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  • Alex Marro

Telephone Reassurance Saves Lives

DEDHAM, MA – For nearly five years, Norfolk County Sheriff Michael Bellotti’s Telephone Reassurance program has been a valuable in-home service for senior citizens, especially those living alone.

“It’s an extra layer of security,” Sheriff Bellotti said. “It gives seniors added confidence and it’s a great way for family members to know their elder loved ones are being checked on daily.”

Each registered senior receives a personal, automated phone call every day at a specified time. If there’s no answer, a second call is placed five minutes later.

If there’s still no response, a deputy sheriff calls the designated contact – usually a family member, friend or neighbor. That person is asked to go to the senior’s home. If the contact person cannot be reached, the deputy calls local police who then respond to the senior’s residence.

"This program works,” Sheriff Bellotti said, “and it saves lives.”

Since the program’s inception in April 2001, there have been 37 total “saves,” including two in November.

In the first case, a 95-year-old legally-blind Quincy woman confined to a wheelchair did not answer her daily call. Police were dispatched to the woman’s home and found her on the floor where she had been since midnight after falling out of her wheelchair trying to use the bathroom.

The woman was taken to Quincy Medical Center for X-rays. Her family, out of state at the time, was notified.

In the second case, a 78-year-old Weymouth woman answered her second call and stated she was not feeling well. The Sheriff’s deputy notified the police, who quickly arrived and took her to South Shore Medical Center for evaluation. The woman has no immediate family.

“These situations speak for themselves,” Sheriff Bellotti said.

“What would have happened under different circumstances in which no one was checking in on these seniors? This program is important, and it works.”

Since starting the program, Sheriff Bellotti said, there have been more than 500 Norfolk County senior citizens who have taken advantage of the free service.

Currently, there are 250 seniors from 26 Norfolk County communities who are registered and receive individual calls every day.

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