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By Mary Ennis, Outreach Coordinator, SeniorsNL


SeniorsNL has received funding from the New Horizons for Seniors Program (Atlantic) for an exciting new project – Improving Seniors’ Knowledge and Uptake of Legal Documents.

One major issue that SeniorsNL has been tracking for a few years is the lack of uptake on Wills, Powers of Attorney, and Advance Health Care Directives.
In 2019-20, for example, 329 seniors from 93 communities were surveyed across the province:

  • 32.92% had no documents in place at all.
  • The highest uptake was for Wills (64.31%), 
  • The lowest was for Powers of Attorney (12.31%).
  • Only 13.85% of those surveyed had an Advance Health Care Directive in place.

Having legal documents in place is a strong foundation to prevent elder abuse: financial, emotional/psychological, physical. Improving the knowledge of the importance of having these documents, what they are for, the implications of not having them in place, and the implications of not having the right person(s) selected is key. Just as important, we must ensure seniors are informed and aware of the need for careful consideration, should they be asked to take on the responsibility as executor, power/enduring power of attorney and support/substitute decision maker.

There is a need for a targeted approach to this issue so that more seniors have these documents in place to help protect their wishes, as well as their physical, mental, and financial well being, from abuse and neglect.

The project will have three main components:

  • Reproduction of two important legal documents discussing wills, powers of attorney, and advance health care directives
  • Development of a FAQ booklet of legal questions frequently asked by seniors (to be distributed with the legal documents mentioned above)
  • A series of webinars and presentations to encourage and support seniors to develop their own legal documents to protect themselves against 

   potential abuse and give them ease of mind as they age.

When all the groundwork is done, SeniorsNL will make the legal packages available to seniors and invite their participation in the webinar and presentation series which will be scheduled within the next couple of months.

For more information about this project, contact:
Mary Ennis, Outreach Coordinator


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