Seniors Advocacy Centre launches program to deal with ‘intense cases’ of abuse

John Fryters waits behind Prince Albert Northcote MLA Nicole Rancourt as she gives a speech at the Seniors Advocacy Centre luncheon on Mar. 5, 2020. (Jayda Noyes/Daily Herald)

“We found if you deal with these cases and you have no resources available, that it’s almost impossible.”

The Prince Albert Seniors Advocacy Centre has launched a program to help the elderly with cases of abuse.

John Fryters announced the Prince Albert and Area Seniors Abuse Program (PAASAP) at the agency’s sixth annual luncheon on Thursday. He said the initiative was sparked from seeing an increase in cases of abuse—mostly financial—especially within the last few years.

But often with financial abuse, explained Fryters, comes other forms such as verbal and emotional abuse.

“’Your brain is gone, you cannot make decisions for yourself’—and they would say that out loud or they will yell that out loud,” he said about abusers.

Fryters said the agency just received a report of power of attorney abuse. That’s when the attorney misuses their authority by making decisions that aren’t in the best interests of the donors.

He said many people don’t know that you can change powers of attorney, although it is quite a complex process.

“We found if you deal with these cases and you have no resources available, that it’s almost impossible,” said Fryters.

“Unfortunately, there has been and is very little number of local resources.”

The agency worked to design the program last year with financial assistance from the Prince Albert and Area Community Foundation and the Northern Lights Community Development Corporation.

He said the Seniors Advocacy Centre will be taking referrals to the new program within the next few weeks. Upon referral, the case will then be assessed and handled by an internal seniors abuse specialist.

Fryters said they’re looking to recruit 10 seniors who will go through a training process to help with these cases of abuse. He said they might train a few extra volunteers.

He said the agency will do some of the training, but bring in other professionals such as lawyers and trustees.

The program will begin on an entirely voluntary basis, with a fundraising campaign starting immediately.

“These are intense cases; these are complex cases and it takes a lot of time,” said Fryters.

“It’s sad that we need that,” said Mayor Greg Dionne. At the luncheon, he said he would donate $500 to the cause on behalf of his family.

Minister Responsible for Seniors, Warren Kaeding, was the guest speaker at the event.

Warren Kaeding, Minister Responsible for Seniors, said during his speech on Thursday that the upcoming budget will see more money dedicated to health care. (Jayda Noyes/Daily Herald)

“(It’s) a serious situation that seniors are getting abused. They’re living in isolation and they’re vulnerable, and that’s not right,” he said.

He commended the Seniors Advocacy Centre for taking the time to develop a program that he anticipates will benefit not just Prince Albert and area, but the whole province.

The provincial government’s 2019-20 health care budget was about $5.6 billion. Kaeding said the upcoming budget, which is set to be released in a couple of weeks, will see more money dedicated to health care.