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RUOK? Free service checks on seniors

The telephone rings but no one answers.

The phone rings again minutes later. Still, no answer.

The senior citizen associated with the phone number has agreed to answer the phone when it rings at a designated time each day.

The phone rings yet again, and no one picks up the phone. Nor does the senior call 911 as prompted by a pre-recorded message.

An audible alert goes off on the computer and its operator prints out emergency information on the person, their doctor and a family member or friend. It also includes a brief medical history of the person.

A deputy or police officer is sent to the home, and they have the contact information readily available if needed.

The telephone assurance program is called RUOK?  — “Are You Ok?” — and it is free to senior citizens throughout Lincoln County. All it takes is signing up to receive the calls.

“It’s a really great program,” Lincoln County Sheriff Steve Rushing said.

“It’s something that can give senior citizens peace of mind because they’re being checked on each day, seven days a week.”

RUOK has made a significant difference in at least one case through the years, Rushing said.

“I recall one incident that wasn’t life-threatening, but it was an emergency situation that was resolved because of this program,” he said.

“For those who live alone, it also gives their families peace of mind, too.”

Sgt. Charles Smith is the program director. To register, call the sheriff’s department at 601-833-5231.

Seniors can make arrangements to sign registration paperwork at the sheriff’s department or Smith can bring it to their homes, Rushing said.

The RUOK computer program also can make separate calls at any hour to remind seniors to take their medications if they wish to be reminded.

Seniors are encouraged to temporarily suspend the calls if they plan to be away on vacation or anticipate a hospital stay.

RUOK is a service of TRIAD, a partnership between the sheriff’s office, Brookhaven Police Department and local senior adult groups. The program is sponsored nationally by the National Sheriff’s Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the American Association of Retired People.

TRIAD meets at 10 a.m. on the second Tuesday of each month at the Jimmy Furlow Senior Citizens Center, 201 S. First St. Its goal is to promote older adult safety and educate seniors on safety precautions so they won’t fear crime.

TRIAD promotes older adult safety and aims to reduce fear of crime. Various speakers present program each month that address topics of interest to seniors and crimes that could affect them.

Story by Robin Eyman