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True confession time. I'm really tired today and running on ultra-slow. Yesterday I tried to call an out-of-state dear friend of mine with some major health issues. I hadn't heard from her in over a week, which is somewhat unusual. Particularly since I'd written her a couple of times and asked a question or two in the emails. I tried calling several times yesterday afternoon and evening with no success. Late last night I even tried calling her sister to see if she'd heard from her. She also hadn't and, of course, was now concerned as well. Finally, I remembered I had an email address of another mutual acquaintance who lived much closer. I wrote that person, as well as emailing my friend once more. This time I explained that I was concerned for her health and asked her to please email me as soon as possible. As a Sandwich Generation senior home care giver who writes on this topic, I am very well aware of all the awful scenarios that could happen to a person living alone, particularly one with health problems, and, of course, most of them were running through my mind during this whole episode.
All of this led to my getting to bed about two hours late and not sleeping well! Now you know why I'm so tired! Praise God, I checked my email around 3 in the morning and found replies from both friends that she was A-ok. 🙂 One positive result of all of this was her discovery that her cell phone was not working properly! As she commented, the main reason she has a cell phone is for emergencies. But if it doesn't work well, that certainly won't be much help!
All's well that ends well and she is probably going to get her phone fixed or upgrade it. But it did give me food for thought for her and for all of our elderly relatives who live alone and far away. It made me realize how important it is to:
- Give them a call at least once a month, if not more often, and check that their telephones and cell phones are working properly.
- Encourage them to invest in some kind of personal emergency elderly medical alert systems that come with an emergency pendant complete with a panic button they can push. Then help is right there on the "intercom." If they can't afford it and you can, this would make a great gift that keeps on giving. One of my dear seniors has used Philips Lifeline's personal emergency response system for several years and been quite happy with them. She has had to push that button a couple of times and they've been wonderful! They've responded quickly, calmly and compassionately each time. Another excellent one, with a great rating from the Better Business Bureau is Medical Alert by ConnectAmerica. A life alert system for the special senior citizen in your life can be a great gift to both of you!
- Make sure you have current phone numbers, addresses, and email addresses for your loved ones and several of their local friends and neighbors, including their pastor, doctor, etc.
There are no guarantees in life and crises do occur. Following these tips could help in those circumstances. Hopefully, if it is a true crisis you'll be right on top of things and if it is a false alarm, you won't lose as much sleep as I did. That's definitely a win-win for all of us Sandwich Generation senior home care givers!
Another good idea is to make sure your “caregiver closet” is well stocked both at your home and the senior’s home. Here is a checklist you can print from Caregiver Tips on what to stock up on http://www.medicalhomealert.com/330/how-to-stock-your-caregivers-closet
Hi Charlie, Thanks for the great list. Looks great! 🙂
Kaye, so glad your friend was ok. We just got my m-i-l signed up with lifeline. It is very inexpensive. She only lives about 8 miles away and my husband talks to her every day on the phone, but we still found her with a collapsed lung on Christmas Eve when we went to pick her up for church. She’s 84 next month. The ER said she would have died had we not brought her in! She didn’t call to tell us she was having trouble breathing because she didn’t want to bother us!!! argh! But I think it scared her enough that she agreed to the lifeline.
Oh Jacquelyn, I’m so glad she was OK! We had a friend surrounded by neighbors who knew her well. But she fell in her bathroom due to a stroke, and wasn’t found for 3 days! She ended up in the hospital in such poor condition due to the delay and passed away a few months later. Up til then she had been in superior shape for a 50 year old – even tho she was in her 70s!!! That’s when I started really championing these medical alert systems! But it is sometimes difficult to convince people they need them, isn’t it!!! 🙂
Excellent point, Paula. Thank you 🙂 I am such a “micro-manager” I would probably encourage my aging relatives to be living with someone else or in an assisted care option. But many seniors in the early stages of dementia symptoms can and do live alone and that is an important consideration. 🙂
Medical alert systems are great, but keep in mind that a dementia patient may not remember how to use them. Take extra precautions with those seniors with memory or cognitive problems. Hire someone to check on them every day, if necessary.
I have been looking for the last few days on getting a pendant for the elderly gentleman that we have recently moved in with. He is 84 and still shows up for work everyday! Actually he is my boss. My thing with the medical-alert is it has to be connected to a phone-line and when he has fallen it is outside in the garage (a long way from a phone jack). Another problem is that we live in a rural area, and he would NEVER figure out how to use a cell phone even if it had service. Any help or advice as to how or who could have more answers I would love the help!
Hi Donna, Hmmm, I was going to recommend one of the Jitterbug cell phones for senior citizens. It does have all the numbers on the keypad but a senior has the option of just pushing 0 and getting an operator who can connect the senior with one of their contacts or, in an emergency, with 911. As long as someone sets it up for him, it’s really easy – pretty much just like a traditional phone.
Since you are in the country, you’d need to make sure they have service that far out. Another possibility could be to use an emergency pendant and have an extra base that would extend the reach of the pendant. We were going to do that at our old house, so that it would work upstairs as well as way out in our back yard (it was quite deep). So I would discuss it with one of the various companies that provides medical alert systems for seniors.
If all else fails, there’s an old-fashioned way that might work if there are neighbors living close by. I read about an elderly couple who would hang a red scarf up in the window in the morning, and take it down at night. If ever the red scarf wasn’t up, the neighbor across the street knew to check on them. It might be a while, but it should be the same day at least. And since he is still going to work daily, I’m guessing he would probably remember to do it?
Hope one of these helps. And what a sweetie you are to watch out for him! 🙂 Also, if anyone else has any more ideas, we’d love to hear them! 🙂
Thank you so much Kaye for the reply. I will be sure to give JitterBug a call tomorrow to see what they can offer. Also we have locally a security company that may have some ideas. Once again thanks for the reply as I normally would not think I would get one.
You’re very welcome Donna 🙂 And we’d love to hear if they give you some other creative ideas that might come in handy for others in the same situation. 🙂
Hi Donna, I just discovered some new-to-me services that Jitterbug cell phones for senior citizens offers, including a “check-in” option that might be a big help for your boss. I’m writing a whole article about these tomorrow! 🙂