Be aware of elderly self-neglect

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By Rachel Mergen

June is awareness month for elderly and vulnerable people self-neglect. To help the community become more aware of the warning signs and what to do if they are concerned self-neglect may be occurring, a panel will be held on Wednesday, June 27, from 9 to 11 a.m., with registration at 8:30 a.m., at the Crawford County Administration Building in Prairie du Chien. 

The panel will feature Drs. Ann and Mark Grunwald, Ryan Fradette, of the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department, and Dan McWilliams, of the Crawford County Health and Human Services Department. Refreshments will be offered, along with door prize drawings. 

Crawford County Health and Human Services Department Social Worker Jim McGrath noted the event is to “encourage the community to report” any signs of possible self-neglect, also described as “behaviors that threatens his or her safety,” in those who may be at risk. He listed that common signs of self-neglect include increased confusion, changes in personal hygiene and physical frailty. 

The county is especially calling out to those who work with elderly often—including hairdressers, shop owners, etc.—to help keep an eye on their cliental, according to McGrath. These members of the community may be some of the few people that see elderly and vulnerable members of the county on a regular basis, if they have found themselves at the point of living alone.

If warning signs of self-neglect are seen in the elderly, it is important to call the case into the Crawford County Health and Human Resources at 326-0248.

When the referral is called in, the county is required to take action within the next 24 hours, whether that means contacting the reported party, the person who made the report or the loved ones of the reported. 

The goal of the department is to help connect the person who is facing self-neglect to organizations and parties that may be able to help them, while also not pushing them out of their comfort zones. The county does not wish to force help onto anyone.

For information on transportation within Prairie du Chien to the event, call Crawford County Aging and Disability Resource Center at 326-0235. 

The Crawford County Administrative Building is located at 225 N. Beaumont Rd. The event will be taking place in Room 236 B. 

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