For seniors who live alone — and anyone else who could use a daily check-in — some South Mississippi law enforcement agencies offer the RUOK program.
Here’s how it works. Contact your local police or sheriff’s department and ask if the program is available where you live. If it is, you can sign up to receive a call at a certain time each day (you choose the time). If no one answers your phone, your area law enforcement will send out an officer to check on you. You also can let the agency know if a neighbor or someone else nearby has a key to your home. Some Coast communities do not offer it, but Gulfport and Biloxi, for example, do.
In Gulfport, a recording is triggered when the person answers the phone, said Tiffany Neves of the Gulfport Police Department’s community relations division. The person called presses a number to let the system know that person answered the phone. If there is no answer, a second call will be made. If the call still isn’t answered, police will be sent out to check on the person.
Biloxi has in the past used the recording system, but currently it’s a person making the calls each day, said John Majur of the Biloxi Police Department’s community relations division.
“We’re going back on the recording at some point soon,” Majur said. “We had some software problems with that, so in the meantime we’ve been making the calls ourselves.
“It’s really working well. Often, it’s the only call a person gets all day.”
The system also supplies Biloxi with a list of potential recipients for holiday meals, such as at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“For someone who has no family or no family on the Coast, or just needs someone to check on them, this is a great service,” he said. “It’s not just for seniors. It can be be for someone who has just gotten out of the hospital; has had surgery; or has a medical condition such as a heart-related issue. Anyone who needs someone to contact them once a day.”
One caveat: Those on the list need to remember to contact the law enforcement agency if they expect to be away from home during their regular call time, such as going to a relative’s house or to a doctor’s appointment.
In Gulfport, contact Neves at 228-868-5703 for more information on RUOK. In Biloxi, contact Majur at 228-385-3033.