I was reading a post on the Parkinson’s Facebook page that I follow, and it had some thoughts that are worth sharing.
The post was relaying an incident that happened to an elderly person in their neighbourhood that had a fall and activated their medical alarm. This was unrelated to Parkinson’s by the way. The problem was it turned out that the emergency services could not get into the house and eventually the door had to be broken to access the home. It meant the person who needed help had delays in being able to be aided. This could mean the difference quite literally between life and death.
How many of us – even in the early stages – have given any thought to this scenario for ourselves? I am not at the stage where I need a medical alarm, but I have some things in place should I need assistance. We are relative newcomers to our neighbourhood, having moved into our new home in 2021. We have made an effort to get to know our neighbours and especially our closest neighbour. I am open and honest about having Parkinson’s as I think right from the outset, we need to prepare for the event we may need support.
I have gotten into the habit when I go out in the garden now of having my cellphone in my pocket. As my husband works shift work, which varies a lot, I can often be at home by myself for many hours at a time. I have spoken to our neighbour and asked that if I need help in the event of a fall or other event, could I ring him. He very kindly agreed that he would be happy to help. We have also given him a key to our house, so at least if I fell and rang him, he could access our home and support me until further help arrived. I have also given a key to my cousin, who lives 5 minutes away and have given my cousin’s details to him as well. My daughter also has a key to our home and although she lives further away, there may be a time when she is called on to ‘rescue’ me!
I think as you get older, rather than being ‘risk averse’ and not trying to do things that might be a bit challenging, we can put in safeguards to enable us to at least try to keep doing things round our homes. I will climb up – we have steps – to our raised garden and weed and pick produce. But, I am very conscious of how I am feeling before I attempt to do so. If I feel that I am getting too fatigued, I will not get up on the garden, rather I will do a few things that don’t involve as much potential risk. That said, I don’t want to be wrapped in cotton wool and not able to do anything for fear of falls!
I am 62 years of age and I fatigue more easily than when I was younger, but then don’t most of us as we age? And as much as I like to live mostly in the moment, rather than too far in the future, it is important – I feel – to know your limitations and not have too many risky behaviours. Because I recognise that I could fall and be alone when I do so, I think it is useful to have a few options to call for help should I need it when I am home alone.
This is not being negative, but about acknowledging potential risks and having a plan to deal with them if the risks turn into an event where we need help. Having several people willing and able to come to my aid if I need it, is reassuring. Whether it be a neighbour, relative or emergency services, I feel it is important to have a system set up to get the support that is needed as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Even in the early stages of this condition, I think it is important to build your support team, so that when or if you need help you have a number of options to help you when this is needed.
If having a plan for an adverse event minimises the risk of injury or trauma, then that is the best way of being able to continue doing what we want to do physically.
Plus, it may just reduce the chance of undue pressure from those who care about us, not to do them in the first place!
2 thoughts on “Safety and Security”
Yes I think it is wise to have an action plan in place. My neighbour has a key to my house as does a close friend of mine. I have someone in the house with me at most times, but if he were away at a meeting I know that I could count on them.
My aunt, who is in her nineties, has a code operated key safe attached to the front wall of her house. The code is known to family, some friends and the medical alert company, all of whom can give it over the phone to emergency services, if required. It overcomes the potential problem of key holders being away from the area when the keys are required. The keys physically stay on the property, in the key safe near the door. I think I will do the same when I move to an apartment… to avoid locking myself out! 😁