Adventures with an Apple Watch

My Wrinkly Bits books are about people of a certain age falling in love despite their aches and pains and maladies, but more critical for me and many of us over seventy is the fear of actually falling, the kind of falling that leads to broken hips and scratched up limbs. My neighborhood has a lot of seniors and we all watch out for each other. A few years ago, we even created a written list of our neighbors and who they should call should one of us collapse on the street in front of someone’s house. It has proven useful on occasion, not for falling, but for returning stray dogs. Nevertheless, it’s there.

I’m on the beach in Florida where no one knows my name and it occurred to me that if I fell down, no one would know who I was, so wanting to be safe, I considered my options. Cell phone, for sure, I have my emergency numbers listed as ICE, In Case of Emergency, but how many people know that acronym. I could tattoo my name and social security number on my forehead, but I vetoed that idea. I could carry my passport 24/7, in one of those fanny packs, but if the pack gets lost or stolen, I’d have to spend my vacation trying to get a replacement passport. Or, I could just stay at home. But if you know me, you know that is definitely not an option. I was at a loss at what other considerations I might have so, of course, I called my daughter. “Get an Apple watch, Mom, it will call somebody if you fall; the EMTs will arrive in a jif.” That seemed like a good idea, put my fears to rest, and was a doable solution. I wondered if my AARP health insurance would cover it, although I am guessing they won’t.

I forked over a tidy sum after the pubescent tech person assured me the watch would do everything I needed, except possibly tie my shoes, which is a shame because shoe-tying is no longer an easy task. My fingers get mixed up with the laces and bending over gives me aches and pains in three separate body parts. My mother, the Field Marshall, used Velcro shoes, but I have to draw the line with Velcro.

I had to return to the phone store a couple times to have my watch adjusted and I asked about the falling function, and I learned instantly of one little glitch. It doesn’t call the EMTs, it calls my children. This is a problem because, for starters, one is three thousand miles away and the other is seven thousand miles away and neither of them answers the phone very well. Texts work, but phone calls, not so much. The second issue is that I don’t want my children to know that I have fallen, even at the risk of being swept out to sea by some tidal wave. They might think I am infirm and send me off somewhere I don’t want to go. It’s a dilemma because on the one hand, I don’t want to switch them out as my emergency contacts, but on the other, can’t we just keep some things secret?

The Apple watch has taken some adjustment. Not only does it report things I don’t want people to know, it tells me to breathe, stand up, walk around, and drink water. It gives me stars when I do well and scolds me when I don’t. It’s a real nag, but I’m obedient and if breathing better, standing up, walking around, and drinking water will keep me from falling, I’m all in. (It should have a wear-your-mask-function, though, maybe in the next generation of Apple watches.)

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