Saturday, February 27, 2010

Sitting in the Cold Dark

This isn't strictly a story about my brother in law with autism.  This is more about eldercare issues.

We live some 150 miles from my mother in law, who is in her early 80's, and lives with my brother in law.  A couple of times a year they will have winter storms that knock her power (hence her heat) out.  This past storm that hit the Northeast United States was one of those storms.

My husband and I were coming home from work last night when she called our house on her cell phone and spoke to my son.  Of course, being a teenager, he didn't exactly tell us the moment we arrived home.  Well, he finally "remembered" (a couple of hours later!) that his grandma had called , and said she didn't have power, her heat was off and the trees around her house were quite bent to the ground under the load of all that gloppy, wet snow.

And we are 150 miles away.  Speaking of being helpless.  We're recovering from our storm too.

First, time to make phone calls.   She has internet phone, so of course it is off.  That tells us she is still without power.   Her cell phone gives us an unavailability message.  Finally, my husband calls one of her nieces (30 miles from her) who calls Mom's neighbor.  She's home, and without power too, but says Mom is OK.  Finally he was able to reach his sister who lives about 20 miles from Mom.  She said that she had gotten hold of Mom, and that she was huddled under a bunch of blankets and OK.  As my husband is talking to his sister, the call waiting announces his Mom is on the line.  So he ended up speaking with her but she said her cell phone was ready to die so they talked quickly.  And here we were.

All this technology. 

Every time there are one of these storms, it is more and more worrysome.  She suffered a small stroke some 2 years ago.  Her mobility isn't what it used to be.  She falls.  She refuses to wear her "I've fallen" alarm.  She is fiercely independent and wants to be able to have bil continue to lives with her.  And, how much can bil help her?  Could he call for help if something happened?  What will he do if the power stays off?  (one time, before my father in law died, it stayed off for three days.)  Oh, and did I mention that she drives one of those recalled Toyotas?


I hope this posting is around somewhere when I am old enough to drive my son crazy.

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