Stepping On for seniors features safety information

Shawn Hardy
Ben Thomas Jr. makes a point as he talks about safety during the Stepping On program for seniors.

Ben Thomas Jr. got a round of chuckles from the seniors gathered around a table at Greencastle Presbyterian Church with his comment “This is Mayberry. Have you heard that?”

He continued, “I believe you live in a safe community, but it is up to us to keep it that way.”

Thomas, a long-time member of the Rescue Hose Co. and former police officer and DARE instructor who is in line to be the next mayor of Greencastle, was the speaker at last Wednesday’s Stepping On program for seniors.

Fall prevention is the main focus of Stepping On, but it also features other information, such as medications and eye conditions. The six-week program for seniors is coordinated by three parish nurses, Sue Bell of Greencastle Presbyterian Church, Lorna Thomas of Grace United Church of Christ and Connie Overcash of Evangelical Lutheran Church. The current session wraps up next week, but Stepping On: Building Confidence and Reducing Falls will be offered again in the spring.

One reason Thomas was invited to speak was “so you will feel safe in your community and not just stay at home,” Bell said.

Most of those gathered around the table know Thomas and he gave a friendly, informative talk on a range of safety topics.

In keeping with the Stepping On theme, he encouraged them to find what they like in terms of exercise to improve balance, strength and flexibility and to do it 12 months of the year.

Those who like to get out and walk should be aware of what’s in front of them. A hoved up sidewalk can cause a fall. There are some nice developments that are very walkable, even if they don’t have sidewalks, and Antrim Township Community Park is a good destination for walkers.

There are so many distracted walkers and drivers — and Thomas said people should be mindful of their surroundings and not be looking at their cell phones.

Pedestrians have the right of way at crosswalks, but “does that mean you should just step in there?” Thomas asked.

He also talked about PennDOT’s Yellow Dot program. If a Yellow Dot sticker is in the rear driver’s side window, emergency responders know to look in the glove box for contact and medical information.

Also in the medical area, people should not waste time going to an urgent care facility if they are having a serious issue such as chest pains or signs of a stroke. They should call 911. Urgent care is for a cut or a cold, he explained.

“You live in a safe community, but does that mean you can’t be a victim?” Thomas asked, encouraging people to lock their vehicles and their homes. “Here’s what I learned about criminals, they take the path of least resistance.”

He also told the group to alert to phone scams such as “Grandma, Grandpa, I’m in trouble, I’m in Mexico” or a caller claiming to be from the IRS, which never makes phone calls.