Normally after something tragic we think of getting a medical alarm for our loved ones.
I know when my aunt fell over 12 years ago and lay on the floor for days without anyone knowing we got her an alarm system. Therefore, when our dear friend’s sister fell, I advised that friend to contact Linda and Les at Around the Clock Medical Alarms (ATCMA). (Just FYI my friend lives in Florida – ATCMA can help you wherever you or your loved one live – you don’t have to be in Cape Girardeau, Missouri where they are located). They are a nationwide provider of the PERS (Personal Emergency Response System). Then I called Linda to give her a heads up. Little did I know our conversation would change my life and give me the peace I was seeking.
At the time my mother was in a nursing home.
Mom was one of those individuals whose body failed while their brain was sharp. She could not get up by herself and needed lots of assistance. She stayed in the same lift chair 24/7. Often mom would wait extremely long for care. My mom had dealt with narcolepsy since she was in high school, she would fall asleep without notice, so the thought of her sitting on a portable potty in the middle of her room waiting for help to get off was particularly troublesome. If she fell asleep, she could easily fall. Needless to say, I was concerned. During my conversation with Linda about my friend’s sister, Linda asked about how my mom was doing. I explained the situation and she said “You know, we put alarms in nursing homes too”. I had never thought about an alarm for my mom. One thing I had learned during mom’s 6 stays in 4 different nursing homes during the past 8 years (some short-term stays for rehabilitation due to surgeries and bone breakages) is that staff in nursing homes are overworked and underpaid, please know I am not complaining about care. I was just trying to find a solution to a sad reality that has been around for a long time. I am thankful for the caring staff who treated mother as they would their own mother. I know those nursing homes and staff care deeply about their residents but one can only do so much.
Long story short In July 2019 we decided to try Around the Clock Medical Alarms.
A system was sent to our friend in Kansas and she set it up for my mom. Mom loved knowing she could get help when she needed it. I loved the security of knowing I would get a call if there was a problem. That meant if mom pushed her button, provided it was not an accidental push, I knew. She could not say “Oh I just won’t tell Kim about this so as not to worry her” as my mom did that a lot. She would even tell her dear friend who visited her daily not to tell me things that had happened. The alarm system gave me peace of mind and a feeling that I knew what was happening and how best to advocate for my mom. The alarm system allowed mom to push it when it was necessary for care, and the emergency Response Center always got in touch with mom and the nursing home and got her the care she needed. They stayed on the alarm system with her talking to her until she got the help she needed. When mom received the care, she needed then I received a call and knew what was happening. Peace of mind knowing my mom was taken care of. Mom and I could then touch base afterwards and be on the same page.
Kim & Dad Aug 2014
My dad was living alone at the time and did not feel he needed a medic alert, so we did not pursue that for him.
At the time dad was driving 30 minutes one way to the nursing home daily to see my mom and taking care of himself at home. But we did have an issue. He would occasionally forget his medication. One time when Linda at ATCMA called to check on my mom and mom’s alarm system (yes – they call to check on your loved one and monthly alarm checks are done also) Linda asked about dad – I told her about the medication issue and she said they had a medication dispenser that might help. We could either buy it outright and set it up or if we had an alarm system for dad, we could link it to that and if he did not remember to take his medication, he would receive a reminder phone call. We decided to just buy the system outright. Linda and Les got a system to me, spent time showing me how to set it up and use it, and then I took it back to Kansas in November 2019 when we went home for Thanksgiving. It worked like a charm. We could see when he forgot to take his medication. Since we live 10 hours away in Missouri, we had someone coming in to add medication to the dispenser. I called the pharmacy for refills, his caregiver picked them up and filled the dispenser. Additionally, we bought an extra tray so she could have it all ready when she came to the house to see dad. She popped in the new tray, took the old one, and let me know if all medication had been taken. It worked so well.
Mom’s alarm and dad’s medication dispenser made things easier.
As we all know caring for a loved one is tough. Having a loved one in a nursing home is another challenge and being 10 hours away adds to that. Then add in a nursing home shut down due to COVID-19 which made it impossible for the caregiver who came in from outside to see mom daily and bring the items she needed and you add to the stress.
Long story short, my mom passed away on April 5th, 2020.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we were not able to go back to KS for the burial – there was no funeral – we had planned to have it as soon as we could but then my dad hurt his leg carrying her lift chair that the nursing home sent back with him on the day after her death. Needless to say, I had no idea they were sending the chair back and could not get help to unload it for him as I knew nothing about it. I was busy planning a burial from 10 hours away. My dad’s leg which he bruised got progressively worse during that week and blood clots developed. Just so you know, if you have paid your yearly rate and something happens to your loved one, you get your money back for the unused time or you can transfer the system to another loved one like we did. As of April 9th, when we got mom’s personal effects back from the hospital (mom was wearing her button when she went to the hospital the day she died) Dad was set up with mom’s system and we had that peace of mind once again even though we were not in the same state.
Three days later, Easter Sunday, dad called me – his leg was hurting and he had not slept all night.
His leg was cold and purple. My dad spent 52 days in the hospital and had 6 surgeries. I was not able to be there in person. On May 21st I saw my dad for the first time since March 2020 before the whole lockdown thing got really bad. Our whole family had gone to Kansas for my father-in-law’s surprise birthday celebration so we all got to see mom through the window and thankfully an exception was made for me to go to a doctor appointment with my mom and then stay with her when she got a blood transfusion the next day. When we finally did get to see dad, two of our sons’ and I spent 3 months in Kansas caring for him. We all drove back to Missouri in late August. Dad’s camper came with us. To say it has been an adventure I could never imagine is an understatement! Currently, we are at our house for a time while dad continues healing.
His Around the Clock Medical Alarm and his medication dispenser have come with him.
They are both lifelines for us. The medical dispenser acts as a reminder for me and my family so we know dad has gotten his medications. If I have to be gone or if I am outside in his camper teaching or sleeping, I know dad not only has his phone to call me but his button to push if the need arises. Yes, you read that correctly, my husband and I are sleeping in dad’s camper and we are utilizing that as extra space for our family. All caregivers know we must be creative when it comes to meeting everyone’s needs when caring for our loved ones.
I can’t encourage you enough to contact Around the Clock Medical Alarms. They truly care about their clients. I can’t tell you the number of times I have had to call Linda or Les — or the times they have contacted my mom and dad to check on their systems. No matter how many times I contact them, I am never made to feel that I am bothering them. They truly care about their clients AND their families. I know Linda has been a caregiver and she truly gets it. Les has worked in nursing homes. He gets it too. They can help give you peace of mind while you are doing your best to care for your loved ones. I hope my story helps you on your journey to care for your loved ones in this difficult time. I originally wrote this in November while counting my blessings and remarked that we are thankful for that phone call to Linda about my friend’s sister as it has given us peace of mind that money cannot buy.
Now as we head into May & June, and think of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, that gratitude has not left me.
I know I have been able to truly honor my mother and father, by doing my best to care for them as they always did for me. We are still so grateful for the peace of mind that Around the Clock Medical Alarms brings to our family. We pray for everyone in the position of caring for their loved ones and hope that you reach out to Around the Clock Medical Alarms as they can help bring you peace of mind too.
…Guest article by Kim B., daughter, MO.