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Over Night Care and it's Limitations

Don't be fooled that over night care will keep your parent safe from all hazards. I had a friend tell me the other day that she was relieved they had signed their mother up for over night care in addition to full time day care, so she would be safe at night from falling down and other such hazards. This is not the case. Over night care givers, unless they have permission to stay in the person's room at night, will always stay in a room next to the client. They will be listening all the while but falling down can happen so fast that unless someone is right there to catch them, they will plunge. This happened the other night. The client had just said goodbye to their family. They lived in a retirement facility full of health services that were a quick call away. The caregiver had gotten her ready for bed, washed up and pajama-ed. She left her tucked into the bed and ready for night night, the light still on. She went into the kitchen to clean up from company. The kitchen was 20 feet from the bedroom. Next thing she knew, there was her "charge" standing in front of her dripping with blood. Panic! What happened?!?! Apparently her "charge" had gotten up for some reason and fell off the bed, gashing her leg on the walker. Elderly people's skin is like tissue paper. The slightest brush against anything can tear it miserably and since so many people are on blood thinners they bleed profusely. "Damn" the blood thinners and "Damn" the walkers. The care giver was able to call for help immediately. Health services arrived quickly and bandaged her up. In a retirement facility we are not allowed to touch people when they go down. Too much liability. We are supposed to call for help and let Health Services take over. I don't know how this would be arranged in a private home, I haven't worked in one. This is a conversation that needs to be had with all involved. People can fall down under any circumstances. The good thing about 24 hour care is that there is always someone there to "call for help" when needed. That is about as good as over night care is going to get. This particular friend of mine, who I mentioned earlier, bought a nanny cam for the care givers so they could watch their mother without being in the room. This is a nice idea. Most elderly people do not want someone in the room with them all the time. They don't like giving up their privacy or feeling like they are being babysat. But we have a job to do and we want to do it well. We want to protect these people from accidents such as this. With a nanny cam we can be on red alert and be able to position ourselves around a corner so as to intervene at the slightest tilt. Right now with my over night job, I stay in the library next to the bedroom and listen all night for trouble. I am a cat napper. At this point however, I have been with this woman long enough to know her sleep patterns and bathroom visits so I can time my naps accordingly. There have been times when I have heard her get up, found my station and even moved in closer because I heard the fumbling. I actually was able to catch her once as she was going down. Disaster averted. You do not want an elderly person banging their head on a hard ceramic toilet or bathtub or worse hitting the corner of a bathroom sink. OUCH!

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