A new beginning! This is the next installment of my caregiving journey. My parents have consumed my life. Since Dad had his hip surgery, we have wandered into uncharted waters. Who else has experienced such a loss as they are recovering from many challenges related to a fractured hip? My parent’s house was on fire last night. The damage appeared minimal.
Mom and Dad were watching their favorite program on TV after dinner. I was tidying up my room when I heard a knock then a constant banging at the front door. I opened the door and our neighbor told us there was smoke coming from the roof and the house was on fire. I quickly gathered my parents’ walkers and told my brother to get them in the car and drive away from the house. I went back in to gather my important papers, purse, and phone. When I got outside the parents were sitting in their walkers outside the car, my brother was nowhere in sight and someone was blocking the driveway.
My parents were remarkably calm. I called 911 as I put my parents in the car with my brothers help and drove away from the house. We watched from the corner as the firemen arrived and got to work. We couldn’t see any flames and the fire was extinguished almost immediately. Smoke was billowing from the laundry room at the back of the house and den area. I decided to drive around the block to our street and park so we could watch the firemen as they worked on the back of the house and den area.
As neighbors approached the car to talk to my parents, I left and waited across the street looking for someone who could give me some information. As one of the firefighters came by, I asked the who what where and why questions and he was able to direct me to the captain who gave me a quick assessment and said they had found the origin of the fire. He said that they had to poke holes in the ceiling to make sure it didn’t travel to the rest of the house. I was asked if my parents had home insurance and I had to answer they did not. Dad had cancelled the policy years ago after the insurance did not cover the leak in the roof. I had always thought the house was a huge fire risk and there wasn’t a good way to evacuate the house if the fire started at the furnace. There were no smoke alarms in the house and Dad was encouraged to install some. It never happened. I almost bought a policy for them to protect their investment, their home. I know I should have but some of the decisions were based on my father’s wishes. How could I go against that?
Upon hearing my parents had no insurance, they referred us to two programs/agencies that would provide us with immediate help, the Red Cross and Board-up. The red cross provided us with a debit card and we used it to find a room at a motel nearby. We also used it for food and there is money left on the card. The Red Cross has been very helpful in providing me with useful information for immediate resources for my parents considering their age. Board-up secured the house and made an initial assessment of the damage to the house. They said they would call me the next day and I met with the representative who came to the house last night.
We are enjoying our stay at the motel with adjoining rooms, my brother and I staying in one and my parents in the handicapped room next door. We leave the door open so we can hear and I also brought the baby/caregiver monitors and one camera from the house to keep an eye on them.
Today I had to call the occupational therapist for both Mom and Dad, the home care nurse for Dad, and the doctor to let them know where we were and where to come for their scheduled visits to the house. I also called the caregivers who provided much needed relief. The second day has come to a close and as I rely on my faith for strength, I also pray that I can maintain the best quality of life for my parent’s survival. I will do everything I can for them as we begin this new chapter in their lives.