Maryland debuts new program offering routine calls to check on older residents

You know the worry. You’re trying to work and take care of your home while also trying to make sure mom or dad, living alone, is OK.

Maryland wants to help.

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. Ben Kramer, Montgomery Co., who backed the bill, says 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,” Sen. Ben Kramer 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.

Rona Kramer says one of the things they think is vitally important is that seniors are signed 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. Ben Kramer says while this can definitely 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 their website.

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