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Friday December 2, 2022

Savvy Living

Savvy Senior

Check-In Services For Individuals Living Alone

Can you recommend any services that check-in on individuals who live alone? I live about 200 miles from my 82-year-old parent and worry about them falling or getting ill and not being able to call for help.

There are several different types of check-in services, along with some simple technology devices that can help keep your parent safe at home while providing you some peace of mind. Here are some options to look into.

Check-in app: If your parent uses a smartphone, a great solution to help ensure their safety would be to download a free app from your favorite app store that creates a daily check-in to confirm the user's wellbeing. These apps are used by thousands of individuals who live alone and want to ensure that if something happens to them, their loved ones will be notified quickly so they can receive immediate help.

Most of the apps require selection of what time(s) throughout the day the user would like for the app to check-in. The app will send a push notification at those times asking the user to check-in. If the user does not check-in within a certain time frame or respond after multiple pings, the app will notify the designated emergency contacts and share the last known location so that the user can receive fast help.

Some apps also offer additional services for a fee. These services can include in-person wellness check-ins who can visit your parent as well as provide assistance if needed.

Check-in calls: If your parent does not use a smartphone, another option to help ensure their safety is a daily check-in call service program. These are telephone reassurance programs usually run by police or sheriff's departments in hundreds of counties across the country and are generally free of charge.

Here is how they work. A computer automated phone system would call your parent at a designated time each day to check-in. If the call is answered, the system will assume everything is fine. But if the call goes to voicemail after repeated tries, the designated emergency contact would get a notification call. If the first emergency contact is not reachable, calls are then made to backup individuals who have also agreed to check on the individual if necessary.

The fallback is if no one can be reached, the police or other emergency services personnel will be dispatched to their home.

To find out if this service is available in your parent's community, call their local police department's nonemergency number.

If, however, the community does not have a call check-in program, there are third-party businesses that offer similar services for relatively low prices. You can find the businesses in your area by using your favorite online search engine.

Technology devices: You may also want to invest in some simple technology aids to keep your parent safe. One of the most commonly used devices for this is a medical alert system that cost about $1 per day. These systems come with a wearable "help button" that would allow the wearer to call for help 24/7.

Another option that is becoming increasingly popular is virtual assistant smart devices. These devices typically are smart speakers but may also include video capabilities and would allow your parent to call multiple emergency contacts with a simple verbal command. Wi-Fi is typically required to use these devices.

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.

Published September 2, 2022
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