A Matter Of Opinion

THURSDAY, OCT. 16, 2008, 11:02 A.M.

Elder Residents: Neighborhood Treasures

From our editorial today:

Kenneth Cross, 80, took meticulous care of his Spokane Valley lawn and was friendly and helpful to his neighbors, who responded in kind.

Cross was tragically killed Sept. 20 in his home. David K. Brewczynski has been accused of the murder. The housekeeper who cleaned Cross' home knew Brewczynski, according to court documents, making the crime appear less random than originally thought. The tragedy shattered Cross' neighbors, who depended on his steady presence in their lives.

"Older people add stability to a neighborhood. They've been there awhile. They can tie a neighborhood together," explained Mac Hatcher of Spokane Mental Health's Elder Services.

Two weeks ago, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that $36 million will be made available to states to promote programs that enable older Americans, especially veterans, to remain in their homes. The so-called Nursing Home Diversion grants recognize that older people have the best potential to thrive when they live independently. And it's often much more cost-effective.

But the Kenneth Cross tragedy reminds us that our older residents who still live independently within neighborhoods can be more vulnerable to crime, scams, as well as minor rip-offs by people they hire to do work around their yards and in their homes. This vulnerability can increase in tough economic times.

Is there an older neighbor who enriches your life?

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