Danger hits home: Is your loved one safe?

Last month my mother slipped in her bath. She broke her femur just below her hip and could not get to the phone to call for help. If the accident hadn’t happened on Sunday, just hours before my kids and I showed up for our weekly lunch, she may have lain there for days.

I realized then, her decision to continue living alone after losing my father a little over two years ago, was no longer a safe one. I started researching viable options. I tried very hard to talk her into moving into a seniors’ residence. There was no convincing her. She refused to give up her home. After all, it was full of memories of dad and of her children growing up. My father’s record collection was still tucked under the coffee table. His signed Frank Sinatra poster, the one mom absolutely despised and nagged him to throw out when he was alive, still hung in the same spot on the wall. Even my old room hadn’t changed. Except for the addition of photos of her seven grandchildren, the room was the same as when I left for college some 30 years ago. Plus, mother refused to admit that she was no longer a 40 year-old woman and was quickly approaching 75.

I was really concerned about her and about what miht have happened had I not come by the house that day. It gnawed at me constantly. I installed a slip-resistant bath mat for her in order to avoid another accident in the bathtub. For weeks after she was released from the hospital I did my best to see her as often as possible. But as she recovered and began walking again, I found it harder and harder to come by. I felt guilty, imagining what could happen while she was alone. I am the youngest of her children, but I’m a single mom. I work full time and have two great kids of my own who keep me busy with commitments at their school, not to mention soccer practices held after school. Most often I was just so exhausted at the end of the day that I would forget to call my mom to check on her. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to see her more often. I felt I had to split myself in four to be able to juggle all my commitments.

As I explored more options, I spoke to friends who were living the same experience with their parents. One co-worker told me about an emergency help button she’d bought for her mother last year. She had been in a situation similar to mine at the time she purchased the system. Her mother was alone and lived a little over an hour’s drive away. Although she hadn’t had an accident to trigger such a need, Sally felt it was necessary to ensure precautionary measures were in place. She decided on this emergency system because her mother was getting older and she worried about what could happen with her being on her own. Sally spoke about the peace of mind that she now has, knowing that her mother was wearing a pendant and could press it at any time if she needed help. Sally knew that if something did happen, there would be a quick response and she would be notified. It made her feel that her mother was never alone.

Convincing my mother to wear an emergency button around her neck was not an easy task. It was harder persuading her to try something beneficial than it had been to convince my 13-year-old that if he did not bring up his grades I would take him off his soccer team. It took some time and a lot of patience on my part, but eventually mom agreed to give it a try. I thank God she did.

We still go over for lunch every Sunday. The Sinatra poster is still hanging on her wall. And mom still has her independence. But now I am reassured, knowing that if something does happen, she is connected to help and I will know immediately.

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