Thursday, 17 August 2017

Elderly care & my dilemma with falls

I want to start this by saying I love the NHS and the thousands of staff that keep our country healthy.

However I feel one area is lacking. Our elderly people are falling down the cracks.

My dad has falls which are random and due to Parkinson's. It can be months with none or several in a week.

He has recently had a bad spell. Saturday & Sunday he was unwell. On Monday he fell with no injury.

I called the doctors who diagnosed a urine infection so I collected some antibiotics. 

However he fell again with no injury but could not get up.  He is a 15 stone man who I cannot lift.  Luckily after a fraught hour a neighbour helped.

Once back in bed he felt more comfortable.

When the carers arrived they said as he'd fallen an ambulance needed to be called.

He had no injury but was unwell.

This is where my dilemma comes in.

I'd had dealings with ambulance staff twice before due to falls. One team were nice the other told me it was not their job to pick up people who had fallen over.

In my opinion an ambulance is unnecessary but there is not an in between service.

An ambulance team costs a lot of money and being called out prevents them getting to something more life threatening.

When my dad or any elderly person falls I believe an intermediate team is required to check them over & suggest the next step which could be GP home visit, ICT team visit or hospital referral.

Obviously if the fall has resulted in an injury an ambulance is required but the 3 times I've now dealt with them my dad has not been injured. Twice has been due to infection & weakness. The other time appears to have been medication related.

I feel both thankful and guilty to the ambulance teams.

I know this will probably happen again and am at a lost as what to do.

I'm hoping with a few tweaks he can be monitored more but its the randomness of the falls that cannot be planned for.

The team were so lovely & said I could call back if worried but it feels like an unnecessary use of resources.

I strongly believe a fall team should be invested in arriving in a smaller vehicle. Staff trained to safely lift a patient and assess the situation.  This would relieve pressure on ambulance staff and be a better use of correct resources.

I also believe more information needs to be available for family as to help available.  I've found it a huge uphill struggle.

I don't know the answers but feel our elderly care does need to be addressed sooner rather than later.

Love Emma xxx

Parkinson's - Symptoms & help

This is a different sort of post from me but I thought it might help someone out there.

I believe Parkinson's is a misunderstood disease.  My family has had some first hand experience. I am by no means an expert & as a family we are still researching treatment and trying to find solutions but what I do know may assist you.

I thought Parkinson's was just tremors & effects the elderly.

Tremors is actually only the tip of the iceberg and NOT present in all cases.

For my dad the main symptom was reduced mobility & problems with balance. It was a GP in October 2015 that first highlighted that my dad's shuffle was hugely characteristic of Parkinson's.  He was officially diagnosed in January 2016 but we feel now it had probably had Parkinson's for 2 or 3 years prior.

For those that do not know the symptoms are -

Main symptoms
Tremor (shaking)
Slowness of movement
Rigidity (stiffness)

Other symptoms
Bladder and bowel problems
Eye problems
Falls and dizziness
Fatigue
Freezing
Pain
Restless legs syndrome
Skin and sweating problems
Sleep problems
Speech and communication problems

Mental health symptoms
Anxiety
Dementia
Depression
Hallucinations and delusions
Memory problems

I had no idea that Parkinson's could cause memory loss & this has been a huge issue for us.  After a couple of tricky months especially over Christmas 2016 we now have carers who visit daily.

If you require this sort of help for someone contact your Adult Social Care Unit through the council or get a GP referral.  It did take approximately 4 months to get the care plan in place but obviously this will differ in each council area.

To help prevent falls my dad lives downstairs & has hand rails fitted to assist movement.

He is currently on Madopar and whilst the improvement seemed minimal you can tell a huge difference if he fails to take his medication.

Madopar is used in Parkinson's disease to increase the levels of dopamine in the brain.  The neurotransmitter dopamine is known to be reduced or absent in the brains of people with Parkinson's disease, and this is thought to be the cause of the disease's symptoms.

There are other medications available and it is probably not a one size fits all but Madopar might be a good first step.

I hope this helps someone and take care.

Emma xxx

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Time for Goodbye - Short Story


Time for Goodbye
“What do you mean you haven’t told her yet?” Jane whispered quietly “We are supposed to be going next week.” Jane sighed and shook her head. “I understand it’s difficult.” She continued softly “but it’s been months and I know you and Lisa need this to be over. Everyone can finally say a proper goodbye. It’s for the best and the cottage is booked.”

“I know. It’s just she rarely answers the phone now a days and I haven’t had time to pop over.” Brian replied sounding anxious.

They didn’t realise I could hear them. I closed my eyes enjoying the sun streaming through the windows and imagined I was at the seaside. I loved the sea, the crashing waves, and bracing fresh air. I hadn’t been in a long while come to think if it. Not since Harry became ill. I shook my head dislodging the thought and tried to relax and enjoy the sunshine again but the moment had passed. I felt a familiar lump form in my throat and my eyes watered.

