When did you last visit an elderly relative? Yesterday, last week, a couple of months ago, Christmas?
I make sure I visit my Grandma at least once a week, not only to keep her company but check if there is anything she needs support with around the house and to give Lucas quality time with his Great Grandma. He’s lucky to have three Great Grandparents so I want him to know them while he can.
The Grandma I am talking about is 85 and lives on her own, she is independent and still goes out doing volunteer work once a week and seeing her friends at the Women’s Institute once a month.
You know when you see someone and they all of a sudden seem old? That’s how it seems with my Grandma now, she appears more fragile somehow. We recently converted her bath into a walk in shower as she was struggling in the bath and wanted a walk in shower to enable her to stay as independent as she could for as long as possible. It can be the smallest of things that we take for granted she may need support with, when I visited this morning there was a bottle of bleach on the side as she was waiting for someone to pop round so she could ask to open it, her grip is just not strong enough now. She knows we all have families, jobs and life’s to lead and doesn’t want ‘to put on us’.
When I went to visit her on Tuesday she commented that she hadn’t seen anybody since I had visited on the Saturday. That’s 3 days with no one to talk to or just keep her company for a while. I have written about loneliness in the elderly before and I think I always associated it with people that have no family or an inactive lifestyle but my Grandma has 3 children and 8 grandchildren. I feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day sometimes and I understand people have their own things going on but is it that hard to call round for half an hour or in passing visit to see if she needs anything doing?
Anyway, on Tuesday my Grandma had obviously been thinking about the time she had spent alone and asked if I would support her to get a personal alarm for in the house. Quite rightly she said that if she had an accident on the Saturday after seeing me, it would have been 3 days until I would have found her. That is obviously an upsetting thought for both of us but she wants to be pro-active in reducing this risk. I looked online and there are a few companies that do them. We decided to go with Lifeline24 as I had dealt with them before with work and they were the most reasonably priced.
We opted for the annual plan which costs £119 and works out as 3 months free rather than paying monthly. There was also a £39 set up fee which I expected them to set the base up but they didn’t so I wasn’t too impressed with that. We had to set it up and do the first tests which I think should have been included in the £39. Apparantly the £39 is setting it up to contact the call centre but that’s what you pay either the monthly, annual or lifetime fee for so basically I think the set up fee is a rip off.
That being said, we ordered it on Tuesday and it was delivered Wednesday. Myself and my Grandma feel much better with her having it in the house. There is a call button on the box and a pendant that she can wear as a necklace or bracelet so if anything was to happen she just presses her pendant and it automatically rings the call centre that is manned 24 hours a day for 365 days a year. They can talk to her through the box, whether they can hear my Grandma or not they can then contact her nominated people who have keys to the house to go and assist her.
She has also bought herself a walking stick this week as she is finding it harder to walk. I love that my Grandma is being pro-active and making these decisions for herself when she feels ready and whilst she can but at the same time I can’t help but feel a little sad x