That could be me. That’s what occurred to me when I saw a news story out of San Francisco about a mummified body being found in a house. It turned out that the house belonged to a hoarder and the body was the remains of her mother—it’s a long sad story. But, before I knew all that, I just thought about the likelihood that if I died while living alone, I might not be found for weeks.
It was a combination of events that caused me to have these thoughts. It started when one of my Tuesday coffee date friends said that because the string that holds her alarm pendant got wet when she used the shower, she took it off. Then she realized that if she fell in the tub she wouldn’t be able to get help, so she started putting the button next to the bath where it could be reached.
(Note to the alarm button people: putting a pendant alarm button on a string is a bad idea.)
Recently, my roommate has been pondering the possibility that she might move out when her grad studies end this summer, depending on whether or not she is able to get a job. I, in turn, have been pondering the possibility that I might choose to live alone instead of getting another roommate.
While considering this, I read how someone in Tokyo is now making a business out of cleaning the apartments of people who have died while living alone. It happens so often that this has become not only necessary but profitable. If your bills are paid directly through your bank, and if your mail is not delivered to your door, and if your family lives in another city, then who is to know when you have ceased to be? Eventually, neighbours will start to smell something, but that can take a while.
Then I saw a jolly news item about seniors in Sao Paulo, Brazil, who are choosing to live with their pets instead of their families. This non-traditional lifestyle choice is being accommodated by some resorts who have realized that there is money to be made from the older generation, and so they are providing welcoming facilities for both the people and their pets. I suppose that if one of the residents dies, someone in the resort would know about it. At the very least, they’d wonder what happened to the pet!
When I suggested to one of my sisters that I could die and no-one might know for weeks, she was horrified. Then she reminded me that there is no way she would go more than a few days without hearing from me. Also, I suppose, my children would eventually realize I hadn’t been on Facebook or Twitter for a while, so they would likely want to know why.
It seems that if you are too healthy for a nursing home, too independent to be a burden to family, too cynical to be good at dating, and too good at paying your bills through the Internet, then you’d better keep your emergency alert button within reach.
(Note to self: look into getting an emergency alert button.)
(2nd Note to self: look into getting a dog and going to Sao Paulo.)