“Hey Mum.” I heard Brian say as he eventually entered the room, “How you doing?” I smiled and nodded. He came over to the chair I was sat in and perched uncomfortably on a small footstool. “Jane is just making a cup of tea.” As he finished the sentence Jane appeared with a tray, three mugs and a plate of biscuits. She also had a bunch of flowers wedged under her arm and struggled to open the door. I’ve always liked my daughter in law, she’s kind hearted, and I can see my son clearly loves her but we’ve never really gelled. I’ve always felt she looked down on me and Harry a little. I remember when Jane and Brain married I fretted for weeks about my outfit. I feared I would show Brian up and didn’t want to appear dowdy in the wedding photos. Of course Harry said I was being silly and Brain wouldn’t care if I showed up in my cleaners smock. The day had been lovely and even I had been pleased by my appearance in the photos.  Harry had looked fabulous in his suit and we’d reminisced about our own wedding day. The sound of the tray being put down dragged me back to the present.

“Mum we wanted to talk to you about dad.” Brian said holding my gaze, “Do you remember me saying about going on holiday?” I shrugged feeling confused. What holiday? What did Harry have to do with it? I saw Jane and Brain exchange a worried look. I sighed wishing I could go back to my seaside dream. “I’ve booked it. We go next week. All of us.”

“Mary it will be lovely.  We can have a stroll along the sea front and spend some time together. I think it will do you the world of good. You’ve been cooped up a lot lately.” Jane smiled.  “I’ll help you pack. Just let me know what you want to take. It’s only for 4 days but will be great. The boys are excited. We’ll take Harry and say goodbye.” I understood what they were talking about now. Various friends had told me it was time to move on. People seemed to think I was living in the past. I had been withdrawn but liked being home with my thoughts. “We’ve been worried about you Mary.” Jane said softly and stroked my arm, “The children have missed you.” I missed them too but just seemed to lack the energy and motivation.

“Mum we all need to move on. Dad would hate this.” I knew Brain was right but I wasn’t ready. I wanted more time. Jane and Brian chattered on about times and places but I didn’t take much notice. Later when they had left I noticed Jane had stocked the fridge with four cooked meals all neatly labelled. It was kind of her as I hadn’t much felt like cooking recently and I realised I was fortunate that she cared.

The following week I was picked up and our holiday began. The children excitedly babbled in the back of the car. Both boys said they were happy grampy was coming with us. I had mixed emotions. Their happiness was infectious however and I began to feel lighter than I had in weeks. Once we arrived at Hollowell Shores the boys raced off. Both needed to get rid of some energy after being stuck in the car for several hours. Jane unpacked and I surveyed the little cottage. It was in a beautiful location. A small play area was a few feet away and you could see the sea in the distance. Seagulls squawked overheard. My daughter Lisa appeared and hugged me tight. Lisa and Dave (her husband) had travelled in another car and arrived a few minutes after us. “Isn’t it lovely? I wonder if the beach huts are still there.” She said kissing my cheek. “It’s lovely to see you mum. I’ve missed you.”

 The day passed quickly and as night fell I had the best night’s sleep in months. The sea air seemed to have cleared my mind. The following day we went down to the beach. The beach huts were still there and it was a beautiful day. The waves gently lapped the shore and the sky was dotted with white fluffy clouds. The boys raced off looking for crabs. “Mum I think dad would love this.” Lisa said sliding an arm through mine. “It’s hardly changed.” As I stood looking at the sea I realised it was time to say goodbye. I had been selfish in my grief and removed myself from my family. I had worn my grief like an invisible coat and as the sun shone I realised it was time to take it off. “You’re right love.” I replied squeezing Lisa’s hand.

For the first time in 9 months I talked about Harry. We had brought Lisa and Brian to Hollowell Shores many times when they were young and memories came to me in vivid flashes. I laughed and cried as I recounted stories including an unfortunate incident involving a fishing hook and trip to the local hospital. Brian fetched the urn from the car and we all stood on the beach our feet getting wet as we let the ashes scatter into the sea. “Bye Grampy.” Oliver said eyes watering.

“Don’t get eaten by a shark.” James said smiling and waving. We all stood peacefully for a few moments before James continued “Or a seagull. I hate seagulls.” I laughed and ruffled his hair.

We enjoyed the rest of our break and Brian enquired about the beach huts. We put our name on the waiting list and vowed to return every year to have a family holiday with my beloved Harry.

Sometimes - Poem

Sometimes you feel like you're winning,
Other times you are just staying afloat.
Sometimes your temper is fraying,
Others you can smile throughout.

"Don't do that."
"Get dressed."
"Let's go"
"Stop hitting each other."
"Eat your dinner NOW!"

Little battles everyday,
Little victories too.
Parenthood is definitely challenging,
Rewarding and a test.

A smile,
A cry,
A hug,
A scream.

A kiss,
A shout,
A cheer,
A blame.

Remember sometimes we are winning,
Sometimes we are just staying afloat.
Tomorrow is always a new day,
So don't beat yourself up or worry.