Holiday Tips to Keep Seniors Safe
During the holiday season, many of us visit family members we see only infrequently throughout the year. And although visits may be short, it’s a perfect opportunity to make sure the seniors in our lives are healthy, vital and safe from abuse and exploitation. Here are some helpful tips to help keep seniors safe from a range of potential problems:
- Protecting your Parents – Are they more forgetful or fragile than the last time you saw them? Do they appear disheveled and are their clothes and home in disarray? Ask if you can talk with their doctor. Better still, are you able to accompany them to a doctor’s visit? Before your visit, try to identify senior services organizations in the area. Many counties have an Area Agency on Aging – that’s a good place to start.
- Become Scam Aware – Make sure that your relatives are not being scammed. Ask if there are any new ‘friends’ in their lives. You may be specific: has anyone requested money from them? Be alert that they may feel embarrassed to acknowledge if they have been victimized – they may be concerned that you or others will think that their judgment is slipping. If possible, arrange for a trusted friend or relative or a professional to check in with them regularly.
- Suggest a Financial Check-Up – Ask if your relatives are willing to let you review their resources and financial plans. Accompany them food shopping. Do their choices appear to be limited because of money concerns? Are they able to afford their medication? Many local senior services programs will help your relative apply for benefits and entitlements that help seniors manage their expenses.
- Establish a Care Plan – It is difficult to be a long distance care provider. If you already have aides or helpers for your parents, make sure you see them when you visit. Come prepared with a list of questions and concerns. Although abuse from a paid caregiver is unlikely, it is always important to be alert to that potential, particularly if your family member is very dependent on that care and has limited social contacts. Talk to your parents’ neighbors. If you think it’s necessary, install a video camera that you can monitor on your computer once you get home.
- Encourage an Active Life and Community Connections – Encourage your folks to be socially connected – social isolation negatively impacts our sense of well-being. It’s usually easy to locate senior centers, continuing education and other senior programs in the area. Expanding the network of individuals who look out for your parents promotes their life fulfillment and safety and provides you with a greater sense of confidence about their daily lives.
Amy Chalfy, Chief Program Officer at JASA (Jewish Association Serving the Aging) is responsible for managing key programs as well as developing new approaches to meet emerging needs and opportunities to serve the New York metropolitan area’s senior population. JASA is one of New York’s largest and most trusted agencies serving over 43,000 older adults each year. Please visit http://www.jasa.org/.