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I need some opinions.

Let's say there is a lady who lives by herself (with a pit bull who is the biggest scaredy-cat ever and would probably not be any help in a home invasion)

Let's say this lady is in her early to mid-60s, in a wheelchair, and has never learned to drive or wanted to learn to drive. In fact, she would never leave the house except for something unusual, like her mother's funeral.

If she were to hire someone to come in to do the cleaning and cooking for her, and I suppose the shopping as well, would you consider her to be independent?

If she fell, she would not be able to get back up and would have to lay (lie?)there until someone came and found her.

Do you think it's safe for a person in this situation to live alone?  If she got one of those medical alert things that she could press if she fell, would that be sufficient?

What if this lady was your mom?

(This post is not about my mom - my mom's doing well - yay!)

55 Replies (last)

My own rule of thumb is that the medical alert is good for 4 hrs alone or less. You can't count on the wearer to be able to press it at all times. If she couldn't, I'd like to see the maximum time window between that and the time she's discovered by someone checking in on her is 4 hrs.

When my MIL was living with us, she had her cell phone that she could use to quickly page us and we also had monitor cameras that we could login online and watched her from time to time. If she disappeared from camera view for more than an hour, we went home to check on her.

No, that is not independent.

Medical alert things are helpful but would never substitute for the care of an actual person.

Why is she in a wheel chair? What I mean is it an illness that will gradually become worse, like MS, or is it something she's dealt with for a long time?

If she's got paralysis that she's had for say 20 years, perhaps a housekeeper and a charged cellphone is all she needs. She'd have to be diligent about keeping it charged, or maybe there's a phone charger in those Hoveround chairs?

*thinks if there isn't, some sort of after market phone-charging kit for those things would be a great invention*

Yes, sixties (says the 58 year old) isn't that old.  Basically you have a person in a wheelchair living alone, and a lot of people in wheelchairs do.  She would need to hire someone to help her, but unless there is a medical problem you haven't mentioned, I don't see the issue.  After all, if you are already sitting in a wheelchair, how likely are you to fall?  Lets revisit this when she hits her 80's

I would be worried if they fell in such a way that they couldn't trigger an alarm, therefore maybe laying somewhere with a broken hip for 24 hours (until the cooking lady went in again). It would depend on how in shape they still are to do the movements of getting in and out of bed, and into and out of the wheelchair, and bathroom etc. If they are as fit as they can be, why not. If they are not fit, or obese, or both, I would again be worried.

It sounds like 4 things:

1. She doesn't have anyone to look after her.

2. She refuses to give up what little independence she has left.

3. She enjoys having privacy and being "on her own."

4. She's comfortable with her situation as it is.

Your question is loaded.  Is it absolutely safe?  Of course not.  Nobody is absolutely safe living alone.  You could slip in the bathtub, or there could be a carbon monoxide leak in your house.  So, it's a question of relative safety.  It doesn't sound to me like the situation is terribly unsafe.  To me, the question is, why should it be anything other than her decision whether she is safe?

If she fell after her home-help person left for the day, then it could be 12 hours to 16 hours before she would be discovered.

She used to walk with crutches when she was younger, but now uses a wheelchair. (She had polio when she was a baby.)

 

Original Post by suzushii:

I would be worried if they fell in such a way that they couldn't trigger an alarm, therefore maybe laying somewhere with a broken hip for 24 hours (until the cooking lady went in again). It would depend on how in shape they still are to do the movements of getting in and out of bed, and into and out of the wheelchair, and bathroom etc. If they are as fit as they can be, why not. If they are not fit, or obese, or both, I would again be worried.

She's not fit. She is obese. 

The main time she might fall is when getting in or out of bed, or moving from her living room chair to her wheelchair or back.

Yep.

Original Post by lysistrata:

[snip]  It doesn't sound to me like the situation is terribly unsafe.  To me, the question is, why should it be anything other than her decision whether she is safe?

Do you not love your mother, lys? Do you want your mother to lie on the floor for hours and hours? (remember I said what if this is your mom)

;p

This may seem unusual, but would she be interested in a roommate? Of a similar age, and in this way, she would have not only company, but someone there in case anything happens. There is pretty advanced housing ideas where I live, and there are entire buildings made up for old people to live almost completely independently, but together with other old people, and very close access to nurses, and medical help. Nothing like a "home".

Then get her one of those alert systems.  If she falls, all she has to do is push a button.  The chance of falling or having something go wrong with you and being unconscious and unable to get help for a long time is something every person living alone has to deal with. 

My mother is 88, also had polio as an infant, is quite obese, and lives with my father who has Alzheimer's and would be less than useless should something happen to her.  We got her an alert system.  I understand your concern, but she is an adult and has the right to choose how to live and what chances she wants to take with her life.

