I Live Alone; What Happens if I Get Really Sick?
Do you live alone, or does your aging parent live alone? Amidst all the many posts, problems, and stories around COVID-19, this question posted by my friend Sarah (a pseudonym) really resonated with what I have heard from so many of you. How can you stay safe, and who will take care of you, if you live alone and experience a health challenge? That has often been an abstract or rhetorical question but given the incidence and virility of COVID-19 it is feeling all too real for many adults.
I posted some specific ideas on Sarah’s page, and there was such a positive response I’ll share my post with you here.
A valid concern dear Sarah! Here’s some practical thoughts.
If you can’t get yourself out of bed, call your doctor and/or 911. In order to do this, prepare by:
- Having a telephone next to your bed. If you only have a mobile phone, keep an extra phone charger plugged in by your bed.
- Creating a list of allergies, medications and medical history as well as your insurance and your family phone numbers as well as any other information you’d want emergency responders to have. Keep it by your bedside, in your wallet, and on the refrigerator (that’s where EMTs will look.)
Call your local emergency response provider to see if you can pre-register with them. We did this for my Dad when he lived with us, and I think it really helped the EMTs know what they could expect. Also, the EMTs knew who to call for a key so they could quickly get in the house as needed.
Call your local Senior Center and Health Department to see what resources might be available.
Form a check in system with someone, either a daily “I’m ok” or a promise to call someone if symptoms begin. If you do not keep the check in they should call 911 and your family. (Remember to give your check in person your family’s phone numbers!)
Sarah, in response to your question about being too weary to eat, drink or get food, I recommend that you call your doctor! If your doctor thinks you are safe at home and you just want to conserve energy, consider keeping some food and beverages that won’t spoil in your bathroom or bedroom. Also keep a beverage and medications at your bedside.
Sarah, while you are well, be at peace. Prayer and stress relief are GREAT for our immune systems.
Following my post, there were a few good ideas from others
- Have a plan for your pet if you must go to the hospital, and include it on the list you post by your bedside, in your wallet, and on the refrigerator
- Consider an emergency response “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” service.
- Stay with family or a friend during times of crisis, like the COVID-19 pandemic. They may need you as much as you need them.
BEFORE anything happens, have a conversation with your physician, your healthcare providers, your home care provider, and your family especially if you have special health needs or are particularly vulnerable. Ask them if these ideas are right for you, and learn what else they might recommend. Everyone’s needs are different, and being prepared is the best way to be safe.
Let’s help each other out. What else would you suggest to someone who lives alone, or has an aging parent that lives alone? Post your thoughts here!
Photo credits: featured photo from the NIH National Institute for Neuro Disorders and Stroke. Happy friends from the Godaddy library.