This past week has been very stressful. On Sunday, I received a call from Mom’s assisted living. The aide very casually told me Mom had fallen and hit her head so they were going to send her to the ER via ambulance. She made it sound like no big deal, just a small cut that might need stitched, and was even laughing a bit when she told me. I asked her to keep me posted, as it was Father’s Day and we were in the middle of celebrating with my husband and father-in-law. I thought this was probably no big deal, just another fall, and was glad that it was being taken care of.
About four hours later, another aide called me from the ER to tell me that Mom was being released back to the assisted living, and that she had had stitches and a CT scan and everything was fine. They assured me that she was tired and would be going straight to bed, and advised me to wait till the next day to visit.
With more than a little trepidation, my son and I set out to visit Mom bright and early the next morning. I warned my son to be prepared, that Mom-Mom would probably have some ugly black stitches in her forehead. Little did I know that was the least of her problems. When we arrived at the assisted living facility, an aide warned me to be prepared, saying Mom’s appearance was “shocking”. I glanced around the room and didn’t see her until they pointed her out to us. Her back was to us but even from there we could see black, blue and purple bruises all over her very swollen face. She wasn’t wearing her glasses, as they had broken in the fall, and had a bandage on her forehead. Her left eye was swollen shut, and her top lip was swollen to the point where it would be hard to open her mouth very far.
And this was supposed to be a “small fall?” I thought to myself as I sat there visiting with Mom, taking in her entire appearance. She claimed to feel well, and kept telling us that she was in a fight, and some guy used his fists and a stick to beat on her (her exact words). I left the area where we were visiting three times to talk to staff, to get information from the aides that I should have been given as soon as I walked in the door – the incident report log from the past night, and a copy of all paperwork that the ER sent her home with. One of the aides working there that morning happened to be working last night as well, and told me that they were “all” outside when Mom decided to go up the stairs in her wheelchair. She claimed that Mom fell forward, with her wheelchair coming down on top of her.
The next day, however, I received a completely different story from another aide, who was kind enough to accompany us on a visit to Mom’s doctor. She was not present that night, she said, but I trusted her version of events more as she has been working at the assisted living for the entire almost three years Mom has been there (and she just happens to be the daughter of the owner of the AL facility). This aide told me that Mom had been on the front porch sitting in a wheelchair, with another resident out there as well (no staff), when Mom decided to go DOWN the stairs in her wheelchair. The being strapped in and wheelchair falling on her parts of yesterday’s story were correct. This put a completely different spin on things for me.
Firstly, why was Mom outside on the front porch with no staff present? One of the more “with-it” patients was out there with her, but it is not her responsibility to watch over Mom. You don’t leave an 80 year old woman with Alzheimer’s out on the front porch on a Sunday night, even for a few minutes! Secondly, why was I given a different story, or maybe not the whole truth, from the aide yesterday? My son even said to me, “That’s not what the girl told us yesterday – she said she fell UP the stairs” so I know I didn’t mishear or misunderstand what she said. And finally, I thanked God for watching over Mom, as the doctor told us she had NO broken bones, amazingly. She had ugly contusions and swelling on her face, a laceration on her forehead, and a sore knee that needs an x-ray, but that’s really all that happened. She could have broken ribs, or she could have died!
The owner of the assisted living facility quite surprisingly did not reach out to me, as would be his norm, so after stewing about this for a night, I emailed him. I requested a visit, privately with just him and no other staff, as soon as possible. Unfortunately he is currently dealing with a family situation of his own but told me as soon as he gets home, I will be his top priority. So I wait a few more days.
After this long post, my question is, was this just a terrible accident, or negligence on the part of the facility’s staff? I have no plans to take legal action or to move Mom, as she’s happy and settled, but I just would like to know what others think. I am quite anxious to talk to the owner soon, and hopefully get some answers and to prevent this from ever happening again to ANY resident.