My brother and I were visiting my Mom and as we were sitting in her apartment, I heard a noise that sounded like a cat in distress. I jump up to investigate and we find it’s one of my Mom’s neighbors who has slipped from her walker. We enter her apartment to find her bent over her walker and wearing a very short house coat.
“Help!” she pleads. We run in and try to get her seated in her walker. She struggles against us and wants us to change the television channel before letting us help her sit. She has dementia and most of her sentences stopped mid-thought. My brother is holding her up under her arms as she directed me on how to change the channel. Once we got the station changed, she allowed my brother to help her get seated. Within seconds, she issues her first full sentence “I need to use the restroom.”
I send my brother off to get the staff to come help her. We are way beyond our skill set here.
A staffer returns and smiles at my Mom’s neighbor. She asks her why she didn’t pull the emergency cord so she could come help her?
My Mom has had this question asked of her as well. The staff told her to use the red cord that is available in every room in her apartment to call them whenever she wanted help, I’ve also shown her the cord and told her it will bring help to her right away. My Mom is unable to remember to use this system. Apparently, many others with dementia are also unable to learn that they need to pull the red wall cord to call for help.
We need some innovation here. Why don’t they make the tool a little wireless bell? I think we all grew up with a bell by the bedside — we could just ring it and Mom would come help us. Would innovating around more common tools that are familiar be a way to better serve this growing population?
The staff is overwhelmed and the residents want to help themselves. Let’s give those with dementia tools that would let them stay as independent as possible by putting just a little time and effort in the design of the tools offered to help them Displeased.
Readers: Are there other simple solutions that could help those with dementia feel more empowered?