Sheriff Takes Steps To Help Create Program To Protect Elderly

Earlier this year, an elderly Seymour woman hired two men to paint her house and paid for the work, only to be revisited by the men later in the week and told that she owed them for roof work they had done. The problem is, according to Sheriff Marc Lahrman, is that the men were most likely scamming her.
In an effort to protect Jackson County’s elderly population from schemes and provide aid in other desperate situations, Jackson County Sheriff Marc Lahrman, community service groups and seniors teamed together to form what is known as the Triad Program. The nationwide program that started in 1988 already has 20 Triads in 22 counties in Indiana, with Brown County being the strongest chapter in the country.
At a recent meeting in the sheriff’s office at the Jackson County jail, Lahrman met with Michelle Mayer, director of outreach services from the Indiana Attorney General’s office, and leaders of several community agencies to hammer out more details of how a local chapter of Triad will help protect seniors from scams, provide food assistance, or make friendly phone calls to check up on shut-ins.
“We are in the information stage,” said Mayer, who has led the start-ups of other chapters in the state. She said that the program, with no set guidelines, is designed to be whatever the county wants it to be and is able to build over time. Triad is unique in that it combines forces with seniors in the community because, as Lahrman says, “Who knows better what seniors need than the seniors?”
The group is seeking seniors in the community to be on the “SALT” (seniors and law enforcement together) council for guidance as to what the population needs. Shut-in seniors can also help by making phone calls and reporting to the sheriff if someone is in need of assistance.
Law enforcement officers will aid in the program on their runs by filling out referral cards when they see someone without food, heat or possibly suffering from dementia. That card is then brought back to Triad so they can do a follow-up to make sure the person receives assistance.
Besides educating the elderly of internet dangers, door-to-door scams and phone fraud, the program is seeking volunteers from churches and other groups around the county to build committees for food assistance, collection and disposal of outdated prescription drugs, and to help with phone calls.
Making phone calls is an important part of building Triad because it gives law enforcement and the community agencies an idea of who needs extra help, especially since many receiving the calls don’t have relatives in the area who can check on them.
“They may not feel comfortable calling the police themselves,” said Lahrman, who said that woman scammed by the handymen was too embarrassed to tell anyone. “We can get that person who calls them once a week, maybe with some prying, to call me,” Lahrman said.
Once Lahrman and the other agencies on board, which include Schneck Medical Center, United Way, the Jackson County Library, local Lions Clubs, the Community Foundation and the Agency on Aging, among others, obtain more volunteers they can move forward with hopes of officially launching the program later this spring.