CAMDEN/ROCKPORT – Living alone can be tough for seniors, especially those who do not have family nearby to check on them. There may also be concerns with family members that if a loved one falls or has a medical emergency, and cannot get to the phone to call for help, the situation could worsen.
And, in the midst of coronavirus public health concerns, the elderly are being asked to limit their social contacts and spend more time in their homes.
Social distancing can especially be hard for those living alone.
The Camden Police Department introduced the Good Morning Camden program in 2015 to reach out to senior citizens, 60 years of age or older, and adults with disabilities living alone.
The department is now hoping to expand its outreach of providing daily check-in telephone calls and serve more members of the community.
Rockport residents are also eligible to participate in the program and have been since 2017.
After adding Rockport, the program’s name changed to Good Morning Camden and Rockport, but remains centralized at the Camden Police Department. For any Rockport residents who enroll in the program and require a follow-up home check, Rockport officers will respond to their homes.
The goal of the program remains the same.
At the start of the program in 2015, Police Chief Randy Gagne said, “The department is available to assist individuals so they can continue to live independently and give assurance to family members, especially those who live out of the area, that loved ones are receiving daily contact.”
The brief, daily phone calls are made between 8 and 10 a.m., seven days a week, from a representative of the police department, usually administrator Jeff Sukeforth, the program's coordinator.
Currently, there are 12 participants in the program.
“The only problem with the program has been getting more seniors to sign up,” Sukeforth said. “There are a lot of people in the community who could benefit from the program.”
Sukeforth said he has received calls from family members who live out of the area thanking police for the daily phone calls.
Some of the participants have mentioned to Sukeforth that they feel like they are bothering the department and are a hindrance to other responsibilities they have.
He said this is not the case.
“Most of the phone calls are just a few minutes long, unless someone wants to chat longer,” Sukeforth said. “We’ve been very fortunate that there haven’t been any serious situations reported.”
There is also flexibility with the program. There are a few participants who have had appointments out of their homes during the regular check-in time, and they have called the police department first to alert them that they would not be answering their phone on that particular morning.
Sukeforth emphasizes that the program ensures the elderly person or their family that a phone call is made every morning and there is a source of daily contact.
“It’s security that everything is OK,” he added.
If a senior or disabled person lives alone, all they have to do is call the police department and sign up for this free program.
Officers will also deliver an application to a person’s home.
To enroll in the Good Morning Camden program, each participant must complete an application form that includes information such as medical conditions, medications, primary physician and emergency contact. Although providing information is voluntary, people are encouraged to include as much as possible to help first responders in an emergency. All information on the application will be kept confidential by the police.
Additionally, people can stop by the Public Safety building at 31 Washington St., Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., to pick up a packet and complete the application at home or on site.
Sukeforth can be reached at the police department at 207-236-7953 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sarah Shepherd can be reached at email@example.com