SUNDRE — Town council recently accepted a friendly challenge from a local organization whose mission is not only to raise awareness about elder abuse but also educate and provide people with the tools to help address the issue.
Providing some background about Seniors Protected and Respected Under Community Engagement (S.P.R.U.C.E.), Jane Atkins told council during the March 28 meeting that the non-profit group originally started off as part of an initiative known as a coordinated community response for elder abuse.
“We built on it with the seniors’ advocacy partnership,” Atkins said during her presentation. “We’re still working at becoming a society, but we are forging ahead.”
The group has applied for grant funding that if received will be allocated toward making arrangements to find a venue for hosting a space to meet, she said.
“We do have two presentations that we will be doing in town here,” she said.
One presentation, called “It’s Not Right”, not only raises awareness about elder abuse and the different forms in which it can manifest — from physical to emotional and financial — but also equips people to better be prepared in the event they’re concerned about potentially being witness to an instance of abuse, she said.
The other program, which Atkins informed council S.P.R.U.C.E. had just been certified to present, is known as Taking Action Against Elder Abuse.
“It’s for the services,” she said. “It’s for the restaurants, the stores, the people that are in them that see those people every day for something and notice little things that aren’t just quite right.”
For example, a cashier might notice that a senior resident regularly comes in with one of their adult children who always pays out of their parents’ purse or wallet.
Of course elder abuse is not limited to financial exploitation, she said.
And in a town with a substantial portion of the adult population aged 65-plus, being aware of potential instances of elder abuse is important, she said.
“What I’d like to do, is challenge the town,” she said. “And I would like to open (an invitation) to council and their employees, to attend a one-hour training of taking action against elder abuse, so that you guys are aware of some of the things that we’re looking for, and how we can work together.”
Atkins said the group was courtesy of grant funding and collaboration with the Greenwood Neighbourhood Place Society able to hire an older adult case manager who will be involved in the presentations.
Coun. Owen Petersen, asked Atkins if the course was regularly being offered in Sundre.
“This’ll be the first,” said Atkins. “There’s two of us that are certified to actually present to service providers. So, it’s the very first one that our town has seen.”
Mayor Richard Warnock inquired where the presentation would be hosted, to which Atkins said the most likely venue would be the Sundre West Country Centre.
Atkins also requested dates that could potentially work to accommodate council’s schedule.
Coun. Jaime Marr’s motion to accept the challenge and to direct administration to determine dates for council’s consideration carried unopposed.
“Council has accepted your challenge,” said Warnock.