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Help for seniors available in Porter County

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For more on Porter County Triad, go to www.portertriad.com.

Updated: December 5, 2012 6:30AM



VALPARAISO — From avoiding scammers to just having the resources to get down their stairs and out of the house, senior citizens have a wide array of needs local law enforcement agencies and those who work with seniors are trying to tackle through Porter County Triad.

“There’s a lot of needs seniors have, and a lot of people don’t know how to take care of it,” said Ron Donahue, Triad’s vice president.

The Porter County branch of the national organization formed in 2003, said Sheriff David Lain during a luncheon about the program last week at Rittenhouse Senior Living. Organizers said they gathered for the meeting in an effort to revitalize the program.

Outreach efforts by the group include starting drop-off points for expired and unused medication to keep pills out of the hands of drug abusers, and Project Lifesaver, which notifies police via a transmitter if someone wanders from their home.

Even though Project Lifesaver has been available for several years, it has about 15 participants.

“I know the need is much greater,” Lain said.

Betsy Cuellar, community liaison for the Visiting Nurse Association of Porter County, wondered where to go to assist a senior who is showing signs of confusion and appears to have been conned into writing checks to someone.

Lain recommended she call local law enforcement first to start an investigation, and if the problem were more widespread, which Cuellar said it may be, the Attorney General’s Office could conduct an investigation.

Scammers often sell lists of names of people they know are vulnerable, and the crime tends to be underreported, said Chris Wilson, an outreach services specialist in the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General’s Office.

“A lot of seniors are embarrassed. They’re afraid they’re going to lose some of their independence,” he said.

Seniors’ needs can sometimes be more direct. Donahue, who is the business development manager for Prompt Ambulance Service, said he finds seniors often call an ambulance to get out of the house, because stairs limit their mobility. He has worked with Habitat for Humanity in Lake County for ramps to be built at some homes.

“They’re almost like prisoners in their homes because they can’t get out of the house,” he said.



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