Too often, we hear stories of seniors falling, unable to get up on their own. A senior lays helpless on the floor, often for days, before help arrives.
As CEO of Alert1, I want to write new, better stories. Alert1 helps seniors take control and write their own narratives. Our medical alert systems help seniors call for help in an emergency. When seniors need help fast, they can push a button on their wrist to connect with an emergency responder. They will get the help they need—without relying on fate to supply a knight in shining armor.
I would like to share a story, inspired by a true testimonial by an Alert1 member, which emphasizes preparedness. These are the stories we should read, stories about seniors staying safe and standing strong.
Sharon giggled as she lowered herself into the steaming tub of water. Earlier that day, a strapping young man with sparkling blue eyes had helped her cross the street. She blushed at the memory.
Sharon dropped a bath bomb into the warm water and sighed contentedly as the lavender fumes wafted up her nose. Feeling her muscles relax, she let herself be overcome by nostalgia. In her prime, there was no shortage of strapping young men interested in courting her. Like a proper Southern belle, she kept the gentlemen on their toes with her mystique and endearing charm.
The toll of the clock dragged Sharon back from her deep thoughts. As she stood up, preparing to step out of her warm bath, Sharon felt the blood rush to her head—vertigo!
With a squeal, Sharon fell back into the tub.
Guess I’m no longer as gracious as I used to be.
The impact smarting, Sharon attempted to stand up, to no avail. The fall had knocked the wind out of her and she felt faint. She could only just keep herself propped above the water. Sharon immediately reached for the help button she always wore around her wrist.
Moments later, she could hear a voice calling her name.
“Ms. Burnside, do you need help? This is Cindy from Alert1.”
“Darling, I’ve fallen down in the tub. I’m ever so shaken and cannot bring myself to stand back up, could you please send for help?”
“Right away, Ms. Burnside!”
With each passing moment, Sharon’s worry heightened, but her anxiety was dispelled at the sound of her front door. As the footsteps neared, Sharon heard a deep, concerned voice: “Ma’am, this is Chase from the fire station, I’m coming in to help y—. “
“Oh honey, no!”
At the sound of his voice Sharon realized that she was wearing nothing at all. Her debutante days may be behind her but she was not about to give a free show. “Avert your eyes and cover me with one of my blankets from the next room over, dear. I’m afraid I’m not proper.”
Sharon heard her rescuer walk into the next room and back before he opened the bathroom door. The man approached her with the blanket held up like a protective shield. Grabbing the blanket, Sharon was able to cover herself.
After pressing the blanket to her body, Sharon looked up at her rescuer. She smiled in delighted surprise. It was the young man who had helped her across the street! He lifted her waterlogged form from the tub and carried her out to the waiting emergency vehicle.
Sharon felt herself flush for the third time that day. His muscles felt strong and safe.
Lessons for seniors and caregivers:
- Keep your medical alert help button nearby at all times. This is even more important in and around the bathroom. You never know when you may need help.
- Stay hydrated to reduce the risk of dizziness.
- Install grab bars and other safety devices in the bathroom to help grip.
- Consider a tub lift for easy access in and out of the tub.
- Set the water heater to 120 degrees or lower to reduce the risk of scalding.
- Place a rubber non-slip mat on the bathtub floor to reduce the risk of slips.
With a bit of prevention, you won’t be a damsel in distress. I cannot promise that a handsome young man will come to the rescue every time. But, I can tell you how amazing it feels to be in control of your own story.
Shayne Fitz-Coy is the Co-CEO and President of Alert-1, an aging-in-place technology company headquartered in Williamsport, Pennsylvania with offices nationwide. A Certified Aging in Place Specialist, Shayne has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Harvard College and a master’s in Business Administration from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Shayne hails from Maryland, and now calls the Bay Area home.