Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Fears of Falling Part 2

Yesterday, I talked about falling during an exercise walk when my ankle suddenly gave out.

Late in the afternoon, I was in the bath, soaking some of my aches away, when the phone rang.  My spouse answered.  It was his sister.

She had been trying to reach their mother, who is 85 years old and has fallen several times in recent years, to check up on her.  My mother in law, it must be noted, has voluntarily given up night driving, and, although she goes out many times on Sunday, she is home usually by a certain time before sunset.

She lives with my brother in law, a man in his 50's with autism, a developmental disability - he helps her as he can, but the ways he can help are limited by his disability.  He is verbal, but finds it difficult to express himself.  My mother in law insists he can call 911 - but I'm not sure what would happen afterwards, assuming he can.

My sister in law had been trying to reach Mom for over an hour, at a time when she should have been home, without success. She decide to call my spouse, who is her oldest brother.  My spouse and I, incidentally, live almost three hours away by car.  That makes us long distance caregivers, like so many other Americans. 

We had compiled, a while back, a list of friends, neighbors and/or relatives who we could call in case of emergency. We had updated it earlier this year.

Out came the list.

But first, spouse tried to call the house, thinking that if something had happened, he could get his brother to answer the phone.  We've never actually tested whether he would call 911 in case of emergency - and, although my mother in law has an emergency monitoring service (the "I've fallen" bracelet, which at age 85 is not a joke) she doesn't wear her button a lot of the time.  (You can lead someone to water, but....)

No one answered, although spouse stayed on the line a couple of minutes beseeching his brother to answer if he was there.  It was time to call someone else.

The first neighbor he called answered, and said she would go to the house to check into the situation.  She came back a few minutes later, saying Mom's car was not in the garage.  It was way past the normal time where she would have been out driving - so now what?

Fortunately, a couple of minutes later, the neighbor saw her car, coming home, and let my spouse know.  What a relief!  My spouse called his sister, then his mother. She explained she had been at a birthday party a mile or so from her house, whose start had been delayed, and she wanted to stay for some of it, at least.

So all ended well.  THIS TIME.   Would we have ended up calling the local hospitals, or the police?  We don't know, and hopefully, we will never find out.  But, I just know, she is going to fall again.  And the next time, she might not be able to recover.  That is our greatest fear.

It just didn't happen yesterday, thankfully.

One day, we know, there will be an emergency.  Will we be ready?

7 comments:

  1. Perhaps it is time for you to give mom a cell phone- not only for her (and your) use- but for it's gps capability to know where she is!
    (There's an app for that!)

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    1. My mother in law has a cell phone - in fact she had one before we did. Problem is, she forgets to charge it. My sister in law did try to contact her (without success) on the cell. I am intrigued, however, by "there's an app for that". Is there a way to track the whereabouts of her phone using an app on my phone or my sister in law's phone?

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  2. Oh my goodness, what a scare!! I'm glad she was okay. You know, my mom is almost 80, and I have had the same experience with her, wherein I'm trying to catch up with her and she should be home but isn't answering the phone. Thank goodness for her neighbors, who are always willing to go check, and sometimes know her whereabouts when I don't.

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  3. Oh wow, I can only imagine how frightened you were. Glad to hear all ended well, take care of yourself, all of you! :)

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  4. Just this past weekend we moved my dad's office up from the basement to the main floor so he can still access his computer without doing stairs. That brought up the discussion of "what if he falls".
    In talking with the company that has their security system, I discovered "when that time comes" that have an add on feature that will allow me to monitor them from home, via my cell phone or computer. So when they don't answer the phone, I can log in to see if they've fallen or are hurt. Definitely gave me some peace of mind knowing that's available to us.

    Erica at http://startingafter50.com/

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  5. It's so nice to know that your mother in law is still able to drive and attend birthday parties when she can. It sounds like she is living her life gracefully and doing the things she still loves to do! Those are the things to be grateful for just knowing that when she does transition - she lived fully!
    Healthy Blessings

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  6. These little shocks should jolt us into making proceedures more fail-safe. You've had a dry run and your compiled list of helpers worked well. You should know that you are doing the best you can at a distance. Everyone dies. That's a fact of life. I wish I was so independant and I'm 14 years younger. I admire her choices in life.

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