Thanks to my tireless volunteer cadre, composed of some senior pals and buddies from the fire department, we held the 22nd annual “Senior Safety Saturday,” which was inspired by my mother years ago.
I am grateful, tired, sore, but smiling huge, because…
…this legacy activity is something on which I have earned a reputation in the community where I was born and raised, earned my Life Membership in my local fire department, but more importantly (and I believe this)… saved lives.
As people age, their abilities decline. Walking is more difficult. Seeing in less light is almost impossible. Aging body functions and (for men) an enlarged prostate frequently require having to get up and go to the bathroom at night once or twice.
Falls can be very dangerous for anyone, but particularly for elderly people whose bones are more brittle and subject to breaking in a fall. Broken hips can be tragedies from which some older people never recover.
Also, from my professional experience, I have learned that smoke alarms loose sensitivity with time, and should be completely replaced every ten years.
To remedy these problems, it is important to improve lighting at night, and have it more directed to the path of travel from the bed to the bathroom. Grab bars help provide stability and prevent a fall by providing something to hold on to while moving, especially when groggy. Replacing smoke alarms is rather simple, but often overlooked. Swapping an alarm with a new one takes minutes (even if hard-wired.)
During the year, I work at fundraising for funds required to purchase new smoke alarms, grab bars, non-slip bath mats, and motion-sensitive floor-level LED lighting. Other volunteers visit seniors and go through a checklist of what’s needed in each home, as well as get a signed release.
Two key volunteers organize a schedule of home visits by volunteers who install the necessary items (grab bars, bath mats, lighting, and new smoke alarms).
Earlier this week, I went with some buddies from the Fire Department to a building supplies retailer who supports this project to acquire the necessary supplies. The retailer doesn’t give us everything for free, but we do get a significant discount, which is the retailer’s in-kind contribution to this effort.
Yesterday morning at 0900, we kicked off the day’s work. This time, I actually went as a crew member and did three visits/installations. In the past, I used to check in volunteers and troubleshoot problems during the day. But my volunteer leaders do that so well, I can relax and “just help.”
We accomplished our mission by early afternoon. No supplies were left over. Free pizza at the fire house where we staged the event was almost all gone.
The smiles, hugs, cheers, and thank-yous from the members of our community who are safer now is what it is all about.
Life is short: contribute to your community and help make it safe for those who are more vulnerable.