We’re living in a time of unprecedented health and longevity, which can make it especially difficult for mature adults to acknowledge the arrival of physical limitations. Yet failure to recognize the body’s natural decline in strength, flexibility, reaction time, etc., in later decades can put seniors and others at risk.
For instance: seniors are now outliving their ability to drive safely by an average of 7 to 10 years, says the AAA. That’s a sobering statistic for legions of older adult drivers who perceive that they’re still OK behind the wheel.
We’ve discussed crucial questions to ask seniors to help them decide if a reverse mortgage makes sense for their later life needs. We’ve also focused on various aspects of health, housing and finances. AARP offers an extensive list of questions for adult children to ask their aging parents (and to consider for their own retirement planning).
An earlier piece on “age-proofing” a home talks about valuable assistive devices to help prevent falls and injury and make everyday tasks easier, including grab bars, non-skid shower mats, walk-in tubs, and even stair lifts. Often, the wisest course is to have a trusted handyperson on call for house or yard work involving ladders or heavy lifting.
But what happens when someone falls — or accidentally locks themselves out of the house on a frosty morning — and there’s no one else around? This is where medical alert pendants, or personal alert devices that automatically call for help, may literally be a lifesaver — though many seniors adamantly refuse to use them.
A real-life example: an elderly woman lived alone after her husband died (when she was a spry 72). In her early nineties, she was still managing on her own with a home assistant coming in a few days a week to help with food shopping, laundry and light cleaning. Then, just after her 96th birthday, she fell and broke her hip.
Fortunately, the woman happened to be on the phone with her home assistant, who immediately called for an ambulance and rushed to her client’s side. But if this dear lady had not been in direct contact with someone at the time of her fall, it might have been a day or more before she was found — likely too late.
To help your reverse mortgage clients and prospects stay safe at home, here are some talking points about medical alerts (which might be more effectively shared with adult children or other loved ones who are involved in your clients’ health and housing decisions).
Medical and personal alert systems:
- Provide peace of mind to those who care about you. Even though you may not desire it, a medical or life alert will allow your loved ones to feel so much better knowing that all it takes is a push of a button to summon help. Think of it as a favor you’re doing for those you love.
- Enable people to live independently and worry-free for as long as possible.
- Are easy to use and affordable. They are generally portable devices worn around the neck or on the wrist. Wall-mounted alert buttons can also be placed in the bathroom — a common site for falls — or bedroom, or both.
- Are sanctioned by medical professionals, who know every second counts in an emergency.
- Make sense even if the senior lives with others. They may still be alone in the house at times, or out somewhere when they need assistance.
The reality is, over half of those 80 or older fall every year. Even if a senior falls and is uninjured, if he or she can’t get back on their feet, they’re in trouble.
Anyone who reaches the season of fullness has not gotten there without planning; it’s the bedrock of long life. Choosing to have a medical or personal alert system is just one more step in savvy senior planning for those who foresee an active, healthy later life.