Health, housing, transportation: New advocate says seniors need a voice

The province's first Seniors' Advocate has spent most of her career dealing with issues involving seniors and aging.

Suzanne Brake says many seniors don't know where to find information they need

Suzanne Brake is Newfoundland and Labrador's first Seniors' Advocate. (Submitted)

Newfoundland and Labrador's first Seniors' Advocate says she expects health, housing and transportation to be among the issues raised by the province's aging population.

And Suzanne Brake, only a week into her job, is ready to be a voice for seniors.

"I'm hoping people will call," she told CBC Radio's Central Morning Show.

"I do know quite a bit about the world of seniors and aging. I'm 60 years old myself, so I'm going to be there quite soon or maybe I'm already there depending on how some people define seniors," Brake said.

A PhD in social work, Brake has nearly always worked in jobs that involved seniors and aging.

Shades of grey 

She said this province can't ignore the statistics — one in two people are 50 or older. Almost 20 per cent are 65 and older.

They need someone to note their common concerns and identify solutions, Brake said.

"Seniors themselves have been asking for this for quite a long time. Of course the word advocacy means to speak on behalf of others, to speak on behalf of those who may feel that they might not have a voice or their voice might not be heard.  And that's how many seniors do feel."

Suzanne Brake, Seniors' Advocate, with her grandsons Calvin and George. (Submitted)

Brake said she doesn't want to pre-judge, but apart from the obvious issues, she expects questions about accessing information.

"How do you know where to find things, where do you go to find things? So there are many what we call big picture, systemic issues that our office will be tackling."

Brake said she will take a collaborative approach, working closely with organizations such as Seniors NL and the 50 Plus Federation. 

She plans to travel to regions outside St. John's, and hold face-to-face meetings as well as internet exchanges.

A website is under construction, and people can call a toll-free line, 1-833-729-6603.