Ring…ring…ring…For the past three hours Lucy’s mother had not answered her phone. Lucy knew her mother was home. What was preventing her mother from picking up the phone? Just yesterday Lucy had put her mom on a plane, heading back to Florida. In spite of Lucy’s objections, her mother insisted that she was well enough to go back home. Lucy’s mom had fallen at Lucy’s home a few days earlier, and was unable to get up from the floor. They had to call 911 to get her mom off the floor. Lucy wondered if her mom had fallen again, at home by herself. Ring…ring…ring…After another three hours of no telephone response, Lucy decided to call a locksmith to go over to her mom’s apartment and break in.

“Hello, Lucy, this is the paramedic. We responded to the locksmith’s call for emergency assistance for your mother,” said the caller in Florida. “Is my mother O.K.?” shrieked Lucy. “I live in N.Y., so please tell me what is going on,” said Lucy. “Your mother fell about eight hours ago. She didn’t injure herself, but she was stranded until we got here,” said the paramedic.

It gets worse… “You need to know that her home is a disaster. The apartment reeks of the smell of urine, there are smears of feces on the carpet, there are piles of dirty clothes and piles of mail and other papers on every piece of furniture. The refrigerator is full of spoiled food. It looks as if your mother has been living off of cereal, pretzels, candy, and soda, in spite of her diabetic diet restrictions,” said the man. “What are you going to do about these hazards?” asked the paramedic.

“I already called a home health care agency and arranged for an aide to be with my mother, starting later today,” replied Lucy. “I also have a cleaning service coming over,” said Lucy. “Between the cleaning crew and the aide, they should be able to rectify the situation for my mom. Also I’ll have the aide report back to me on the progress, until I can fly to Florida myself,” said Lucy.

This is a true story. This poor woman also was stranded in her apartment during both Hurricane Frances and Jeanne, without help or electricity, because no one intervened and she was mentally and physically incapable of helping herself.

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