Using A Lifeline
The call woke me up at 3:15am. Everybody knows a call at that hour cannot be good news. The caller said, “Your mother’s lifeline alert went off and we did not receive a response to our return call to see if she was OK. Can you check on her?” “OK”, I answered.
Now being fully alert, I pulled on clothes, grabbed the keys to her apartment, jumped into the car, and drove faster than I should have through deserted streets. Rushing up three flights of stairs and turning the key, I was met with—darkness and quiet. I flipped the light switch and went into the bedroom where mom was sound asleep. After waking her to be sure she was sleeping, and not unconscious, I told her to go back to sleep. That’s relief, and some frustration.
If there had been an emergency, the lifeline system could have been the difference between life and death. It is a vital communications link for those who are frail or have serious illnesses, and live alone. Life lines come with wrist bands, pendants to wear around the neck, or clip-ons. Many people who could potentially benefit from the lifeline shy away, because of cost or a feeling that wearing it is admitting to the infirmities of age. Their objections should be overcome, because the benefit of quick medical treatment far outweighs the relatively small cost. Many services cost as little as $30 a month. And there is no stigma in being prepared for medical emergencies. It is called prudence.
Use of a lifeline can lower anxiety about falling, and give peace of mind not only to the elder person, but also to their family. It can be especially comforting to those with heart or diabetes related conditions, those with limited mobility, and those at high risk of stroke.
Most local hospitals and several private companies offer these lifeline services. If your family has concerns about a parent living alone, investigate the local services and buy some great peace of mind, and maybe a lifesaver.
So why did my mother have a lifeline false alarm? It seems that her entire apartment building had phone service knocked out late in the afternoon. Realizing this, she apparently tried to test her lifeline by pressing the red button on the base unit. Nothing happened, but as I now know, the lifeline saves that emergency signal until phone service is restored. The phones came on line at 3:11am and the lifeline went into action. Better late, than never.
And the reason she did not respond to the lifeline operator trying to call her at 3:12am? It is because she, like almost everyone else, does not wear her hearing aids to bed, so she was sleeping like a baby, oblivious to all the action taking place on her behalf. I slept like a baby the following night.