PERS - Caregiver Stories
By Hilary Gibson, Staff Writer

Many long-distance caregivers find a PERS to be a good way of keeping-up with their loved one, as well as helping them to maintain their independence. The following testimonials were submitted by caregivers about their experience with some Personal Emergency Response Systems:

An Early-Morning, Wake-Up Call

After some debate, my mother, who is elderly and lives alone, decided that it would be best if she invested in a Personal Emergency Response System. Although we both live in the same state, I don’t live close enough to get to her quickly if she had any type of

an emergency. Shortly after she had the system installed, she awoke quite early one morning with great difficulty breathing. She called me to tell me the problem, and I had to remind her that all she needed to do was press the button on her “help” button. We had no sooner hung-up with one another, when she received a call from the operator at the emergency response center. The gentleman asked for her name and address, and continued to re-assure her until the paramedics arrived. She was given oxygen and medication and taken to the nearest hospital. Although I had a sense of urgency, the long drive to the hospital didn’t seem to be as bad as it could have been, because I knew she had received help quickly, and was with capable, medical professionals. She is fine today, and we are both glad that she had a PERS installed. It’s taken some of the pressure and intensity away from having to be a caregiver from a distance.

 A Daughter’s Peace-of-Mind

When my mother passed away, my eighty year-old dad had to move in with my husband and I. Although he is mentally very sharp, he has difficulty with his balance and has a heart condition. After he moved in, I couldn't run an errand without worrying about him falling or possibly having a heart attack. My husband and I decided to look into purchasing a PERS, hoping that it might help us get back to living without worrying so much about my father being left home alone. The PERS has made a real difference to all of us. Both my husband and I feel as though we have greater independence, and my dad feels less like a burden to us. What’s really great about our particular PERS is that when my dad travels out-of-state to see my sister or my brother, I can pack up the unit and send it with him. All we have to do is call the company and let them know where he’ll be visiting, and what the telephone number is. He’s able to have the same “safety-net” on-the-road as he does here at home with us. 

A Professional Caregiver Deals With Also Being A Family Caregiver

My 92 year-old mother is a very strong-willed person. Understandably, she wants to stay in her own home for as long as she can. On the first really hot day of the year, with temperature climbing well into the 90’s, my mother fell outside in her yard. She was found the following day by her gardener, still alive but suffering from extreme dehydration and sunburn. Thankfully, nothing had broken when she fell, however she still had to stay in the hospital for several days, and then spent a week in a convalescent hospital before demanding that she be taken home. I am a nurse, and I live 50 miles from my mother. I try to go to her house at least once a week to bring her groceries and to do some cleaning, but I felt it just wasn’t enough. Caregiving for people professionally placed constant worry in my heart and mind for my own mother’s safety on a daily basis. It was one of my mother’s Physical Therapists who suggested a Personal Emergency Response System for my mother’s home. My mother has used the PERS several times, and it has enabled her to stay in the home she do dearly loves, and it has allowed me to be able to relax a little more about my mother’s situation. 

A Loved One Eases Her Caregiver’s Worries

I am a 73 year-old woman who lives alone. I suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure, and I have a history of falls. I thought as long as I was seeing my doctor regularly and taking all of my medication like I’m supposed to, that’s this was all I needed to do in order to stay on top of things. My son and his wife live 30 miles away, and I know all of my neighbors, yet I’ve been reluctant to depend on anyone to help me with my problems, since I feel I can manage just fine on my own. My son had addressed his concerns about my safety with me. I assured him that I was fine on my own. He said that it was great that I felt fine with it, but that this didn’t stop his constant worrying about all the “what ifs.” He talked me into having a PERS installed in my home, and said that he would pay for the monthly monitoring. I had only had the unit for a few months when it helped me out during a terrible situation. I got quite dizzy one day, along with being shaky and light-headed. I made my way into my living room, using the walls for support. Feeling very weak, I tried to make it to the couch so that I could rest. Unfortunately, I never made it, because I tripped on a rug and fell to the floor. I landed hard on my left leg, and severe pain began to immediately. I was unable to get to my feet, nor could I crawl to the phone.

It was then that I remembered I was wearing my “help” button pendant around my neck. From just pressing the button, I began to calm down, and my panic subsided. A few minutes later, EMTs arrived to my home and took my to the nearest hospital. I truly feel this device saved my life. Without it, I may have gone into shock, passed out, and it would have been hours before neighbors or relatives realized I wasn’t answering my phone or door. 

Never Too Old For Help

Although I’m in my early 50’s, I decided to get a PERS in my home because I have MS. Most of the time, I have no problem and am able to handle anything, however, there are times where I have problems with my balance. One day, I took a bad fall. It wasn’t due to my MS, but the fall resulted in me being knocked out. I was unconscious for about 20 minutes, and when I awoke, there was a substantial amount of blood where I’d hit my head when landing on the floor. I pressed the button on the pendant that I wear all the time, and the person living the closest to me on my contact list was at my home within two minutes, and an ambulance arrived only a minute later. Having the PERS has given me a sense of security to stay in my own home, and to remain independent.

Ringing In A New Year

Last New Year’s Eve, my 88 year-old mother fell while trying to get up from her bed and go to the toilet with the use of her walker. She lives alone in an apartment, so no one was really around, especially on a holiday. She tried to get herself up by leveraging herself with her walker, but this didn’t work since she was in severe pain in several places, especially in her leg. She finally pressed the “help” button to her PERS, and in just a few minutes, someone from her contact list was there to help her up. Being extremely independent and headstrong, my mother refused to go to the emergency room, saying that she knew her own mind and body, and that both told her to just get back in bed, rest, and she’d be fine. When she tried to leave her bed again a few hours later, she really was unable to move, and she now noticed swelling coming from the leg that was in so much pain. She also had intense burning in her bladder. She pressed the “help” button once again, and this time she asked for paramedics to be sent to her apartment. At the hospital, she was diagnosed with a fractured leg, a bladder infection, and was also exhibiting classic signs of diabetes. She could have easily died, but her “help” button did exactly what it was intended to do, both times, and during a holiday!



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