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Good morning! Where has the time gone? We just celebrated the holidays and now it’s March. March has its ups and downs with “beware the Ides of March,” as said to Julius Caesar prior to his demise, then there is St. Patrick’s Day celebrated with green beer and the luck o’ the Irish. People have their ups and downs too and Nature Coast EMS field team members see them every day.
The average age of our patients is about 72. Those of us at the back end of the baby boomers generation now qualify for AARP, but we still focus on our immediate surroundings and may not, or choose not, to see changes in our aging parents. Mine are 73 and 76, live about seven hours away, and are not in the best of health.
When was the last time you saw your parents? I have been thinking about my last visit and how some things have changed. I don’t like to think of my parents getting older, because that means I am as well. It’s a reality I don’t really want to face.
Have you noticed anything unusual about your elderly neighbor or your parents? Unusual; meaning unopened mail or newspapers piling up. Maybe their appearance has changed; they once cared about how they looked, but now they’re wearing dirty, wrinkled clothing. You were told that everything was fine, but it could be a sign something is going on.
When a person fails to attend to his, or her, own basic needs, such as personal hygiene, appropriate clothing, feeding or tending appropriately to any medical conditions, it is known as self-neglect. People can fall victim to self-neglect for a number of reasons, including dementia, illness, malnutrition, overmedication, substance abuse, depression and isolation.
“Self-neglect” is a blanket term used to describe situations in which older people, in the judgment of others, are thought to be neglecting their needs and putting themselves at high risk of additional and serious deterioration. State Adult Protective Services statutes typically define neglect as occurring (1) when basic needs of an elderly or disabled adult are not being served by a person who has been assigned or has assumed responsibility for meeting those needs; and (2) when adults are unable to meet basic needs by themselves.
Admitting they need help would mean they can’t take care of themselves anymore, and accepting aid is not easy because it appears as a loss of independence. Denying anything is wrong, gives them a false sense of security that nothing bad will happen. They might not even realize their living conditions are a danger because it’s been that way for so long.
Elder self-neglect makes people vulnerable to increasing health problems. It won’t happen overnight, but Nature Coast EMS has a finger on the pulse of health and wellness in Citrus County to work on this problem. Our team members respond to citizens, young and old alike, living in deplorable conditions that really need help. Our relationships with the Citrus County Health Department, Senior Care Services, Adult Protective Services and more are working hard to help those who need it most.
Be mindful of your elderly neighbors and aging parents. They may be perfectly independent right now and are not in need of outside assistance, but remember “an of ounce prevention is worth a pound of cure.” You want them around for a long time. I know I do.
Nature Coast EMS is proud to be part of your community and we will be there whenever and wherever you need us! We can also help you keep your independence with a medical alert system from Nature Coast EMS On Call toll-free at 855-435-8012 or you can call me at 352-249-4730 and I’ll send you more information.
As always, take care and stay well.
Katie Lucas is the public information officer at Nature Coast EMS. She can be reached at 352-249-4730 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Nature Coast EMS is an accredited, nonprofit established in 2000 to provide emergency medical services to Citrus County. Watch “Every Minute Counts” hosted by Mike Hall, CEO, Nature Coast EMS on WYKE TV at 8 p.m. Tuesdays and 10 a.m. Wednesdays. Nature Coast EMS does not call soliciting donations on behalf of paramedics and EMTs. The Citrus County Professional Paramedics and EMTs Local 365 is a union, and Nature Coast EMS team members do not benefit from any donation to this organization.