Emergency help for an elderly parent - have also posted in carers as I'm not sure who can give me advice!(13 Posts)
I’ve been trawling around the internet trying to find an answer to an urgent question but I’m either not asking the right question or I’m going to the wrong places. So can any MNs help me?
Background stuff first so I hopefully won’t be drip feeding. My mum is in her eighties, she has diabetes and injects insulin twice a day. She had a heart attack last year and had a stent fitted so also takes Warfarin and another three or four tablets a day. I set out her weekly tablet box, she administers from that. I also do her weekly shopping for her or take her to the shops if she’s up to it.
A couple of weeks ago she had a problem with her right leg which the GP diagnosed as sciatica. She was on medication but it made her woozy so she’s just resting the leg and using paracetomol now on doctor’s orders. Last week I took her to the GP as she was slurring her words and her face was twisting. He confirmed that it wasn’t a stroke – I’d done the FAST test they talk about on the TV and she was able to pass that easily so I guessed it wasn’t. The GP believed it was a trapped nerve which will go over time.
Usually mum looks after herself (apart from appointments and the shop/meds stuff that I do) so we’re very lucky. She lives in a council run sheltered housing scheme near me – we got her a place last year as she was over a hundred miles away previously. She’s on state pension, no proper savings (less than £5K). She cooks for herself and does her own laundry. The sheltered housing has one of those emergency help line via a pendant schemes.
BUT, and this is the reason for the post, on Friday I had a call from her around 4pm. She’d had a bad fall at about 3pm in her kitchen. She says she either blacked out or her leg went, she definitely didn’t trip as she was standing near the counter top at the time and wasn’t walking. She went down, pulled crockery and the kettle down with her – luckily that was lukewarm or it could have been horrendous. She didn’t have her emergency line pendant on. It was in the bedroom! She has been unceremoniously told off over this weekend about that. When she came round in the kitchen she slid herself into her living room to call me – she was on the floor for over an hour in total as she had to slide and stop because of the pain in her back and leg.
I called an ambulance, they confirmed that she hadn’t broken anything but was shaky and had bruised her leg and coccyx badly. They didn’t take her to hospital.
I’m in the middle of 12 week building job at my house at the moment – we have rubble, dust and channels for heating pipes in the floor plus no ceiling in areas and no downstairs loo so my sister took my mum to hers for the weekend. But, she has to go to work this week and there’s no one at her house to look after mum. She lives an hour away and I have a six year old and a DH who has got to go abroad on business tomorrow night. He’s already cancelled the meeting once as I had a back injury a couple of weeks ago (we’re a really healthy family at the moment) so he can’t cancel again – his company’s bidding for a multi million pound project and he’s heading it up.
At my sister’s my mum needed help getting out of bed to get to the loo, couldn’t walk to get a drink on her own and can’t lower herself into a chair properly – her lower back and buttock on the right is bruised and very sore. So she now has a sciatic problem in the left leg and a badly bruised right leg so walking is very hard.
When hubby goes tomorrow evening there is no one available to look after my six year old so I’ve either got to get mum in bed by 6.30pm or drag my DS out to get her to bed later and he has school to attend so can’t be late to bed. I can’t get round in the morning until 9.30am after school drop off so mum will be without food or drink from 6.30pm ish til 9.30am each morning and I don’t even want to think about the loo situation as my head is about to explode with just the rest of it!
We thought we could leave her a sandwich and a flask for warm drinks overnight but she has arthritis so she can’t get the lid off (sister tried it this morning) and if we leave the lid loose enough for her the drink’s cold within an hour.
I’m taking her to the GP tomorrow to start the ball rolling about whether the slurry speech (which she had when she called me from the floor on Friday) has actually contributed to the fall and will ask him for referrals for help. But what should I ask for?
Ideally I’d like something like a respite care place for a week or two so she can get her legs back working. Once she’s on her feet she can cook, get to the loo and get herself a drink. We can do the rest like laundry, shopping etc. And I can pop in each morning to check that she’s OK, once DS is safely off to school.
If we can’t get that we need someone who can get in early evening to help with a hot meal and making sure she gets a hot drink and, if possible, someone to help her get to bed as I’m under the physio for my back at the moment so lifting her will be fun (not).
If I didn’t have my six year old I’d be able to do a lot of it but I can’t. Added to which, he has a heart condition so sleep and keeping warm are important – dragging him out in this weather to get his nan to bed later than 6.30pm just isn’t going to happen.
So, what do I do? Where can I go to get a couple of weeks help quickly – I’ve got to have something sorted out by tomorrow evening if possible or she’s on her own until Tuesday morning. I don’t know who to ask or what to ask for and time is against me so I don’t want the run around of calling umpteen departments. Any ideas?
