Daily check-in services redux.
February 20, 2016 5:52 AM   Subscribe

Does anyone have experience with daily check-in services? Preferably ones which utilize automated phone calls?

I know this type of question has been asked in the past here and here, but it's been several years.

I live alone with my 5 year old son, and after a possible stroke scare this year, I'm worried about what would happen if I had a medical emergency or died, and my son was here on his own. I have no family nearby, and I work from home. My son technically knows how to call 911 on my cell phone, but we don't have a landline with a phone in a consistent spot, and I'm not entirely sure he would know what to do in the moment without prompting.

I would prefer a phone call service over an email service like Dead Man's Switch. Services like Iamfine, Simply Checking in, Sageminder, Sentry telecare have horrible looking websites (Comic Sans, really?) which concern me about their quality of service and dependability. I've read the Chicago Tribune article on this from 2014, but it only references the services above and it's a PR piece more than anything.

No, I can't get a friend or family member to consistently check in with me on a daily basis. I'd prefer to pay for a peace of mind service if they are dependable. I wish these services weren't primarily focused on elderly care. I know the likelihood of anything truly terrible happening is small, but I don't want to worry anymore about my son being left alone for days with my potentially dead self.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (5 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
seems like an excellent idea.

wanted to point out, in case it wasn't obvious, that the worry most people are going to have with these services is that they don't call (and ancient uncle X doesn't notice and complain). but in your case you will notice if they don't call, so the first way that these can go wrong doesn't affect you (ie you will notice and cancel / change services, while for old people they will not call and, eventually, there will be a missed problem).

also, if you didn't trust them to follow through, you could test them occasionally, by not answering (inform whoever they contact first, of course) (although check how many false alarms they allow before extra charges etc)

in other words, because you're not senile, and because the calls will come to you, you actually have a lot more control than people using these to monitor old relations.

(sorry again if that's obvious, i realise i don't have any experience to offer, but i think the above, if you've not thought of it, is quite reassuring).
posted by andrewcooke at 7:34 AM on February 20, 2016

I agree with the above. Could you also get a cheapo cell phone that is left plugged in in the house in a known spot for your son to use in case of emergency? Does not need to have minutes to be used to call 911.

It might also make sense to have an emergency plan in place, if you don't already. Is there a friendly neighbor or convenience store that your son can walk to in case something happens to you? Your son sitting around with your potentially dead self for up to 23 hours (until the phone call) is not a great scenario either, for you or him.
posted by chaiminda at 7:59 AM on February 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

If you feel that finding your cell phone and dialing 9-1-1 is a little beyond your kid -particularly in an emergency situation, maybe one of those Health Alert devices would be handy to have around. If you had it in its docking station at all times, in a location that didn't change, all your son would need to do is press a button. The agent will talk to him directly through the device without him having to push or hold any other buttons.
posted by ezust at 8:34 AM on February 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

Republic Wireless phones are 12.95 a month. What about texting? I'd be willing to call you if I didn't receive a text by a certain time each day.
posted by orsonet at 3:38 PM on February 20, 2016

Iamfine has a free 14 day trial, so it seems like you can get past the perfectly mundane website and try it to test reliability. The fact that it is automated is a big plus as this is programatically a quite simple task and overcomes the human error margin.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:55 PM on February 20, 2016

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