You’ve fallen and you can’t get up. Now what?

“Help!  I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”

Remember that commercial from several years ago?  It was everywhere.  It was for Life Call, an emergency alert system for elderly people.  That commercial was from 2007.  I couldn’t remember what the company was and had to look it up.  That memorable line is most likely lurking in every Parkie’s head.  What if I fall?  How can I get help?

That happened to a Parkie friend of mine last week.  Fortunately she was at home one evening with her husband, when she slipped and fell.  The next morning, she discovered that she could not walk.  Her husband called an ambulance to take her to the ER.  Barbara was taken to a very well known hospital in Los Angeles and things went downhill from there.

What went wrong?  For starters, she did not have a list of her medications.  The paramedics wanted to give her morphine, although they had no idea if it would interact with her meds.  She refused the morphine. When she asked for her meds, she was told that the pharmacy at the hospital did not have what she needed, and furthermore, wasn’t familiar with the two medications, Rytary and Mirapex.  She happened to have one Rytary in her purse and had to take it when no hospital personnel were around, because it was not in the prescription bottle.

I got an email from her the next morning, the subject line:  Oy vey, get me out of here!   I went to visit her, and she was shaking like a leaf, most likely a combination of stress and no PD meds.  Fortunately she went home later that afternoon, but the experience was a nightmare.

I asked Barbara if she had any emergency information on her phone.  She did not, and had never thought about it.  For those of you who are iPhone users, there is an app called Apple Health that allows you to enter all of your medications, doctors, emergency contacts, etc.  I am sure that there are many more apps out there for Android and iPhones, but this is the one that I use.

I have several recommendations for you, which are also good for travel.

  1.  Your phone is your best friend.  Put all of your health info on an app on your phone.  And make sure that someone (spouse, caregiver) can access the app if you can’t do it yourself.
  2. Make sure that you list Parkinson’s Disease, and any other health conditons you have, along with drug and food allergies somewhere on your phone.
  3.  Keep a detailed list of your medications, including non-prescription drugs and supplements
  4. If you do not have a smart phone, print or type a list of all of the above information and keep it with your ID or Driver’s Liscence.  Keep an extra copy at home.
  5.  Pack an emergency bag and keep it where it is easily accessible.  Include several days doses of your meds in the original prescription bottles.  You might want to keep your empty bottles and put enough pills to last several days in them.    Just make a note to refresh the meds every few months.
  6. If you live alone, make sure that you have some kind of emergency alert system.
  7. Thank you to Tom Eckhardt for reminding me about the Aware-in-Care kit from the Parkinson’s Foundation.  The kit takes care of everything I mentioned and more.

Do you have any other suggestions?  I will add them to the list which I will keep it posted on my website.

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