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Program offers help at the touch of a button
Lifeline celebrates 25 years at Northeast Georgia Medical Center
The Lifeline emergency button can be worn on the wrist or worn around the neck (lower left). - photo by Tom Reed

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Lifeline of Northeast Georgia Medical Center

What it is: A service that provides immediate help for subscribers 24 hours a day
How it works: Subscribers wear a waterproof button around their wrist or as a pendant, pressing it in case of emergency
How much: $45 a month with a one-time installation fee of $95; no long-term contract is required
More information: Call 770-219-8899

From the outside, it is simply a button that can be used to call for help. But for the people who use Lifeline, that little button means the ability to live independently, said Dianne Appling, the Lifeline coordinator for Northeast Georgia Medical Center.

Lifeline is celebrating its 25th anniversary in Northeast Georgia this month.

“It is an emergency response service for people who live alone,” Appling said. “I don’t think our community knows enough about it.”

Appling said Lifeline is recommended for people age 65 and older who live alone, but there are a number of other people who could benefit from the service.

“That’s the beauty of Lifeline; it is for anything you need,” Appling said. “There’s no limit to what Lifeline can do.”

Lifeline is most commonly used when people have fallen and need help.

Appling said falling is the seventh leading cause of death. If unattended, a person who takes a bad fall can die from bleeding and other complications.

But Lifeline can also help subscribers in other, less-urgent situations.

Appling said one elderly customer used her Lifeline button to call for help when her washing machine overflowed and she couldn’t get the water to stop pouring out onto the floor.

When a subscriber pushes the Lifeline button, they are connected to an operator who asks if they need help. If the situation is not life-threatening, the operator will contact a pre-approved responder, such as a friend or neighbor within a 10- to 15-minute driving distance, to go and help.

If the subscriber is badly hurt, an operator will immediately send an ambulance.

Lifeline’s youngest subscriber at Northeast Georgia Medical Center is 19 and its oldest is 103.

Appling said she believes services like Lifeline will allow more people to live in their homes as they age, rather than going to nursing homes.

Northeast Georgia Medical Center’s longest Lifeline customer is Scott Sexton, who has used Lifeline for 18 years.

Sexton was involved in an automobile accident as a child that caused brain damage and left him unable to walk without a cane.

Sexton’s stepmother, Betty, said Lifeline has allowed him to lead an independent life.

“He couldn’t live by himself without it; he falls a lot,” Betty Sexton said. “He is real proud of his little home.”

She said she doesn’t worry about Scott living on his own with Lifeline because it has saved his life on at least three occasions.

“He can take care of himself,” Betty Sexton said. “We’re proud of it.”

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