TOUCHLINE PROTECTS SENIORS

As sheriff, I want to ensure the Broward Sheriff’s Office is doing everything we can for our county’s seniors while honoring and respecting their independence. The Broward 2-1-1 Senior Touchline is saving lives by providing a free daily wellness telephone call to seniors age 60 and over who live alone in Broward County. In September 2013, BSO partnered with the Broward 2-1-1 Senior Touchline program. Our staff went into many senior communities throughout Broward County and educated residents about this great service. As a result, this program expanded rapidly and more than doubled its number of participants. Rafael Vazquez, the senior touchline coordinator, estimates that nearly 80 percent of these new members are the result of BSO’s community outreach involvement.

Irene’s story highlights the importance of 2-1-1. In March 2013, she was standing on a stool in her kitchen, stretching for a treat for Abby, her service dog, when she lost her balance and fell. Irene, who lives alone, was hurt and couldn’t move. When she missed her 9 a.m. call from Broward 2-1-1, a BSO deputy was dispatched to check on her.

Without 2-1-1, Irene may not have received the help she needed when she needed it. Here’s how it works. Up to three calls are placed to the senior’s home within an hour. If there is no response, and if the listed emergency contacts also cannot reach the person, Broward 2-1-1 Senior Touchline alerts BSO, and a deputy is sent to the residence immediately.

The daily wellness call provides a safeguard for Broward seniors as well as social interaction. The 2-1-1 counselor establishes a caring, reliable relationship with the senior. The counselor can also connect seniors with other agencies and organizations that can provide additional assistance. Whether the individual requires food, transportation, medication or additional medical services, the counselors can help.

Irene will sometimes call in just to talk to one of the counselors. To seniors like her, the program provides a support system. It helps Broward seniors stay in their homes and remain independent.

The value of our senior population is clear to see, but is sometimes overlooked. They are a link to our past and, through their wisdom, provide a strong template for our future. The Broward 2-1-1 Senior Touchline is a great example of the type of services the seniors of our county have earned and deserve.

I urge any interested senior in our community to sign up for this important service. For more information or to register for Broward 2-1-1 Senior Touchline, dial 2-1-1 or visit the Broward 2-1-1 website at http://211-broward.org/senior-touchline/.

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