Medical alarm a good option for problem
Dear Carol: My Dad called 911 again last night. He was taken to the emergency room where he was pronounced fine. Less than a week before, he took a minor fall, got up OK, but called 911. Nothing was found that warranted treatment. Each time he go...
Dear Carol: My Dad called 911 again last night. He was taken to the emergency room where he was pronounced fine. Less than a week before, he took a minor fall, got up OK, but called 911. Nothing was found that warranted treatment. Each time he goes in, I am called and I meet him at the ER. They tell me that I need to explain to him that the ER isn't for every time he doesn't feel well. Medicare is saying they won't pay for these repeated calls, and Dad can't afford this. He really does seem to think that he needs this kind of treatment. I can't get through to him that he should call me if he isn't feeling well, so I can go over and we can decide together if it's an emergency or if it can wait for a doctor appointment. He has been evaluated for Alzheimer's and shows no signs of the disease. How do I get a handle on this? - Eric
Dear Eric: I contacted Mark Tysver, Director of Land of the Dancing Sky Area Agency on Aging for his take on your question. Mark and the staff agreed on the following response:
"You stated that your father had been evaluated for Alzheimer's and showed no signs of the disease, but has he recently had a mental health evaluation? His actions seem to demonstrate a great amount of anxiety which possibly could be controlled with medications.
"This anxiety may also be relieved if he were to wear an alarm on which he could push a button if he were to fall. A call then would go to a designated close-by relative or neighbor who could come over and check on him."
I'm happy, Eric, that Mark mentioned the personal alarm. For agencies that offer this service, click on service providers on In-Forum's Minding Our Elders column page, or look in the phone book under medical alarms.
My first experience with an alarm was with my friend Joe. He wore it around his neck - when I made him. He did have it on when he fell and broke his hip. The agency called me to check on him, and I was able to get help.
My mother chose the bracelet style. She was never without it and I was called often to check on her because she had pushed the button. I would frantically drive to her apartment expecting that, once again, I'd find her in a heap, usually bleeding from some wound, her walker - useless - sprawled beside her.
On occasion, I'd arrive in a panic only to find her looking at me, puzzled as to why I had just burst through her door. Those times, she'd pushed the button accidentally, as she was doing her crossword puzzle or watching TV. Those "wasted" trips were a small price to pay for the knowledge that she could call for help when she needed it - which was often. These alarms can give both the elder and the caregiver a great deal of reassurance.
Resource: Go to www.n4a.org for the National Area Agency on Aging site. It's packed with information.
To submit questions to "Minding Our Elders" and view past columns, go to www.in-forum.com and click on Columnists. Readers can reach Bursack at firstname.lastname@example.org or write her at The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107