Senior Scene July 3, 2017

I hope everyone took the opportunity on Saturday, July 1st to join Canada’s Sesquicentennial Celebration.  I am not sure about everyone else, but I was concerned I might not “be available” to celebrate such a momentous milestone in the future, so I went “flag wild” with my exterior display of patriotism.  I did invite everyone in a 5 kilometre stretch of the road to join me in my wanton display of flags, plants, painted yard art, and lights, and many of them did.  It is not only an honour to live in this wonderful country; it is an honour to have been part of the 150th birthday celebration.  As Canadians we have the right to curse the weather and complain about politicians, but we also have the privilege of living in the “true north strong and free”.
On to an informational column for seniors … Community Advocacy and Legal Clinic in Belleville announced a new Seniors’ Program in May 2017.  Special services are now available to low-income adults, age 60+ who require assistance with the following issues:  Wills, Powers of Attorney, advance health care planning, Old Age Security/Guaranteed Income Supplement issues, care home and long-term care facility concerns, access to Home and Community Care (formerly Community Care Access Centres), elder abuse, and issues of legal capacity.
In 2015 there was a study conducted that discovered seniors were accessing clinic services in much lower numbers than other age groups.  Reasons for this included transportation barriers, lack of access to technology, and lack of information about services.  As well, many clinics were unable to provide some of the services due to a lack of specialized staff.  As a result, a travelling Seniors’ Lawyer was hired to be shared among seven clinics across the eastern and central regions of Ontario.
The Seniors’ Lawyer sees clients at the clinic, in hospitals, in the long-term care facilities, or in the client’s home.  Being able to serve clients in a range of locations benefits the many seniors who lie in rural and remote areas.  Many seniors are no longer able to drive, or they may have difficulty leaving their residence due to illness or mobility issues.  Some are difficult to serve by phone due to hearing challenges, and benefit greatly from seeing a lawyer face-to-face.  As well, many seniors rely on a family member or personal support worker for daily living assistance and to travel to appointments.  This creates a major barrier to accessing legal service particularly where the protection of privacy is paramount.
At this point, the most popular services provided by the Seniors’ Lawyer have been wills and powers of attorney.  Although the people they traditionally help have limited assets, having a will allows the senior to name an executor to attend to the necessary tasks such as closing bank accounts, selling personal and real property, and making sure that inheritances get to the right people.  When people die without wills, family members can be in the unfortunate position of having to apply to the court to become the Estate Trustee, and they may have to post a bond to do so.  This can be prohibitively expensive for family members who have limited funds.
If you or someone you know could benefit from the Seniors’ Lawyer, you can call 613-966-8686 or 1-877-966-8686 or email