A recent news story out of Elmhurst, Illinois put the spotlight on senior couple Vernon and Elaine Schweisthal who family reported missing after the couple failed to meet friends for a scheduled lunch. The couple was located the next day on an agricultural side road where they had pulled off after encountering car trouble. Both were dehydrated, but thanks to the sharp eye of a State Trooper, were returned safely home. Similarly, in Grass Valley, California, 74-year-old Wima Barnhart went missing in early July after also failing to meet a friend and has yet to be located.
Senior citizens are often considered as an at-risk population due to medical conditions and chronic illness and when they go missing they’re less likely to be carrying a cell phone to reach out for help. With more seniors striving to live independently, it’s important for loved ones and seniors to stay in closer touch to ensure that senior’s don’t “fall off the map” and into danger.
Strategies for Senior Safety:
Preparedness can play an integral role to make sure an independent senior doesn’t become a missing person. Use these tips and basic strategies to help empower seniors and increase communication:
Talk about plans: Ask seniors to check in with a member of their inner circle before they leave for an outing. Know where the individual is going and when they should be back. Often, when seniors don’t arrive for planned meetings with friends or loved ones is when their whereabouts are first questioned – and in harsh weather or the event of an injury, time can be of the essence.
Use a cell phone: From a generation when phones were stuck to the wall by a cord, seniors are often hesitant to get a cell phone. However, in an emergency, having a cell phone can enable life -saving communication, as well as provide a potential form of tracking for seniors in trouble. New, senior-specific phones are easy to use with large, readable buttons if your loved one is opposed to one of those newfangled smartphones.
Have a Companion: If seniors feel uncomfortable travelling, or find transportation to be a problem, the help of a companion from a home care agency using a home care software or home care system can be a big help. With home care software scheduling tools, agencies can use their home care system to match seniors with a caregiver capable of driving them to their destination.
In addition to being of assistance with transportation, a caregiver using a home care software or home care system, like ClearCare online, can also be scheduled to check on seniors with a shift of any length at pre-set intervals. This may help ensure the welfare of a senior who is living on their own with no nearby family or regular contact with others. Caregivers can also leave comments and update tasks within the home care software or home care system that family members can securely listen to in the home care software Family Room portal – offered only with ClearCare Online!
If you’re concerned about a senior you love being at risk to go missing while maintaining their independence, take the time to talk about preparedness with them and consider enlisting the help of a caregiver using a home care software or home care system like ClearCare Online, to lend those fiercely independent seniors a hand.