About 2 weeks ago, my father fell in his kitchen, and lay there undiscovered for about 36 hours.
This is what can happen when elderly parents live alone, far away from family.
I have learned a lot in the past 2 weeks.
I learned that, if one lays still on a hard surface [say, tile] for more than 1/2 hour, the muscles start to degenerate and release enzymes into the blood that can wreck havoc on the kidneys.
That, if one does not get up within that 1/2 hour, the damage to the muscles will be such that one will likely not be able to get up at all.
That the ensuing dehydration will cause hallucinations.
That if one survives [several doctors informed us that he was lucky he did survive], one will likely need months of rehab and physical therapy to walk again.
That while that is happening, a positive attitude is needed.
That while that is happening, someone has to look after the house, the mail, the bills.
That while that is happening, there must be planning for when one gets out – so it does not happen again. Setting up the house with a hospital bed; arranging for home health care; ordering an alert button thingy; looking into assisted living places [near a relative!]; planning on packing up the house, getting it ready for sale – I am sure there are things I have forgotten.
And I wonder – what if this person that fell – my father – has no-one to do all of this?
Makes me think.