Maryland wants to help residents who are concerned about their ability to look in on their elderly relatives.
The state has started a new program — Senior Call Check. It is a first-in-the-nation statewide program that provides a call to seniors each day, at a designated time, to make sure they’re all right.
“Should the individual not answer the phone we’ll call the default individual who has been given to us by the member of the program,” said Rona Kramer, secretary of the Maryland Department of Aging.
State Sen. Benjamin L. Kramer (D-Montgomery), the secretary’s brother who sponsored the bill to create the program, said many of Maryland’s seniors who want to age in place and stay in their homes don’t have a family member or friend who can routinely check in on them.
“This program gives them the comfort of knowing that at least once a day there will be a call checking on their well-being. They know that they can be in their homes and there will be a call set at a designated time,” he said.
The program is free of charge to anyone 65 or older in Maryland.
“Part of what we wanted to do was ensure that our seniors who are already very often making decisions between affording medications or affording food in the pantry did not have to pay for this program,” said Sen. Kramer, whose district includes the massive Leisure World retirement community.
Rona Kramer said seniors should sign up sooner rather than later.
“Unfortunately we find that people say, ‘It’s a great program but I don’t need it now. I’ll need it when I’m older,’” she said. “But now is the time to do it before that accident occurs. We don’t want anyone languishing on the floor after having fallen, unable to get up, or having a heart attack without anyone knowing that they can’t reach their phone for help.”
For seniors who do not have a family member or friend in the area who can check on them, if they don’t pick up the phone during their designated call time, the state will call law enforcement to conduct a wellness check.
Sen. Kramer said while this can be a life-saving program, he sees future opportunities as well.
“Hopefully as the program evolves, the second part of the program would be a notification system to allow those people who are in the program to be notified if there’s impending harsh weather coming, a snowstorm, perhaps; to let them know they’re going to be stuck indoors for number of days so they may want be prepared to get additional medication to get them through several days or to make sure they’ve got enough food in the house to get them through several days.”
He also thinks the system will be able to be used to warn seniors of scams that are going around.
To sign up, call 866-502-0560 or go to the Department of Aging’s website.
As part of Maryland Matters’ content sharing agreement with WTOP, we feature this article from Michelle Murillo. Click here for the WTOP News website.
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