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Friendly city not so senior-friendly

Mary Robertson, chair of CARP’s Greater Bay of Quinte Area branch, raised chapter 39’s flag for Seniors Day at the Quinte Sports and Wellness Centre on Oct. 1.  Photo: Amanda Lorbetski [1]

Mary Robertson, chair of CARP’s Greater Bay of Quinte Area branch, raised chapter 39’s flag for Seniors’ Day at the Quinte Sports and Wellness Centre on Oct. 1. Photo by Amanda Lorbetski

By Amanda Lorbetski

Retired teacher Anne Davies has seen her share of A pluses over the years, but she doesn’t see the friendly city’s senior accessibility getting a fair grade.

Statistics Canada’s 2011 National Household Survey reported 33 per cent of Belleville residents as over 55 years old.  That represents 21 per cent of the city’s labour force.

Belleville seniors are feeling left in the dark, saying the face of the senior is changing and the city isn’t keeping up.

Davies, who lives with her husband in Trenton, said they’ve been switched from doctor to doctor too many times.

“We’ve got a new one now in Cobourg, but that is a problem with living in this area because it is less populated,” said Davies.

This, she said, is due to living in a smaller area with doctor shortages.

Specialized medical and real estate services would make seniors’ day-to-day lives easier, said Davies.

“We’re thinking of downsizing, and looking for places that are specifically for seniors,” she said. “It’s more difficult than in a bigger community.”

Davies isn’t alone.

Edna Beaton understands these concerns, but said she attends few seniors meetings with her husband.

“They are available, however we are very busy with our family – grandchildren, great-grandchildren – and that’s what we enjoy,” said Beaton.

One of those meetings is that of the Canadian Association of Retired Persons’ (CARP) local branch.

 Mary Robertson chairs the association. The group advocates for the rights of its approximately 2,300 members.   

She said seniors are returning to work to make ends meet and moving in with family to avoid being hospitalized.

“(The government’s) just not ready for that yet,” said Robertson.  “There’s not enough support in behind for people to be taken care of in the way that they actually should be.”

She talked about building a granny suite onto her sister’s home to house her 98-year old mother.  This is just one example of taking a family member’s health into one’s own hands when support services aren’t available.

Rick Norlock, Northumberland-Quinte West member of parliament, said the government’s done its part in supporting seniors both socially with services and financially with benefits.  As far as working past age 65, Norlock said that’s common.

“We’ve always had people over the age of 65 who, for various reasons, more often than not economic reasons, find that they have to continue to work,” he said.

National Seniors’ Day took place on Oct. 1.  CARP hosted a flag raising ceremony at the Quinte Sports and Wellness Centre.

As for Anne Davies, she’s content with where she is in Quinte and in life.  She’s confident that improvements to senior accessibility in the friendly city will all come in time.
“But other than that, I think it’s a nice community to live in,” she said.

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