The program has seen a major spike in sign-ups since the start of the pandemic.
Quarantining can be an isolating, lonely experience, especially for vulnerable communities like the elderly. But a program in Maryland aims to help seniors during the coronavirus crisis who may be away from their network of family and friends.
The Senior Call Check Program is a free service offered to Marylanders over the age of 65, and it's pretty convenient. People who are registered will receive a phone call every day at a time of their choosing. If there's no response, they will try calling up to three times, and then a call will be placed to an "alternate" contact like a friend, relative, or neighbor. In the case that none of the previous attempts go through, non-emergency services like local law enforcement will place a call to the participant.
The program was set up by the state's Department of Aging, who introduced the initiative a few months prior to the pandemic to assist seniors' well-being. The state, as well as Governor Larry Hogan, has been encouraging utilization of the service, and it appears residents have been heeding the call—sign-ups have sailed well over a thousand since the outbreak started last month. It's currently the only outreach program of its sort to launch in the United States.
.@MarylandAging has a first-in-the-nation, free senior call check program, which provides peace of mind by checking in on seniors living at home alone. Register yourself or a loved one by calling 1-866-50-CHECK or visit https://t.co/fGXogscRAO.— Governor Larry Hogan (@GovLarryHogan) March 21, 2020
In addition to addressing the issue of physical safety, another major factor affecting senior citizens at home is their mental health. Seniors feeling anxious about the pandemic can take advantage of "warm calls" where they receive daily calls to chat about personal worries, fears, or anything on their minds. With many people isolated from loved ones, the calls give them a chance to connect with another person in a time where they may be alone.
Citizens can enroll online or through the mail, but due to the restrictions imposed by COVID-19, some people may not have internet access or want to leave the house. Those without the means to register can begin receiving calls within 1-2 days of alerting them by calling the program's number. People can also receive text messages and automated calls with information about the virus.
Senior Call Check Program hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Participants can call 1-866-50-CHECK toll-free. You can find out more here.
Senior Marylanders, what do you think of this service? Have you or someone you know enrolled in the program? Tell us in the comments.