Looking out for seniors in our community
THE NSW Ambulance Service has used Seniors Week, (March 17-24) to encourage people to regularly check on their elderly neighbours.
Over the past 12-months, NSW paramedics have attended 77 cases of seniors aged 65 years and over whose deaths were classified as "non-recent."
Often the deaths had occurred just hours earlier, with many patients being found after having died in their sleep.
However, there were frequent cases of people being discovered days and even weeks after their passing.
NSW Ambulance Duty Operations Manager, Inspector Norm Spalding, said many seniors lived alone and this was unfortunately an age when people were at their most vulnerable.
Inspt. Spalding said that falls were of concern, particularly in the 81 to 90 years age group.
"The potential for falls means a senior might be incapacitated and unable to reach a telephone to call for assistance," Inspt. Spalding said.
"Having a vigilant neighbour who keeps an eye on whether the front door has remained open over night, the lights have not been switched on in the evening or the TV has not been switched off, could mean the difference between an elderly person receiving emergency assistance or having them suffer for an extended period of time.
"Often, there is a perfectly good reason, but it is better to be sure."
Insp Spalding recommended a regular routine of either telephoning the senior neighbour or family member, or making a friendly visit was also something to be encouraged.
Also of concern to paramedics was the number of call-outs to seniors who had accidentally overdosed on, or taken the wrong, medication.
An analysis of responses showed 47 call-outs to seniors who required assistance between January 1 and March 17.