While R was in rehab I watched emergency and ambulance-type vehicles come and go carrying patients needing rehab: some accident victims; some stroke victims; some, like R, with broken bones who had undergone surgery, plus others.
A sophisticated stretcher-type apparatus hugged these people to its contours, strong men carried all into the automatically opening doors of the rehab facility.
Being curious, I asked one of the attendants, who drove the emergency vehicle and carried the patients into the facility, about the job. He had done it all–from fatalities at car crashes to transporting the very young and the very old. He was a big man; obviously strong. He also had a big heart and had been–and still is– caregiver for his elderly aunt.
“Can adult children do anything to help aging parents needing to be transported by ambulance?” I asked. His reply “Yes, they need to stay calm and help their parents stay calm.” And then he went on to elaborate on how difficult this can be. I share what I learned.
People being transported in an ambulance are scared, and often in pain. Fear of the unknown is usually great, although possibly less when one is being taken from the known of a hospital, as was R, to a rehab center where there’s a specific program aimed at returning to normal mobility.
The attendant said he does his best to calm patients and their families–makes it much easier for the professionals to do what is necessary for the patient as quickly as possible. When a patient is agitated, everything is more difficult and when family members add to the stress, it’s doubly difficult.
That said, he reinforced how scary it is for the patient. He shared that he had been in an auto accident and had been put in the ambulance. No matter the knowledge and experience he had, he was hurting and scared–mostly scared, he said, that because he was so big he might be dropped. He said he knew how well-trained everyone was, “but when you’re in pain and you’ve lost all control you become scared.”
We can help aging parents in this situation; but we need to keep ourselves calm first. Easy? Not. But no doubt we’ll try, like we always try, as we try to help our parents age well.