Thursday, February 14, 2008

Indignity of Persistence

My aunt was diagnosed with diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease some years, ago. At first she just seemed really sweet and kinda silly. Later, she became more easily confused by things, although she was still fairly aware. She had a regular caregiver who helped my uncle take care of her since things like bathing herself became too much for her.

By the time my grandmother's 80th birthday celebration came around a year and a half, ago, my aunt was still mobile, but unexpressive. Making eye-contact with her caused her to turn away.

In her eyes I thought I could see ... something like what you feel when you experience deja vue. Everything about your surroundings in that moment, seem very, very familiar, but you don't know how or why. Being confronted with one of those familiar faces, in an up-close and personal way, was uncomfortable, I guess.

The next time I saw her, about a year later, she was bed-ridden and unresponsive, needing others to take care of her every need. My uncle took months off from work, to take care of her and make arrangements for others to help.

From what I understand, my uncle was told that the care he could provide her was insufficient so he was forced to put her in a home... where they could take better care of her.

Within a year, she was dead. Some type of infection set in her body. From what we're being told, the city, state, county or whomever is saying that this infection shouldn't be been fatal - the facility should've caught it.

So, my uncle was forced to send his wife away for better care and signs indicate that she received the exact opposite.

I believe an autopsy has been ordered, so we'll see. Either way, the people who loved my aunt have to deal with the mixed-emotions of being sad that she's passed but maybe embarrassed by some sense that the indignity of her persistence has come to an end.

Happy Valentine's Day, Unc.

3 comments:

Los Angelista said...

I hope your uncle sues them for everything they've got. That's awful. I'm so sorry.

I know of so many people, my granny included, who died shortly after being put in home. The people at them are getting paid minimum wage or a little bit above it and taking care of the elderly isn't exactly their first choice for a career.

But hope your Valentine's Day was otherwise alright.

Siditty said...

That is horrible. My grandmother recently died in a nursing home, but before we put her in there, we asked her doctor how do we ensure we were going to put her in a good home. She said the only way you can do that is show up often and randomly. So we did. My uncle came once a day, my aunt another part of the day, sometimes during lunch, sometimes after work. My father whenever he could, two to three times a week (we lived 2 hours away) sometimes in the afternoon, sometimes morning, sometimes evening. I came on weekends morning, afternoon whenever I thought about it. I noticed when we were there, there was always a person there checking vitals, making sure she was fed. At least a couple of times in a span of two hours.

Nursing homes are really horrible places. The employees there to care for these people are making very little money, there is no incentive for them to take care of people.

It is sad that in this country we really don't respect and care for our elderly like we should. People no longer have the respect they used to and these people think of caring for people is a burden and they aren't getting paid enough to take care of that burden. The thought that "burden" or person could be their loved one, or better yet them one day does not compute

West said...

los angelista: Thanks. It actually was a pretty decent Valentine's Day, overall. I'll probably post on it once I settle a bit more.

I hope yours went well, too.

siditty: Welcome!

I'm glad your tale of diligence didn't end in tragedy.

You're both right about the wage issue. I guess it's a lot like when my mom was in the hospital and I stayed with her almost 24/7, making sure she wasn't forgotten or mistreated - which it became clear she would've been.