All Alone and the Unexpected Happens

It was an experience no one would like to have, especially a woman living alone in an apartment.

A little after 8 on a Saturday night, one of my friends, Penny, was in her bathroom getting ready for bed. Suddenly, she broke her hip. She doesn’t recall how it happened.

She ended up laying on the floor. She quickly found that she couldn’t move. Regardless of how hard she tried, she couldn’t pull herself and her body outside the bathroom.

No one else was with her that night. She didn’t have her cell phone.

There She Was Out of Touch with Everyone, Especially People Who Could Help Her

What was she going to do? Here it was Saturday night. There were no management people in the office of the apartment complex. Without her cell phone she couldn’t call her son and daughter-in-law who live about 10 miles away.

Since it was Saturday night, none of her neighbors were walking around outside. Even if they were, there was no way to get their attention. So, she just laid there.

As Time Passed, She Started to Get Cold

The only thing she could reach was the towels she had in the bathroom. She pulled those down and covered herself with them. Needless to say, she was still cold and in pain. She got some sleep but not much.

Sunday came and her saga continued. She still was there on the floor in the bathroom. She didn’t hear any of her neighbors walking around. There still was no way to get in touch with anyone.

On Monday morning she had a plan to get someone’s attention. She didn’t know what time it was. She heard some people walking outside. She started calling for help.

The first several times she called out, no one heard her.

She Started to Scream Louder

Eventually a person heard her and went to get one of the management people. Christina, an assistant manager, and the head of maintenance came to Penny’s apartment.

When they opened the door, Christina called out and asked if Penny was ok. Penny said no and called her to the bathroom. She asked Christina to call an ambulance. When the ambulance came, one of the paramedics looked at how Penny’s leg was positioned and said “It looks like you fractured your hip.”

They took Penny to the hospital. She was admitted.

Later That Day She Had Surgery to Repair Her Fractured Hip

She remained hospitalized until Friday. At that point, she was well enough to be released but still couldn’t walk or care for herself.

She was taken to a rehabilitation center where she had to learn to walk again. She spent a week there before she was released to go home. At that point she still had to use a walker.

Penny is in her late 60’s. She has no idea what caused her fracture. She never wants to go through that type of ordeal again. The fracture was bad enough, but to lay on the floor for a day and a half was grueling.

Right after the surgery she and her son decided . . .

. . . Penny Needed a Medical Alert System.

Her son looked at the various providers and suggested one to her.

Do you recall many years ago the first tv commercial for a medical alert system? There was this older lady with a device around her neck. She was saying “I have fallen and I can’t get up.”

That really was a bad commercial.

My friends and I thought it was pretty funny. We would go around saying to each other “I’ve fallen and can’t get up.” Those we were with would laugh.

We never thought how serious this problem could be. Needless to say, after Penny told me what happened to her, I realized how important it can be for an older person living alone to be able to communicate quickly with someone else in an emergency situation.

In the weeks since Penny’s experience, I have read quite a bit about hip fractures. I found out:

  • 9 out of every 10 people who fracture their hips are over 60 years of age.
  • From age 50 on, the number of hip fractures double every five years.
  • By 90 years of age, 1 in every 4 women and 1 in every 8 men have fractured a hip.

What Causes These Fractures?

Here are some:

  •  Loss of coordination due to poor eye sight, balance and weakness
  •  Osteoporosis
  •  Women lose bone density due to a decrease in estrogen after menopause
  •  Heredity
  •  Poor diets, especially in childhood
  •  Bone loss from tobacco and alcohol use
  •  Medications
  •  Things around the house (throw rugs, electrical wires laying on the floor, no grab bars or stair rails, unstable furniture and inadequate lighting)
  •  Side effects of various medical conditions

There can be negative consequences for the person who fractures a hip:

  • Some people are never able to live on their own again.
  • Others develop other medical problems such as pneumonia, cognitive disorders, pulmonary embolisms, cardiovascular disease and infections.

As We Age, Each of Us Should Take the Proper Steps to Avoid Ever Breaking a Hip.

We should have a healthy diet, remain physically active, make sure to maintain our eye sight and make sure to eliminate anything in our homes which may cause us to trip or fall.

We should also look at getting a medical alert device. If we do fall or something else happens to us and there is no one around, we can get the help we need.

You don’t want to experience what Penny did – laying on the floor in the bathroom for a long period of time without getting help.


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