Most people know that calling 9-1-1 is one of the very first things that should be done during an emergency. The steps to take afterward, however, can be a bit more complicated.
Those who have suffered strokes, heart attacks, or similar complications need special care and assistance in everyday tasks like cooking, cleaning, and driving.
I. Miller, N. 22, became familiar with post-emergency procedures when his friend of 70 years suffered a heart attack. The man has been hospitalized for months and his wife does not know how to help him.
Miller said he was not able to find nearby caregivers in Sun City or Huntley.
“There’s no senior thing out here. We’ve got the stroke place, but they couldn’t help us, and that was about it,” he said. “We had to go maybe to Crystal Lake, McHenry, or something else completely out of this area.”
Miller said although Sun City residents are not always thinking about such service, it should be in the back of their mind, as it is something they all may need someday.
“We had a man next door to us, he just died yesterday,” Miller said. “Luckily, his wife drives and does things, but there are a lot of people who don’t do things that have to ask their kids to come from a long way to just drive them here or there or to help them out some way.”
There are many senior services organizations in the area and knowing which ones provide what different services can save time and money.
Senior Services Associates Inc. is a non-profit organization with branches in McHenry, Kane, and Kendall Counties. Though the organization offers some personal care and assistance, their focus is helping seniors find the aid they need.
“We have our finger on the pulse of everything, so it’s a good starting place,” Meg LaMonica, associate director of Senior Services Associates Northern Region, said.
Different senior service programs offer different types of aid, so the organization helps connect seniors to exactly what they need.
“They don’t have to spin their wheels waiting and making phone calls and hitting dead ends and not finding out the information that they need, because they may qualify for programs, too, that they don’t have to pay for,” LaMonica said.
According to LaMonica, many callers are looking for transportation and respite care.
“What ends up happening is the spouse’s health declines because they’re so stressed out and overwhelmed with the work that needs to be done, and they just can’t do it,” she said.
One group Senior Services Associates may direct a caller to is Faith In Action of McHenry County. The non-profit interfaith organization has volunteers to help the elderly in need.
Faith in Action offers transportation, friendly visits, respite care, and help with shopping and errands. They do not offer bathing or deep house cleaning, but can help with light housekeeping, minor repairs, some lawn work and snow removal.
“It’s a little bit more difficult to find somebody who will do a yard on a routine basis, but perhaps once or twice a month we could have a volunteer mow the yard,” Rhonda Anderson, executive director of Faith in Action of McHenry County, said.
Faith in Action also stores medical equipment such as wheelchairs, potty chairs, shower chairs, crutches, walkers, and can provide hospital beds. They have a partnership with the McHenry County Diaper bank in order to provide incontinence products to seniors.
“We make a once-a-month order with the diaper bank, and then our volunteers either deliver the incontinence products or someone picks them up,” Anderson said.
Most of the volunteers at Faith in Action are seniors, according to Anderson.
“We’re always in need of more volunteers as well, so we’re always grateful if those we’ve helped are in a situation where they can help others now. We’re happy to hear from them,” she said.
Anderson recommended that those in need be prepared before seeking help and should contact Faith in Action while they are still healthy.
“Before a crisis happens, you can sign up to be a care receiver in advance, and if something happens, we already have you in our database,” she said.
Regardless of the type of emergency, advance planning and knowledge of nearby resources is a critical advantage for those in need and can ease the burden of family, neighbors, and friends.