Are there any services you know of that check in on elderly seniors who live alone? My 84-year-old father won't wear a lifeline help button and I worry about him falling or having a medical emergency and not being able to get to the phone to call for help.
Depending on where your dad lives, there are check-in call services, volunteer visiting programs and a variety of technology options you can turn to that can help you keep tabs on him. Here are several to check into.
Daily Check-in Calls
To make sure your dad is okay every day, consider signing him up for a daily check-in call service program. These are telephone reassurance programs run by police or sheriff's departments in hundreds of counties across the country and are often provided free of charge.
Here's how it would work. A computer automated phone system would call your dad at a designated time each day to check-in. If he answers, the system would assume everything is fine. But if he doesn't pick up, or if the call goes to voicemail after repeated calls, you (or whoever his designee is) would get a notification call. If you are not reachable, calls are then made to backup designees who have also agreed to check on your dad if necessary. If no one can be reached, the police or other emergency services personnel will be dispatched to his home.
To find out if this service is available in your dad's community, call his local police department's non-emergency number. If the police or sheriff's department in your dad's community does not provide a daily check-in call program, there are a number of companies you can turn to that offer similar services directly to consumers for under $15 per month. A few programs to check into include the CARE senior calling program (Call-Reassurance.com), CareCheckers (CareCheckers.com) and IAmFine (Iamfine.com).
Volunteer Visiting Programs
Another option you may also want to consider is finding a volunteer visiting program. These are usually run by churches, community groups or social service agencies.
These programs provide volunteers who will visit older adults in their homes usually for an hour or two once a week. The volunteers provide companionship as well as the reassurance that someone is checking in on a regular basis. They can also alert you if they notice your dad's health or living conditions start to decline.
To find out if these services are available, check with local churches or call the Eldercare Locator at 800-677-1116 to find groups or agencies near your dad.
There are a number of different technologies that will help keep your dad safe at home and help you keep an eye on him from afar. For example, for safety and peace of mind there are medical alert systems, which provide a wearable "help button" that would allow your dad to call for help anytime he needed it. Some of these systems also offer wall-mounted buttons that can be placed near the floor in high-risk fall areas, like the bathroom or kitchen, if he will not wear a help button.
If you want to keep daily tabs on your dad, there are wireless sensor-monitoring systems that he can put in his home that will notify you if something out of the ordinary is happening. There are also video monitoring cameras that have built-in motion and sound detection to let you know when something is detected and two-way audio that will let you talk and listen to him.
Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.