Safety First: Teaching Kids How to Interact Safely with Older Adults


In honoring Elder Abuse Day on June 15th, this article will help you empower your kids to understand older adults and how they can interact with care and safely. As our children navigate the world, its important to equip them with the knowledge and skills to interact with people of all ages and ability. When it comes to engaging with older adults, safety should be a primary concern. Here are some tips for teaching your children how to interact with older people:

1. Safety in Politeness: teach your child to greet older adults politely but from a safe distance, whether they’re encouraging them at the park, a community center, or at a family gathering.

2. Listen and Assess: Remind your child to listen attentively to older adults while also being mindful of their surroundings. Whether they’re at a senior center, nursing home. Or even just out in the neighborhood, encourage them to assess the situation and ensure they feel comfortable and safe.

3. Patience and Caution: Older adults may move more slowly or require assistance, but safety should always come first. Teach your child to be patient and cautious when offering help.

4. Offering Assistance: Before offering assistance, instruct your child to assess the situation carefully and to ask for permission from the older adult. Emphasize respecting boundaries especially in public spaces.

5. Understanding Limitations: Remind your child to be understanding of any limitations or challenges older adults may face. Encourage patience while also prioritizing safety in all interactions.

Tennessee’s Adult Protective Services (APS) staff investigate reports of abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation of adults who are unable to protect themselves due to a physical or mental limitation. APS staff assess the need for protective services and provide services to reduce the identified risk to the adult.

APS may investigate abuse/neglect/exploitation of an adult in any living arrangement including nursing homes, group homes, their own homes, homes of relatives or friends, etc. The exception is residents of state operated institutions for individuals with mental illness or developmental disabilities.

For additional information, visit the APS’s website.


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