Old age is not for sissies (long and disgusted)

My father-in-law, age 78, went out to lunch by himself the other day. In the parking lot on the way back to his car, he fell, striking his head on the pavement. As he was pretty far from the door of the restaurant, no one inside saw this happen. Stunned, he lay there for a minue or two, until a young man spotted him and came over to help him up. The young man was unable to get Dad on his feet, so he sat on the pavement next to him until he spied someone else. He called a lady over to help and between the two of them, they managed to get Dad up and into his car.

The lady, as it turned out, was a nurse, and she did a spot-check on Dad, asking him his name, how many fingers am I holding up and so forth. She told him to sit tight, then went into the restaurant. A few minutes later, she returned with a bandaid for his head and this bit of information: as the fall didn’t happen on restaurant property, but rather in the parking lot that is shared by several other businesses, the restaurant did not want to take responsibility for calling an ambulance. Dad, being a stubborn ol’ coot, insisted that he didn’t need an ambulance anyway. The nurse was skeptical, but Dad was adamant, and after reassuring herself that he was not too seriously injured, she told him to be careful driving.

He arrived home shortly thereafter, and for some reason, my mother-in-law came out to the garage - she hadn’t heard him pull up, and it was not usual for her to be in the garage, but fate or whatever got her there in the nick of time. As Dad tried to get out of the car, his arm gave way and he sort of just fell out of the car. Mom, who is 76 and none too steady herself, managed to get him into the house, then she called me.

Seven hours in the ER, and we finally find out that Dad has a concussion, a broken ankle and a pinched nerve in his shoulder. The ER docs wrap his ankle in gauze and send him home. Once home, we have to get Dad up the stairs into the house (a split level) and down the stairs into the family room, where we unfold the sofabed and park him in a chair. This process took us close to an hour.

NOW for the rants: You stupid restaurant. So you don’t want to end up liable, you refuse to call an ambulance. You turn your back on an obviously injured old man because you’re worried about your insurance. Boneheads.

Nurse, whoever you may be: Thanks for helping Dad up, but it was NOT a good idea to let him drive. I know he’s not your patient or your responsibility, but wouldn’t it have made more sense to call the ambulance yourself, or get a number and call his family, rather than let this man, bleeding from a serious head wound and unable to stand on his own, drive himself?

You stupid hospital. You asked if he had anyone at home, and when he said “my wife” did it ever occur to you that his wife might be someone of the same approximate vintage (i.e. elderly) and sending a 235 pound man who is unable to walk home might not be in anyone’s best interest? And even though his obviously healthy daughter-in-law (all 100 pounds of her) was willing to help, once you saw he was unable to get back into the car without being lifted in, it should have occured to you that said 100-pound daughter-in-law wasn’t likely to be able to get him OUT of the car alone either! And when I asked for info on home nursing, wheelchair rental and such, I did not appreciate being told to call his primary care physician the next day to find out what might be covered under Medicare. I needed some way to get the poor man out of the damn car!

And you, dear father-in-law: It’s time to stop driving, dammit. It’s time to sell that behemoth of a three story house and get you and my dear mother in law into assisted living! You have the info, and you agreed that, especially since she is now sliding down the stairs on her butt and crawling up the stairs on her hands and knees and has 2/3 of the house closed off because neither of you can get around like you used to, you agreed that it was time to unload some of the burden. But you didn’t. I love you guys and am more than willing to come over daily and help you, but “you don’t want to bother” me. You don’t want to move in here because you feel like you’d be a “bother.” Well, I am bothered now, because I can’t sleep for worrying about you!

(Whew. OK I am done now.)

Awful fucking restaurant.

I’m glad your father-in-law wasn’t more seriously injured, LifeOnWry. Best of luck to him in his recovery.

Best of luck to your FIL, but picking on the good samaritan nurse for not restraining a 235 lb stubborn old man from doing as he wishes is absurd and manifestly not her responsibility, so please stop with the blame game.

Oh, I’m not blaming her. In fact, we’ve been trying to locate her to thank her for what help she willingly gave. I just WISH she’d called for an ambulance - he was bleeding fairly profusely , and I suspect the nurse caved to the restaurant’s desire not to be involved more than anything.

LOR, you know how much I care. I’ll leave it at that. Your FIL is not capable of making informed decisions about the welfare of his loved ones. Yes, the restaurant should have thrown legal caution to the wind and summoned an ambulance. No, your FIL is not absolved from blame. He dissuaded those who would help him and went off on his merry way. Whatever distress he experienced thereafter was both unwitnessed and undocumented thereby being his own fault.

Please take strength from our community’s support for you and make sure that your FIL and mother both receive the help they need.

With Love,


Go to that resestaurant that calling an ambulance does not make them liable. But not calling one might.

Good luck to your father-in-law. I hope all works out well.

tell them

must take time to preview

I’m going through similar issues with my parents, who are both 79. My mother has been recovering from a stroke for over four years, although “declining” might be a more accurate word. She has no use of her right side and is confined to a wheel chair.

She was recently in the hospital for about a week due to a urinary tract infection. They also thought she might have gallstones, but rather than treating her then and there, they advised us to bring her back to be examined by the specialist in a couple of weeks.

Do they have any idea how difficult it is to transport a virutally non-ambulatory, hemiplegic person to a doctor’s office? Why couldn’t they examine her while she was there, dammit!

Old age does indeed suck. My mother and several of my friends and relatives are in their 80s and 90s. I have no intention of getting that old, should I be unlucky enough to inherit my mother’s genes.

And don’t give me that “it beats the alternative” crap, either—I’d much rather be dead than old, impoverished, alone, sick and disabled.

Would you please name the restaurant?

Why, masonite? For whatever it’s worth, it’s a small family restaurant, not part of a chain.

Well, I don’t think behavior like that needs to be protected, that’s all. Next time I’m in Chicago, I’d like to know what restaurant to avoid, in case I choked, or fell down, or got food poisoning, lest I be hustled out the back door and left to die, that’s all.

I’m generally of the opinion that when a business or an individual does something really disgusting, as in the OP, a lot of people should know about it.

Nobody had a cell phone? I can understand FIL not having one, being a cranky old guy on a fixed income, but not the nurse? Interesting that there were three people in the same place and none of them had one. And no pay phone in the restaurant?

Maybe I have a Homeric attitude toward assisted living, but I’d dump that house in a heartbeat if I were him.