Pat Black: Please don’t call me dear

Seniors' columnist shares her disdain for the patronizing treatment of seniors, by calling them "dear."

I want to scream when someone calls me dear in that patronizing tone of voice often used by moms dealing with their recalcitrant children.

Why is it that so many middle aged people, both women and men, assume the aged person they are addressing is witless and childlike? I want to respond in the same condescending tone “please don’t call me dear” but have a problem with this. I once did say that to a very well meaning woman and she was devastated. Apologizing and almost crying, she protested she did not mean to be offensive and on and on she went. It wasn’t worth the trouble, let me tell you. My plan of action is to respond to the next “dear” caller with “thank you so much yourself, dear,” with the emphasis on the dear. Think that will work?

Jim, a reader, called to share a tip on saving money especially for low income seniors. He takes a high dosage of acetaminophen each day for pain and has found that he can buy 1,000 caps at a time from Safeway for $30 or from Wal-Mart for $28 if he calls the pharmacist first and orders them. Buying 200 caps usually costs around $12.99 so buying them in bulk saves seniors about $34 for each 1,000 caps needed.

The long delayed Community Dental Clinic is still on the way with renovations to the new office started. At last count the waiting list is 450 people signed on for care. However, the Urgent Care Program is available for low income people who are in severe pain with nine to 11 people being served per week. This service is performed by our local dentists at little or no cost and from April to December of last year 87 people were treated to services worth more than $75,000. All of those dentists that participated in this service are to be thanked. If you have ever experienced an abscess or severe toothache and had no money to have it fixed you know how much this service is appreciated. For more information about the Community Dental Clinic call 250-308-7163.

When a loved one dies what do you do with their hearing aids?  In great anticipation of launching a new program for low income seniors with hearing difficulties, we are looking to collect hearing aids that can be refurbished and reused, which is most of them. The Seniors Resource Centre and Rockwell Audiology are in the process of trying to collect used hearing aids for the launch of this new program. There are many low income seniors unable to afford new aids which can amount to up to $4,000 per ear and a lending program that can assist them would be extremely helpful.  Please drop off any hearing aids  that you may have to Rockwell Audiology, Seniors Resource Centre, Schubert Centre, Halina Centre or call 250-545-2226.

Finally the province announced on Valentine’s Day that a senior’s advocate will be appointed after consultation with seniors as part of a comprehensive action plan. This response came after many reports, countless recommendations by committees, including the Premiers Council on Aging, and the lobbying of all sorts of seniors organizations for change and in particular appointing an advocate for seniors. It may be that the Ombudsperson’s 400 page report on seniors and the problems they face, released also on Feb. 14, finally tipped the scale. It may also be that the large population of seniors in B.C., most of whom vote, finally registered with the current provincial government. What ever the reason, their Action Plan for Seniors is looking good and is available on their website at www.seniors.ca.

If you have any comments or ideas please call me at 250-542-7928 or e-mail blackmail1@telus.net.

Pat Black writes Personal Best every other Sunday. She is the Falls Prevention coordinator at the Seniors Information and Resource Bureau in Vernon.

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