How to protect seniors -- older parents, relatives and loved ones -- who live alone. Tips on what to do in case of an emergency. Safety ideas.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The FAST Way to Search for Signs of Stroke

by Dr. Don Rose, Writer, Life Alert

What is the best way to detect stroke symptoms? Act “FAST.”

The “FAST” way to remember the warning signs of stroke is an acronym method based around the four letters in that word. It is shown below. The statements in quotes are what to ask the person who may be having a stroke:

F is for FACE: “Smile”. If one side of the face droops: may be stroke.
A is for ARM: “Raise both arms”. If one arm drifts downward: may be stroke.
S is for SPEECH: “Repeat the following sentence” (have the person repeat a simple sentence). If the speech is slurred or strange: may be stroke.
T is for TIME: If any of the above signs are present, don’t waste any time; immediately call 911 or take the person to the nearest stroke center or hospital.

(Source: “Stroke Awareness,” article from National Stroke Association,

For Life Alert members with stroke symptoms, there is another way to get the time-critical assistance that is needed: press the button on the Life Alert medical alert pendant. This will summon immediate help, 24/7. Using Life Alert is best if a phone cannot be reached or if driving the person to a hospital or stroke center is not possible. If a stroke victim is alone, Life Alert’s medical alert system may in fact be the only way to get help.

Saturday, March 07, 2009


by Dr. Don Rose, Writer, Life Alert

This title may sound like a contradiction, but the happy surprise is that it isn’t. You can indeed get older (as measured by your chronological age – number of years on Earth) yet still remain young (as measured by your biological and mental age).

Being “young” is a two-part state: mental and physical. If you keep a youthful outlook and attitude (mental youth), while maintaining a healthy body (physical youth -- eating right and exercising to maintain or improve your internal biological processes), then you can actually stay in a state that most would consider young. Some people have even made their bodies younger by changing habits and attitudes that were, well, old and obsolete for them. After all, if folk-rock-poet-icon Bob Dylan can sing “I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now,” who am I to argue?

Perhaps some of you readers are still not convinced. Okay, here are some tests to try.

Ask someone how old you look and/or act. If the answer is less than your actual number of years on this planet, this is evidence for your success at maintaining youth. The more people you ask, the more evidence you can accumulate.

Now, look inward at your mental state. Try to be honest. Do you still get excited about the little things in life? Are you hopeful about the future? Do you do impetuous things at times? Do you think of yourself as young (your mental portrait of yourself)? If you have some yes answers here, then you have evidence for mental youthfulness as well.

Let’s be clear. I am not saying that getting older (i.e., accumulating more years on this planet) is a bad thing, or that we should act in ways that perhaps were dumb and we wound up regretting back during younger years. With advancing age comes wisdom (hopefully). As more birthday milestones pass, you will know more and more facts and rules and other useful knowledge that makes things work and makes your life work. You will also know more about what doesn’t work - a big timesaver. All these points, plus lower auto insurance rates, are among the many benefits of getting on in years.

But the main point here is that, while we all must get older in terms of years (we have no control over that, as long as we’re alive), the state of “being old” (i.e., mental-attitude aging) is a choice. Plus, with proper physical care and the increasingly rapid pace of medical breakthroughs, biological aging may soon be a choice as well! In short, it has never been a more exciting time to rack up your chronological mileage.

Finally, a four word finale for folks who find they simply can't stand reaching each new birthday, each new New Year, each new decade milestone: think of the alternative!

You’re welcome. Now shut up and be happy. (If you just laughed, you’re still young.)

One afterthought. Some futurists have predicted that in the near future, perhaps a decade or two from now, our knowledge of bodily aging will increase so much we’ll be on the verge of “curing” it -- that is, stopping or even reversing the processes that cause our bodies to decay, die or decrease in function. While this prospect is exciting, one fact of life can still cause major problems or death, even if dying by old age is cured: accidents.

Fortunately, people can protect themselves against accidents and other emergencies. One way is to buy health insurance and other kinds of insurance to make sure an accident doesn’t wipe us out financially. Another equally important strategy, to insure against bodily harm due to emergencies, is to sign up for a medical alert system with Life Alert. Danger doesn’t discriminate; it can happen to anyone, regardless of (chronological) age. Since we all may be living well into the 100+ range during the next few decades, perhaps even 200+ years, there is a lot of living to lose by letting an emergency happen to us without proper protection. Think of a medical alert system with Life Alert as an extra bit of insurance, to make sure you get all the speedy care and attention you might ever need.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Rule 10. Give yourself credit.

Not in the literal sense, but rather, take a moment to savor how good it feels each time you pay off another credit card. Congratulate yourself for a job well done. Then, after a bountiful bout of back-patting, get right back to paying off the rest of your cards. Before you know it, you’ll be debt free, or close to it. And you will feel… in-credit-able!

