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Senior safety co-ordinator role expanding as needs grow in Antigonish

Anita Stewart is the Antigonish Town and County Crime Prevention Association’s senior safety co-ordinator. Stewart sees her job taking on more responsibilities.
Anita Stewart is the Antigonish Town and County Crime Prevention Association’s senior safety co-ordinator. Stewart sees her job taking on more responsibilities. - FILE

ANTIGONISH, N.S. - Senior safety co-ordinator Anita Stewart is seeing the scope of her work change.

Hired for the position, which falls under the Antigonish Town and County Crime Prevention Association umbrella, last March, Stewart said her job is becoming more “far-reaching and expanding as our population ages and people are faced with more and more challenges.”

“There are barriers to healthcare as some people do not have a family doctor,” she said, in a prepared letter. “There are wait lists to receive homecare for essential services, as well as wait lists to be placed in long term care facilities.”

She talked about the nature of phone calls she is receiving.

“[They] can range from a senior looking for a program about fraud and scam awareness to a family member, living out of province, looking for help for an elderly parent who lives alone and has severe dementia due to Alzheimer’s. I also receive calls regarding mental health issues and concerns about wait times from people inquiring for loved ones or themselves.”

Stewart said she welcomes the calls and the opportunity to advocate on behalf of a senior who is being given a run-around or just becoming tired of an ongoing battle.

“When I was hired, I was told I would be a conduit; call this person, that person, but, more and more, I’m that person,” she said. “Because they [seniors] don’t want to fight anymore; they want me to be their voice.

“No longer is it enough to pass along information to people, there seems to be an increasing need to go one step further and be that voice or find someone willing to take on that risk.”

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Stewart added facilitating and organizing workshops, programs and educational sessions, on a wide range of topics, is still a big part of her work. The topic list includes; fire safety and prevention, legal information sessions pertaining to wills and estate planning, financial wellness, falls prevention, fraud and scam awareness, the drivers’ refresher course Operation Boomers, and a home warming program.

“To name a few,” Stewart said of the list. “I partner with other organizations and people to bring these programs to our community. My goal is to reach more rural areas and provide programming in the communities where seniors live.”

She talked about a couple of sessions she recently participated in where she partnered with the Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre for a presentation in St. Andrews and Antigonish RCMP community policing officer, Cst. Morgan MacPherson, for one in Auld’s Cove.

“People are enjoying having these programs offered in their local community centre or fire hall,” Stewart said. “It also encourages a greater turnout since people are not having to travel too far to receive valuable information.”

To contact Stewart, call 902-318-0372 or email seniorsafetycoor@gmail.com.

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