Inquest hears how man's wife, who suffers from Alzheimer's, lay down with him at bottom of stairs after his fatal fall

Inquest hears how man's wife, who suffers from Alzheimer's, lay down with him at bottom of stairs after his fatal fall

By Louise Roseingrave

A woman arrived at her parents' house to find both her mother and father lying at the bottom of the stairs, an inquest heard.

Her father had fallen and could not get up and her mother had laid down beside him to keep him company.

John O’Reilly (aged 86) from Edenmore Park, Raheny, Dublin 5, died at Beaumont Hospital five days afterwards due to injuries sustained in the fall. His wife, who suffers from Alzheimer's, is now in a nursing home.

Inquest hears how man's wife, who suffers from Alzheimer's, lay down with him at bottom of stairs after his fatal fall

Martina Cooke told Dublin Coroner’s Court that she arrived at the family home on January 5, 2017, at around 10am. She was shocked and upset to find her parents lying on the hall floor.

There was some blood on the radiator but her father told her that her mother was uninjured.

She suffers from Alzheimer's and he was her primary carer, the court heard.

“I was worried when I saw the blood but Dad said mum was alright, that she had laid down to keep him company,” Ms Cooke said.

“He was her full-time carer. She wouldn’t have realised what was going on.”

Mr O’Reilly was transferred from the house to Beaumont Hospital by ambulance. Scans revealed multiple fractured ribs, with bleeding into the chest and air in the chest as a result. A chest drain was inserted but the man developed kidney failure and pneumonia and his condition deteriorated over a number of days.

He died in hospital at 11.45pm on January 10, 2017.

The cause of death was pneumonia due to rib fractures due to a fall with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) as a contributory factor.

Deputy Coroner Dr Crona Gallagher returned a verdict of accidental death.

“A fall and rib fractures would be enough on its own to cause a fatality, it’s a severe injury and certainly at this age would be associated with a high level of mortality,” the coroner said.

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