I'll speak from bitter experience. It really depends on mobility.
If your mother can walk, and doesn't have any conditions that are
likely to realistically impede her ability to reach a phone in
time of crisis, she could be okay.
I worked (from his house) for an 87 year old man who ran a
business from home. He was using a walker at that time, and
managed to get around, though slowly, on his own. Over the
course of a weekend when I wasn't working, he fell somehow,
and may have hit his head in the process (he never regained
the mental clarity to disclose what happened accurately).
He didn't have the upper-body strength to get to his feet
and use his walker. For some reason, he was unable to get
to the phone on the nightstand in his bedroom (I think
maybe the walker was in the way). He pulled himself into
the den where there was an alternate phone, but the guy
who was staying in his house (who was gone all weekend)
had, unbeknownst to him, unplugged that phone to plug in
his computer modem. He dragged himself to the kitchen
next, but was unable to reach the wallphone there, as it
was too high.
When I found him at the beginning of the next week, he
was butted up against his living room wall. When I asked
him about his orientation, he said he thought he was
up against his front door, hoping to make noise if
someone came to the door.
Needless to say, he was disoriented, dehydrated, and
weak. After about a week's recuperation in the hospital,
he returned home, but was never able to use the walker
again. He was also convinced that his answering machine
did not look familiar and didn't belong to him (probably
because he was viewing it from a different angle than
he'd ever seen before, from his wheelchair.
He remained wheelchair-bound for the rest of his life,
and his mental status continued to gradually deteriorate,
along with his physical strength.
Sadly, this could have been prevented, since a family
member had arranged to have a life line service installed
about a month earlier, but after about a week of tolerating
this unfamiliar and "bothersome" technology, he'd had the
If there is any chance that your mother might at some
point be susceptible to a fall which would limit her
ability to reach a phone, due to a condition which
makes this a possibility, or due to unsteadiness,
and if she keeps her door locked and does not have
visitors on a daily basis, a life line can be of great
value. One of the main benefits is the one-button
notifier which can be worn around the neck or on the
Obviously, it will only work if she's willing to learn
about the system, wear the notifier and use it.
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