Am I being unreasonable or extreme to think I shouldn’t leave my 90-year old mother home alone for a few hours?

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We live in earthquake prone California. Past due for a “big one.” Mom is dizzy, off-balance, prone to falls (uses a cane), urinary incontinence, Slow-moving, has severe back pain, doesn’t see well (Wet macular degeneration in one eye), doesn’t hear well (hearing aids frustrate her), doesn’t sleep well at night, some dementia-like symptoms (fearful) but still conversational. I am getting blow-back from family members who say I shouldn’t “worry” about the “big one” earthquake. If she were able-bodied I wouldn’t worry. I think she shouldn’t be left alone. She wears an “alert system” button but it doesn’t work if there is a power outage. Same with her power recliner. She could be stuck. I’m a pro-active, plan ahead daughter-caregiver. Mom lives with me. I would appreciate feedback. Thank you.

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Thank you all so much for your kind, thoughtful, and helpful responses! Take good care of yourselves as well as your loved ones. Thanks again.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to catcoker
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I'm here in earthquake-prone SF Bay Area living with my frail quadriplegic dad and I know where you're coming from. The 1906 "Big One" anniversary just came around, April 18th, and the local news was full of stories about it. I love local history but thinking about what exactly we would do in a really big one with a paralyzed senior is not a great prospect to contemplate. Heck, I'm still kind of traumatized from the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake that collapsed part of the Bay Bridge! Ever since that one I occasionally mildly freak out if I feel any sort of shaking, earthquake-related or no.  A few months ago a minor earthquake woke me up in the middle of the night, the first one I've felt since my dad's accident and I just sat bolt upright and thought, "No. Freaking. Way."

I'm with you that hours alone for a person who can't fend for herself or exit the house in case of a fire unassisted isn't OK. That said, because we have to live in a less than perfect world and have to be practical, I have occasionally popped out and back to the nearby grocery store. But I wouldn't want to leave my dad alone for more than that brief time frame, for a lot of reasons.

Besides thinking about back up, I recommend also taking some action steps if you haven't already such as storing water (at least 3 gallons per person per day for three days), making sure you have a small container of fresh bleach on hand (it degrades with time) and doing a few other prep things like that for some peace of mind. I bought a few of those big food-grade water containers that you sterilize with bleach and fill with water; it's good for like 5 years and makes me happy knowing it's around. Look into getting your chimney stabilized and basement structures reinforced, etc. Just do what you can! ;)
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Reply to SnoopyLove
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I refused to leave Dad alone, bc he couldn't make good decisions or his judgement was clouded. Often he would leave his walker out of reach, thinking it was much closer. (All this was early on...) I also didn't know if he would try to take a shower, and later needed help with toileting, tho early on he would sometimes get 'stuck' in the bathroom and couldn't get up from the commode. Also, his Dr asked, if there was an emergency, could he make the decision and follow thru with exiting the house? That was enough for me.
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Reply to talkey
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catcoker, what does your Mother think? Is she fearful of earthquakes and being home alone? If she isn't worried about this, then you shouldn't be either, but I know it isn't easy to remove that type of fear. Even the most able bodied person can get trapped in an earthquake.

The main thing I see here is that your Mom gets dizzy and is a fall risk. That is a biggee in my book. Falls can do minor damage or create a whole new medical issue. Try to get that dizziness under control, there are meds that should help. Ask Mom's primary doctor. Or get non-drowsy Dramamine if the doctor says ok, to see if that helps.

I learned that from my own Mom [97] who wasn't alone but lived with my Dad [94] in their own house. Mom was a furniture walker, thus would let the furniture and walls be her cane. Dad used his walker which did help him lower the amount of falls he took. Mom refused caregivers big time, and no way were they going to wear one of those alert pendents. Then she fell twice in her kitchen, both times hitting her head on the counter top. The second fall changed everything. Mom spent her remaining months living in long-term-care.
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Reply to freqflyer
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As someone who lives in BC, another earthquake zone, I do not let the possibility of an earthquake to dictate any part of my life. I have an earthquake kit at home, I do not carry one in my car. I spend my day 54 km (30 miles) from home, and I cross multiple rivers on my drive back and forth. I am my family's planner/organizer.

However it sounds like your mother perhaps should not be left for long periods of time due to her health needs, not due to the possibility of an earthquake. What would be a reasonable amount of time she could be left? Are you missing out on family events and activities, because you will not leave Mum?

Have you looked into getting a part time caregiver, so you can get a break, spend time with your family?
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to Tothill
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Just my opinion, I'd feel a lot better if you just went to the corner store for 5-10 minutes, than you leaving her alone for  hours.

She sounds much too frail to leave home alone that long. You said it-prone to falls. Why tempt fate.

I would hire someone to be with her for the time you are gone.

With the exception of the last 10 years, I've lived in
California all my life. The chances that she'd be harmed in an earthquake are much less than her forgetting her cane and falling while walking to the bathroom.

Please have someone supervise her while you're gone.
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Reply to SueC1957
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