By Doug Sheaffer

sheafdf@dshs.wa.gov

Olympic Area Agency on Aging

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about being prepared for an emergency and cited a booklet available at www.redcross.org, “Disaster Preparedness: For Seniors By Seniors.” I won’t go through all the detail again, but wanted to add a suggestion.

Recently, a woman was in our office and mentioned the column. She held up her car keys and said something like “You should add this to your information.” Her car had an alarm and all she had to do was press the button on her key chain to set it off.

“I even keep it by the bed.” She talked about how it can be used as an alarm if she hears someone outside, and it can get someone’s attention if she needs help. She also noted that during an emergency it can be used to let people know she needs assistance.

Smart lady. I thought it was not only creative, but practical, so here you are — another tool in your emergency kit. And yet another example of information sharing within our communities. Some of the best tips I’ve received have come from conversations.

In addition to displaying creative thinking, by asking to let others know, she also demonstrated concern for other folks. Nice.

The vast majority of people in our community are caring individuals who want to help when and where they can. The problem is not being unconcerned, but not knowing what to do, where to go, etc. And we get a lot of calls that begin with “I have a friend who I’m worried about...” or “I went by a customer’s home, and I’m wondering if everything’s OK...” It could be from friends, neighbors, service personnel, clerks or whatever and they’re looking for some way to make sure things are “OK” in the given situation.

Adult Protective Services (APS) may be the answer if there are concerns regarding abuse, neglect, abandonment or financial exploitation. This is usually where we get into the self-debate about whether we should “interfere” or not, and this could become more of a concern if it’s a family member, neighbor or friend. We don’t want to lose the relationship, and I get it.

Having said that, though, what if there really is a problem and no one “interferes”? The concern is the driving point, and it may be that something seems to be off. Maybe unfamiliar people are coming around and “helping” with finances, but the money seems to be less than it was previously. Maybe you noticed a dramatic change in appearance or living conditions.

One thing you don’t need to do is play detective and try to find proof of whatever you think may have gone south. The role of APS is investigative.

No SWAT teams hiding in the yard — at least as far as I’ve seen. Once a report is received (and it can be anonymous) an APS Social Worker will be assigned and they will check into the situation by talking to whoever reported it, the parties concerned and see what they see.

A call to APS is not an accusation. It’s a request for help.

The centralized APS Intake number is (toll free) 877-734-6277. They will be in place to make sure the one you’re concerned about is safe.

And if they find everything’s good and people are just making their own choices? Great! It’s always good to hear that everything’s OK.

It’s all about community. It’s all about caring. And thank you all for that.

Information & Assistance

Long Beach: 642-3634

or 888-571-6558

Raymond: 942-2177

or 888-571-6557

www.o3a.org

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