We had to call the ambulance to take Mom to the hospital last week… sigh. I was super confused about when the “right” time was, so I thought I would put together some thoughts in case you are worried about this too!
- Our Dementia Ambulance Story
- How To Figure Out If You Should Call An Ambulance
- Calling The Ambulance
- Calling The Ambulance FAQs
- Calling The Ambulance Wrapup
Our Dementia Ambulance Story
A week ago Thursday my mother in law Linda fell off her chair (sort of slid down onto the floor) and laid there for an hour until her son (my husband) got an email from her that let him know she was in distress.
YES, our house is that big that we can't hear her little cries for help. AND for some reason when she is on the floor she cries out in a tiny little voice instead of shouting.
We took her to the doctor on Friday (she got in the car and walked into the doctors office) and the scheduled a home health nurse and a physical therapist to come out and see her. (They were REALLY helpful, let me know if you would like a post about that experience!)
Mom fell/slid again after the nurses visit which was scary, but since we had medical people coming in, it seemed like we were doing everything we could.
Then came Thursday.
The physical therapist said everything was probably fine if Mom was not slurring or having trouble with incontinence.
Well Thursday morning Mom walked to the bathroom with her walker, sat down, and called for me. She was sitting there, slurring and incontinent. We got her changed (my husband can lift her) and helped her to the chair in the living room.
And then I called her doctor and asked what we should do.
How To Figure Out If You Should Call An Ambulance
HUGE disclaimer here, I am not a medical person… like I always say, if you are having a marketing emergency I am your gal, otherwise I am as helpful as tits on a boarhog!
Call The Ambulance!
So first off, if you are super freaked out and your loved one seems in distress, call the ambulance. Like right now. Stop reading this and just call!
That is what they are there for and you are probably not qualified to determine whether she needs medical attention or not.
Most insurances and Medicare cover the cost of an ambulance ride to the hospital so you aren't adding financial problems to the mix.
Call Her Primary Care Doctor
We kind of had Mom stabilized on the chair so I was still freaked out, BUT I wasn't sure about whether to call the ambulance.
With that in mind I called her primary care doctor and asked about whether we should call the ambulance. They called me back and said based on what I was seeing that YES, we should call the ambulance.
Calling The Ambulance
I called 911 and got a really nice lady on the line who asked me a bunch of questions about Mom's condition.
She said the ambulance was going to come and they did, with the fire truck.
Some really nice men came and got Mom onto the stretcher and took her away.
What You Need For The Ambulance Men
While the guys were loading up Mom, I was getting things together for the leader of the ambulance men who asked for:
- Mom's Insurance Info
- A List of Her Medicines
Through the power of technology, once he put her medicines and insurance info in his computer, that went with her to the hospital and we didn't have to take her box of medicines with us.
Give It Some Time
While my first inclination was to follow the ambulance right to the hospital, the nice ambulance man said to wait a while.
They have to get her into a room, do any emergency procedures, and do an initial assessment … all of which I would just be a bother to have around for!
So I went to Starbucks, got a coffee to take to the hospital and had an Impossible breakfast sandwich. No matter what time your ambulance comes, YOU having a wee bite to eat will help you keep up your strength to support your loved one in the hospital.
If you can't eat right then because of stress, gather some snackies to put into your pocketbook to have something to snack on later when you feel a little better.
Calling The Ambulance FAQs
Lordy, I had so many questions about whether to call the ambulance. Here are some of them, and my thoughts.
Is She “Bad” Enough To Call The Ambulance?
Okay, let's call a spade a spade. If you are caring for a dementia loved one, you are like the proverbial frog in the hot water.
You have watched them go down over time and now all the peeing and falling and problems seem “normal”.
If you are thinking it has gotten bad enough that you are worried, FOR SURE at the least call her doctor!
You are the best judge of your loved ones status and if you are freaked out, there is probably something wrong!
CAN You Take Her In The Car?
Mom DID NOT want to go to the hospital in the ambulance and asked Johnny a few dozen times why he couldn't just take her.
I think we totally made the right decision after hearing a male nurse in the hospital say he has a “zero fall policy”.
If your Mom is having trouble and you try to take her in the car, what if she falls?!?!
Now you have taken a super bad situation and made it even worse!
If you are freaked out … call the ambulance!
They had 5 big burly men and were super careful not to let her fall, even pushing the stretcher closer to her so she could sit down more easily.
CAN You Pick Her Up?
This was all hardest on my husband because he IS a big burly man himself. He CAN pick her up himself so he wondered if we were over-reacting by calling the ambulance.
Mom is 7″ taller than me and outweighs me by quite a bit so I don't have that issue. I can't pick her up, especially when when she can't help herself and is dead weight.
If you are struggling with the fact that you CAN pick her up and maybe CAN carry her to the car, DON'T! Call the ambulance to avoid falls and making everything worse!
Calling The Ambulance Wrapup
Mom has been living with us for 3 years now. We did call the ambulance 3 years ago when she had a seizure and that was super easy to figure out.
This time was more loosey-goosey. It seemed like we maybe-kinda could have taken her to the hospital ourselves, but I am so glad looking back that I called.
As a caregiver you KNOW whether things seem “dementia right” or if there is something wrong.
If you are freaked out, do SOMETHING… call the doctor, call the ambulance… get medical advice instead of sitting there fretting!
I KNOW how it is… probably you should be calling the ambulance instead of reading a blog post about it, but with dementia loved ones there is ALWAYS something going wrong.
Sometimes it is hard to how wrong things are going if you are in the day to day of it!
Hopefully this helps… Tara