With elderly people, their situation is always very fluid. I really never knew what I would find when I visited my dad each day. Sunday was no different. I received a call from the facility saying he had fallen but he was okay. That was at 1:30 pm. I came over to see him an hour later and the first thing I did was rest my hand on his thigh and ask him what happened. Upon placing my hand on his thigh, he grimaced.
LESSON: Facilities tend to always say “he’s ok” after a fall. Particularly with folks with dementia because they cannot adequately express their pain or difficulty.
LESSON LEARNED: Always evaluate yourself whether, in fact, your parent is “ok.”
It was a Sunday, and with our healthcare system, apparently you really shouldn’t need help or get sick because it’s difficult to find a nurse. In our particular situation, the nurse had just left. Supposedly, she did check him out after his fall and deemed him “ok.” So when I asked a med-tech (the closest medical professional I could find on a Sunday), she assured me that since he didn’t seem to be in too much pain, we could probably wait until tomorrow to have an X-ray. They can do x-rays right on site. I knew he was in pain, but it seemed to be only when he moved in a certain way. So I went along with it and waited until Monday, thinking he’d get an x-ray first thing.
The mobile x-ray people roam from facility to facility doing these X-rays and they get to you when they get to you. They can’t really tell you when. As the day went on, my dad started to slump sideways in his wheelchair and then was experiencing muscle spasms in his back. By 2:30, I was really agitated at having to wait so long and was ready to call 911, when the person finally arrived. What I didn’t realize is that they would have to move him from his wheelchair to the bed in order to do the X-ray. The whole reason for not taking him right to the hospital is because I wanted to minimize movement.
LESSON: Ask questions.
LESSON LEARNED: Do not assume anything.
Two hours later (at 5 pm) it was confirmed that he had fractured his hip. So, at the end of the day, we had to call the ambulance anyway. Off he went to the hospital. When we arrived, the first thing they told me was that they don’t really rely on mobile X-rays; they would now do their own X-rays. So that was a complete waste of time and an entire day of possible pain I had put my dad in.
LESSON: Do not trust anyone. Ask questions and more questions.
LESSONS LEARNED: Skip the mobile X-ray. Go right to the hospital where there is real medical expertise. What they have in these assisted living facilities isn’t the same level as what is available at a hospital.
Now sitting in the hospital a full two days after my dad’s fall, awaiting hip replacement surgery (that could have been done yesterday, had I gotten him to the hospital directly),
Live and learn. I’ve lived it, now you can learn it so you don’t make the same mistakes. What lessons have you learned in your caregiving? I will help you if you help me. No one needs to travel this road alone.