Triad Programs

Older Adult Centers and Retirement Communities: Most places where older adults reside or gather will add Triad programs to their agenda. Focus the program on law enforcement, crime/prevention, or all three. Open a forum to reach older adults, allay fears, and answer questions.

Public Housing Projects: City government, social services, law enforcement, and housing administration officials share concern for criminal issues in public housing. Older persons frequently live in unsatisfactory or unsafe arrangements. In high-risk areas, deliver a crime prevention message with concrete strategies for older residents’ safety. Build a coalition between law enforcement, older adult services, groups such as RSVP, and volunteers to protect older adults in high-risk areas.

Inner City Older Adults: For older persons living in high-risk areas, use lectures and presentations focused primarily on safety and prevention. Obtain statistics and surveys, caution older adults about current crime, and offer training on maintaining a safe living space. Emphasize perpetual locked doors and on how criminals gain entry into older adult homes. Some programs offer equipment, such as whistles, or collect unused cell phones to help keep older adults safe—A charged cell phone, even without a purchased service agreement, can reach 911, provided the caller can identify his or her location.

Escort Partnerships: Carefully select youth or youth programs to accompany older individuals to and from religious services, grocery and shopping centers, and community events in areas where crime is prevalent. Collaborating with other social services will provide Triad volunteers. Recruit officers to live in older adult housing, assigned with crime prevention projects, but chiefly to provide a deterring presence.

Safe Walks: Mr. Mark Fenton, editor of the Boston-based Walking Magazine, states "It's also clear that regular activity may reduce the likelihood of clinical depression—a problem among older individuals who may begin to feel they are a burden to their family. With regular exercise, they can continue to be contributing members of society and if they want, they can get involved in volunteer work or part-time work." In some neighborhoods; however, walking can be dangerous.
Remove older adults from these neighborhoods by locating a neutral, public place. Provide transportation and supervise walking events to alleviate the dangers of unsafe neighborhood exercise. Distribute advertisements via newspapers, social media and email, older adult centers, food distribution programs, and religious centers to ensure participation.

Walks become an older adult exercise option and an opportunity to educate older adults on crime prevention. Make this a weekly event arranged in a community space, such as zoo, mall, or park. Local hospitals or other health organizations may agree to sponsorship, providing juice or fruit. Although this event can be construed as a social gathering, maintain focus on the crime prevention message.

Safe Shopping: Co-sponsored by Triad and local grocery store chains, the program provides safe transportation to buy groceries on designated days. Off-duty officers escort older adults into the store, where clerks assist them, allowing for additional time to shop and check out. Some grocery stores provide additional services to accommodate the group, such as smaller packages of produce, shopping assistants, chairs, and refreshments. Tie this event into your crime prevention message prior to the store visit.

Refrigerator Cards: Originating in Monmouth County, New Jersey, this easily replicable product is now widely used throughout the United States and other countries. A brightly colored card is designed to display older adult health information, including names and numbers of emergency contacts, doctor, health care plan, allergy, and current medications. The cards are printed and distributed by Triads. See Appendix H of the Triad Manual for an example. Due to identity theft, do not list personal statistics.

File of Life: Another version of the refrigerator card program uses a clearly marked envelope, also placed on the door of the refrigerator, mounted magnetically. Along with medical information, the envelope can contain a copy of important health-related papers, a living will, or other documentation a physician may need.

Older Persons Referral Card: Law enforcement carry these cards for older adult special services referrals. In Volusia County, Florida, where the cards were developed, officers receive awareness training on older adult services needs. Law enforcement can use the card, included in Appendix I of the Triad Manual, to obtain services for older adults suffering from conditions such as dementia or malnutrition. Use volunteers to follow up with agency/service recommendations and report results.

Adopt-a-Senior: Begun in St. Martin Parish, Louisiana, law enforcement officers "adopt" a vulnerable older adult, with consideration to individual special needs. The program provides an outside contact for isolated older adults. The law enforcement officer visits and telephones assigned older adults once a week, allowing isolated older adults to remain in their homes and maintain independence. Suggested guidelines are in Appendix J of the Triad Manual.

Older Adult Buddy System: A 2006 study by Adult Protective Services reported 253,421 cases of abuse involving victims age 60 and older. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, however, the true number of victims is unknown, in large part because surveillance is limited and because most incidents—84 percent, according to one study—go unreported.

Triad focuses on preventing older adult abuse by discussing plans for later years and developing reliable support networks. How you can help: Establish a network system to help prevent or stop all types of abuse: financial, physical, psychological, caregiver neglect, and self-neglect. Train volunteer buddies to recognize changes in health, well being, mental attitude or finances. Older adults often share information with “peers” that they cannot with law enforcement or strangers.

Telephone Reassurance: Older adults state that their safety and sense of security increase with a daily telephone call. Telephone contact programs become Triad activities when law enforcement agencies sponsor the program through the SALT Council. Locate older adults through older adult groups; houses of worship; media articles; the Office on Aging; and referrals from friends, neighbors, relatives and older person referral cards. Live calls are recommended. Older volunteers make or receive calls at the law enforcement agency or other suitable locations. Dependent on resources, have the volunteer either place the call or receive it from the older person daily.