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Senior Lifestyles

Green seniors being helped with push of a button

5/2/2013 - South Side Leader
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By Ariel Hakim

GREEN — For about the past year, the city of Green has been partnering with the Area Agency on Aging to provide personal help buttons (PHB) to seniors who need them.

So far, the city has helped with funding to equip 30 people with the Lifeline medical alert buttons they wear, according to Valerie Wolford, Green’s communications director.

Though the city passed legislation last week to extend that help, there currently is a waiting list for Green residents wanting to receive free or discounted service on a sliding scale, according to Wolford.

To date, the city has spent $18,000 on the program, she added.

Those who most benefit from the system are typically homebound older adults who live alone, as well as those recovering from an illness or injury or who have medical problems or a disabling condition, according to Green city officials.

One statistic noted by the National Council on Aging is that every year one-third of all American adults older than 65 suffer a fall, according to Mary Raitano, Lifeline administrator at Info Line Inc.

Raitano said the PHBs are worn either around the neck or the wrist. When someone pushes a PHB, a signal is sent through phone lines to a monitoring center, where a representative responds to the call.

The representative can call back through a speaker to talk to the individual who needs help, to find out what kind of assistance would be appropriate, she said.

Depending on the need, monitoring center representatives can call paramedics or someone on the person’s response plan, which could be a friend, neighbor or relative, according to Raitano.

“We’ll always send help if they need it or if we don’t get a response from them,” she said.

Raitano said Lifeline serves 11 counties and has 1,200 clients, about half of which receive subsidized help from programs like the one in Green.

Medicare, Medicaid and other insurance programs don’t pay for the service, she added, so some people also get the service by paying for it themselves, costing about $37 a month for the basic service.

The city of Akron also has a program to help seniors who need it get the Lifeline service, through a Community Development Block Grant, she said.

Summit County used to have a program as well, but that is now closed, she added.

Raitano said system-wide, Lifeline responds to about 110 alarm activations per month from people needing assistance.

In Green, the city helps fund PHBs for individuals with serious life-threatening conditions or seniors who live alone and who have a financial need, according to city officials.

To be considered for the waiting list, Green residents should call the Area Agency on Aging at 877-770-5558 for an assessment.

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