Editor:

About 10,000 baby boomers in the United States turn 65 every day, and a CDC report estimates that 71 percent of seniors live with at least one chronic condition. As our population continues to age, an increasing number of people in our community will find themselves living alone and without immediate family nearby to assist them in times of need.

Many times throughout my career the Sheriff’s Department has been asked to check on the welfare of someone only for us to discover that the home is inaccessible. Other times, we have found older adults who have fallen and injured themselves without receiving help for extended periods of time because they don’t have someone who checks in with them on a regular basis. As these situations become more common, I believe we should employ our available resources to promote the security of our elderly population.

As your sheriff, it would be my goal to ensure that our seniors do not feel unsafe, isolated or alone. This would be accomplished by implementing into the Botetourt County Sheriff’s Department a program similar to a Senior Call Reassurance Program. Through this program, the department can coordinate and collaborate with our local civic organizations and qualified volunteers that are engaged with older adults in our county. Doing so will enable our seniors to remain independent by safely residing in the homes they have lived in for most of their lives. It will also provide their family members reassurance that their loved ones are being checked on regularly.

This service and similar services have been successfully adopted into law enforcement agencies nationwide. Participants would enroll in the Senior Call Reassurance Program voluntarily to receive a phone call on a daily or weekly basis and have the option to contact the department every morning or have us call them. Calls would be made at a designated time every morning, and if contact isn’t made with either the participant or their emergency contact after a number of attempts a qualified volunteer or deputy would be dispatched to the residence. This simple morning routine can save lives that would otherwise be ignored for days or weeks.

As your sheriff, I will be committed to working diligently to utilize any and all available local resources and partnering with civic organizations that will best benefit the citizens of Botetourt County, making you and your family a priority.

Matt Ward

Candidate for Botetourt County Sheriff

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