On September 22, 2018, the Senior Resource Summit was held at the Town of Mount Pleasant Thomasena Stokes-Marshall (TSM) Senior Center. The purpose of this annual event is to bring awareness and provide information to our growing senior citizen population, their family members and caregivers. The TSM Senior Center has 2,000 members and is geared toward residents 50 and older. It offers a variety of recreational, cultural and creative arts programs, in addition to providing health, wellness, educational and social activities.
“If you want to maintain your health, you need to keep moving. The place to do it is the Senior Center and you can make friends at the same time,” shares Maureen Maguire, R.N., board member for the TSM Senior Center Association.
Maguire is a registered nurse and former geriatric care manager who helped assist families with their elderly family members. She is passionate that families become aware of what public resources exist to assist with aging. “Thomasena and I are working with the mayor because we want to set up an office on aging. There would be one number in Mount Pleasant that seniors and their families could call and get directed to the right places. Hopefully in the future we’ll have that available for everyone in Mount Pleasant,” Maguire shared.
There are many other resources in the Mount Pleasant community to advocate and assist seniors in our area.
Senior Victim Advocate at the Mount Pleasant Police Department, Becky Tapia-Cooper, assists elderly citizens in the Town of Mount Pleasant every single day. During the evacuation order during Hurricane Florence, Tapia-Cooper tried to call every senior citizen she had a phone contact on file for to see how the town could provide resources they needed to evacuate.
“Our advocates reach out and try to help the senior and family to try to coordinate what’s best for the senior,” shared Sgt. Tony Winstead, Criminal Investigation Bureau supervisor of the Mount Pleasant Police Department. “They’re not really social workers, just advocates to help supply the resources.”
The Mount Pleasant Fire Department provides the Operation SAFE program as a service to Mount Pleasant residents. There are several remarkable aspects of this program set up and tailored toward the safety and planning for seniors.
- The Vial of Life program was started in 1998 to help medical emergency personnel quickly find important medical history information as soon as they arrive to a home. The Mount Pleasant Fire Department joined forces with East Cooper Regional Medical Center and the Moultrie News to provide this program to the citizens of Mount Pleasant. If an individual is unconscious or the situation has someone too upset to recall information, EMS can retrieve the Vial of Life from the top shelf in their fridge. This vial will list all medical conditions, medications, allergies, primary physician’s contact information and any other valuable information that could save the individual’s life.
- The Knox Box program is another Operation SAFE program initiative that the Mount Pleasant Fire Department leads. They install lock boxes that hang over the top of the door, similar to how a wreath would hang. EMS and the Fire Department have a master key that can unlock the lock boxes so they can retrieve a spare key out of these boxes in the state of an emergency instead of breaking into a home. This resource would be beneficial for seniors that live alone or that have potential health risks.
- Charleston County Consolidated dispatch and the Town of Mount Pleasant work on another Operation SAFE initiative called the Smart 911 program. This program is similar to the Vial of Life program because it provides emergency personnel with information they need so they’re equipped to help you in the state of an emergency. The public can enter information they want to make available to 9-1-1 call takers through a secure website Smart911.com. The system can store critical care and emergency rescue information online in advance of an emergency. This site delivers this information automatically to the call taker’s work station for any 9-1-1 call placed within Charleston County or any area that uses this system.
- Additionally, there is a program the Attorney General’s office and the Town of Mount Pleasant provides tailored specifically for people who are hearing impaired, called the Bed Shaker program. Seniors who wear hearing aids would have a device placed between their mattress and box spring. When a fire occurs and a house begins to fill with smoke, the device will shake their bed to wake them since they can’t hear the smoke detector.
The services to seniors in Mount Pleasant do not stop with just these initiatives. According to Tapia-Cooper, the Mount Pleasant Fire Department checks smoke detectors when assisting seniors. They make sure that the batteries are operating effectively and that they have enough detectors in their residence. She went on to share that they work with seniors based on what their needs are. But, they do try to offer the Operation SAFE programs to every single senior that they come into contact with. The Town of Mount Pleasant offers resources for the aging population so they can live comfortably.
“All the supervisors and command staff sit down once a year to decide what our goals and values are for the agency for the upcoming year. Seniors are always a part of that,” Winstead said. “I think the community already knows that the Town of Mount Pleasant is awesome comparatively speaking to anywhere else pretty much in the state or the country that I’ve ever seen dealing with their seniors and wanting the best for the seniors. I think that’s why we have a lot of them here. It’s a great place to live if you’re a senior.” (Credit: Moultrie News)