Help me get someone else to help my mom.
June 27, 2012 2:51 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to have some one-time physical assistance/qualified help on hand to help my disabled mother go down a flight of stairs, but what kind of service should I be looking for, and how do I contact them?

My mother has been temporarily wheelchair bound as she waits for an upcoming surgery. I've volunteered to take her to a doctor's appointment (My car sits lower to the ground than her vehicle), but she's been living on the second floor of her home, and I don't feel safe being the person that helps her down an entire flight of stairs.

She tried to get out of the wheelchair and use the stairs during my last visit, but it didn't work at all. She seems to be experiencing intense pain with even the lightest weight placed on her hip, and I really don't think I can support her weight during the whole descent.

I've told her this and suggested that she talk to someone at the doctor's office about it, but she hasn't followed through with it. If I know exactly what kind of service we need, I'm guessing it'll be easier to get it lined up with her insurance/Medicare/whatever.

I can't imagine that it would take more than half an hour's work to get her out of the house and into the vehicle. I wouldn't mind being able to have them come back in a couple hours to help her back up the stairs, either, although my father will be home by then, and she thinks that will be enough.
posted by redsparkler to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If she hasn't followed through with it, why can't you call the doctor's office for her and see what they recommend? Surely they deal with this situation often.
posted by erst at 3:02 PM on June 27, 2012

It is possible the local fire department/EMS will do it. I had been at the doctor's with a knee injury and I was at the bottom of four flights of stairs and somehow had to get up to my apartment at the top (no elevator). My husband called the local fire department, and I don't know what he told them, but next thing I know, I'm strapped to a carry board and being hoisted to the top of the stairs. I felt very very very silly, and wished I could get up myself, but I was safe and it was over quickly. I am a little fuzzy on the details because it happened about 20 years ago. Fire/EMS are trained to carry people in that sort of situation. I imagine my husband gave a donation to the department.
posted by molasses at 3:04 PM on June 27, 2012

A home nursing service is who you call. It may not be covered by Medicare, but probably would not cost much.
posted by yclipse at 3:06 PM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The EMTs have helped my grandmother a few times, but it was more of an emergent situation where she fell down and we couldn't help her up. But, basically, you want a visiting nurse service or home health aid. Just google "YOUR CITY home health service" or "YOUR AREA visiting nurse service" and call them. If they don't do one-time things, some of them will give you names of aides or nurses they have on-call who are willing to work privately. You can also look on your county's Department of the Aging website for the names of agencies. My county also provides a name bank of individual aides.

I would expect to pay about $50 for this, just to make up for the quasi-inconvenience of a one-time job.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 3:08 PM on June 27, 2012

Your local fire department will frequently do this. Call in advance to ask and/or set it up.
posted by pentagoet at 3:09 PM on June 27, 2012

Check in your area for a volunteer program that helps disabled and/or elderly residents. I used to volunteer for such a place in Boston. Took people to the bank, helped them move, etc. There were also nurses that volunteered there as well.
posted by KogeLiz at 4:14 PM on June 27, 2012

Does your area have a senior center, or a nursing home, or a para-transit organization? Maybe a couple of big burly nurses or aides from a local nursing home would volunteer to come over in exchange for a token payment or cookies or a six-pack or whatever.

What about a couple of football players from the local high school? (Sorry if this seems like a stupid suggestion, but some kids are capable of a surprising amount of compassion and gentleness.)
posted by SuperSquirrel at 4:17 PM on June 27, 2012

Response by poster: I know I would feel terrible if something happened to my mom while I was trying to move her by myself, so I definitely want to bring in folks who know how to safely transport people.

"Home nursing service" sounds like a good lead, as does "home health service." I'll also see if I can get her doctor's name, and then call the office myself; perhaps they'll be able to provide a referral. If nothing pans out, the fire department suggestion sounds like a good lead.
posted by redsparkler at 4:28 PM on June 27, 2012

Another route would be to contact the social workers at the hospital where the surgery will be performed. They'll know the local agencies and can recommend the options available to you.
posted by zachlipton at 4:47 PM on June 27, 2012

I'm not sure what public transportation services are like in your area, but Massachusetts has The Ride run by the MBTA, which provides transportation to the elderly and disabled. It's a problematic service, usually with huge windows for pick-up & drop-off, but an agency like this might be able to help with this type of situation. I think you would do better with a private service, however, if you/your Mom can afford it (or insurance covers it). Google wheelchair transportation in your area and you should find a few options of companies who can take care of this for you. I'd also consider contacting your Mom's insurance provider. They can help steer you towards covered services. Your instincts are sound, & you should not attempt to move your mother over stairs, even with the assistance of your father. It's just far too dangerous, for all of you, and there are definitely ways around it. Your Mom may be resistant, but it's one of those situations when you might need to overrule her. It's never fun, but sometimes necessary. You may get her on board by explaining that if things go wrong while moving her that might compromise her surgery from moving forward, which from what you've written, may get her out of the wheelchair sooner. Best of luck to you & your folks!
posted by katemcd at 6:19 PM on June 27, 2012

You are looking for Home Care or a Community Care Centre or a Personal Support Worker or a Personal Attendant Care and a placement agency would totally be able to send someone for a one time visit
posted by Heart_on_Sleeve at 6:51 PM on June 27, 2012

Call the local EMS on the non emergency number and ask. Generally, at least where I've lived, this sort of thing is regarded as a "public service" and as long as it's one-time, is no charge.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:32 PM on June 27, 2012

Most (if not all) localities have offices on aging. For example, I see you are in Orgeon: Here are links to the local agencies there. Your local office should be able to direct you.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 8:05 AM on June 28, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks, Mr.Know-It-Some! I made a few calls, and things have gotten slightly more confusing but I feel closer to an answer.

(She doesn't think she has a caseworker, but she's already been receiving Medicare/Medicaid benefits, so maybe she does but she's forgotten? So we're trying to figure all that out, and if she does, then it sounds like the caseworker will have the contacts we need.)
posted by redsparkler at 11:08 AM on June 28, 2012

Why can't she live on the first floor until after she has the surgery? If it is an issue of safety you might consider putting your foot down with your mom and tell her that living upstairs is a hazard and that it would be best to stay downstairs until after she recovers from surgery. This just seems like the cheapest and easiest solution. Is there a bedroom downstairs that she could use? Make sure you emphasize that this will only be temporary if she is hesitant.

Another option would be to install a stair chair lift to take her up and down the stairs. In the long run it might be worth it to invest in one now. My grandma uses one and it gives her the ability to remain in the upstairs bedroom.
posted by wherever, whatever at 8:45 AM on June 29, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks, everybody. We eventually went with a local ambulance service, which ran about $50 a visit. After watching their technique, I would have been comfortable carrying her + her wheelchair downstairs during future excursions, but I don't have another ablebodied person to help carry, so we'll be using the ambulance service until her surgery.
posted by redsparkler at 2:34 PM on January 2, 2013

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