If you are a caregiver, you may be familiar with the dreaded fall. Especially if you are the caregiver of a dementia patient with mobility issues, like my G-mom. The first time it happens it can be traumatic , for both the person who fell, and you. The first time my grandmother took a spill, we found her on the floor near the bathroom door, screaming in shock, with blood on her chin. Dramatic? Yes. Fortunately, she wasn’t hurt badly. She somehow scraped her chin and had a small cut.
I had watched enough TV drama shows to know, you shouldn’t move a person who has fallen. Especially, an 82 yr old with fragile bones and two hip replacements. God forbid something is broken. Instead, I did what any clueless person would do. I dialed 9-1-1. They arrived, sirens blaring at 10 o’clock at night. A bit much in our quiet suburban neighborhood? Yes, but what can you do? They took her medication list, SSN, and other details, wiped her off and picked her up as easily as you would pick up a baby and put her back in the bed. The suggested treatment was a small band-aid, Neosporin so the cut didn’t get infected and ibuprofen, in case she was sore from the fall. Simple enough!
The second time she fell, I was home alone. My mom was out of town so I was on solo duty, which is the worst. No tag team, no breaks. About 8:00AM, I check the camera (which I will tell you about in another post), and she was in bed so I rolled over and went back to sleep. About 9:00AM, I decided to go ahead and get up and start my day. I went to the top of the stairs and I could here her talking. Considering that we are the only two people in the house, I listened more closely and heard my G-mom say, “Well who do you think is going to help me get up?”
I rushed down the stairs, only to find her on the floor next to the bed. This time wasn’t as dramatic, as there was no screaming or blood. However, she was clearly confused and asking about random numbers and such. I was alone, and this was a situation I would need to figure out on my own.
After getting her comfortable and propped up on some pillows, I decided to see if I could move her myself. Probably not, but I was in solution mode and I figured it was worth a try. I pulled out my handy dandy smart phone and Google’d something like “How to lift a person who has fallen.” I stood there (yes, she was still on the floor) and watched a video that was of absolutely no help, then finally decided to call in the heavy artillery. Yup, 9-1-1.
The operator asked if she was hurt. Ummm, not visibly, but since I didn’t have my x-ray machine, I wasn’t really sure if anything was broken. Apparently, if you say there are no injuries, it’s the difference in if they send an ambulance or a fire truck. Who knew? About 5-8 minutes later, the firetruck comes creeping up in front of the house. (No sirens. Thank Gawd!) Then three of the biggest corn fed, handsome, muscular, calendar/centerfold ready looking fireman came calmly knocking on my door. I lead them to G-mom. They picked her up, put her in the bed and were headed on their way. They were so smooth and easy with it. I suspect, this is what they do all day, as there are not too many fires in our quiet suburban city (that I know of).
This leads me to this morning. Our third (maybe fourth) fall. This morning, I went down at 7AM and she was out of the bed, holding on to chair for support to stand up, and clearly confused as to exactly why she was out of bed. After just a little conversation, I managed to talk and help her back into the bed. I attempted to use the “sheet drag” method (There’s a more technical term, not sure what it is.) to try to drag her to the middle of the bed. First mistake. Moving a 135 lb person is not easy. The dragging of the sheet is supposed to help. It didn’t.
I moved her, but I also strained my back in the process. Ouch. But I got her back settled in bed. Great. Fast forward to 9AM. I get a text from my mom who is downstairs, “Mama is on the floor.” Greeeeat. Fortunately, this time, she must have gone down slowly. She wasn’t in a bad position and she wasn’t complaining of pain. I think we can handle this. Or so I thought. She was right next to the bed, so with two people we were each able to lift one side and get her back up into the bed. Good for her. Bad for me. I think I strained my already strained back even more. That whole “life with your knees, not your back” thing people say. That’s real!
So as I go and find some “linament” as my G-mom calls it, or BenGay as you may call it and some ibprofen, here are a few links to sites that might be helpful in learning how to lift and drag a person who has fallen or needs to be transferred. Also, don’t forget, it’s ok to call a neighbor or 9-1-1, if you can’t do it on your own! Trust me, a caregiver with a broken back, is probably not that effective.
Here’s a helpful post about pulling a patient up in bed.
Helping Someone Up After A Fall
And in case it went over your head, here is the inspiration for the title of this post, from the movie Friday. 😉