Edit:  Suzushii is right, there are some interesting options out there.  Assisted Living in the latest thing.  This is for people who need some help, but are pretty independant.  Some even offer the elderly their own apartments in a complex that includes people who come in to check on them, help with medication, recreational activities.  They sound really nice.  They are also quite expensive.  We would love my mother to move to one of those places, but she won't.

Original Post by nomoreexcuses:

Original Post by lysistrata:

[snip]  It doesn't sound to me like the situation is terribly unsafe.  To me, the question is, why should it be anything other than her decision whether she is safe?

Do you not love your mother, lys? Do you want your mother to lie on the floor for hours and hours? (remember I said what if this is your mom)

;p

My mom just got a nose job.  I think it's idiotic.  I also think it's entirely her choice.

My grandparents are starting to deal with these issues now.  I err on the side of dignity and autonomy.  Of course I don't want them to suffer, and that includes suffering at being treated like a child.

It sounds like this lady has been living alone for a while.  As long as she has her mental faculties, I'd stay out of it.  Her situation isn't the best, but she seems to choose this route.

Original Post by nomoreexcuses:

If she fell after her home-help person left for the day, then it could be 12 hours to 16 hours before she would be discovered.

That would be even more of an issue for a non-wheelchaired person living alone who doesn't have anyone regularly stopping by to take care of her. And in your example, the woman is less likely to be going up/down stairs or in/out of a bathtub.

I can understand why family and friends may be concerned. I think one of those medical alerts is a good idea.

My mother had to lay on the floor for several hours 2 or 3 times because she chose to do unsafe things. She had a wheelchair and a walker. She knew she was supposed to wait for someone to be home to get in the shower. She wasn't supposed to let the dogs in and out. Yet she chose to be stubborn and do those things herself. She also refused to follow the safe procedures to do certain things. For instance, she' grab onto the glass shower door to get into the shower instead of using the handicap bars. I had to take her to get stitches several times.

After a 2nd and more severe stroke, she had to go to a nursing home and she refused to signal the nurses or aids when she needed help. She fell there too and had to get stitches. They then had to move her into a room right across from the nurse's station so they could keep an eye on her. Then they had to put an alarm on her so that if she got out of the wheelchair it would go off. Then they had to put an alarm on her behind her back so that she couldn't reach it and disconnect it. Then they had to alarm her bed so that she couldn't get out of bed by herself without an alarm going off. I had to sign off on these alarms each time.

I know the strokes had a part in her decision making process, but a lot of her choices were out of pure stubborness. It was both frightening and infuriating. I got numb to quite a bit of it after awhile and just dealt with the phone calls and trips to the emergency room as they came up.

it's difficult. 

sounds like there's a lot more going on than just physical limitations here. 

i think - if the person meant to assist in this sort of decision making is, as it seems, in a position of moral obligation - the most productive tactic is to work with this lady's values, lifestyle, and existing networks, as much as poss. keeping her in her own home is usually better.

eg - is she religious? if so (assuming she doesn't trust 'cleaners'), maybe there are some 'friends' from the church who could stop by every now and then.

would like to recommend a book:  coping with your difficult older parent.

from that (& other books about more specific issues): negotiate and gain agreement on as many matters as possible. even, eg, in defining risk. ('do you think maybe leaving the stove on could be dangerous? it's something i worry about sometimes.')

the child of this lady (if trusted; should be the most trusted one) could maybe gain agreement for a risk assessment. with a checklist. and agree everything. what's a risk? what really needs to be prioritized? what is distasteful from the child's POV, but not actually dangerous?

would only be bullish about truly scary things (fire hazards/wiring, pests < infectious diseases, serious damage to the home, medication).

sounds like falls present a genuine risk. if it were my mom, i'd do my best to get agreement on a medic alert device.

re food - maybe the stress of having an untrusted stranger come in would be worse for her, experientially, than eating canned tuna every day (or whatever). would not force food choices; would work with preferences whenever possible.

and remember, ordinary grocery stores offer delivery services. doesn't have to be meals on wheels

If she has all her mental faculites, I would talk to her about different options as mentioned above and see what she thinks, and how accurate she see's her abilities.

I have a friend in another city who works for a company that helps look after older people who are still in their own place but need help. She often works overnight as sort of an adult babysitter.

I'd see what options are available and talk to her. If she isn't able to make decisions for herself any longer than it may be time to get relatives involved and think about assisted living or somethign similiar.

In my experience you can't push her into a home if she doesn't want to go. But if the family is keeping her out for their own selfish reasons, then there is an issue. I have a friend  who's family is doing that (and now my dad's younger gf seems to think she can do it all for him).

I am all for people going to assisted living when they need it. No matter what the age.

I do think the roommate idea is a good one.

If this was my mom I would not feel comfortable with it but at the same time I wouldn't force her into anything she didn't want to do.

Its one of those rock and a hard place situations :(

I can't respond because the entire topic violates my belief in genetic selection and forced euthinasia (sp???) for those unable to walk.

55 Replies (last)
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