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Dr Ciara Kelly: 'When mum was still at home - before the nursing home stage - we worried about her every day'


Dr Ciara Kelly at the launch of the Boots Home Assist range

Dr Ciara Kelly at the launch of the Boots Home Assist range

Dr Ciara Kelly at the launch of the Boots Home Assist range

“The saying goes that it takes a village to raise a child but it takes a village to take care of anyone.”

Newstalk’s Ciara Kelly, who worked as a GP in Wicklow up until last year, is a firm believer in facilitating vulnerable older people to live in their communities for as long as possible.

Her own mother Julie had dementia, and died last year at the age of 91. Julie eventually went into a nursing home, but she also lived independently at home for a time.

“When she was still at home before the nursing home stage, we worried about her every day: Would she be OK? Would she fall?”

“My mum had a personal alarm. Having a mobile device if they want to go to the shops, a personal alarm they can press if they need help. That’s key.”

“Lots of people, before they have dementia, they might have reduced mobility or be frail. Falls then cause disability and injury. People then after they’ve had a fall are much more nervous about going out, and it reduces their independence."

“People with dementia are vulnerable to getting lost and they’re also vulnerable to people taking advantage of them.”

“I believe in encouraging, supporting and facilitating people to live in their own homes. People always want to live in their own homes. People will always say to you in their later years that they want to stay in their own homes and die in their own beds.”

Kelly says her mother Julie was able to live in her own home for a time because she had her own personal alarm, which she could press if she needed help from the family or carers.

Kelly is now an advocate of Motech’s Careclip, a mobile emergency alarm which can be used outside the home and monitors the user’s activity, alerts for falls, disorientation or a panic situation, regardless of where the user is.

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Kelly explained: “One of the biggest things that contribute to falls in older people is our muscles growing weaker and our balance becoming poorer as we age. The best way to combat this and decrease your risk of falls and improve your quality of life is by exercising regularly, at your own pace.”

“We would have had the call from the middle of the night to go, and I remember it happened as well that her carer went to get her up in the morning and she’d fallen during the night but the alarm wasn’t near her… When mum had an alarm it was a more basic alarm system, it was eight or nine years ago."

“That story is very familiar to a lot of people in Ireland. That fear of what will happen if I’m not there.”

She added: “We have in Ireland an ageing population, and increasingly we’re seeing people with things like mobility issues and dementia. It’s a really current issue for people and also for their families, so they’re concerned about elderly parents.”

“Lots of people fracture a hip, and then there’s significant fallout from that in terms of disability and mortality.”

Communities in Ireland, she says, are key to helping the fallout be a little bit easier for the individuals themselves, their carers and their families.

The Careclip is a feature of the Boots Home Assist range which is available in selected Boots pharmacies.

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