So when did this culture we live in decide that if you are feeble, weak, or ill (of any age), you should just be shoved into a care facility and be forgotten about? Better yet, why?
The group of people I work with are all feeble, weak, or ill. They however they are not necessarily incompetent to make decisions. Some of my dementia patients might not be qualified to make decisions regarding their care or medication, but even most of those could tell you what belongings they wanted to keep and which ones could have gone to their family. Because when I’m working with them, that is usually the topic of discussion. Why did they just leave me here with this stuff? They could have kept that china hutch, or that chair or gotten rid of my button up shirts, but I really wanted my books or my photo albums or my pull over shirts. I’ve had thousands of conversations like that over the last 4 years.
Why? Because our society has made it OK. When Grandma gets too old to cook for herself or keep her house clean, it’s now OK to just take her out for the day, while movers and/or other family pick and choose what gets moved into the nursing home. Then when the day is over Grandma gets taken to her new apartment to never leave again.
I know this to be true because I have witnessed it over and over again. In fact in over 4 years I can count on my hands, the number of people that have told me they willingly went and told their family what to move for them or what to do with what didn’t get moved. That’s out of 8 nursing homes and 4 years of service. Wow, just wow. It boggles my mind.
I have worked with people from 45 to 108, and almost all of them were dropped off without any consultation. They had no choice, no say in the matter. They didn’t get to choose what building, what services, what clothes to take, or what furniture to take. I have had a very few that were able to persuade their families to make changes after the fact, but even that is rare, and usually related to facility concerns, not necessarily belongings.
Why? If someone is having trouble physically, but their mind is still mostly ok- WHY on earth, WHY doesn’t it get put into certain terms and laid out in a way that Grandma or Grandpa can provide their two cents worth. Is it really that hard, or is it that families just don’t care about their supposed loved ones anymore?
I simply don’t understand why children or grandchildren can’t just sit down and explain: “Look, you are having trouble, we want to help, but can’t do it ourselves. We’d (like for/insist that) you to move into a building that can help, and we want for you to help us decide where, and then what you wish to do with all of your belongings. Which ones to take and what to do with the rest.” Is that really so hard?
Beyond that, once the initial decisions are made, it becomes about the family makes all decisions, and never consults with what grandma wants. I believe that when someone crosses the bridge into managed care (of any level) a solid discussion about living and death should be discussed and documented into wills. I have told my husband already (I’m 33) that if I am ever in a state where I can’t feed myself, toilet myself, clean myself, or talk- that I want all medications except pain killers removed, and pain killers to be increase until there is no evidence of discomfort- at any cost or risk of side-effects. I have yet to document it in a formal living will, but I am set on doing so. Yet hundreds of thousands of elderly are in just that state and their families keep allowing enough blood thinners, heart meds, and psych/dementia drugs to keep them alive and in that state. I sincerely believe that that is essentially pure evil disguised as ignorance and apathy.
Sadly, most of my people are elderly, however, there is a group of younger disabled people that are dealt with the same way. IF their family believes their plight, they get shuttled away and ignored because they are simply too much to handle or deal with. At worst they are being selfish, or are simply labeled as hypochondriacs, which is even sadder because if I’m working with them, then that is so very far from the truth. It boggles my mind how families can now treat each other with such blatant disrespect. Children to parents, parents to children, brother and sisters. I just simply don’t understand it.
This topic probably bothers me so much right now, because my family has done so with me. They have written me off, either because I married an older black man, or because that man then had heart trouble that resulted in financial trouble and I didn’t leave him. Either way, it disgusts and utterly frustrates me. How can people be so heartless with their own family, their own flesh and blood? I simply just don’t understand.