Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Home safety in retirement Part 4

As a last word on this subject, I want to discuss home safety for seniors that live alone. As an example, let’s take my friend Karen (fellow blogger on RetireUSA). She is a very youthful and active retiree, a member of the Ashland Rowing Club, an avid gardener, enthusiastic hiker, and participant in yoga classes. While we are “best friends” and usually chat on the phone or e-mail every day, these conversations often occur early in the morning, and then perhaps we don’t touch base again for another 24 hours or longer. In the interim, she has gone out hiking with her dog, or has been busily repairing her chicken coop or some plumbing issue in her garden irrigation system, and has accidentally tripped and fallen. Now what? It gets very cold here in Oregon at night, up until the summer months, and spending hours on the ground could present serious health issues in addition to the pain from the broken bone or whatever happened in the fall.

One solution is to subscribe to a system such as Lifeline. This is a small device that is worn like a wristwatch, or around the neck like a medallion. You can designate the people you want to be called in an emergency, in whatever order you choose, by just pushing one button on the device. For example, Karen might want to have me contacted first, but if I’m not home, the system would automatically continue to call the next number on the list like Jan or Marianne. If none of us are available, the system keeps scrolling through Karen’s list until it finally contacts someone. Some people prefer to have the system call 911 immediately.

Another option is to carry your cell phone or portable device in your pocket or a small pack at all times. However, this is not as reliable as Lifeline, since you may forget to keep it with you, whereas Lifeline is worn like a piece of jewelry at all times.