Thursday, June 5, 2014

But Will He Press the Button?

It was just a somewhat typical day, living three hours away from a mother in law in her 80's and her son with autism, my brother in law "B".

My spouse and I had last visited my mother in law and "B" over the Memorial Day weekend (the last weekend in May, here in the United States).

For several years, my mother in law has subscribed to one of those medical alarm devices that we used to poke fun of when we were younger.  Now that we are in our 60's and have an elderly relative we care for, it isn't so funny any more.

In fact, I don't know if I should laugh or cry at this parody of the old "I've fallen and I can't get up!" commercial.  Black comedy? or bad taste?

My mother in law has a device she wears on her wrist with a button she is supposed to press if she falls. Pressing the button calls a service that will summon help for her.  At one time they even kept a record of her medications, but, due to privacy concerns, they won't any longer.  The only problem is, she doesn't seem to wear it all the time - or, I suspect, even most of the time.  (Frustration).

On our last visit, we noticed a light flashing on the main alarm unit, which is near her kitchen telephone.  We talked to the alarm service.  The agent thought the button was dying, and said they would send a new device.

Except one never arrived. (This happened once before, incidentally, when they needed to send a new device. We had to call twice because the first one never arrived.). So my spouse called their service number. 

First try: recording said a 20 minute wait.  Called back a few minutes later.  Second try: recording said a 20 minute wait.

Spouse had another number. He called that and the recording didn't even identify the company - just said "Leave a message".  So much for try #3.

On try #4, spouse heard an option to leave a message and someone would call.  He did that and someone finally called.  The agent wanted to test the units remotely (she has two) to see if either one or both were no good. Spouse explained he was three hours from his mother.  So the agent said he would call her.  My spouse said "Wait, let me call my mother first." She does not answer the phone if the number is unknown. Spouse called, she answered and all (we hope) will work as promised.

Turns out the service had the wrong zip code on file. They are going to overnight something to my mother in law.  But, that isn't the end of our story.

One more question remains, one that I pray we never have to find out the answer to:

If my mother in law falls, and is conscious, she can press the button.  But if she is unconscious, will "B" press the button (or, in the alternative, call 911) for her?  He's been shown.  But it's not something we can figure out a test or routine for. It will be a one time thing.

My mother in law thinks he will call.  I only can hope she is right.  None of us know how we will react in an emergency until it happens.

Tomorrow and Saturday, I will be blogging on other topics.  But I will return to "B" next week.

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