It's 11 o'clock. Do you know where your mother is?

It’s 11:00 p.m. on a Thursday night: I’ve just called my mum to check in on her – yep, total role reversal, but thankfully she doesn’t snap at me like I used to at her for ‘cramping my style’!  The phone goes unanswered so I assume that she is ‘between locations’ (side note about my mum: she uses a walker because she has osteoarthritis in her knees from decades of waxing her hardwood floors by hand; she prided herself on having the most beautifully buffed floors in the city, and my nieces have several scars and broken limbs as proof!). So, ‘between locations’ could mean that she’s in transit from the dining room to the bathroom where there is no phone - she lives in 800 square feet, has seven phones and yet whenever I call her she’s always in one of the few wireless zones.

11:15 p.m. I try her again… still, no answer: Now the alarm is sounding. We have a long-standing agreement, and one I think that everyone should have with their loved ones – pick up the phone even if it’s simply to say you’ll call back and even if it’s mid-pee (and make sure to install a phone in the bathroom!). Thankfully, I live only a short distance away, so, looking every bit like Ms. Gulch in my evening grub ware, I hop on my two-wheeled pedal-broom, heart in throat, and fly over to her apartment with the spare key in hand. She’s not home but her walker is in the hall – now I’m shaking uncontrollably as I reach for the phone and call EMS dispatch.

If you have a senior in your life, add this number to your speed dial (here is Toronto’s EMS website site). This will put you in touch with the dispatch who can track a patient by address in less than 30 seconds, instead of calling every single hospital in the city. In one simple call, I found out two very valuable pieces of information: 1) they just dropped my mother off 30 minutes ago at Mt. Sinai Hospital and 2) unprompted by me, they offer up the following: ‘she was not in critical condition when we dropped her off’. I now know where to find her and that she was conscious and chatty when she arrived at the hospital – a big sigh of relief.

I find her 10 minutes later at the local hospital:  She had managed to break her toe rolling over in bed and didn’t want to call and bother me with something so ridiculous. Needless to say, I had to leave her for a 10 minute meditation session before I could calmly tell her (yet again), that a call telling me not to worry is infinitely better than me picturing the worst… This is an ongoing ‘discussion’ and one that drives me insane every time. If there are any teens reading this, be forewarned: you not calling home to say you’ll be late will eventually come around to bite you in the butt when your mother decides not to call you when she’s headed to the hospital!

A few x-rays and a mild painkiller later, we’re on our way home. My mum is now trying to figure out what outfit she’s going to wear to tea now that her footwear options have been diminished… I love my mum’s capacity for ‘pain’ diversion.


Related articles:

Caring for your elderly parents and yourself too

Five ways to manage your stress

Make caregiving a choice and reduce your stress

Caring for aging parents: Five ways to find the humour

Four signs your elderly parent needs help at home

Have you ever checked in your aging parent and found them missing? What did you do? Share your tips in the Comments section below.

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