Nancy J. Berry

Our June/July Community Care newsletter’s theme is senior safety.  It’s full of tips and reminders.

After 24 years of leading St. John’s Community Care, I believe our culture’s emphasis on independence is the greatest threat to the safety of individuals whose age or disabilities compromise their ability to cope with everyday tasks.  Too often we define “independence” as not needing anyone’s help.  In mid-life we may believe we are independent, but we don’t count getting help with tasks requiring specialized knowledge or skills (plumbing, auto maintenance, financial or medical services.) No one in our culture is independent in this sense. I have seen, too often, couples and individuals much later in life who struggle to do the tasks they did before physical or mental challenges, often compromising their safety and health.  Yet they refuse help – from family, friends, and services like St. John’s Community Care.

Their insistence on “independence” actually works against them, leading to further health problems, falls, and a need for institutional care. Why? Because nutrition is poor; dehydration leads to imbalances; and falls due to tackling physical tasks beyond their abilities lead to injuries.  Their rejection of help with meals or other tasks with which they did not want to burden their families often creates much more difficult demands on those same family members.  What’s the solution?  Each of us needs to reevaluate our expectation of what it means to be independent.  In my mind, being independent relates to being able to make my own decisions.  I hope that, as I age, I give myself permission to decide to accept help which keeps me safe, healthy, and in charge of my own life.

If you are nodding your head, thinking about yourself or a loved one, I encourage you to talk about your situation and concerns.  A little planning and honest communication can make a wonderful difference in maintaining a good quality of life.

Update on our quest for a second site for our Adult Day Program:  We are continuing to evaluate our ability to open a site in Edwardsville/Glen Carbon in order to expand this important ministry.  The financial requirements for modifying the building are much higher than anticipated due to the requirement that the facility have sprinklers.  The Healing Community Board and our staff are still convinced this direction is appropriate, but we are also committed to being good stewards of our resources.  I look forward to announcing that we have a location, but I do not know if it will be next month or next year.


That discarded medicines pollute our drinking water when they find their way into landfills or are flushed down the toilet?  We are fortunate in Collinsville to have an easy way to dispose of both prescription and over the counter medicines and supplements responsibly. The Collinsville Police Department has a large container in their lobby for collecting medicines, which are then incinerated.  It couldn’t be simpler.

Just walk in the front door and look for the container on your right.  It is similar to a mailbox – easy to put something in impossible to get it out. If you live in other communities, check with your police department about disposal.

Crimes against senior citizens heats up in the summer time. Purse snatching, home burglary, stranger danger and home repair fraud spike in the summer.  Here is a good resource for keeping our seniors safe: Senior Citizens Safety Tips

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