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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Senior Citizens Connect to Helpful Resources at Fair

Senior Citizens Connect to 
Helpful Resources at Fair:
Senior Center and Police Dept. 
host morning event
(Posted to 4/28)
By Mike Lauterborn
© 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Fairfield, CT – The event was a confidence builder and one-stop opportunity for seniors to learn about a multitude of resources available to them.

Held Wednesday morning at Fairfield Senior Center, 100 Mona Terrace, a Senior Citizen Fair, co-sponsored by the Center and Fairfield Police Dept., featured over a dozen vendors offering senior citizens services and information about critical issues such as emergency preparedness, dietary needs, fraud/scam protection and auto safety.

“We did this a year ago and it wasn’t well publicized, so attendance wasn’t what we hoped for,” said Claire Grace, Director of Human Services at the Senior Center. “We gained much better exposure this year and have brought in agencies that focus on senior issues.”

Helping Grace coordinate the event, Fairfield Police Sgt. Sue Lussier said, “The program essentially provides information and services to seniors for their protection, security and well-being. We have the Office of Probate here, members from the Citizens Emergency Response Team (CERT), the Attorney General’s office and many other departments. It’s a great way for seniors to gain confidence in knowing they have free resources to help protect them.”

With regard to the police department’s contribution, Lussier said, “We have several helpful programs, such as ‘Are You O.K.?’ in which a senior’s phone number is placed in a computer that calls them at a precise time of day when they would be home and, if they don’t answer, we send an officer out to check on them. We also have an Alzheimer’s registration form, wherein we log photos and a profile of a person, which is kept at our front desk and would help us locate a person if they wandered off. The Yellow Dot program helps emergency personnel in the event of a medical issue while a senior is driving. A sticker on the back window indicates that driver information is in the glovebox.”

Lussier said scams committed against seniors are a key issue. “The elderly are often exploited through the internet, phone scams, contractors, etc.,” she said. “We go out to public spaces in the community, talk about scams, how to protect your identity, how to authenticate contractors, etc.”

Officer George Buckmir echoed Lussier’s take. “Scams and fraud are a hot issue, especially at this time of year, with tax season,” he said. “You get fraudulent emails from IRS posers seeking personal and bank information. We advise never to give this information out and to contact the organization directly or call the police department.”

On hand from People’s Bank, VP of Financial Services Marilyn Wiegman, spoke to the topic as well. “I can remember my mother getting phone calls all the time, asking for money and wanting information,” she said. “She wouldn’t want to be rude. I would say, ‘Mom, just be polite and hang up.’ The con artists are so convincing. They do this for a living all day long.”

Scams were a particular concern for senior citizen Rose Dacunto. “I think there should be more publicity about scams,” she said. “Seniors are very vulnerable and family oriented. Callers may mention family names as a way to gain trust and get information. You have to be careful who you associate with and talk to.”

CERT coordinator Norma Peterson’s focus was on educating seniors about what needs to be done to prepare for a disaster. “In a major emergency, response teams may be delayed, so seniors need to have basic disaster supplies at home while they wait for help,” she said. “This includes a three-day supply of water, flashlights and batteries, a battery-operated radio to receive instructions and non-perishable food.”

Making sure seniors’ nutritional needs were met was Bob Lewis’ concern. An administrative assistant with Angel Food Ministries, which offers meal services at affordable prices, said, “With the cost of living where it is, often seniors can’t afford to support themselves. We offer full meals that are available for pick up at the Covenant Church of Easton. These really help people make ends meet.”

Senior Citizen Catherine Karosy was pleased with the range of information made available at the Fair. “The Yellow Dot program is good as I usually drive alone and would help emergency services help me if I had a problem,” she said. “The Agency on Aging also had a lot of info to help with future needs. They should have more of these events.”

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