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SENIOR SAFETY: Small changes help elders stay at home

POSTED February 23, 2011 5:17 p.m.
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Anyone who has ever stumbled over a throw rug should realize, being safer at home can start with small modifications. That’s why Karen Sessler, care manager at the regional ElderCare office in Great Bend, recommends picking up tripping hazards as a first step for senior safety.

Sessler spoke about everything from wall grab bars to the Do Not Call Registry for home phones or cells phones in a recent program at the Great Bend Senior Center, sponsored by the Recreation Commission. There are plenty of things seniors can do — or that children can do for older loved ones — to make life easier and safer. "I learn a lot from my clients every day," she said.

Fall prevention is one of the most important goals. Remove clutter and make sure there are wide pathways. In the bathroom, add wall grab bars, bath benches and shower chairs. Night lights are a good idea for bed and bath.

Safety items don’t have to be expensive. Sessler showed a product called the Intrud Alert that she found in a dollar store. Installed and activated, it makes a loud sound if a door is opened. This not only provides peace of mind to those worried about intruders, but it can also alert people if a door is being opened from the inside, by an Alzheimer’s patient, for example.

For those worried about the safety of older loved ones, it’s important that they continue to show respect while suggesting changes. Sessler knows a 99-year-old woman who is able to live in her own home, but someone has to check on her daily.

ElderCare, located at 1819 11th St. in Great Bend, serves clients in Barton, Edwards, Ford, Kiowa, Pawnee, Pratt, Rush and Stafford counties, with services such as Friendship Meals, home services and Meals on Wheels. Seventy percent of its clients live within 30 miles of Great Bend.

Here are a few senior citizen resources:

• Friendship Meals at the Great Bend Senior Center, 2005 Kansas Ave. Suggested $3 per meal donation for those 60 years and older, to dine in, pick up warm, or obtain frozen. Call 792-3906, or the ElderCare Friendship Meals division, 792-1241.

• Meals on Wheels, home delivered meals for the homebound. Currently prepared at Central Kansas Medical Center, the meals will soon come from Great Bend Regional Hospital. For information call the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), 792-1833.

• ElderCare home services. Call 792-5942 to schedule a free assessment visit.

• Transportation: There are a number of options, and some services have wheelchair lifts. Advance notice is required; call the following numbers for more information. Great Bend Senior Center in-town rides, Monday through Friday, 792-3859; Sunflower Diversified Services, 792-1321; RSVP, 792-1614, for out-of-town medical appointments, based on volunteer availability.

• Advance directives, information and forms on planned future health care choices, can be found on the Internet at

• Do Not Call Registry, for home or cell phones. Call 888-382-1222 from the phone you are registering, or register online at

• Telephone for impaired individuals, 785-234-0200 or Kansas TAP (Telecommunication Access Program) offers adaptive telephones for disabled, impaired individuals unable to use an ordinary telephone.

• Heart of Kansas Family Health Care, 1905 19th St., Great Bend; telephone 792-5700 or 620-282-3555.

• Elder abuse: Adult Protective Services Hotline, 800-922-5330. Report when there is risk of a senior citizen harming himself or others. If there is suspected mistreatment or financial exploitation of a dependent adult (age 18 years and older), call the Kansas Attorney General’s Office, 866-551-6328.


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