Melanie wasn’t someone who would just fall asleep when doing things around the house. She was used to working long hours, dealing with a lot of stress, and still managing to get things done throughout the day. So when she was providing care for a friend’s mother, she didn’t think about how her fatigue would lead to any type of senior home safety issue. The problems for Melanie and the woman in her care began more than three months before the incident that led to an ambulance being called and major health problems for the elderly woman. Melanie was working two jobs and filling in as a caregiver for two different families. She was averaging more than 80 hours a week with work and didn’t spend much time sleeping.
One of her responsibilities was to make sure that the woman she was caring for took her medication every day. The first day that she forgets to check was at the end up 26 straight hours of work. She never even thought about the medication and she thinks that she fell asleep a few times while sitting at the kitchen table. Fortunately, nothing serious happened as a result of the woman missing the dosage, but when Melanie opened the pill box, she noticed that the previous day’s medications were still there.
She made sure that she focused more when she was at the house and it was fine for a while. Then one day when she had helped the woman into the shower, she went to rest for 10 minutes. There were grab bars in the shower stall, as well as a seat, but Melanie fell asleep and when she woke up, nearly an hour later, the woman was on the bathroom floor with serious injuries. Even though she had managed to turn the water off (which had turned cold long before Melanie woke up), the woman simply didn’t have enough strength to make it from the shower (where she was getting cold) to the toilet seat where she would dry off and then get dressed. She tried, but her walker was set aside, as is usually the case.
Fatigue got the best of Melanie and that caused a major senior home safety issue. When you’re caring for an elderly individual, it is critical that you give your full attention and that you don’t run yourself down in the process. Melanie learned a hard reality that there is only so much the human body can do before it wears out. Don’t make the same mistake that she did; if you feel worn out and fatigue, get some help.