All these credit card tips were brought to you by Life Alert.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Rule 9. If your credit card company’s interest rate (APR) is too high, ask for a lower rate.

Another example of “If you ask, ye shall receive.” It cannot hurt to ask for a lower rate, which will mean less interest being charged to your account, which means you will be able to pay off that card faster. If you make payments on time, month after month, you become more reliable in the credit card company’s eyes, and hence it’s more likely you’ll be eligible for a lower APR. Many credit card companies automatically offer you a lower rate when you qualify, but if that call doesn’t come, take the initiative and ask for a lower rate yourself. If the first customer rep you ask says no, remember to ask for a supervisor!

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Rule 8. If you pay late and get a late fee, ask customer service for a courtesy fee waiver.

If you ask, ye shall receive. Most know this saying, yet many don’t apply it in the real world. It does work, in the majority of cases. Most card companies are willing to help you. They can often credit back a late fee (especially if you have not been late before, or if it’s been a long time since you were late), or they can reduce the late fee (e.g., cut it in half). The longer you have been with your credit card company, the more leverage you have in asking for some relief. Also, if a late payment was not your fault (e.g., lost mail, a late statement, website issues, etc.), tell the supervisor this; it is easier for the supervisor to justify a waiver or reduction if something outside your control caused you to be late.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


by Don Rose, Writer, Life Alert

Rule 7. If you are not having success with a customer service rep, ask for a supervisor.

Seven of the most useful words in the English language are: “May I talk to a supervisor, please?” If a regular customer rep can’t accommodate you, a supervisor often can. This applies to asking for a credit card fee waiver or any other issue related to that company.

Friday, February 06, 2009


Rule 6. Consider cultivating a cash-only credo (cutting out credit).

The only way to reduce your credit card balances is to pay them off faster than you spend on them. Stopping spending on credit cards is the quickest path to a debt-free state. If you cut credit card usage to zero (or use them only for emergencies), you will not only reduce your outstanding credit card debt faster, but you can plan better and calculate when those balances will go to zero. Steady reduction in your balances month after month also looks good to credit reporting agencies. If you insist on using the cards, consider an alternate strategy: paying off whatever you spend each month plus the minimum payment due.

Monday, February 02, 2009


by Don Rose, Writer for Life Alert

Rule 5. Reduce credit card balances, but don’t get rid of zero-balance cards.

It is good to get your card balances down to zero as fast as possible, but resist the urge to get rid of cards once they have no balance. In addition to being a good backup or safety hedge in case of emergencies, your credit score is helped by having cards with small or zero balances. This is because FICO scores take into account the ratio of your total outstanding credit balance (across all cards) to the total amount of all your cards’ credit limits. The smaller this ratio, the better your score. The more zero-balance cards you have, the lower this ratio will be, which is desirable. Having zero-balance cards also shows you can manage credit, unlike folks who have most or all of their cards maxed out.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


by Don Rose, Writer, Life Alert

Rule 4. Pay more than the minimum payment each month.

There are at least two good reasons for doing this. First, you will pay down the debt faster the more you pay each month, meaning you will ultimately pay less in total interest. Second, it looks better to the credit card company (and the credit reporting agencies) if you pay more than the minimum. Paying just the minimum sends the signal that you are barely scraping by, and hence not as good a credit risk, which can in some cases result in the card company raising your annual interest rate or lowering your credit limit (or both).

Monday, January 05, 2009


by Don Rose, Writer, Life Alert

Rule 3. Pay bills on time to avoid fees, credit report damage, and other penalties.

Typical late fees range from $29 to $39, and if you are over 30 days late many credit card companies will report you to one or more of the big three credit reporting agencies. Another negative of being late: the credit card company can impose other restrictions, like raising your annual APR (interest rate) as a penalty for lateness. Strive to pay your minimum payment (preferably more) at least a week before the due date; this will cause less stress, thanks to the one week time cushion for your payment to reach its destination.

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Life Alert is the leading emergency response company, dedicated to solving home safety issues. With a touch of a button, Life Alert sends help fast, 24/7, whether it’s for a medical, fall, fire, or home invasion emergency, even when you can’t reach a phone. Life Alert saves a life from a catastrophic every 10 minutes and has received over 25,000 testimonials from grateful customers since 2008, and was the ONLY company former Surgeon General, Dr. C. Everett Koop, endorsed until his death in 2013. Founded in 1987, Life Alert has become the industry leader in personal protection but also has become a pop culture icon with their classic slogan, “Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” which was ranked #1 by USA TODAY in its list of the most memorable TV commercials. In 2008, “The Martha Stewart Show” featured Life Alert and recommend them to all of the patients at the Martha Stewart Center for Living while pointing out that Life Alert is "so inexpensive yet so vital for people." Life Alert, their slogan and/or pendant have been featured in many T.V. shows such as 30 Rock, Supernatural, The Goldbergs, and Jay Leno frequently referred to their famous slogan on The Tonight Show.