In 1998 my mom had a major stroke which affected the left side of her brain. For those of you who don’t have any medical knowledge, very simply when you have a stroke on the left side of the brain it affects movement on the right side of your body and can even affect speech. Mom could only say a few very simple words and then sometimes it was very difficult to understand her. Visitors would always look to me to interpret. Unfortunately, most of the time, I didn’t understand her either.
She lived with me for some time and then gained enough strength and determination that she wanted to live on her own. I knew she couldn’t live alone, and about that time Assisted Living Facilities were starting to pop up. So we set out to find a nice AL.
At holidays she still came to spend a few days with me. I worried about her falling down the stairs so I set up the couch for her to sleep on in the living room and she was always happy to sleep there. One Christmas Eve in about 2004 (2 years before she passed away) I went to bed and had not raised my window shades which I always do if they are down before I go to sleep.
In the morning I awoke and wanting the sun to come in, I went to the window to raise the shade. To my surprise when I looked out the window, there was my mother in her nightgown laying at the end of the driveway and my dog running around next to her.
I grabbed the blanket off the bed, pounded on my sons’ doors to call 911 and grab blankets and out the door I ran. When I reached her she was alert and oriented but unable to move. I wrapped the blanket around her and waited for EMS as I thought she might have a broken hip, and I didn’t want to move her myself.
To make a long story short, EMS came and helped her in the house. She refused to go to the hospital, and she appeared unharmed…after she thawed out.
The dog had apparently wanted to go out and she, being the ever helpful person she was, put him out. Unfortunately Scruffy needs to be on a leash, and he took off. She went out to get him and slipped on the icy concrete drive.
It was a story with a happy ending as my oldest son, who was in college at the time, broke out into a chorus of “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer!”
So don’t let Grandma get run over by any reindeer this season. Make sure your home is safe with those with early dementia or other physical deficits so they are secure in their environment. Here are some helpful tips:
- Remove any throw rugs
- Don’t allow extension cords to run across the room or outside sidewalks
- Use flameless candles
- If an older adult is staying with you in a new environment for the holidays, be aware that they can become confused at night. Leave lights on so they can find their way more easily and avoid falls or accidents.
Leave your own tips below and have a Merry Christmas!