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When It Happens to You . . .

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By Jacquie Brennan, Vice President of Operations, Vigil Health Solutions, a Senior Housing Forum Partner

I have spent the last 17 years working in the senior care industry. Earlier in my career, I spent time in communities with staff who were helping seniors every single day. I would go in for short periods of time, train the staff on technology, and then leave to go to the next place. I always appreciated the work these staff did and often thought to myself thankfully these people are here because I could never do that job.

Never Say Never

I am now doing that job. 

Not to the extent of the hard working care aids and nurses that have devoted their lives to helping seniors every day. I won’t try to take credit for that. But I am now the sole caregiver to my 78-year-old Mom who is in the late stages of bone cancer.

Recently I moved her into my house where I ensure she takes her medication, help her get on and off the toilet, feed her what she will tolerate, and shower her when she’s up to it.

More importantly, I sit with her and listen to her stories. I let her worry aloud. I comfort her. I bring my 18-month-old daughter, her only granddaughter, in to give grandma delicate non-bone threatening cuddles and to show off her latest dance moves, which usually include spinning until she bumps into a wall or falls over. 

One of Many

My story is not unique or special or all that different from that of many thousands of people who end up caring for their parents or grandparents. The one thing that makes my life a little easier is that since I’ve been working for a nurse call company for 17 years I have been lucky enough to benefit from bringing my work home with me.

I have mounted a wireless call station beside my Mom’s bed and put one in the bathroom. Fortunately, Mom is still cognitively able to use these devices and can press the button when she wakes up in the morning and when she’s finished on the toilet. 

I have also put a bed sensor on Mom’s bed so that I know if she tries to get up on her own in the night or, heaven forbid, falls out of bed. My mobile phone alerts me when any of the devices get activated. Knowing that even if I’m in bed or out in the yard with the spinning kid I will still be alerted about Mom provides me peace of mind that I couldn’t have without someone else there to help.

While no technology can ever replace the people who look after our seniors day in and day out, I’m thankful that I have this little bit of help. And, having this experience has made me appreciate the work of all of those in the senior living industry even more than I did before. It also has strengthened my resolve to continue to help find solutions to improve seniors’ quality of life.

Vigil Health Solutions offers senior living providers an innovative computer and cloud-based, wired and wireless, emergency call system.

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