What happened to mom ain’t gonna happen to me!

About 2 years before her death, my mother fell. She lived alone in her house with one phone — up on her desk in the kitchen. And though she didn’t break a bone, she still was not able to get back up and/or reach her phone.

She sat on the floor for two days before a neighbor knocked on her door and she was able to call out to her. Those two days gave her a bed sore on her behind, which never went away. If you know a nurse — ask them about bed sores. Not getting a bed sore will become one of your most desired goals in life!

You may not be surprised to learn this scared the heck out of me.

Worry prevention

When I got home, I set up a phone that was only a foot above the floor in my basement/den. Upstairs, I had a phone in my office on a shelf about 2 feet from the floor. My strategy wasn’t perfect. In my more paranoid moments I questioned if I would be able to crawl the length of the house on either floor if I broke something on the other side of the house. But since I don’t “feel” feeble, I didn’t worry about it.

Then Comcast raised my phone/TV/Internet rates by $40/month — because my “special” plan had expired. I investigated and found I could save that $40 with a plan that excluded the phone. So I dropped the phones and kept only my cell phone.

Return of the worries!

Mom’s “fallen and can’t get up” situation must have affected me even deeper than I realized, because I started worrying each time I was in a room without my cell phone. Which was 95% of the time. Unlike my college students, I have no desire to carry one around with me wherever I go. I don’t even like carrying purses — I like my hands free!

Even though I feel fine, not having my “safety net” was like a finger nail on a blackboard. Something had to be done.

Why not a medical alert service?

I investigated these for mom after her fall. She refused to use one because she was afraid she might push the button without meaning to. At least that was her excuse.

I refuse to get one for myself because the monthly fees are ridiculous. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. In spite of knowing I’m lying to myself.

The truth is my ego is way too big to wear one. It would require me to admit I’m old, and I refuse to do so. Yes, I’m closing in on 72… but I’m employed full time and feel like a slightly slower 45 year old(!)

Brilliant(?) brainstorm?

IMG_1082Remembering the cancer scare warnings of having a cell phone attached to your ear all the time, I figured it would be equally bad to hang one around my neck or wear one at my waist. Too many crucial organs in the vicinity.

My solution was to get a clip holder and attach it to my slippers. No organs to be damaged at the foot level, and it would be with me wherever I go in the house. One major problem. The Apple 4 (which I still have lying around) would have done fine — except Apple no longer supports it. My Apple 6 is so big (see the picture) it flops around when I walk and I’m likely to bang it on something. The Apple 10? Forget about it!

Something I never thought I’d buy…

I liked my Fitbit. It told me how many steps I take each day, gave me my heart rate, and caused me to lose a little sleep when it rated the “quality” of my sleep time. Hmmm.

But… it won’t call an ambulance if I need one. Or my sister. Or my doctor.

The new Apple Watch 4 (not the earlier versions) does all that.  I thought (and frankly still do) that Apple watches are overpriced la-de-da gadgets. Purchased by people who want to look “cool.”

Now it seems I’m one of those people. It goes everywhere I go, so it’s always there in the event of an emergency. I can sleep well now — which is worth a lot.

And… I can pretend I’m “cool” instead of someone old and frail.


Author bio
Jen008_smallMarlene Jensen is a 71-year-old full-time marketing professor. Previously she was a VP at CBS and ABC and spent decades as an entrepreneur and pricing author/consultant. Sadly, none of these prepared her for the onslaught of marketers who now think her daily interests/needs consist solely of hearing aids, wheel chairs, adult diapers, medi-alert buttons, medications, and bath tubs you walk into.

4 thoughts on “What happened to mom ain’t gonna happen to me!

  1. Several years ago, my 91-year-old mother fell in her kitchen and lay there for two days before someone found her. Two weeks later, she died (in the hospital) from Rhabdomyolysis, a “syndrome” that results when myoglobin in the muscle fibers breaks down and leaks into the kidneys. It happens when you fall and don’t get up. Who knew?? My son is always after me about still having a landline phone. I do have an iPhone but don’t carry it around with me. It’s usually buried in my purse, where I don’t even hear it ringing! But only about five people even have my cellphone number—the rest are robocalls. I have the cellphone for MY convenience, not the caller’s. I do, however, have a landline extension phone in nearly every room of the house—including the basement—for both my convenience and my safety. Some “old” things make sense—including some “old” people!!

    1. This falling risk seems very real as we age! And with so many people living alone these days — we have to be smart. Sounds like your extensions are good. But check if you could get to each of the phones if you’re on the floor.

  2. I purchased the Apple Series 4 watch too — primarily for the fall detect feature. I was paying $40 a month for an ugly pendant — that money now goes toward the watch. It is always with me and I can even answer the phone on it. I’m pleased with my decision.

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