Some ten years ago when I arrived in Saulnierville (Nova Scotia, Canada), I was asked to be part of a committee, under the leadership of the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police), to look into the matter of elder abuse and if it was prevalent in our area. This request seemed an occasion to allow myself to be touched and to answer a call in line with our charism: Humanize and become more human.
After two years of hard work, proof in hand, we met with a first let-down with our local government who did not see the need for such a group in our beautiful municipality. More convinced than ever of the challenge, we were back at the table the following year and this time the project was accepted on a temporary basis. A coordinator was hired to implement the following goals:
• Promote the safety and well-being of seniors in their own homes and in the community and thus enable them to live at home for as long as possible.
• Offer services to all seniors while keeping in mind the most vulnerable, the most isolated and too often forgotten and ignored by other agencies who could come to their aid.
• Inform seniors about possible frauds, scams, abuse in all its forms (physical, mental, emotional, and financial), the use of 911, the Vial of Life as well as security measures to be taken at home and in the community.
• Open lines of communication with the RCMP so that seniors could see them more as protectors than law-enforcers.
The challenge was great and rested on the coordinator and Board of Directors. The main thrust of the program, along with other activities, was and remains home visits. Each day the coordinator does home visitations, on her own initiative, on the request of the senior, a family member, a neighbor, a medical person, a member of the clergy, a local bank employee, other agencies… The Vial of Life was the tool that opened many doors. Gradually, trust sets in and the senior feels confident to speak out, reveals hidden secrets, sources of great suffering. Very serious cases were uncovered and people were helped in different ways. All is handled in strict confidentiality. The coordinator is solely accountable to the Sergeant of the RCMP Detachment.
Other activities were organized to alleviate the aloneness of seniors but always keeping in mind the need to heighten their security awareness.
The Security for Seniors Association has now been in operation for several years. Serving as Treasurer had its numerous challenges. For the Association to be recognized on the municipal, provincial and federal levels as well as finding the necessary funds entailed many hours of dedicated work. During the past year, persons have come forward, joining the Board of Directors so that I was able to pass on my responsibility. However, I have the joy of feeling that I have contributed in some way in humanizing certain situations of great suffering by bringing new life, in giving voice to the voiceless, in breaking down walls of silence, in allowing people very close to us to know justice. And for all this, I give thanks to the Giver of Life who asks us to love one another.
Gloria Boudreau, d.j., Vice-Province Moncton, Canada