There are several different types of check-in services, along with some simple technology devices that can help keep older adults safe at home while providing their loved ones some peace of mind. Here are some top options to investigate.
If your parent or loved uses a smartphone, one solution to help ensure their safety is Snug, an app that would check in on them every day to confirm they are okay. This app is used by older adults who live alone and want to make sure that if something happens to them, their loved ones will be notified quickly so they can receive help in minutes, rather than days.
Here’s how it works. After downloading the app, they will choose what time(s) throughout the day they would like for Snug to check in. Snug will send a push notification at those times asking your them to check in by tapping the big green check button on their smartphone screen. If they do not check in within 10 minutes or respond after multiple pings, Snug will notify their emergency contacts and share their last known location so they can receive fast help.
If your loved one doesn’t 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 usually provided free of charge.
Here’s how they work. A computer automated phone system would call them at a designated time each day to check in. If they answer, the system will assume everything is okay. But if they didn’t pick up or if the call goes to voice mail after repeated tries, their designee will get a notification call. If the designee is not reachable, calls are then made to backup people who’ve also agreed to check on them 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, call their local police department’s nonemergency number. You should also check with the Area Agency on Aging in their area. Call 800-677-1116 for contact information.
You may also want to invest in some simple technology aids to keep your parent or loved one safe. One of the most 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 her to call for help 24/7.
Another option that’s becoming increasingly popular is smart speakers, like Amazon Alexa or Google Home. These devices work with third-party applications – Ask My Buddy and My SOS Family – that would let your loved one call multiple emergency contacts with a simple verbal command.
And be sure to check out Amazon’s Alexa Together, a new $20 monthly subscription service that helps families support and keep tabs on their older loved ones who live alone through an Alexa-enabled device.
Jim Miller publishes the Savvy Senior, a nationally syndicated column that offers advice for Boomers and Seniors.