The Essex County Triad Program continues to offer outstanding, free programs to senior citizens throughout Essex County.  Originating in the early 2000’s, 31 of the 34 cities and towns in Essex County now participate in this working collaborative, started with a partnership between Essex County Sheriff Frank G. Cousins, Jr., Essex District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett, local police departments and senior centers.  Triad Councils operate in the various communities, chaired by senior citizens, and is comprised of local law enforcement, senior service organizations, and community participants.

Over the past several years, many programs have developed which have provided assistance and safety to senior citizens.  The File of Life, perhaps the most well-known national program, is a red refrigerator magnet which includes emergency medical and contact information.  Wallet-size Files of Life are also available with the same information.  These Files have proven to be a valuable resource to emergency responders.  The Yellow Dot Program takes the File of Life program one step further and places a yellow sticker on one’s car which indicates that their emergency information is in their glove compartment.

The Grab and Go Bag has become a growing staple in the homes of many seniors.  The canvas bag includes emergency information and items that may be needed for a short period if a senior has to leave their home immediately due to some kind of emergency.  Many Triad Councils have speakers who discuss the need for emergency preparedness when distributing the bags.

Is Your Number Up” is a play on words reminding residents how important it is to make sure their house number is visible from the street.  Cards are distributed throughout the communities notifying residents of the Massachusetts General Law requiring that all buildings have numbers visible from the street. In addition to the state law, many communities have local ordinances that require the numbers to be a certain size and be placed in a certain location. Triad Councils have been supported by many local organizations, such as the local schools and Boy Scouts, in distributing these cards.  Many communities have developed public service announcements regarding this program which is played on local cable stations.

Identity Theft is one of the growing problems seen in this country.  Representatives from the Essex County Sheriff’s Dept, Essex DA’s Office and local police agencies offer speaker programs to seniors on identity theft and scams. In conjunction, many senior centers have followed up with shredding machines, available free of charge, for seniors to destroy old paperwork in order to protect their identities.

Representatives from the Essex District Attorney’s Office have been educating seniors on the proper way to dispose of prescription drug medication, and the reasons behind this need.  With a growth in addiction of young people to drugs, more and more young adults are taking prescription drugs right out of the medicine cabinets of their own parents and grandparents.

Teens Today: Current Issues Facing Your Adolescent Grandchildis a brand new presentation produced by the Essex District Attorney’s Office. This presentation breaks the topics facing today’s kids into 3 groups:  substance abuse, today’s technology and violence.  In the first part of the presentation, substance abuse is discussed, including the use of alcohol by teens, social host liability, and trends in drugs including marijuana, inhalants and prescription drugs.  The second segment focuses on today’s technology, explaining the benefits and risks of today’s use of computers, the Internet, cell phones and other electronic media, and focusing on cyberbullying and sexting and the need for kids to think before they send messages or images.  The final part of the presentation concentrates on violence, including bullying and the alarming growth in teen dating violence.

Speakers are also available to talk about fire safety, health care proxies and durable powers of attorney, the Homestead Act, Home Improvement Contractor’s Statue, hoarding, safe driving and elder abuse.

Free smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors have been provided to seniors in many of the communities, supported in large part by the local fire departments.

ICE, In Case of Emergency, is an acronym that identifies your emergency contact in your cellular phone.  The ICE campaign encourages cell phone users to enter emergency contact information into their mobile phones to allow emergency responders to contact a designated relative/next of kind in an emergency situation.

Many communities are now offering Alzheimer or Wanderer Sign-up Programs through the Triad Councils and Police Departments. 

Various printed forms and informational pieces have also emerged from many of the Triad Councils, including a “Doctor Visit Sheet” in which seniors can write down their questions to ask their doctor when they visit as a reminder.  Emergency Response Indicator forms have been developed for seniors in various Triad Councils, providing them with important emergency phone numbers.

Several Triad Councils have collaborated with local middle and high schools, including a Shoveling Program where middle school students shovel the homes of senior citizens in their neighborhood; an adopt-a-grandparent program; and Scrabble with Seniors, where seniors in high school play Scrabble with seniors at local centers.

These are just some of the many programs that have been developed by the local Triad Councils to address the needs and concerns of their seniors.  Seniors are not charged for any of the programs or materials, and costs for programs are covered through local donations. 

Triad Councils meet once a month for one hour, but also hold events throughout the month. 

To learn more about the Triad Council in Essex County, or in your community, contact your local senior center, Captain Jason R. Ebacher of the Essex County Sheriff’s Department at (978) 750-1900 or Debra MacGregor of the Essex District Attorney’s Office at (978) 745-6610.