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Senior Services

Social Services offers many programs to help seniors live healthy, independent, and happy lives.

We offer many services and programs for older residents of Clackamas County.  From transportation to in home care, we have programs that may be able to help you and your family stay healthy and independent. We also work with community partners to advocate on behalf of seniors at the State and Federal level.

Services and programs for seniors

If you have a question or would like to request more information, please contact: 503-650-5622

The holidays and our seniors

The holidays are a time when many of us get together with our extended families.  For some of us this is also an opportunity to have a discussion about how to care for aging relatives and loved ones that may be showing signs that they need help.

Many seniors don't want to ask for help.  Often they fear a loss of independence or are worried about being a burden on their families. This can lead to isolation.  Seniors who are isolated are particularly vulnerable to deteriorating physical and mental health, as well as financial fraud.

This holiday season let’s make it a point to keep an eye out for seniors. 

What are some potential warning signs to look out for?

The Council on Aging offers these warning signs that your elderly relatives need help:

  1. Poor eating habits resulting in a decrease in weight, no appetite or missed meals.
  2. Neglected hygiene: wearing dirty clothes, body odor, neglected nails and teeth.
  3. Neglected home that is not as clean or sanitary as you remember growing up.
  4. Inappropriate behavior by acting loud, quiet, paranoid or making phone calls at all hours.
  5. Changed relationship patterns that friends or neighbors have noticed.
  6. Burns or injuries resulting from weakness, forgetfulness or misuse of alcohol or meds.
  7. Decreased participation in activities such as attending the senior center, book club or church.
  8. Scorched pots and pans, showing forgetfulness for dinner cooking on the stove.
  9. Unopened mail, newspaper piles, and missed appointments.
  10. Mishandled finances such as losing money, paying bills twice or hiding money.

How to have "the talk" with someone who is aging and may need some help

If you notice these signs when you spend time with seniors in your family, it is time to decide as a family what to do.  Paula Spencer Scott published an article on this topic recently.  Paula Scott is the 2011 Met Life Foundation Journalists in Aging fellow, awarded by the Gerontological Society of America and New American Media, and serves on the board of the University of North Carolina Science and Medical Journalism Program.  She suggests the following tips for how to respond if you notice a loved one in need.

Plan Ahead

Before you say a word, take time to collect some information and research possible solutions, Ultimately, the goal is to problem-solve together through a dialogue with your parent (not to dictate the solution or to convince through arguments). But if you gather facts first, you'll be able to help in a way that's better informed and less stressful for everyone.

Start a Conversation

So you've done some homework and gotten a sense of how ready (or indifferent) your parent is. How do you take the plunge? Plan to start the conversation in person if possible. This feels less threatening and overbearing, and more natural.

"Don't get critical the minute you walk in the door. Focus on connecting and having fun, While also using this time to observe."" says Ken Robbins, a geriatric psychiatrist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  “You may be on a mission to resolve the problem, but you'll have a more ready audience if you first take the time to enjoy one another's company before diving in.”

Listen and Follow Your Parent's Cues

Use reflexive listening, which is an effective communication technique for difficult conversations. Rephrase what your parent says, as a way of playing back that you understand -- making your parent feel supported -- and then move the conversation forward.

Follow Up

Whatever you do, don't launch an aggressive "sell" on your favorite option the minute you get back home or the next time you talk. Don't push for making a decision right away. Try not even to hint or nag at first.  Let it percolate for a while, but be ready to continue the conversation at any time.

This article has a lot of really great tips for how to have these kinds of difficult conversations.  It even includes advice on what NOT to say.  If this is something you think might come up for you during this holiday season, we encourage you to read the article here.

Have a fantastic holiday season, and let’s remember to look out for each other.  Families and friends are the first and best line of defense for making sure we all live healthy and happy lives.

-- Happy holidays!

Content provided by Social Services

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