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4 steps to improve safety for seniors

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Updated: May 6, 2014 10:52AM



In the U.S., more than half a million reports of abuse against elderly Americans reach authorities every year, and millions more cases go unreported, according to the non-profit Helpguide.org. Beyond those shocking statistics, the elderly are exposed to hazards and dangers most of us might take for granted, yet affect their safety every day.

Here are four steps that can improve safety for seniors:

Check in on elderly neighbors

This step is especially important during extreme heat or cold spells, when seniors find themselves at greater risk. While visiting, Helpguide.org recommends looking for signs of possible abuse, such as bruises, welts or scars, especially if they appear on both sides of the body.

Beware of scams from strangers

As part of its B.O.S.S. program (Be Observant, Smart, Safe), the City of Detroit's Police Department advises that seniors always be suspicious of phone solicitors who ask for personal information such as credit card, social security or checking account numbers. Don't be misled into believing con artists who present investment schemes, either.

Spot and stop hazards

Many dangers that can affect senior safety might lurk right in the home, or mere steps away. These range from a slippery sidewalk to doors and windows that aren't properly dead bolted or secured. Alert seniors when you see these problems and lend a hand wherever possible to provide them the assistance they need.

Be aware of your surroundings

If you're on a bus, sit close to the driver; if you're carrying a purse, place it inside your coat and/or close to your body so it doesn't dangle. Whenever possible, travel to and from your home accompanied. Also, take extra care getting in and out of cars, to avoid falls and any risk of assaults from strangers.

Sheriff John Buncich, who is deeply committed to ensuring the safety of seniors and curbing elder abuse, has served three four-year terms as Lake County, Ind. Sheriff and is currently running for re-election. For more information about his campaign, visit the Buncich Boosters website.

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