At 91 years old, there is no slowing down Marian, who loves decorating her home for every holiday. “I've done it all my life. My mother did it, I've done it and when my husband was here - he helped me.” Marian lives alone now but still does most everything herself. From decorating to driving and shopping, the sweet little lady rarely asks for help. Even if something is out of her reach, the sub-five-footer gets resourceful. However, there is one thing Marian does keep close – her telephone. During our visit, her phone rang with a custom message she receives twice a day. “Hello Marian, this is your House Calls family calling.” If everything is okay, Marian is instructed to press the number one on her phone. "Fortunately, I've been very lucky and everything has always been okay,” she says with a smile.
If ever there is a problem, however, the ladies on the other end of the call would send for help right away. Shelly Egbert created ‘House Calls' 18 years ago. Before starting it, Shelly managed senior housing in Fernley. She says she will never forget the horrific feeling of finding a tenant who had passed away without anyone knowing for several days. “We're sending men to the moon. We have computers that can do amazing things and yet we have little grandmas and grandpas dying alone in their apartments or homes without anyone knowing." With the help of Shannon Wilkinson, who customizes the calls, they are now offering reassurance to nearly 300 people a day. If a client does not answer or indicates they need help, house calls will notify the right people. This service has saved lives. Shelly recalls when a woman slipped on ice outside her home. She couldn't move, but knew her house call was coming. “The call came and, of course, no one answered, so we sent someone over and found her out there and got her inside and warmed up."
House Calls also offers reminder calls for things like medication, sends cards on special occasions and gives clients 72-hour emergency survival kits. Above all, the non-profit assures people, like Marian, that they are not alone. “I think it's a wonderful comfort to old people," she says.
House Calls is free, but donations are always accepted. To learn more or sign up, visit www.housecallsltd.org. Shelly will also be our Safety Watch Q & A guest on Tuesday, November 11th. If you have a question, call our Safety Watch Q & A lines at (775) 858-2222 on Tuesday between 5-6 p.m.