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Aging Parents At A Distance: What Happens In An Emergency

Sherry, a widow, age 80, lives alone in a two story apartment.

Sherry, a widow, age 80, lives alone in a two story apartment. Her only son, Tony, lives on the east coast, thousands of miles away. They are close but the geographic distance makes visiting in person a problem for both. Tony is his mom’s agent on her legal documents and he is more than willing to help. But he always had a worry in the back of his mind about what would happen if Sherry had an accident or a medical crisis. Her arthritis was getting worse, but she insisted that she could manage without help.

Then it happened. She lost her balance on the stairs and fell. She was rushed to the Emergency Room at the nearest hospital, and Tony got the call. What could he do from thousands of miles away? She had to stay in the hospital until she was stable and then she would be transferred to a rehab facility for physical therapy. He immediately made plans to come and be with Sherry. Working, it was not so easy for him to just drop everything and get on a plane. By the time he arrived, Sherry had been transferred to a rehab place, and was getting both physical therapy to strengthen her walking and occupational therapy to help her do various things like dressing and bathing.

Now Sherry was faced with a life-changing decision: where would she go from the rehab home? It was certainly not safe for her to return to her apartment, that much she conceded. The medical emergency had forced her to make a decision she otherwise kept putting off: it was time to move into a place where help was available all the time. Tony spoke with us at, where advice about these issues is available. We helped Tony assemble a team of people to assist with the transition for Sherry.

First, she needed a geriatric care manager. This was an RN, familiar  with not only the rehab facility itself but with all the assisted living choices in the area. She helped Sherry choose a seniors’ community with assisted living. The care manager would also see to it that she had all her medications when she was discharged from rehab and that any supplementary home care would be available as needed. Initially, Sherry agreed to give up driving and she would have someone to take her around to appointments, shopping and whatever she needed. Next, she needed a mover, someone to get the things she wanted to keep out of her place and to donate or otherwise dispose of everything she did not need or want. She was moving from a two-bedroom place into a smaller one-bedroom apartment and much downsizing was required. As our population ages, many services to help with such things have sprung up. Professional downsizers and movers were available and Sherry hired one as she was guided to do.

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Written by Shobha

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