Do you Need one?
By chance I recently encountered a good friend, Oliver Olson, 94, after not seeing him at all for just short of a year.
Oliver had been in the hospital twice. As we talked, he reached into his buttoned-up shirt and drew out a personal alert safety device. “See this!” he exclaimed. “It saved my life twice! The first time I woke up feeling so sick I could not get out of bed. I was in the hospital eight days.
“The second time, I was up walking around when my legs suddenly were so weak that I collapsed to the floor and could not get up. I pressed the button which called an ambulance that took me to the hospital. I stayed 33 days; it turned out I had Covid-19, due to the Coronavirus.”
Page through any magazine these days read primarily by seniors and you will see several ads for safety alert call devices. I telephoned one advertiser and was told that the LifeAlert network of devices brings in two million calls per year, saving a life from a potential catastrophe every 11 minutes. That’s impressive!
Nevertheless, the question remains: Do you really need a call device? They cost money and require some management. Hopefully by the end of this blog you will have enough information to decide.
Some more stories may help. Bert Anderson, age 90, now has an alert device but wishes he’d started with it earlier. Earlier, because prior to signing on with his system he fell and was unable to get on his feet. He spent the night on the floor where security found him the next morning.
“Anybody at high risk of falling should have an alert device and always have it on themselves and working,” urgess Bert, adding, “Persons who have had a severe fall also should have a call button.”
Such devices also can be helpful when long-term illness is involved. John Cevette, 72, of south Minneapolis, has had Parkinson’s 21 years. He uses a high tech communication system utilizing a MACBOOK laptop computer linked to an iPhone 12. “It is voice activated and programmed with contact information– information for people I would need to reach in the event of an emergency,” explains John. “It is multi-functional and is constantly in use, utilizing Word, telephone, fax, email, the web, alert system, and a watch. It brings me peace of mind and I use it daily to communicate with friends and caregivers.”
The severity of John’s Parkinson’s has increased through four stages and is now in End Stage. Through the first 16 years of the disease, he worked full time, holding executive positions including Chief of Staff of the Colorado State Senate.
Two years ago my own answer to use of an alert device was yes. I signed on and began wearing a bracelet with call button. The system included a mobile feature, and I carried a small device in my pocket. It could locate me, and transmit words and other data.
My cost per month, after paying a few hundred dollars for the equipment, was $40/month for the service. Monthly costs, currently, according to advertising is $20/month for similarly capable service. After four months of wearing and managing the call system I discontinued it and returned the equipment. I had made no emergency calls but did feel a small relief of stress.
My adult children were willing to pay my costs. One daughter said, “It was about your safety and that you live alone. I live too far away to personally check on you every day. I felt better when you had a device and wore it all the time. You wouldn’t be lying on the floor all night suffering.”
Perhaps the most useful decision from the above is the quote from Bert Anderson, the paragraph beginning, “Anybody at high risk…” That complete paragraph lifts up the word risk. If your risk of falling is high, order an alert device right away:
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