Memories, Medical Alarms, & Making More Tomorrows Together

When you’re young, you may not appreciate the importance of family

When you’re young, you may not appreciate the importance of family.  When I was a boy, my parents would take my brother and me to the family farm every Sunday to see Pappy George and Grammy Esther.  They lived on a sprawling tract of land that stretched from the old country road they lived along to halfway up the Appalachians.  We would go late in the morning and visit until lunch was ready, and my brother and I would ramble around the property getting into trouble, shooting our BB guns at trees, throwing baseballs with reckless abandon, playing hide and seek in the barn, or leaping into bales of fresh hay.  The yard was neatly mown on Sundays and I remember the smell of freshly cut grass mixed with the faint scent of manure from the cows in neighboring fields.  My grandfather had made his living as a dairy farmer but had sold off his cows by 1973 when he retired, leaving the stone-encircled barnyard empty.  Troughs still stood in that yard to catch the rain, giving lots of opportunities for young boys to splash and play. 

When it was lunch time, either my mom or Grammy would holler “come and get it” out the back door just like in some old black and white movie, and we’d all come running.  I thought my grandmother was the world’s best cook, and to this day I yearn for some of the lost treasures of food that some tried to imitate but none could ever perfect. I can still taste her barbecued beef, boiled and browned potatoes, and of course her delicious fruit pies.  After lunch, everyone would struggle to stay awake as our bellies were always comfortably full, and we would sometimes nap on the couches in the parlor.  When the food digested properly, we would then again bound outside for some other adventure such as throwing rocks at the metal dome of the silo or searching through the cut fields for unique and interesting natural treasures.  The adults would sometime go out to the shed for cool drinks and adult conversation.  When the kids were thirsty, we would swing by that shed and get orange sodas or root beer and then be on our merry way.  We’d also take walks “up the lane” toward the mountains with the family, including Grammy Esther. If we strolled close to evening, we’d sometimes have to evade the bats that swirled around eating bugs as the day drew toward dusk.  Even trips to the bathroom were an adventure; there wasn’t one. We had only an outhouse that terrified me in my younger years as it always seemed to house spiders and occasionally become the target of wasps’ nests.

Our family traditions continued but started changing as we all grew older.  Those things we’d so cherished when younger became less dear as our interests turned more to girls, friends, and sports.  We still had some adventures, like riding around on ATV three wheelers, driving way too quickly and then getting an earful from my grandparents.  But things were changing without our fully grasping what was happening.

My grandmother Esther did remain a constant in my life, even after my grandfather George passed away in 1993.  My Great Uncle Boyd, who had lived on one side of the farmhouse, passed away a few years later, leaving my grandmother alone.  She then sold the farm and got her own apartment in a nearby town and while we all cherished the great memories we had all built together as a family on that farm, we understood that times had forever changed.  My parents moved away and my brother and I lived together as young adults. My grandmother would drive up from her apartment once a week to do laundry with us and go out to lunch.  Not surprisingly, she would visit us on Sundays.  I think that she wanted to create new memories for me and my brother-- and she succeeded. To this day, I can’t go to a Wendy’s restaurant without thinking of her. We’d leave our clothes to dry at the nearby laundromat while we ate and chatted about our week and our lives over chili and burgers. 

Life changed again after college, as marriage and children meant that life was chaotic and busy, full of the stresses that most families endure.  My grandmother was still present in our lives.  Some of my fondest memories as a father were of the happiness that my children felt when Grammy Esther would come to visit.  My children were very young at the time, but whenever they’d see my small but spunky grandmother knocking at the door, their little faces would light up and they’d come running.  They knew that Grammy Esther always had treats for them, and whether it was candy or baked goods, she would never disappoint.  One particular favorite of children and adults alike was her Chicken and Biscuit Crackers.  She would even drop off treats on our enclosed porch when we weren’t home.  And it was these simple acts of giving that endeared her to my children, and that live on in their now-adult minds to this day.  But they loved her for far more than her sweet treats.  She visited like clockwork, dropped in when she was in town, and would babysit on occasion in the event of an emergency.  It was on one of these occasions when my youngest daughter was having some trouble adjusting to her new bunk bed, and my grandmother comforted her in her struggle by sleeping in the bottom bunk with her that night.  It’s been decades since, but my daughter still talks about this special night.

            Grammy Esther was energetic.  She was strong and sharp and none of us thought that she would slow down…but she did.  She began getting winded easily and even had trouble tying her shoes.  Her visits to our house became more infrequent.  My family made more of an effort to visit her during this time so we could check up on her and so she could see the kids.  She was in good spirits and although the doctor said she was having trouble with one of the valves in her heart, he felt medication would help.  Surgery was decidedly risky due to her advanced age.  There was never a mention of the possible benefits of a medical alert system and none of us was even aware of them at that time.  In retrospect, I wish we had known about them as I do believe a personal button alarm could have extended her life.  Unfortunately, Grammy Esther had a cardiac emergency in her apartment while she was alone.  She was unable to reach her phone in the other room and she passed before she could get help.

            My kids were devastated.  We all were.  Now that I work with Alert 1, I can definitely see how a medical alert system could have made a difference in our lives and in the lives of others in similar situations.

Medical Alert Systems

According to the National Safety Council, 53.6% of all injury-related accidents occur at home¹.  This percentage is independent of age and makes it quite clear that anyone can benefit from medical alert home systems. There were many instances at my grandparents’ farm, for example, where any one of us could have been injured.  Families can also use these systems in the event of a fire, flood, or even home break-ins.  At the simple press of a button, you can speak to a highly trained operator who can assess your needs and immediately connect you with whatever assistance you need, whether it is your local EMS, a family member or neighbor, the police department, or the fire company. 

Medical Alert System Versatility

The emergency alert systems at Alert 1 are versatile.  If you have a standard landline you can go with our classic plug-in unit or if you have wireless phones or a cable phone service, we have wireless medical alert systems that simply plug into the nearest electrical outlet.  Furthermore, with our wireless home units, you don’t even need phone service at all.  We still have you covered.  Our necklace lanyards and wristbands for our buttons are lightweight, adjustable, and comfortable, and we even have one design that resembles a standard wrist watch.

Fall Risks for Seniors

Annually, one-third of all people over the age of 65 report falling, and two-thirds of those who fall do so again within six months.² Falls are the leading cause of death from injury among people 65 or older.  Three million older people each year are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries.  Additionally, 300,000 older people are hospitalized for hip fractures with 95% of those caused by falling.  Once a person falls, the fear of falling again may cause a person to cut down on their everyday activities which makes the person less active and weaker, actually increasing the chances of a fall reoccurring.  There are multiple factors in the elderly that can cause a fall such as vision problems, hearing issues, foot problems, lower body weakness, and certain medications.  If you or a loved one is at risk of falling, Alert1 offers optional, automatic fall detection technology built-in to the medical alert systems, giving added security to those who fall and cannot press their buttons for help.

Memories: Making More Tomorrows Together

Life is about memories, both creating them and sharing them with others.  With those we hold dearest, we always hope for more tomorrows together. While the memories of my grandparents’ farm and my grandmother are wonderful, I feel like there could have been more.  I have learned to cherish my family and the memories we’ve made, but just as importantly, I look to the tomorrows we can have together as well.  If you wish to learn more about protecting yourself or your loved ones with a medical alert system, please visit the Alert 1 website.



[1] Levine Law. 2019, Nov. 1.  At Home, At Work or On the Road:  Where Do Most Accidents Occur? At Home, At Work or On the Road:  Where Do Most Accidents Occur?

[2] Shellpoint Retirement Community.  10 Shocking Statistics About Falls