A Gateway is a community member who identifies seniors who are potentially at risk or in need of assistance. The goal of this program is to educate community members to keep their eyes and ears alert for seniors at risk, particularly those who are isolated, living alone and potentially in need of some type of assistance to maintain their independence.
Signs of an Elder at Risk
The most common indicators are listed below. Gateways could directly observe any one factor or combination of the following:
- Unkempt appearance
- Strong odors on person and/or in home
- Depression, confusion, forgetfulness
- Substance abuse
- Caregiver stress
- Financial and social problems
- Physical losses
- Yard and/or pets neglected
- Home needs repair
These individuals do not self-refer. Early identification of at-risk elders can prevent premature institutionalization, abuse and neglect.
What information do Gateways report?
Whenever possible, Gateways are asked to provide the following information when they call Senior Information and Assistance:
- Elder's name and phone number
- Age, if known
- Address or directions to Elder's residence or whereabouts
- A brief description of concerns
- Gateway's name, telephone number and address
How the Gateway Program Works
The role of the Gateway ends here. They have provided an important first step: identifying the vulnerable adult and referring them to Senior I&A. At this point, trained, professional Senior I&A Advocates step in to establish contact with the senior and assess the severity of the situation.
After contacting the senior and discussing their situation, the Advocate refers the client to the appropriate community services, including case management, mental health services, personal care, chore services and transportation. If the older adult refuses intervention, the Senior I&A Advocate must determine whether or not they are sufficiently at risk to warrant referral to Adult Protective Services or a Mental Health Professional. In some cases, Advocates agree to continue monitoring the client's progress, and will not refer for services until the older adult is ready. Advocates do not terminate contact until they are sure that the older adult is safe and getting the assistance that they need. Senior I&A Advocates follow up with the Gateway to let them know that the situation is being handled.
Benefits of Being a Gateway
We all have an obligation to help those most in need. Forcing assistance is not our goal, but the elderly deserve to be informed of alternatives and options that will preserve their independence and enhance their quality of life. Serving as a Gateway is an excellent way to establish good public relations. In addition, taking part in a cooperative effort to maintain the dignity and independence of at-risk elders can be a personally rewarding and satisfying experience.
Have you encountered an elderly person in the course of your business that needs help; yet, you don't know where to turn? The Gateway Program, administered by Senior Information and Assistance (I&A), can train you and your employees to:
- Recognize warning signs that an elderly person 60+ may be in need of help.
- Refer those in need to Senior I&A for help.
For an on-site training at your agency or company, call 206-448-3110, 1-888-435-3377
or email the Gateway Program
. Gateway training is conducted by professional staff members of Senior I&A. The Senior Information and Assistance Gateway program has been helping vulnerable older adults since it began in 1983.