When your parent has Alzheimer’s disease and lives in memory care, you learn to dread “the phone call.” Early on you get calls like, “Hi, your mom’s PIP account (forgot what that stands for) is out of funds and she is scheduled for the hair salon lady today,” or “Hello, your mom is out of briefs and needs new ones right away.” (That call never came when she was down to the last few briefs, only when she was competely out!)
Those early phone calls don’t prepare you for the late night call I received last November. “Sorry to bother you, but your mom fell down this evening.” Adrenalin rush and I ask, “Is she okay? What happened?” The Med Aide on duty calmly informed me that she had fallen after entering the assisted bathing room, but that’s for another story…
Fast forward to my mom’s rehab at the Corvallis Manor for therapy following surgery to repair her hip. The second night at the Manor we received a call that she had again fallen, this time after getting out of bed and trying to walk unassisted. The nurse informed us that my mom did not appear to be seriously injured but the surgery site was oozing and they were sending her to the hospital. I hurried to the hospital where she was checked out and released after a few hours. I then had to figure out how to get her back to the Manor without the assistance of an ambulance!
The occupational and physical therapy staff at the Manor were amazing with my mom. They were all so patient with her and spent a lot of time working with her to regain strength increase her confidence in walking. Unfortunately her anxiety and dementia made it necessary for her to end rehab a few weeks early. Finally, after long weeks at Corvallis Manor, my mom returned to Conifer House in early December. She was welcomed with open arms and settled in pretty quickly back at her home with Smokey.
My mom wasn’t back at Conifer House for more than a week when we got one of those calls again. Apparently she had rolled herself outside to one of the enclosed patios and tipped over in her wheelchair while turning a corner. Fortunately she had a soft landing in soil, but we were scared nevertheless. We were assured by staff that she was fine and not injured.
A deep sigh of relief and life goes on – until last night. Another phone call that my mom had fallen! The Med Aide reported that she had gotten out of bed, walked over to her doorway and fell down. To be on the safe side, EMS was called because she hit her head during the fall. Hospice was also called, checked on the situation and everyone agreed my mom seemed to okay with no visible injuries.
My mom seemed just fine this morning when I stopped in to see her and feed Smokey. She was very sweet and had no recollection of the night before. As a family we’re having lots of conversations about my mom’s ability to walk safely. Should we be regularly working with her and encouraging her to walk with assistance? Some days she shows no interest in walking and seems most content to roam around in her wheelchair. So we weigh the risks, knowing she is much safer in her wheelchair and another serious fall would be absolutely devastating…