Monday, April 30, 2012

Lost Elders

My parents' lives right now are pretty unstable.  Life changes from last year, health issues which lead to so many undesirable outcomes still linger.  Tomorrow starts the first day of their lives without major issues looming.

Packed up suitcase inside the mini-van, Dad drove to meet me at the store where Gman works.  We'd agreed to meet there...

In an hour.  It is about 45 minutes to an hour away, Dad had directions.  He's used to driving alone; he traveled the country extensively for 33 years in whatever car Motorola (of old Fortune 25 fame pre-cell phone and that debacle for big, bat-winged "M") supplied to him.  I think the sum total every year for his mileage averaged 80k.

Per year.

But yesterday, on a rainy, cold Sunday 2 hours after we last spoke, the call came.

"PJ, I'm lost."

"Do you know what highway you're on?"

"Yeah, I just passed the St. Motherofgod exit heading south.  Does that help you?"

"Yep, sure does!  Stay on that road.  Okay?"

"Got it," said a frazzled dad.

"Okay, then when you see the Old Barely Aspen Road, I want you to get off on that exit, and park on the end of the ramp.  Okay?"

"At the end of the off ramp for Old Barely Aspen Road, is that what you said?"

"Yes, Dad.  You do that, Gman and I are leaving now to come get you.  Just get to the road, and we'll take it from there."

I knew better than to leave him with directions.  And I also knew that I needed a 2nd set of eyes to help me look for my dad in a minivan driving along a major interstate going the opposite direction at 75 MPH.

We never got there.  Dad ... well, Dad, got off on that Old Barely Aspen Road and then did not stop (or get $200!  haha).  He turned and headed east.  Luckily for me, I spotted him at the same time as Gman.

"Was that him?" I asked.

"Yeah."

Quickly dialing my dad's cell phone (actually my mom's but that's a wholeotherstory)...

"Hey dad?  You aren't by chance driving down Jefferson, are you?"

"Yeah.  Was I supposed to stop?"

And so it went.  We got him to pull over on the side of the road.

"You want me to pull over on the side of the road?  And just stop?"

Yes, Dad.  We need you to stop and park the minivan.  We need you to be safe.  We need you to be of sound mind.

After picking up my dad, Gman driving the minivan, we settled in for dinner.

Dad got his favorite foods.

I got my Dad.  Lost elder and all, I still have my dad.

And that is where I wonder:

For all the bracelets out there for penicillin allergy, or electronic implantable devices, could the med device people just put a GPS chip into the bracelet?  Much like we do for dogs?  So that when elders are lost, we can track them?

I see these folks in the news all the time, sadly.  How much easier could it be than to add that simple piece of electronic tracking onto something the elderly already use, to ensure peace of mind for them and their families?

My lost elder is safely tucked into a hotel room tonight (today - it's 4:30 AM here).  My lost elder is found.

I'm lucky.  Let's try to make other families just as lucky!

And of course, make it a great Monday!

3 comments:

njdr2b said...

wow thank God you wee able to get him back safely. that must have been really scarey.... whoooshhhh. geeeessee. GPS device for the elderly is a great idea.... take it to the device company and propose the same....it would be a real hit.

Justin said...

I don't know where you stand on the whole "Apple is / isn't evil" debate, but the Find My a Friends iPhone capability seems to be exactly what you're looking for - even displays their moving dot on the map, like something right out of Harry Potter. That is actually the comparison that my mother made when I got her all set up with one and showed her the dot with her name by it... Good stuff!

A Doc 2 Be said...

@ NJdr2B - yes, it was very scary. My dad is so frail right now; when we sat down at the local bakery, his shoulders sagged, he's frustrated with his declining health and, sadly, and obviously, declining mental capacity. Sharp as a tack at times, most of the time, but when he's gone, he's so confused.

@ Justin - I LOVE Apple!!!

Hmm... So, I'd give dad an iPhone to track him? Was that the part where people considered it an invasion of privacy?

That'd be my only concern. Who else has access to that data?

Good thoughts tho - I'll be checking into it!