Protecting Yourself at Home Getting Help when Needed

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This article was edited and updated on April 20, 2017.

If you fall in your home, do you know how you will get help?

A fitness participant once asked me what suggestions I had for her if she fell in her apartment and was unable to get up to call for emergency personnel or to let them in — both into her building and into her apartment. We brainstormed ideas — most of which she had already done — and then I told her that I would do more research to determine what other ideas might surface. In addition, I've talked to some of my class participants who have given me other ideas, so thanks to everyone who offered suggestions.

A Few Ideas

After some research — and suggestions from my fitness class participants — here is a list of suggestions that you may wish to consider:

This is the official symbol for the Medic Alert Foundation.
  1. Medic-Alert: There are many products on the market. Some are bracelets; others are necklaces. I do not have knowledge of any of these products, and I don't endorse any of them, but I have known people who have them. If you do get one, be sure it is user-friendly and that when you call them you will be able to talk to someone to explain your situation. This website may be helpful in finding the product you wish to have: Canadian Medic Alert Foundation.
  2. Give your keys to someone in the building if you trust them: If you own a condo, give your keys to either friends, strata council members, or the concierge (if your building has one) or, if you rent, you may be able to give your keys to the landlord or landlady or the manager of the building (especially if he/she is on-site daily);
  3. Give your keys to someone outside the building if you trust them: Give keys to family members or friends — especially if they live nearby2;
  4. Assure that you have Cell Phone Access: Keep your cell phone in your pocket, even at home, so you can use it, no matter where you are in the apartment, and make sure important contact numbers are easily accessible;
  5. Calling for Help: **Tell the 911 operator how to get into the building and into your apartment; if you are concerned about whether you will remember details, write it down on a card and keep it close to the phone;
  6. Make Contact: There are organizations that set up volunteer help-lines. You can either be a volunteer who calls people every day, just to check on them, or you can be on the list as someone who needs to be called. You can also arrange to call someone (a friend or relative) each day to let them know you are all right — or they can regularly call you.
  7. Fallproof your Home: Make a serious assessment of your home and how things are arranged. Are there throw rugs that might trip you? Are there steps that you have to navigate each and every day? Do you have safety features in your bath (grab bars, possibly a seat)? If there is anything you can fix or change to make yourself safer, try to get it done.
  8. Seek Home Care Assistance: Sometimes it's best to be sure that someone is checking on you on a regular basis.

Keeping our Independence

Everyone wants to remain independent — we don't want to ask our children, friends or neighbours to take care of us, and no one daydreams about some day living in a nursing facility. Everything you can do to prevent falls in your apartment and while you are out and about in the community will be to your advantage. Preparing for the worst case possibility — falling in your apartment and unable to move — is worth taking a few minutes of your time to consider what you should do, and then take action.

See also:

I am a BCRPA-certified fitness instructor in Vancouver, BC. I teach four classes at the West End Community Centre in Vancouver, BC, mostly designed for the older adult. The Inevitable Disclaimer: Everything published here expresses only my opinion, based on my training and research. What you do with the information is entirely your own responsibility. I am not liable for any injury you suffer that seems to be related to anything you read here. Always consult your doctor before beginning an exercise program. For other articles, return to the table of contents.

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  1. These three dots behave exactly like a footnote. Click on them and you will get more information about the topic. 

  2. If you give keys to other people, ask them to identify the key only with your name — not the address or suite number. If the key is lost or stolen, the thief will not know what door that key unlocks.