some may say rare.

Some seniors hope issues will be taken care of through the development of a seniors office within government. That is what disability groups thought when they lobbied for a disability policy office. Progress is dependent on a lottery situation wherein one hopes to get a minister sympathetic to the cause as well as having the political will and fortitude to bring forward solutions. It has been a wonderful place to hide.

So when busy people of the future look for services for Mom and Dad, beware — you are that service. Families have an obligation to support each other but we also live in a society that believes our taxes pay, in part, for some basic level of affordable options. It may well be at this point one realizes the VON left quietly, as have so many support services.

It is at this point, when you are wondering what you are going to do, that you must ask the overriding question. Can it be that social planning and service is actually as important as oil?

Michelle Murdoch, St. John’s

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