A Brief History behind the Phrase: “I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up!”

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Updated: March 1, 2024


seniors hand, elderly holding a cane

Image Credit:Sabine Van Erp / Pixabay

Help! I’ve Fallen and Can’t Get Up

Have you ever found yourself reciting a phrase, but have no clue where it came from? A few examples include:

  • “There’s no place like home” – (Judy Garland, The Wizard of OZ)
  • “A sight for sore eyes” – (Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels)
  • “As busy as a bee” – (Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales)
  • “Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads!” – (Christopher Lloyd, Back to the Future)

However, not every phrase is as quirky as it might first appear. This is the case with the line: “I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up,” which dates back to 1989 when it was coined by a 74-year old woman by the name of Edith Fore.

If you’ve ever muttered this phrase with humorous intentions, don’t feel bad. It’s actually from an old LifeCall commercial advertising a medical alert system for seniors (Life Alert had similar ads too and still runs them today. You can read Life Alert Reviews here.). Since then, it’s appeared in numerous television shows and movies, such as Urkel, Rosanne, Fresh Prince of Bellair, and Golden Girls.

In this article, we are going to help you better understand the meaning behind the line by exploring its origins.


LifeCall – The Original Help I’ve Fallen and Can’t Get Up Medical Alert System

The scene opens with Mrs. Fletcher explaining how she had used the 24/7 service to obtain medical assistance after having a fall at home while alone. As she’s lying on the floor of her bathroom, she presses the button on her LifeCall pendant and exclaims: “I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up.” The operator on the phone responds by saying: “We’re sending help immediately, Mrs. Fletcher.”

While the elderly woman lying on the floor was not actually Mrs. Fore, she did create the phrase. When asked about her experience over a phone interview, she explains that “They needed someone who had actually used the service.” Which, she had in fact, on several past occasions, when she had no nearby assistance.

Thankfully, rather than take offense at the situation, she’s been able to make light of things. Claiming: “I’m just trying to have fun with everything that’s happened so far.” Now when you think of a medical alert system, this phrase automatically comes to mind. It is something people of a certain generation will forever associate and that is thanks to the amazing marketing campaign of this product.


What is a Medical Alert System?

If you didn’t already know, a medical alert system consists of a wearable device that’s linked to a 24-hour a day, 7-day a week assistance service. It typically consists of either a pendant or a wrist band with a button on it. It’s usually subtle and easy to conceal. Entry-level systems feature the device, as well as a “home” unit. Other more advanced systems, feature cellular and/or GPS capabilities as well as fall detectors.

The sad truth is that each year 1 out of 4 US seniors (aged 65+) have a fall, 1 out of 5 of these result in a severe injury. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to make their home a safer space. Regardless, accidents happen, and by utilizing a medical alert system, you at least ensure your loved one can reach help.


Need Help Deciding Which Medical Alert System is Right for You?

Consider MedicalAlertAdvice.com. For more than 10-years, we’ve been  helping seniors and family members alike provide their loved ones with the help and support they need when choosing the right medical device for their loved one. Check out our product reviews, buying guides, and informational articles today.