Yes!!  Caregivers need a Plan B.  Today was not a good day, but it certainly did not demand a Plan B.  I spent the day with espophageal spasms of varying intensity.  It was not the worst I have had, but the discomfort made it tougher to deal with the duties that come with the caregiving role.  The needs do not change when I am not feeling well.  Every parent who has been sick has experienced the challenge of dealing with the children (and sometimes spouse) who continue to need care.

Actually, the seed for this issue was planted by some of the members of the online Spouse Caregivers of those with Lewy Body Dementia group.  There was a thread of posts talking about times either they or someone they knew ended up unable to care for his/her Loved One for a time.

The thought has crossed my mind lots of times that if I were to have a stroke or heart attack or whatever, Mary Ann might not be able to manage to call for help.  She hasn’t used the phone for at least a couple of years.  It is not at all a certainty that she could manage the dexterity and negotiate the spatial issues, the same ones that make it hard to get food to her mouth, to get the three numbers punched in order.

Then, if the EMT’s did come and I were not conscious or coherent, what would happen next?  What would she know to do to get care for herself?  She doesn’t know people’s phone numbers.  She can’t be alone for very long since she needs help with most of her personal needs.

There is a booklet we have made that contains lots of contact information and medical information that a Volunteer staying with Mary Ann can use if the EMT’s need to be called.  That book is easily accessible, but it would be hard to find for an EMT who would have no idea where it is or even that there is such a book.

If I am conscious, I have done enough checking to have options available should I have to go to the hospital.  Mary, a good Friend who schedules the Volunteers for Mary Ann, has checked with a few folks who, if they are available, would be willing to come to the house on short notice.  I have called the Agency we have used over the years for times when Volunteers were not available.  They have assured me that one way or another, they would have someone at the house within an hour or so. Our Son and Daughter-in-Law live about an hour and a quarter away.  Once they were involved decisions could be made and any major issues dealt with.

All of that is contingent on the first contact being made. As is so for people who live alone, there is the fear that it will be days before anyone discovers there is something wrong.

After thinking about this for a bit, I asked Mary Ann what she would do if I had a heart attack or whatever.  She did not really have a response. I asked her if she remembered where the Lifeline button that she wears if I am away from the house (seldom any more) for a short time is located.  She knew that it was always on her dresser next to the lamp in the bedroom when she is not wearing it.  I suggested that she go and push that button if something happens to me.  I also suggested that we practice that on occasion.  The monitoring folks ask us to test it regularly anyway.  When the button is pushed, a loud voice comes on a speaker phone unit asking if everything is all right.  It picks up sound well enough that Mary Ann’s voice can be heard.

I am going to find a place to put the contact information that will be very accessible and easy to find for EMT’s when they come, then put a very visible note somewhere that would be seen by EMT’s coming in the front door.

A Plan B is often the plan you think of when it is too late to be of any value.  I hope the online conversation and today’s minor health issue will get me moving to actually do what I am suggesting.

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