After more than 22 years of working in the ambulance, I can say that I have experienced and seen a lot. You won’t be surprised as often anymore, you would think, but nothing could be further from the truth … the night shift:
It is the middle of the night, almost 4:00 am and we receive a report from a lady of 78 years. She fell near the toilet and can’t get up. Fortunately she was able to open her door by crawling to it, but the lady lives in a flat and unfortunately she couldn’t open the outside door. We woke up the neighbors so we could go in. At the apartment we find the lady in her nightgown on the floor of the bathroom. Fortunately she was not hurt and we are helping her back on her feet. Her nightgown got wet, so my colleague goes looking for a clean nightgown, while I help the lady. What struck me right away was that there was absolutely nothing in the bathroom. It was all very old, no cupboard, no towel, no shower items, shampoo or soaps, nothing at all.
We help the lady in her nightgown and to bed. She hadn’t slept yet, because she always goes to bed late. Once in her bedroom, there wasn’t much there either. There was a bed with a sheet over it, but no duvet or blanket or anything. My colleague had also discovered very few clothes in her closet. She had no light, only in the shower and one table lamp in the living room, which was just as bare, by the way. A sofa, a table with chair, a cabinet with TV (which was not connected) and that was it. There was a word search booklet on the table and a radio on, because that’s what the lady liked to do. Listen to the radio and do word searches. In the fridge were three currant buns and two lemon zest and a banana.
We chatted for a bit and I asked her if she had any family, but she said she was alone and had no more children. We tell her that we will make a report so that maybe she could get some help at home (and therefore some socialising) and because we were worried about her. She liked that. She no longer needed our help and we reluctantly left. We actually wanted to do everything for the lady, but what should and can you do in the middle of the night? We continued our shift and my colleague and I agreed that I would take care of some errands and my colleague would bring a duvet, pillow and bed linen (because he had that left over anyway). We would then bring this to her the next night shift.
I thought again and posted on Facebook that I was looking for two lamps, a fleece blanket and some groceries. I had already filled a bag from home with some shower items and ordered a bread package from TooGoodToGo. I called the lady and asked if she was okay with us bringing some things and she was fine with that. I also asked her, what do you really need? And she told: “a frying pan”!
In the afternoon I could pick up everything from different people. And so my colleague and I visited the lady the next night shift with new bedding, a pillow, a duvet, four bags with groceries, two table lamps, a bag with clothes, towels and fleece blankets, but also a bag with word search puzzle books. We put the groceries in the fridge, the rest on the counter. We made the lady’s bed and turned on the lights. She was very pleased that we did this and was very grateful to us.
Unfortunately, we see an upward trend in neglect of the elderly. My advice, look around you more often, have a chat in the street with your “neighbors” and be there for each other. Not everyone dares to ask for help, but you can offer it. Take care of each other!