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Caring for an elderly relative who lives alone . . .

I know Sarita’s mom has has been deeply concerned that she might suffer some kind of physical ailment–perhaps fall down the stairs, have a heart attack, who knows what–and no one would find her for days.

As a result, Sarita and her sister make it a point, between them, to call Mom twice a day–one in the morning, one in the evening–just to ensure that Mom is being well taken care of.

And then I read of Carrier Alert, a wonderful service from the U.S. Postal Service.

Leanna Hamill, an elder law attorney from Hingham, MA, writes:

When I was a child, and my Nana was still alive, we visited her often. When we walked up to her door, her mailbox was to the left, and it has a sticker on it that said “Carrier Alert.” After seeing it many times, I finally asked my mom what it was for. She explained that it was so that the mail carrier would notice if the mail hadn’t been taken in from the day before, and would have someone check on Nana.

Well, the Carrier Alert program is still around and their website explains how it works:

1.    Interested postal patrons register to participate in the program. Your local postmaster can give you more details on registration.
2.    Your letter carrier will be authorized to place a Carrier Alert symbol in your mailbox which will alert all letter carriers to watch your mail for any signs of distress such as an unusual accumulation.
3.    If your letter carrier finds an accumulation of mail, and you have not covered the sticker to signal that you will be away for a few days, he or she will notify the agency where you are registered or report your name to the postal supervisor who will report it to the agency.
4.    The social service agency will then try to contact you by phone. If you cannot be reached, the agency personnel will try to contact a friend or relative whom you have listed as a contact in the event of an emergency.
5.    If a friend or a relative cannot be reached, the social service agency will send a worker to your home to check on your health and well-being. 

Not a perfect solution, by any means. But maybe–in that one-in-one-thousand situation–just what your loved one (the person who has to sign up for the service) may need.

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