There are moments in a family’s story that suddenly change the caregiving journey of everyone involved. You know these moments; heart attacks, falls, car accidents, etc. You may have even experienced the panicked phone calls, family group texts, and reactionary plans made soon thereafter. My grandmother fell the other day and was unable to get up. And in the days that followed my family realized she wasn’t quite as independent as we all thought, and we needed to take further steps to ensure her safety moving forward. In my grandmother’s case she has not purchased long-term care insurance, is not yet eligible for Medicaid, and finances are soon to be an issue.
Prior to the incident Grandma, age 87, was living by herself in a one-bedroom apartment. My aunt or my mom called daily, stopped by often, helped organize medications and accompanied her to doctor’s appointments. The two sisters also installed a camera pointed at Grandma’s favorite recliner and checked on her daily. Other family members helped financially, called occasionally, and stopped by when they could. But there were days when no one visited, and for the most part Grandma was assumed to be taking her medications correctly. You can see where this story is headed.
“In the days that followed my family realized she wasn’t quite as independent as we all thought, and we needed to take further steps to ensure her safety moving forward.”
Recently Grandma’s Osteoarthritis has flared up and her doctor had prescribed her some pain killers. He instructed her to take 1 pill every 8 hours. However, a recent head injury from another fall has affected her short-term memory, so anytime she felt pain, she took another pill. My mom had been on the phone with her when Grandma said she was unable to get up. Mom began questioning her, and Grandma simply hung up on her. Then began the phone calling, camera checking, and ultimately seeing Grandma on the floor. My uncle rushed over, my aunt soon followed, and my mom raced from work. Eventually, after one thrown out back and a threat to call 911, they were able to get her back in her recliner.
After some investigating it was discovered Grandma had been taking double the prescribed pain pill dosage and had essentially overdosed. A family meeting was called, everyone was assigned a day or two to go visit Grandma, Medicaid is being looked into once again, and a new way of dispensing medications has been put into place.
After some extensive research our family will now be using MedMinder, an automated and locking pill dispenser with built-in cellular connection. The MedMinder can be controlled on a website, dispensing the correct dosage at the correct time to a loved one. When it’s time to take a medication, the appropriate box will flash and make a sound. If the pills aren’t taken the system will call and remind the person. If the patient still doesn’t take their pills the system will text, call, or email a loved one or caregiver. This device won’t solve Grandma’s entire caregiving journey, but it will help her stay independent a bit longer, and that’s what our family needs right now.
If your family is experiencing a caregiving journey, and you’d like to be more prepared than the previous generation, get a quote for long-term care insurance. Our industry experts will talk to you about your family, your health issues, and your financial goals. They will help you set up a plan that works for you and protects your retirement and your independence. Our consumer specialists focus on education, not pushy sales tactics. Reach out today, and hopefully your family’s meetings can be about what to get you for your birthday, instead of who gets to check on you on each day.