Local Triad group helps seniors protect themselvesThe threats to senior citizens are everywhere – from investment scams to abuse by caregivers or family members and from identity theft to “grandchildren” scams. Add the fact that this generation was raised to trust in their fellow man and honor their obligations and you get a particularly vulnerable population.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
The threats to senior citizens are everywhere – from investment scams to abuse by caregivers or family members and from identity theft to “grandchildren” scams. Add the fact that this generation was raised to trust in their fellow man and honor their obligations and you get a particularly vulnerable population.
In an effort to diffuse the fear and uncertainty associated with growing old in today’s challenging world, a new local partnership known as Triad has been formed between Carlton County law enforcement, older adults and the community at large. The name reflects the three-part nature of the organization and is not meant to be an acronym, though many who are associated with it also claim the name stands for “The Right Information and Direction.”
Triad is a national program designed to help reduce criminal victimization of the elderly and operates on the principle that the goal can best be met through a cooperative effort.
“When the idea was first brought up,” said Deb Lindamood, program director of Volunteer Services of Carlton County, “we turned to our senior volunteers to kind of help build the local program. It took off from there, and we continue to lend support to it. So far, it’s been a great marriage
A kick-off event was hosted by Atkins-Northland Funeral Home last fall and attended by some 100 people. Since that time the group has held three meetings in various locations around the county, appointed a board of directors and elected officers. Attendance at the meetings has varied depending on location and has averaged some 15-25 people.
“You don’t have to be a senior to attend,” explained Sheriff Kelly Lake, who has been instrumental in helping to organize the group and conducting the monthly meetings. “We encourage anyone to attend who is in interested in educating, protecting or being involved with seniors.”
Triad groups often sponsor crime prevention programs for older adults that highlight personal safety tips; neighborhood watches; elder abuse prevention; recognition, reporting and knowledge of current frauds and schemes.
“By combatting the vulnerability of older persons at a community level,” said Lake, “we hope to reduce the fear associated with these various scams and threats and improve their quality of life.”
Newly elected secretary of the Carlton County Triad group is Mary Oja of Cromwell, who also serves as president of the Council on Aging.
“We strongly felt that we needed to get something going here on behalf of our seniors,” said Oja of the group’s formation. She said meetings thus far have already yielded valuable information by speakers such as Shelly Lough of the State Bank of Finlayson, who talked about financial scams, bogus charities and false solicitations; social worker Dave Hall who talked about vulnerable adults, the resources available to them and the importance of being aware of the needs of your neighbors; and fraud investigator and former Moose Lake officer Austin Berg, who discussed various scams going around the area as well as abuse or opportunistic schemes by resident grandchildren or other family members.
Pat Cain of Wright, who was recently elected to co-chair the Triad group along with her husband Larry, said their reason for getting involved is both personal and philanthropic.
“We’re into the senior age group ourselves,” she said, “and we know there are so many others who are floundering. We hope we can be involved on behalf of the western end of the county to help get the information to our neighbors.”
Lake said another side benefit of the group is opening the lines of communication between law enforcement and seniors. She said an individual who has been attending the Triad meetings had some concerns over some questionable activity regarding vulnerable adults that was going on in their community, and she called Lake directly to let her know about it.
“I’m not certain she would have felt as comfortable doing that if we hadn’t gotten to know each other at the meetings,” said Lake.
The newly formed Triad group recently decided to take on an additional challenge – hosting this year’s Triad state conference.
“It’s a big commitment,” admitted Lake, “but we hope it will call attention to Triad and all of the benefits it offers the community.”
The three-day conference is tentatively scheduled to take place in late September at Black Bear Casino Resort and is expected to attract some 200 people to the area.
The local Triad group meets the first Wednesday of each month, and the next meeting is slated for 10 a.m. March 2 at the Carlton County Transportation Building, 1630 County Road 61, Carlton. The public is invited to attend. For more information, call Lake at 218-384-3236 or Volunteer Services of Carlton County, Inc. at 218-879-9238.