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August 28, 2009 7:13 PM   Subscribe

Is there a service that will email me once a day, and if I don't respond, contact local EMS?

I live alone. I have no family or friends that contact me on a regular basis, often a year or more will go by between phone calls. As I get older, I worry that I could slip and fall (or other medical emergency), and be unable to get help on my own.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
have you considered getting lifeline? you can get a little button to wear around your neck which you can press in an emergency. That said, the button doesn't help all that much if something should happen to you instantly...but then again, a daily email wouldn't be very helpful in that situation either. Lifeline totally saved my grandmother. Its a pretty good system.

the other thing you could do is just ask a neighbor to check on you every once in a while?
posted by Lutoslawski at 7:16 PM on August 28, 2009

i hear dogs are really smart and cause alarm when the owner is hurt.
if you aren't allergic, perhaps this is an alternative to living alone?
posted by Palerale at 7:21 PM on August 28, 2009

Anonymous, could you contact the mods and let them tell us your location? I don't know of any email services like you're describing, but a lot of areas have phone call services (i.e. they'll call you at an appointed time each day to check in with you and make sure you're okay).

Otherwise, I'd second the Lifeline suggestion.
posted by amyms at 7:22 PM on August 28, 2009

I'm not sure if you want only an email solution or if you'd be okay with a phone solution. There are many automated systems that police departments use to make automated calls to seniors living alone. In more rural areas there are often colunteers who do this on a regular basis. Here is a website for a company that provides the phone system that does this sort of thing. Here is another. Here's an explanation of how such a program works from the point of view of the volunteers who run it (RSVP which is a Retired Senior Volunteer Program along the lines of AmeriCorps). These programs are usually called "reassurance programs" and involve a daily telephone call. Since they're intended mostly for seniors, they don't seem to have an email option as a standard thing. I'd be interested to see if people come up with one.
posted by jessamyn at 7:24 PM on August 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

There is a service called Dead Man's Switch that does something similar to this although the time frame is much different. I have not explored the site, but perhaps it could be modified to work on a daily basis?
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:02 PM on August 28, 2009

JohnnyGunn, I think you meant this Dead Man's Switch; the other is a placeholder.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:08 PM on August 28, 2009

Oops. Thank you.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:16 PM on August 28, 2009

I think you're really much better off, if this is a concern, with a system designed to do this job -- like Lifeline (there are a number of others). The benefit of these is that you can activate them at will, and depending on service level, may even have a way to speak directly to an emergency operator who can take vitals and maybe even give you lifesaving advice.

For the broader problem (and there seem to be frequent stories in the news about the senior/pensioner who died alone and wasn't discovered for ages), get to know your neighbors, and directly enlist people to check on you. Have a conversation with your mailman, for instance, and let him know that if he sees mail piling up you would appreciate a safety check.
posted by dhartung at 8:31 PM on August 28, 2009

Maybe a local church or religious organization would help you out in this regard.
posted by Justin Case at 8:51 PM on August 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

Make friends with your neighbors, really... we have an elderly friend and we check in with him regularly and so do his neighbors and family. He just got an alarm system with a wearable panic button 2 weeks ago, as well.
posted by IndigoRain at 9:52 PM on August 28, 2009

Where I live (the Netherlands) the Red Cross has phone circles with people phoning each other once a day for this purpose. It might be worthwhile to see whether the Red Cross has a branch near where you are, and whether they're offering what you're looking for.
posted by rjs at 12:50 AM on August 29, 2009

There are automated email systems in place in certain areas for clients with mental disabilities who need reminding about medication, paying bills, etc. They have usually been administered through Developmental Disabilities offices. There might be a component like that in state offices for senior citizens.

Also, in some cases, Life Alert (and similar systems) are covered by insurance.
posted by Bueller at 1:22 AM on August 29, 2009

This probably wouldn't work - there are numerous legitimate factors that could delay delivery of email (or delay your ability to check and reply to email) by more than a day, leading to false EMS calls.

I don't see email being a viable option for this reason. As others have said, there exist out-of-band services for this like Lifeline.
posted by namewithoutwords at 5:28 AM on August 29, 2009

Get Lifeline or something similar. They have a range of services including where they will contact you every day and send someone out if you fail to respond. For an older person living alone it can be a life saver.
posted by caddis at 6:18 AM on August 29, 2009

If it was me, I'd prefer not to rely on email. I imagine my computer crashing (it's happened for me more than once), the Internet connection going out (again, more than once) or a lengthy power outage (again, more than once). I believe that a medical alert system (Lifeline or one of the others) would be more reliable.
posted by Robert Angelo at 6:16 PM on August 29, 2009

I can't find anything on their website but I though Canada Post offered a voluntary service where the mail carrier will contact the police (or someone else?) if mail is not removed from the mailbox daily. Maybe your post office offers a similar service. My nana lived in a apartment building where she would put a hanger on her door knob at night and remove it in the morning - if it was left on the doorknob past a certain time the apartment manager would enter to see if she needed assistance.
posted by saucysault at 12:35 PM on August 31, 2009

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