91% of seniors between the ages of 50 to 65 are adamant about staying at home after retirement for as long as possible. Although this statistic reflects the national population, it is probably very similar for Sun City seniors. Based on what we’ve heard at A Paradise for Parents assisted living homes, that percentage seems low. Living in a familiar environment contributes positively to your elderly loved one’s emotional well-being. However, it may do more harm than good. Here are some reasons why:
Living alone, especially when the senior does not have immediate access to transportation, increases the risk of social isolation. Isolation reduces a person’s lifespan; it also heightens the possibility of developing mental and physical health issues.It also makes your loved one more prone to infectious illnesses, heart disease, high blood pressure, and cognitive deterioration.
Depression can stem from social isolation. When a senior has depression, he/she usually shows a general loss for social interactions, interest, appetite, motivation, and concentration. And this can go on for years without them even realizing it.
Lack of Emergency Help:
This is probably a no-brainer. Your elderly loved one may suffer a fall or get stuck in a helpless situation and nobody can help them.
The risk of falling increases when a person reaches 65 years old and above. Falling is actually one of the leading causes of death and injury among the elderly. When your elderly loved one lives alone, nobody can look out for them or help them get up if they fall.
Elderly people are more prone to malnutrition, even more so when they are alone. It can be a result of nutritional ignorance or the inability to make healthy meals for themselves. Malnutrition is one of the tell-tale signs of anxiety, poverty, depression, and the like.
Despite these hazards and more, there are still over 12 million Americans over the age of 65 who live alone according to the Pew Research Center.
The government of Phoenix took it upon themselves to do something about it. They set up two programs to check on Sun City seniors and many others throughout Maricopa County.
The Maricopa County Sheriff’s department, the Sun City Posse, and the Sun City West Posse teamed up with the R.U.O.K. and W.A.Y to make sure Sun City Seniors are safe.
R.U.O.K “Are You Okay?” Program for Sun City Seniors
Family members of Sun City seniors may live too far away or are too busy to call to check in. The RUOK program sees to it that someone is looking out for your Sun City senior even if they live alone. The program will give seniors in Sun City a sense of security.
The RUOK (Are You Okay) Program is a computer-based welfare check program. Citizens are able to receive phone calls from the Maricopa County Sherriff’s Office (MCSO) every day (at the citizen’s time of convenience) to check on their welfare.
If the senior does not answer the phone after a few attempts, MSCO deputies will drive to the senior’s place to check on them.
Enrolling your loved one in this program gives you and your family members peace of mind. They will know that someone is checking every day.
How to Join RUOK?
Call the Sun City Posse to send a message to the RUOK coordinator. Once your message is received, the coordinator will contact you to set up an appointment. Then you fill out an application that consists of the senior’s information:
- Their name
- Contact number
- Emergency contacts
- Clergy contacts, and
- Certain health issues.
Why Should Your Sun City Senior Enroll?
Having the MCSO call your loved one every day makes the senior feel comfortable and secure. A computer program is set up in to call your loved one whenever they like; they can even request to be called twice per day.
When they are unable to answer due to an illness or injury, the system automatically updates and dispatches a sheriff’s deputy. It will also contact a posse member or the senior’s designated emergency contact. Medical assistance will immediately follow if necessary.
How Are They Going to Get In?
If the senior does not have a Fire Department Lockbox, they will be asked to assign two key-holders who live nearby. The key holders can access your home at any time if needed.
In the event that your loved one will be out during the daily phone call, they can notify the service beforehand. Ask them to call 602-876-4123. They can leave their name, contact information, and the number of days they are out.
The W.A.Y. Locator Program
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, three out of five people with Alzheimer’s disease will wander and get lost. Even in neighborhoods and places that were once familiar to them. When seniors wander, they are often unable to ask for help. This makes them susceptible to weather, traffic, and other environmental hazards. If a wandering senior has not been found within 24 hours, there is a huge possibility that they will suffer serious injury or even death.
Sun City and Sun City West Posses launched another program to help Sun City seniors. The program is called W.A.Y. (Where Are You). The program helps find your wandering loved one. Since 2012, with the help of the community fund, the program has been a huge help.
The W.A.Y. Program will provide a small GPS transmitter for the Sun City Senior. Both the family and the authorities can locate your loved one from a computer – wherever they may be. A Search and Rescue party will also be available if needed. Therefore, the senior has to wear the GPS unit at all times. The device also has to be charged every three to five days.
How Can You Join?
To join the program, all you have to do is call the Posse for your area (Sun City or Sun City West). Schedule an interview appointment where you’ll fill out an application form. You’ll also sign a liability form. You will have to give them contact information and a picture of the senior for reference.
The information you give out to RUOK and WAY is confidential. It is solely used for the programs and for the benefit of the seniors.
If you are interested in enrolling your loved one to RUOK or WAY, you can call 623-972-2555 (Sun City Posse) or 623-584-5808 (Sun City West Posse).
Feel free to also call or email us at A Paradise for Parents at 623-295-9890 or Cam@aparadiseforparents.com. We can help direct you to the right people for either program. Or you are interested in other resources for seniors, check out our resources page.