Sorry for the long post but, as I said, I don’t want to drip feed so I hope I’ve covered everything.
OK. Starting at the beginning - she cannot stay at home like this, she is at risk.
Ring the GP now - the OOH GP, ask them to either sort her out with a emergency carer (often call a rehab or reenablement team) or get her admitted to hospital.
There is either an undiagnosed medical condition causing this, or a general deterioration in her health - she can be investigated to check which.
Emphasise that she is at risk of a further fall, is unable to get to a toilet or get a drink, at risk of malnutrition/dehydration, skin breakdown if incontinent in her bed. She can't change position herself - at risk of pressure sores.She cannot stay there without a suitable support package.
If you give a hint you might manage to do it all yourself they will leave you to it. DO NOT SAY YOU CAN MANAGE FOR NOW - they will not arrange anything.
See about carers allowance/attendance allowance. You are entitled to an assessment of your needs as her carer too.
And I am surprised she wasn't taken to hospital on Friday - she had a collapse of unknown cause and is clearly frail at the moment - did they offer to take her in but she refused? She needs a thorough medical review.
Plus - insulin dependent diabetic - if she cannot get herself food or drink she could end up seriously ill very quickly.
You need to get in touch with social services and ask for a social worker assessment.
Its possible that she would be o.kay at home with carers coming in a few times a day. In our area there is a team called the independent living team who get involved (for free) for 6 weeks if someone is deemed high risk of needing a hospital admission. it sounds like your mum would def fall into that category. I'm guessing the services available will vary area to area though.
District nurses could also get involved to help with any equipment she might need and with her insulin administration if needed.
Thank you, all of you. I'm trying to get through to OOH doctor etc. Moaning, no the ambulance man came, assessed her, got her to her feet, got her in a chair and she was telling with the pain on her coccyx. He confirmed that she hadn't had a stroke, told me to give her some paracetamol and said she didn't need the hospital. He even helped her shuffle to the loo as she couldn't make it on her own. She didn't say she didn't want the hospital, it was never offered. I should have insisted I know, but I was so shocked at her falling, plus I had my six year old with me - we'd not long got home from school and DH was still at work so I had to take him round. He was upset at seeing Nannie on the floor so my mind was all over the place. To be honest it'd have been easier if she had been taken in, even for a few days. I'd have had time to get something sorted but weekends it's hard to get hold of anyone, hence my predicament tomorrow. I've found an emergency social services number so I'll give them a call to see if I can get the wheels in motion today. Thanks so much for your help.
Sorry I've been off line, it's been a busy couple of days. I got hold of the out of hours adult services team on Sunday who got me in the system. Monday morning I got a call to say from today (Tuesday)she was getting three Enablement Service visits each day - basically they'll do meals, personal care to keep her independent and out of hospital until she's back on her feet. The supervisor did an assessment this morning and she has a commode, perch seat for sitting on whilst washing in the bathroom, bed lever to help her out of bed and a raised loo seat on the way to make that easier to sit down on. We bought her a walking frame - could have got one from today but she needed it last night. She's getting to the loo and even decided to have a go at doing her own lunch today - with the Enablement woman's support and help. She was a bit tired from standing afterwards but really pleased with herself.
The GP has ordered blood and urine tests as they think it's either a urine infection or another infection that has caused the wooziness and subsequent fall. The GP is also referring her for an older persons psychiatric test to check that there is no underlying dementia being masked by any infection. As she said, if dementia is starting and causing the confusion/wooziness, the quicker you get onto it the more they can help. She doesn't want her in hospital unless absolutely necessary as acute wards obviously have people on them who may have other infections and the GP doesn't think mum could cope with getting an illness or further infections. At home she's less likely to come into contact with germs her body isn't used to. Which makes sense, as long as the support works for her.
The intermediate care team, who normally get involved only when someone has been in hospital, were called by the rapid response social care team, who had been alerted by the GP and they called me today. They are coming in next week to assess mum for physio and any other equipment or services she'll need as she gets back to fitness. They want her in less discomfort than she currently is in before they assess her obviously.
I'm actually really impressed how each service has contacted the other even if they can't help at the moment - they appear to be getting lined up to support mum as she, hopefully, gets better, almost like they're moving her along as she get more fit.
Thank you all so much for the advice. Hopefully I'll have good progress reports to give as she goes along.
That's brilliant Sounds really good. Feel free to come back or pm me if you need anything.
Thank you. Have a good night's sleep - I will!
MIL has had wooziness and falls over the last year or so, but it was only last week when she had a severe stroke that they found out all the falls were probably due to mini strokes. She had no symptoms of them at all, but the brain scan last week shows scar tissue from the strokes.
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