The unexpected can occur at any time, no matter how prepared we think we are. A crisis will bring families together in an instant. If you are distanced from the area, there are ways to manage the situation. Working as ‘ohana with strong communication will help coordinate what is needed.

Recently, I experienced a crisis when my mother fell and broke the head of her femur — otherwise known as a hip fracture. This is a common occurrence in our elderly, mostly in women. I got the call from 5,000 miles away. “Mom is having surgery on her hip tomorrow.” Emotions welled up in my chest, fears in my head and so many questions arose. How did this happen? What was she doing? Did she hit her head? Is she in pain? Is someone with her? Can I call her? Can she talk?

Relieved by the sound of her voice, I found she was coherent but loopy from the pain medication. Fortunately, she had a friend with her who had called 911 when found on the floor of her bedroom. As it turns out rubber slippers and carpet create chaos. In a moment, she was down on her side and could not get up. She was able to drag herself to the phone and call my sister, who lives 1,000 miles away. As a family, we spread the word to her children and grandchildren. Group texts went on for a week or two after that, as she made her way through surgery, into a hospital room and magically was able to stand on her new hip the very next day!

The hospital stay controlled her pain, monitored her incision, and physical therapy got her up and moving.

I called her daily and gave reports to the ‘ohana regarding what might happen next. After five days, she was moved to a rehabilitation facility, where she was given intensive therapy three times a day. I am convinced this is what enabled her to recover with confidence.

Meanwhile, the family planned a collective schedule for the next 30 days. My mother lives alone where she had been independent and providing for herself for years. She did all her own shopping, cooking, cleaning, yard work and home maintenance, and played golf four days a week. At 86 years old, she did not show any fragility. This was the first time she needed help.

My niece took the first shift by flying in and getting her home. Afterward, I flew in and spent a week taking her to follow-up appointments and driving her around. My daughter came next and at the end of her trip, it had been 25 days.

We did it by working together. Even though we all lived in different states, with our own lives, cooperation among family members, and sharing our time and our resources worked very well as we rallied for this crisis.

If not for our family’s flexibility and ability to work toward a common goal, home healthcare would also have been a viable option. We may need to call upon those services the next time.

I am happy to report that Mom has recovered and is independent once again. She has even made her way back to the golf course!

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by Attention Plus Care — a program providing resources for seniors and their families, covering different aging topics each month. For class information and upcoming topics, call 808-440-9356.