Elder Care Needs Can Change in an Instant
During the years I cared for multiple elders, I grew to dread the ringing of the telephone. It seemed most calls meant emergencies. One example? My neighbor, Joe, for whom I was the primary caregiver, wore a personal alarm so that he could push a button to notify a dispatch center if he had an emergency. The dispatch center would call him back. If he didn’t answer his phone, they’d call me.
The moment is frozen in time for me when, just hours after I left his house, my phone rang. It was the dispatch center telling me that Joe had punched the help button and wasn’t answering his phone. I immediately ran across the yard and pushed through the door. Joe was lying on the floor, with one leg at an unnatural angle. In agony, he just said “help me.” Joe had broken his hip. I called 9-1-1 and we rode in the ambulance to the hospital. A few days later, Joe was moved to a nursing home, but he died within weeks.
My mother also wore a personal alarm, and I received frequent calls from the dispatch center to check on her. It was a short drive to her apartment, but always an anxiety laden drive for me. What would I find? Mom fell often, and that meant frequent trips to the emergency room. Eventually, because of the falls and other medical issues, she needed nursing home care, so we moved her to a nearby facility.
For my dad, the life-changing situation was brain surgery gone seriously wrong, which for him, also meant a move to the nursing home. For my uncle, it was a massive stroke.
On duty 24/7: One of the most exhausting parts of being a caregiver, from my point of view, is that there’s always the threat of an emergency that we are responsible to handle…
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