Shea recently spoke to her mom about the forecasted heat wave heading towards her area. This is a typical summer situation that Shea is accustomed to dealing with; however, Shea’s mother, Martha, is a widow living alone in an apartment. Shea is currently residing out of the country, for her work, so she’s far away when worrying about her mom’s care needs. This is why Shea hired a geriatric care manager in her mom’s community. She often tells us that the peace of mind she gets from knowing that we are here to help her mom “is priceless.” Shea does try to visit every six months and looks forward to relocating to the US in about two years once her current work contract is finished.
Martha reassured Shea that she was prepared for the upcoming heatwave. She had a reliable AC unit and practical experience to stay cool during the scorching days: keep windows closed and covered during the day, open them at night (if temperatures allowed), avoid direct sunlight, drink plenty of water, and watch out for any signs of heatstroke. Martha had a mister system on her balcony that watered her plants and provided her with cooling when she sat outside. She also has a spray bottle with a fan on the front to spray herself with more cooling mist. She had several large-brimmed hats and lightweight long sleeved cotton beach tops to keep the sun off her skin when she was outside.
Shea’s relief about her mom’s plan was overshadowed by concern for her recent forgetfulness. Martha had missed some medication and struggled with new instructions, frequently misplacing her belongings, and accused others of hiding them, only to find them in strange locations like the pantry. Although Martha hasn’t been diagnosed with dementia, her memory loss and confusion are age-related. Given the situation, Shea knew she needed to keep a closer eye on her mom. Shea called us to let us know about the conversations she had with her mom about the heatwave, and we set up a plan to make sure that we checked on her a few extra times during the week.
Shea let Martha know that we would be visiting a few times over the next couple of weeks and told her that we were available if she needed any assistance such as the AC unit not working, or she was feeling dehydrated. Martha appreciated her concern but also told Shea that she had been through a heatwave or two in her 80 years. Martha did say that she loved the care manager visits, though, because she liked to catch up and see the pictures of our grandkids and puppies and we loved looking at hers as well.
On the very first visit of the first hot day, there was a problem, and it was good that we stopped by to see her. It was 90° F., and her apartment was sweltering. Martha said she turned the AC on, but it wasn’t working. We did a quick inspection of it and noticed that it was not plugged in. Whew! Problem solved just in time. We stayed for a bit to make sure that it was cooling, and she offered us some lemonade. We visited, checked on her medications, and made sure she had enough lemonade in the refrigerator. When we were comfortable that the apartment was cooling down well, we decided to head out but promised that we would bring some lemonade the next day to refill what she had shared with us. She asked if we would also bring her some pre-cut watermelon and we were happy to do so.
After we left, we reached out to Shea to let her know about the situation and she was happy to hear that we could stop by the next day. She asked us if we could stop each day during the heatwave and we agreed that we could do so. We discussed that when Shea came for her next visit, which was scheduled for one month away, we would meet and discuss if a home care aide might be a good option to help with Martha’s care. It seemed that would be the best step while waiting for Shea to move home and she could then make a more permanent decision about whether her mom would live with her or would need to live in a memory care unit. Shea was going to give thought to the topic over the next month and looked forward to meeting with us to discuss options.
Shea said that Martha just raves about us, and Shea could not be happier because it relieves her stress, and she knows there is someone near her mom that cares about her and makes sure that she is safe. We are happy to help Martha and Shea and find the best care options for her needs.