When Mom moved in over a year ago, I set a baby monitor in her room next to her bed, placing the receiver next to my side of the bed in our bedroom. Since she had just been released from the hospital following aneurysm surgery, I asked her to call me when she needed to get up in the night to go to the bathroom–which she does 3-4 times every night. But for some reason she wouldn’t call me when she needed to get up. It’s probably some mothering instinct where she doesn’t want to bother me with her needs.
Mom moved so slowly she was like a stealthy ninja, only granny style. Because she moved very, very slowly, it was thus very, very quietly. Sometimes I didn’t hear her at night until the toilet flushed. Which was little late to be of any assistance in getting to the bathroom.
It’s the little things you forget or don’t think about that can cause accidents. Having an elderly parent in your home requires a thoughtfulness about where furniture is placed, what is on the floor, how good the lighting is, etc. I supposed it’s similar to baby proofing. But in our case it’s Mimi-proofing. And it requires vigilance.
When she went back to the hospital last October for another aneurysm surgery, I unplugged the night light in her bedroom. I don’t even know why. I forgot to plug it back in when she came home. Bad mistake. The first night home, I made my request for her to call me when she needed to get up. She didn’t. Instead I woke up to the vibration of something falling in the house. That something was mom.
I leaped out of bed and ran to her room. She was on the floor, confused by the darkness, unable to find the door. Immediately I realized the room was too dark without the nightlight. I severely berated myself. Thankfully, mom was not hurt. In fact, she insisted she didn’t fall, that she simply sat down on the floor when she couldn’t find the door. I helped her up, assisted her to the bathroom and settled her back into bed.
Fast forward 4 months. Mom was snoozing in her recliner when I decided to mop the kitchen floor. I quietly moved kitchen chairs into the room where she was napping to clear the kitchen floor. In the process I moved Mom’s walker to make room for the chairs. In my usual manner, I did not bother to put the chairs back as soon as the floor dried. And I didn’t notice her walker was quite a bit out of her reach should she need to get up.
I decided to take a nap on the couch. Suddenly I woke to a loud crash in the other room. Instinctively I knew my mother had fallen. I jumped up to run into the other room and instead slipped and fell, slamming my jaw on a wooden chair. My husband leaped up at the same time, picked me up and then ran into the other room to pick my mother up.
She needed to go the bathroom and couldn’t get to her walker so she decided to manage without it. She fell, knocking over some house plants on the way down. When everyone got picked up, she ended up with a nasty bruise on her arm; I ended up with a bruise on my shoulder and an aching jaw.
My mother was so concerned about me. As I looked her over for bruises she patted my arm and asked how I was doing. No concern for herself, just worried about her little 60-year old girl. We put some frozen peas in a baggie for the hematoma on her arm. I poured a glass of wine for the ache in my jaw. I think we both will recover. And hopefully, I will become evermore aware of my mother’s surroundings to help her stay safe.