Reaching Out to Jewish Seniors in Need
What is the Gatekeeper Program?
Social workers, gerontologists and other highly trained professionals make it their career to assist vulnerable senior adults. However, many of the most frail seniors who are in need of help may never be identified, especially when they do not have the means or knowledge to consult the many services available throughout our community.
In fact, many of the people who are in the best position to identify frail seniors in need of assistance have nothing to do with social services at all. Perhaps it is the rabbi or program director at your agency or organization, or the bank teller, supermarket checker, beautician or postal worker. Or maybe it is the pharmacist or the shopkeeper. While assisting senior adults is far from their job description, they nevertheless come into frequent contact with exactly the kinds of unattended, unnoticed and vulnerable seniors who could benefit the most from referrals to essential services. It might be the synagogue employee who notices that an elderly member seems to be having more and more difficulty in seeing and hearing. Or, it might be the drugstore clerk who spots a senior adult that has begun appearing unkempt. Or, it could be the shop owner who sees that an older patron seems confused when trying to pay.
These very people are the key to ElderLink St. Louis’ Gatekeeper Program, a highly innovative pilot community support program for the elderly. This program seeks to connect senior adults with much-needed services by enlisting the assistance of those who in the normal course of their jobs, living situations or community involvement may have contact with and be able to identify older adults at risk. This exceptional community outreach program is under the auspices of ElderLink St. Louis, the highly successful project of Jewish Family & Children’s Service that provides free information and referrals to vital senior adult services to thousands of senior adults, their children and caregivers.
How to Participate
When a business, agency or organization decides to participate in ElderLink’s Gatekeepers Program, our Community Outreach Specialist will present a short training session for employees or volunteers. They will learn the signs that indicate a senior adult is in need of services, and communicate with our ElderLink team. We will take it from there, and refer these older adults to the many programs, services and organizations in our area that can assist them. When a Gatekeeper notices that a senior adult might be in need of anything from a meal service or an Alzheimer’s screening to assistance with billpaying or an advance directive, all they need is a simple call or e-mail to ElderLink. It’s that easy to be a part of assisting our vulnerable aging population in achieving a better quality of life. Best yet, like all of ElderLink St. Louis’ referral services, the Gatekeeper Program is free of charge. There is never a fee for training, nor for our referrals and assistance.
Let’s Get Started
If you would like your organization to be part of this exceptional effort, all it takes is a telephone call or e-mail to our ElderLink St. Louis Outreach Specialist at 314-812-9320 or firstname.lastname@example.org. A staff member will arrange an introductory meeting to explain the program in further detail. It’s as easy as that, and a wonderful way to enhance your community involvement. Just imagine, a simple telephone call to ElderLink St. Louis from a gatekeeper at your organization or business may enable an older adult to receive assistance before a difficult situation turns into a crisis.