May 11th, 2016 ~ Vol. 85 No. 19
Seniors come first?
Rick's Corner
As most people in the community will remember my mom Gail Sygutek had a weekly column called “Town Talk.” It was probably the most widely read article every week in the paper. My mom had no issues telling people exactly what she thought about anything. Whether you agreed with her or not, you had to respect her upright, honest ability to tell everyone exactly what she thought – such a rare commodity in today’s world of hypocritical passive aggressives.

There are issues in the community that need to be addressed, so I’m considering a Town Talk resurgence. Not weekly, probably not monthly but whenever I feel passionate about an issue I’ll pipe up. Similar to my mom, I have big shoulders – figuratively speaking – and I’m willing to put myself out there and give you an opinion. Not everyone is going to like it, but I’m okay with that.

Location of the new lodge:

I am upset with the decision to build the seniors’ lodge that will replace York Creek in the old trailer park in Coleman. I have yet to speak with any senior who thinks this is a good idea. My mom lived at the York Creek Lodge for a period of time before having to go to long term care at the hospital. Let me tell you straight, it’s difficult for a person when they’re forced to leave their home and move into any of these places for medical reasons. It can be a traumatizing experience. After a lifetime of autonomy, these seniors are forfeiting their independence and their homes. They are at the mercy of staff, doctors and their own failing bodies.

I understand that many of these seniors can no longer take proper care of themselves but I bet it still sucks.

It was one of the hardest days of my life to watch my mom leave her home, her life and move into those places. It hurt to watch it unfold.
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One of the only solaces was her proximity to her family. York Creek Lodge is in the heart of Blairmore. It’s close to a doctor’s office, drug stores, the mall, a grocery store, and the post office, a park, the pool, a beautiful river to listen to and main street Blairmore.

True, some residents of York Creek Lodge are bed bound but a good number like walking or scootering about. Some have families that can take them for walks in their wheelchairs while some are independent enough to travel on their own.

Our community has the oldest population in the province and I celebrate the federal and provincial governments for stepping up and building a new lodge. I would have loved for my mom to have lived in a new facility.

But they want to build this new facility up a hill in Coleman, far from anything, in the old trailer park by the Sports Complex that was initially torn down to make room for parking. Yet, this place is good enough for our seniors. Sure, there’s a good view but the seniors I’ve spoken to say they’d rather a walk around the community than stare at pretty things out a window. It feels like we’re shunting our seniors away on top of some hill.

These seniors might not be as self-possessed as they once were but remember that today’s seniors were yesterday’s leaders. They have worked, raised children and paid taxes in this community for many years. These same seniors built this community from the ground up. They deserve this facility. They deserve to spend the last part of their lives in a clean, safe and beautiful environment, close to amenities, close to the hub of the community.

There has been no official announcement on the exact location of the new lodge though provincial employees have confirmed that it will be built in Coleman but our sources have confirmed that the old trailer park is the place.

There has been a conspicuous lack of transparency from the Crowsnest Pass Senior Housing Board and the municipality on this issue.
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The municipality would say nothing. York Creek Lodge wouldn’t talk. If the people in charge of making important decisions insist on making them in the dark instead of using honesty and transparency, then maybe they shouldn’t be making those decisions.

The Senior Housing Board’s ad we ran a few weeks ago announcing the new lodge made no mention of the new location. Instead it focused on how the new lodge would be sustainable and green. Well, slow clap for the greenies but why did the ad fail to mention something as important as a plan to locate our seniors at the top of a hill?

Were the existing residents even consulted about the move? Were they told they were being sequestered away from anything? One source said to me, “It’s fine,” the seniors are provided three meals a day so really they don’t need to leave. Are you kidding me? It’s not a jail, this is their home and in some cases it’ll be their last home.

If putting the seniors in Coleman is a money issue because the muicipality own the land, we need to rethink the plan. I don’t care what it costs. We as a community can fundraise for a better spot. I would lead the fundraising myself. This is a priority. I don’t care if we get a brand new pool. I would give all that up for our seniors to have a home in a centrally located place where they can access life.

This is not a Blairmore vs. Coleman vs. the rest of the Pass. This is an issue of what is best for our seniors and I highly doubt being put on a hill in Coleman is the answer.

Does the government of Alberta think this is the best place? Does council? I don’t care if the Crowsnest Pass Senior Board thinks this is the best place and I don’t care if the people running the lodge think this is the best place. It’s not the best place for our seniors.

I suggest the people of the community stand up and say this is not right. They need to be vocal for the people who can’t. When my mom was in long-term care I had many wonderful caregivers and many who were not. I often told the ones who were terrible that I hoped that when they get older, that they had someone like themselves to care for them.

Karma can be fickle that way. God willing if we all live long enough to have to move away from our homes into these institutions. I pray for all our sakes’ that it’ll be located in a place that is central to help give us a modicum of independence.

Government leaders will come and go, municipal leaders and staff will come and go but a building can last a lifetime. I urge those making this important decision to remember that.

In the words of Mahatma Ghandi, “A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.”
May 11th ~ Vol. 85 No. 19
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