I’ve done something I thought I would never need or want. Yes, I’ve installed a personal alarm. My friend, Judy, has one and advised me to get one since I, like her, am now living alone. She had researched the whole thing and advised me to go with AgeUK, a society that deals with ageing folk. You’d never guess that from the name. I did some research as well and decided that the service as well as the equipment outweighed others; what’s more it worked out cheaper.
Just having the thing in the house is enough to make me feel ancient, let alone the alarm button I have to wear round my neck. But it makes sense, I guess, in case I ever have a fall or something equally worrying. Jeez, I felt great until the thing was installed.
It took the demonstrator two hours to explain the system and set it up, with lots of paperwork and financial arrangements to be gone into and friendly chat in between. As she, the demo lady, went along I kept thinking I would never remember it all but at the end she asked me a question. ‘What will you do if you have a fall and can’t get to the phone?’
‘Press the button.’
‘There you go,’ she said, ‘and that’s ALL you have to remember.
All through the demo I had been wondering how much my awful memory had retained but she proved that I only needed to know that one thing. Press the button. I surely can’t forget that!
There are two ways of wearing an alarm, on the wrist like a watch or a pendant round the neck. I chose the neck version on the grounds that if I fell on my arm I might not be able to use the alarm.
I was advised to wear it all the time, even out shopping. The range it covers is quite remarkable but I didn't think it would stretch to the shops! Okay, so I hadn't thought it through! What if, I was asked, when you arrive home and had the misfortune to fall in the drive? I couldn't believe the alarm would get through to the operator from outside the house. Wrong! To demonstrate my advisor walked down my rather huge garden while I watched from the house. Every time she pressed the button I heard the connection to the operator. I was told to wave so she knew it had worked okay. She covered such a distance my arm ached but at least I got to know that wherever I am on my own property I can buzz through for help. I have said it before and will say it again, and again... technology is a wonderful thing.
For the first three days I had to do test runs by pressing the button. I was almost a nervous wreck the first time but I forced myself to do it. Quivering a little, I pressed the button and the gadget that connects me to phone and specialist operator lit up. I could hear the dialling tone and then some weird noises and then the dialling tone again and more noises. Then a voice came through loud and clear, ‘Good morning,’ a woman said, referring to me by name. ‘What can I do to help?’
I’d rehearsed the reply, ‘I’m just doing my first test’.
‘You’re through loud and clear, the test is a great success.’
What a relief!
Next day it was a man who answered. His words were similar and then he wished me a nice day.
That REALLY made me feel good... grins...
It was nerve-racking at first but I think I’ll get used to it. There was just one more test and now I only have to test the system once a month. With my memory you can imagine the terror.... so I’ve put it in the iPhone to be repeated on the 23rd day of every month. I was advised to pick the 23rd since my birthday falls on that day and it would be easier to remember. Age Concern is obviously used to dealing with oldies!
Apparently the phone is manned every minute of every day and night throughout the year.It’s reassuring to know that if I get in trouble I can press the button and someone will come to my aid. Depending on what is wrong the operator will call my key-holding neighbour, police or ambulance. How marvellous is that? Suddenly I feel quite safe and not quite so alone.
Incidentally, those who read about the problem with getting Joe’s Will might be pleased to know that it arrived at the solicitor’s office last Friday. I shall soon be able to sort things out, particularly on the financial side.