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TRIAD helps to protect seniors

by Nancy Hamlett

The population in the United States is aging. And the statistic, that one in eight people are age 65 or older, can be applied to the Carson Valley as well.

That is one of the reasons why TRIAD, The Record Courier’s featured community organization for November, was formed, according to Lon Curtis, chairman of the organization.

In 1996 members of the Douglas County community recognized the need for an organization that would protect seniors from criminal victimization and to enhance the delivery of law enforcement services to the community

Based loosely on a program from St. Martin Parish, Louisiana, a council of representatives from law enforcement and the senior community was formed. Called SALT (Seniors and Law Together) the counsel was reorganized several months later into TRIAD.

“The letters in TRIAD don’t stand for anything,” said Lon Curtis, chairman of the organization. “It is a triangle of support between the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department, East Fork Fire and Paramedics Districts and the senior community.”

One of the first actions of the TRIAD council was to place Tips from TRIAD in local newspapers. The column informed elderly citizens of various scams and schemes that are used to victimize seniors.

Since then, TRIAD has introduced many programs into the Carson Valley to improve the quality of life for seniors, increase education and prevent seniors from being victims of crime.

“The RUOK (Are You OK?) program can impact more seniors than any other,” said Curtis. “And it does just what it says. The program is free. And every day we get in touch with the people by using a computerized telephone system just to make sure that everything is OK.”

If the phone isn’t answered, information on file at the sheriff’s office is pulled. A neighbor is contacted, and if they haven’t seen the RUOK participant, an officer is dispatched to the home.

“It’s an important service,” said Ron Pierini, Douglas County’s sheriff, and a member of the TRIAD council. “Just imagine if you fell down and couldn’t reach the phone to call for help. This service ensures the well being of our elderly population.”

In keeping with the goal of lessening crime to elderly people, TRIAD sponsors the Douglas County Senior Law Enforcement Academy. Specifically for people 50 or older, the academy is designed to educate senior citizens in various aspects of law enforcement and criminal justice,and the protection they provide. Classes include criminal justice, the sheriff and paramedic departments, court and jail tours and general information. There is also a segment on defensive driving and self-defense.

The academy is one afternoon per week for 10 weeks, with the current class scheduled to graduate on Nov. 19.

Pierini said that the academy allows seniors to become ambassadors to the sheriff’s department as they become more comfortable dealing with law enforcement personnel.

“Not only do they learn what they can do to prevent crime,” said Pierini. “But what is most important to me, as the sheriff, is that they form a friendship with the instructors, most of whom are from my department. That becomes very important when gathering information and addressing problems.”

The File of Life Program was designed to improve emergency care by paramedics. The file, provided by TRIAD, is hung on the refrigerator and contains vital information about a senior’s health. When entering a home, the paramedics have all the information necessary to provide optimum care.

Other TRIAD programs include the Widows and Widowers Relief Assistance pamphlet, which contains information about services and programs available after losing a spouse, and the Disaster Preparedness Kit designed to help prepare for an emergency, such as flood, earthquake or fire.

“This kit contains important information concerning what to gather and what to put aside for those emergencies,” said Curtis.

The Home Again program is a registration service for seniors in the event they become disoriented.

“The registration is simple, and requires only that you sign up to be photographed and fill out a form with important data which is kept on file the county and state offices,” said Curtis.

“The dementia program (Home Again) allows an officer to research a disoriented person with less impact and stress on the person,” said Pierini. “It also takes less time for an officer to contact the correct people and get the senior back home again.”

TRIAD is a non-profit organization and all members of the council serve on a voluntary basis. Costs are offset by contributions by other organizations and by an annual spaghetti feed and silent auction in the spring.

“Most of our programs are low cost,” said Pierini. “We do ask for donations to cover some of our expenses, but if a senior can’t afford to pay, various service organizations contribute to our cause.”

“The members of the TRIAD board are dedicated to serving our senior population,” said Curtis. “We speak at community events, and we show a tape of our RUOK program. Our local community access TV station (DCCATV Channel 26) also shows the tape for people who want more information.”

Yet according to Pierini, the most important thing that TRIAD members do is to listen to the senior community.

“We must listen to their concerns,” said Pierini. “We need to have a constant dialog with seniors. We welcome their ideas. Communication is important.

“People don’t want to be a burden to anyone, yet seniors must realize that we aren’t trying to pry, but that we want to help. I wish more people would participate because TRIAD is for them.”

If you are interested in more information about TRIAD, Pierini urges seniors to call 782-9858.

TRIAD board members

Lon Curtis, chairman, retired law enforcement, Elks International

Samantha Heers, Secretary Soroptimist International of Carson Valley

Greg Hubbard, deputy, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office

Ron Pierini, sheriff, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office

Robert Lekumberry, captain, East Fork Paramedics

Maryon Lewis, senior advisor, RSVP

Virginia Reid, senior citizen representative

Burt Lacenbauer, RSVP Eldercare Coalition

Nancy Hunter, state of Nevada, Elderly Protective Services

Al Walker, Senior Nutrition Board

Kathy Maidlow, Douglas County Senior Services

John Amundson, Silver Haired Nevadans, legislative representative

The Record-Courier E-mail: rc@tahoe.com

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