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?