CAMDEN — The days may be getting longer after the winter solstice, but according to the Farmer’s Almanac, the next few months of weather are expected to be cold and frigid. The elderly and disabled who are living alone, especially in rural areas, are more vulnerable during the winter season. Medical emergencies can go undetected because not everyone has neighbors, friends or relatives who regularly stop by.
In January 2015, the Camden Police Department began responding to an increasing need to give special attention to the elderly by sponsoring a free program, Good Morning Camden, to assist senior citizens, 60 years of age or older, and adults with disabilities who are living alone. The program provides a daily morning check-in.
The goal of the program remains the same, according Police Chief Randy Gagne. “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,” said Gagne.
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 nine participants in the program.
Parking enforcement officer, Mark Bennett, who assists Sukeforth with making the phone calls, said that the program is definitely working. “Two incidents that really stand out involved a woman who did not answer her phone because she had fallen in the shower. Another time, when a participant had a service company install her life alert emergency response system to her telephone, it accidentally prevented her phone from ringing so she was not receiving any incoming phone calls, including her daily check-in from the police department,” said Bennett.
On both occasions, police officers were dispatched to the homes to follow-up and the woman who had fallen in the shower was able to get prompt medical assistance, when there was a possibility that she could have not been found for several hours.
Another program available again this year is Sand for Seniors, which helps people who are not able to get to the town’s public sand shed to get a supply to help keep their iced walkways and driveways safe.
“If a senior or disabled person lives alone, all they have to do is call the police department and sign up for this program as well. We will provide them a bucket of sand and when it is gone they can call us and we will swap a full bucket for the empty one,” said Sukeforth.
Both programs allow officers to keep in touch with community members who need special assistance and may not ask for help or reach out on their own. Sukeforth added, “Let’s make that extra effort to do a check on our neighbors who you know may live alone and need some extra attention.”
To enroll in the Good Morning Camden and Sand for Seniors programs, 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. Applications are also available online at the town’s website, camdenmaine.gov.
Sukeforth can be reached at the police department at 207-236-7953 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Sand delivery to Camden seniors another way to keep in touch (Jan. 18, 2016)
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