CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Every day in the United States, 10,000 people turn 65. By 2030, Cleveland’s elderly population will comprise its majority, according the Director of Aging for Cleveland, Mary McNamara.
The city has lots of programming geared to address the growing needs of seniors. Among them, a way for the elderly to let first responders know important medical information if they can’t for whatever reason.
“We’re promoting File of Life, which is a magnetic sleeve you put on your refrigerator, comes with a magnet and inside is the information that medics told us they needed if a person couldn’t communicate with them. So, it’s everything from your basic demographics. Who are you? How old are you?What’s your normal blood pressure because maybe your blood pressure is always high.” McNamara says.
It’s only valuable if one completes the form and put it on your refrigerator with its attached magnet. Paramedics, firefighters, police and even family members can easily find what could be life-saving info.
“It can also be helpful for an adult child of a parent who may not know the medications your parents is on. So, they may meet the medics at the house but this information can be really helpful about of does my parent have an advance care directive. Do they have a do not resuscitate order.
McNamara says falls are the second-leading cause of death on a flat surface in Cuyahoga County. She says the city has education programs to teach people about falls and how to avoid them.
“One we really promote and are bringing to Cleveland recreation centers is called matter of balance. It’s a pretty intensive course. It’s a 8-week course and it’s with other people who also have fears of falling. It’s an evidence based program. The data is out there that shows someone who graduates from their class increasing their confidence and also decreases their risk of falling,” McNamara added. They also learn exercises to strengthen themselves in case of a fall. There’s another program the department of aging uses to help ensure its elderly residents are getting the attention they needs. It’s called Cleveland Cares Calls.
“It’s a great program specific to Cleveland where we provide a daily, automatic phone where we check on your well being. It’s all being done automated. You don’t have to talk with us every day. but you just press '1′ on your phone if you’re OK."
McNamara even uses the system herself. "If I didn’t answer it would start a whole system of connecting with my emergency contacts so that we can ensure that at least if you live alone you’re touching in with someone everyday.
She says all those things that are medically important, especially when seconds matter, are at your fingertips can be really helpful. Medics also want to know if there’s a pet in the house so they don’t get left out of any rescue. Pet lovers are often hesitant to leave their homes for fear of leaving the “fur babies” behind, making sure they’re OK, helps reduce that stress. McNamara says the city has dozens of programs to help make living in Cleveland comfortable and respectful for its 70,000 seniors calling Cleveland home. More than 90 percent of Cleveland’s senior plan and expect to plan to live in their homes as long as possible.
The department in addition to providing transportation,cutting grass, raking leaves and shoveling snow for the city’s elderly they help with home delivered meals program and helping them find a home care aide. McNamara says the only thing older than the person they serving is the house they live in and many of them are not as safe as they can be. That’s where the city can help.
"We look at things as simple as grab bars and enhanced lighting and grips on stairwells as basic first safety steps. This time of year, around the holidays, we always remind people those are good gifts to give their ones.
See the entire interview with CW 43 Focus host Harry Boomer and Mary McNamara, Director of Aging for Cleveland.