• Sarah Whitebloom

Don't be afraid to call an ambulance for an ageing parent in trouble - they need it


Help. Dad is so bad, he can't stand. He keeps falling. He is not safe at home. I can't get anyone from social services on the phone. His carer said he should be in hospital. His doctor won't come. Something terrible is going to happen. I live miles away. What do I do?

In short: telephone an ambulance. Do not be put off by figures showing that five people called the ambulance service more than 8,000 in a year. You are not one of those people. Do not be put off by accusations of older people being ‘bed-blockers’. If your father is so unwell that he is at risk, he needs medical care. Call now.

Do not leave him alone at home. Do not hope that he is going to be better tomorrow. Older people’s health can deteriorate very quickly and he may need urgent treatment.

In long: this is not that unusual. But it is serious. This is an everyday occurrence for middle-aged children, coping with the sudden health collapse of an ageing parent. One day your parent may seem fine, the next day a small medical issue can cause a total collapse in health and the next day they may not be with you anymore. So you need to act fast, because if you can get them medical help, they can recover just as quickly. But when there is no one to help?

  • If your parent has suddenly become unsafe call an ambulance.

  • Go with them to the hospital, if possible and talk to everyone who is treating them;

  • Make sure you find out who everyone is and explain what is wrong.

Do not allow the hospital to send your parent home until: - They know what is wrong. - Your parent will be safe at home, alone for much of the day.

Do not let yourself be bullied into them being sent to the local worst nursing home. You do not have to agree to this.

Speak to everyone. Make sure you are there, when any decisions are made or assessments are carried out.

Full report here

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OlderLivingMatters is a journalistic website offering information, guidance and advice based on experience of life today for older people. It is designed to be a friendly hand in difficulties and to highlight the problems of older people and their families. As with any friend, it is not perfect and will not have all the answers all of the time. Everyone’s situation is different and this needs to be taken this into account if you take action. Please be aware that you use the information and advice on this website at your own risk and it is not responsible or liable if things go wrong.