Recently a friend of mine passed away. It was a shock to learn about this, as I had just seen her at the pool. Ann was a retired teacher and came almost daily to the pool to exercise and socialize with the other ladies. I have good memories of walking in the pool, talking and laughing with her and our friend Inez. I am writing this post to honor Ann and share some tips that might help prevent a terrible ending for someone else. So as I write this post, I realized Ann is still teaching us!
Here is what happened
On Tuesday, Ann said she would bring a pizza to celebrate one of our friends’ birthdays at the pool. She did not show up, which everyone thought was strange as she was bringing the pizza! It was not like her not to call if something came up. We tried to call her but got no answer. On Wednesday, one of our friends went to her home but could not get in as she lived in a gated community with a system where the homeowner had to buzz the visitor onto the property. Someone else called the Women’s Club, where Ann was President, but no one knew anything. Another friend called the school where Ann had taught for 20 years and recently volunteered reading to kindergarten kids. She talked to one of the teachers who knew Ann and thought something was off. She said she would call the police to do a wellness check. The police finally did the wellness check on Friday and found our friend Ann in her townhouse dead.
Ann did have diabetes, but no one knows what happened or how long she was down. She had no family in the area but did have a handful of friends that were all left feeling sad as we could not help our friend. We all pray she did not suffer.
As I thought about Ann, I came up with a few tips we all need to consider – especially if you live alone.
- Give a neighbor a key to get into your house. Let them know you live alone and want them to have the key in case something happens. Tell them about your routine and ask them to keep an eye out for you. We can do this for each other.
- Build a community of friends and commit to checking in on each other.
- Tell your circle of friends who has your key so, if needed, they can get into your home to check in on you.
- Put a note on your refrigerator in your home with your emergency contact’s name and phone number. This will alert whoever comes into your home to check on you to have the name/number of the person you have designated as your emergency contact.
- Consider a medical alert bracelet connected to an emergency system. This will allow you to get assistance if you fall in your home or outside and cannot use your phone.
- Have your essential papers in a place where someone can find them. This will help your emergency contact know what you want them to take care of in case of an accident where you cannot talk or your untimely death. These papers should include your advance directives for your healthcare team but also other things like what you want done with your home, your car, your bank accounts, and other things you have. If you have someone designated to handle these things for you, like an attorney or financial planner, put their names and phone numbers on the paper you have as your emergency contact.
- Let your local police department know that you are a solo senior or if not a senior, someone who lives alone. Ask them to check on your from time to time. Give them your emergency contact.
These tips are for anyone who lives alone. Please consider implementing these tips, as you never know what could happen to you.
Also, talk to your family and friends about your wishes if something happens to you. Keep your advanced directives and your important papers in a place that is visible so someone could find them. You can also put on the note on your refrigerator where they are. Doing so will help your wishes be carried out how you want them to be.
Thank you for reading this post. I would appreciate it if you would say a prayer for my friend Ann.
I know she is at peace!
Good messages and reminders. We are each our neighbors’ friends and guardian angels.
I’m so sorry for the loss of your friend, Anne.
What happened to Ann occurs in retirement communities and semi-independent living facilities nationwide.
Your advice is SPOT ON PERFECT! It would be wonderful if there were “enforcers” who make sure everyone follows the guidelines.
My great aunt was laying on the floor of her bathroom for days (estimated) before she was found (in VERY bad condition). Even with a policy in place in her assisted living apartment, her neighbor down the hall turned over her “I’m okay” sign on a Sunday morning assuming my great aunt was sleeping late.
It horrible to imagine anyone helpless on the floor and horrible for the person who finds that person.
What you wrote, Anne, should be in place in every retirement community or residence. Monthly resident and staff meetings??? Might help to ensure compliance and save a life!
Thanks Donna for sharing your story. Very sad…we can do better to look out for each other.
Thanks for sharing, sorry to hear of your loss.
This is invaluable information to share with neighbors & family.
Thank you for sending to all of us,
My heart is breaking for you and Ann’s other friends. I pray that she did not suffer as she passed over to the other side. 🙏🙏
As we live longer we sometimes find our children living at a distance and our networks shrink because we outlive our friends. Many of us especially women live alone. We never think about death especially if we are seemingly healthy. It comes at unexplained and unexpected times. Those of us who are left behind are often shocked.
Your suggestions are valuable for so many reasons but for me they ensure the greatest possibility of an early intervention as well as much more dignified passage if that is the case.
Anne, I am so sorry for the loss of your sweet friend.
Thank you for sharing valuable tips for others.
Well done Anne, the nurse, in memory of Ann the teacher!! From Inez De Jesus
Anne, I am very sorry for your loss. I think sharing this information along with a bit about her and who she was was a great way to honor her. Sending love.
Sorry to hear about the loss of your friend and a good woman.
There comes a time in our lives when rather living alone, consider moving into some type of independent living facility where one can come and go as one is able and chooses to remain active and independent.
Although not a choice for all, the actions you mention one should take if living alone, are in place.
So sorry to hear about this situation and the loss of your friend. I pray she is at peace. Thank you for sharing her teachings with us as we all can benefit from this. Yes, Ann is still teaching us!
Such a good reminder to live each day to its fullest. Right? She was a lucky lady to have you as her friend. And although we know each of us has an expiration date, and our time here on earth is so limited, it still seems so shocking when you’ve got someone who was here today but will be gone tomorrow. Hard to wrap your head around that. Even harder when you never saw it coming. Thanks for the tips. They’re so important. I especially worry about those with pets. Big hugs to you and the other ladies from the pool !!
Dear Anne I am so sorry that you have lost a close friend. I must tell you that I appreciate your suggestions.
I live alone and have a very small family and they do not live in the US. I turn 69 next month and consider myself very healthy, but then your description of Ann would also suggest she was healthy apart from having diabetes.
I occasionally wonder what kind of mess I would leave if I just passed in my sleep. So thank you for the very useful and helpful suggestions. I must admit that it had not occurred to me to leave the names and numbers of my 4 family members readily available so that whomever found me could let them know.
I will follow your advice and get my things in order.
So sorry for your loss of a friend. As we age we are more frequently reminded of how precious friends and loved ones are. I recently visited a friend in a gated 55+ community, it was lovely and somewhat the same as you describe. They gathered often, went to the pool, played cards, had lawn concerts, walked their dogs and most importantly celebrated each other. Your article had me thinking about my friend, who is in a different state, so I texted her to check in. We have known each other over 40 years. Thank you for the reminder of how quickly things can change.