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Attitude gives her altitude

Paradise resident honoured by province as a Senior of Distinction

By Mark Squibb | Vol. 32 No. 18 (July 17 2019)

Lorraine Best of Paradise has been recognized as a 2019 Senior of Distinction by the Department of Children, Seniors and Social Development.

And if you get to meet Best, you’ll probably realize she’s been a person of distinction for some time; it’s just taken some time for the rest of us to notice.

“I’m very humbled,” she told The Shoreline.

Best volunteers as an Information and Referral Line Peer Support Volunteer with SeniorsNL.

Since 1994, two years after retiring as a teacher in St. John’s, Best has been one of the friendly voices taking calls at the centre, offering guidance and information on programs and services, or even just lending an open ear to issues that seniors face.

She volunteers a minimum of 12 hours a week.

Best has also toured the province to give presentations on elder abuse, fall prevention, healthy aging, frauds and scams to watch out for, and ageism.

Best was a member of the Elder Abuse Committee, and its successor, the NL Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, and has helped plan – and speak at – three elder abuse conferences hosted by SeniorsNL. She is also a member of various other groups, including the St. John’s Crime Prevention Committee, Canadian Association of Retired Pensioners, the RCMP Commanding Officer Seniors Advisory Committee, and the City of St. John’s Seniors Advisory Committee. She will receive the award, along with Annie Brennan of Marystown, Noreen Careen of Labrador City, and John McGrath of St. John’s, at a special ceremony in October.

Best said affordable housing and the cost of living are major concerns for seniors.

“Everything it seems is going up, and our income is not going up with it,” she said.

Particularly vulnerable are women whose husbands have passed away, and who have lived their lives as homemakers and thus have no pension to rely on.

Best began her presentations on elder abuse in 1996. She said it’s much more common then people think.

“We don’t talk about it. How often do you hear about elder abuse in the news?” she noted. “And when most of the abuse is done by adult children, the parents are not going to tell on the children, so they don’t report it. The calls that we get are not from the senior being abused, but from another family member, a friend, or a neighbour.”

Financial abuse is the most common, but many forms of abuse, including physical, often overlap and intertwine, Best said.

She believes that ageism is one of the roots of elder abuse.

“It (ageism) is that negative attitude, that serotype, that because you’re old, because you’re a certain age, that you’re all alike, that you can’t do anything,” she explained.

For herself, Best, who is 86, said there’s no big secret to her active, healthy life.

“The attitude that you have really makes the difference,” she said. “And stay active. Even if I’m not feeling well, I’ll get up and go.”

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