According to census data, there are over 21,000 people over the age of 65 who live alone in Salt Lake County. While they enjoy their independence and likely live very safe lives, it doesn't take much more than a slip in the shower or a stumble carrying the laundry basket for the situation to get very serious and potentially life threatening.
Think about the people you know who live alone--do you have a plan to regularly stay in touch and check in on them? Most people live such busy lives today that it's unrealistic to assume someone will notice they aren't there until it's too late. The man in the article below was very lucky he had some mobility and access to water--most people would not have survived for 10 days, especially if their injuries were worse.
Regular check-ins won't prevent an accident, but they will minimize the potential long term effects of one. The first step is to assign accountability--set days and times during the week where family, friends and neighbors will call and visit. Without specifics, people will assume everyone else will do it--meaning no one does it. With a regular schedule, you will notice patterns in mood, activity and energy of your loved one too--making changes to the patterns more noticeable.
Get a personal response system. Many seniors resist the idea of carrying one, but the article below wouldn't have made the news had the gentleman had one because he would have been rescued almost immediately instead of 10 days later.
At Interim HealthCare of Salt Lake City we have a personal response system called Interim Connect--it's unique for 2 major reasons:
First because it can help with non-emergencies just as well as it can for emergencies--our call center has helped arrange doctor appointments, contact neighbors or family members, and even to order a pizza for a client.
Second: It's a cell phone but far easier to use (just push 1 button)--so you're not tied to a home phone line as with most emergency responders so it will work in the yard, at the store or out for a walk.
If you can't visit every day, call daily and plan your visits around activities and tasks that need to be done. For example, schedule a visit for grocery shopping, another for a hair appointment, and another to help with yard work and/or laundry. Ensure you check on other areas as well--are they taking their medications as prescribed, do they have adequate food and are they staying hydrated?
If regular visits aren't possible, consider hiring Interim HealthCare of Salt Lake Cityto help. Our team of caregivers can make daily visits with your loved ones to ensure they're able to get up and start their day, are able to make their daytime appointments, and even to help they settle down at night.
While with your loved one there is a variety of ways we can provide assistance to ensure they remain safe and independent at home. To learn more about how our services can help, fill out the form to the right and we will contact you right away. Or give us a call at 801-401-3515.
"She Just Saved My Life': Mail Carrier Comes To Elderly Man's Rescue After He Was Trapped On Floor For 10 Days
An Alabama mail carrier brought more than just letters to a Hope Hull man’s home recently -- she delivered life-saving attention.
Cissy Cartwright has been delivering mail in the town of Hope Hull for more than 20 years, according to WSFA News. She knew something was likely amiss when she noticed an elderly man on her route hadn’t gathered mail from his box for a number of days.
She decided to drive up the long driveway of 66-year-old Tommy Hope’s home and check on him. She said she found Hope’s truck sitting in front of the house with the hood up and the front door of his house standing open. She called out to Hope who answered her saying he had fallen and needed help. Cartwright called 911 and waited with her longtime customer until help arrived.
It turns out Hope, who suffers from a bad back, had fallen and couldn’t get to a phone to call for help. He had been trapped in his home, on the floor, for 10 days.
“I was in shock but I was just so relieved that when I did yell for him, he answered me,” Cartwright told WFSA News. “I’m just glad I found him when I did.”
Hope was taken to a nearby hospital where he was found to have a broken arm and injuries to his leg and hip. He is reportedly still in the hospital and will spend several weeks in a rehabilitation facility.
He survived his ordeal by scooting around the house on his back. He drank from a bucket of rain water he kept by his front door, using a towel as a filter. And he managed to pull frozen berries and concentrated juice from his freezer to eat, but eventually had to stop because of acid reflux.
Postmaster Sherry Hughes said Cartwright is a hero and the mail carrier has since been nominated for the Postmaster General’s Hero Award. Hughes was at Hope’s home by the time emergency personnel arrived.
“When he was being put on the stretcher that day, he looked right up at me and said, ‘I knew she would come. She just saved my life,’” Hughes said. “I knew then that she has definitely earned her title as a hero, even though she will tell you she was just doing her job.”
Hughes said mail carriers are the “eyes and ears” of their community and pointed out that the postal service is the only company in the country that visits nearly every home six days a week.
And that near-daily contact has paid off for more than just Hope.
In January, KKTV News reported a Colorado mail carrier came to the rescue of a regular customer on his route after noticing blood on 86-year-old Max Patterson’s front stoop.
William Searuggs entered the home and found Patterson on the floor, bleeding.
Patterson had fallen outside and managed to crawl into the house but was in and out of consciousness and couldn’t get to the phone. Patterson was reportedly on blood thinners and it is believed he may not have survived his injuries if help hadn’t arrived.
And in February, an Arizona postal worker saved a customer in a scenario strikingly similar to the recent one out of Alabama.
Ashley Sullivan told KSAZ News at the time that she noticed mail piling up in the box of an elderly man on her route. After a number of days she notified neighbors who called police.
They found the man on his bed. He had reportedly suffered a stroke and had laid there for a number of days, unable to call for help. Paramedics credited Sullivan with saving the man’s life, saying he likely wouldn’t have survived another night.