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LETTER: Restrictions have left some seniors isolated

Long-time Charlottetown Legion members Wayne Acorn, left, and Catherine Kerr, enjoy a game of rummy with Brian Walsh, a non-member but a regular at the branch on Pownal Street. The branches are billed as a comfortable place for socializing but most importantly as a strong supporter of veterans.
In pre-COVID days, a game of cards at the Legion could be a regular thing. — SaltWire Network file photo

This year, 2020, has been a bad year, but not the worst we have seen in this province. The people who have been most affected are those who are sick and who couldn’t get to hospitals to get their problems attended to, and some died, all because our health-care system was crippled by the precautionary measures of COVID-19. You have to ask if there was any need.

The other class of people most affected are the people who built this province — the senior citizens. I will use myself as an example.

A hard worker all my life, I need to be active or I will die, but because of cancer in 2011 and a heart attack in 2018, I find myself not able to do all the things I want to do.

A couple of years ago, I found a place where I could be active and pass away the long days and nights. That place was Conception Bay South — a beautiful community, a combination of rural Newfoundland and Labrador, with all the amenities of a city and the ocean always in sight.

I will never forget that fateful day Friday, March 13 — six months ago, Sunday past. That was the day my world ended.

I love playing cards, and in C.B.S. I could play cards between eight and 10 times a week. Three seniors clubs also had a meal and cards monthly, while two others had a meal, cards and a dance monthly. There are also two church groups who have a meal and cards. This is very important to seniors, some in their 90s and many with walking sticks, some in wheelchairs, and many living by themselves. This is the only exercise that they get, and it gives them a chance to get out of the house and have a place to meet other people. Many have said to me, “Only for this I would have nowhere to go.” There are many clubs and church groups that have lost a lot of money because of the COVID-19 health measures.

I will never forget that fateful day Friday, March 13 — six months ago, Sunday past. That was the day my world ended. On Thursday, March 12, I played crib at the Legion. We played six games, and I said to my buddy, Marg, “We have to win five.” We ended up winning all six! On Friday afternoon, I played darts at Worsley Club, and out of three games I finished second (two miracles in two days).

Knowing my luck over the years, I knew something bad was going to happen. While I was having my supper, I got two calls, one from the Worsley Club and one from the Adventure (50+) club in Paradise, that all activities were to be closed until further notice.

This is six months of some seniors with very little activity. Speaking for myself, I am just about at my wit’s end. It’s very stressful — hard on our mental health, not meeting many people, and I don’t know how much longer I can keep my sanity. The purpose of this letter is to bring attention to our seniors, the forgotten people.

We need to get back to our cards and darts, at a time when there are very few people in this province with COVID-19. Schools are opened, so why not our activities? It’s the same people every time — no strange people coming in. In other words, if no one in our groups have COVID-19, then what is the danger of us getting together? In the six months since we were closed down, none of our members or their families have been sick.

To our politicians: this is no way for our seniors to live. We have to get back to some sort of normal for the little time we have left. It is time for us to get together and straighten this out. It is time to lift the restrictions and let us live again.

Hope everyone is doing well.

Capt. Wilfred Bartlett (retired)

Conception Bay South

wilfbartlett@hotmail.com

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