Saturday, July 30, 2005

Don't Get Old

http://journals.aol.com/chasferris/DribblebyChuckFerris/entries/489

If ever there was lesson in what it means to be one of the elderly in this country, with serviceable skills, even a quick mind, but a body that has begun to betray you, read the recent entry at the above link to Chuck Ferris' journal.  He's a 79 year old former teacher residing in an assisted living facility.  It sounds like the needs of the inmates, because the residents are inmates in a way, are met according to the guidelines of the local state authorities, but the violence to one's self esteem and devastating disregard for simple human needs is rampant.

Here's my fictionalized version of the story Chuck tells:

Jerdine had spent her whole life in that house. She had worked a fulltime job, too, until the stroke left her with limited speech and other problems. Her children were also concerned about her health and safety in that big place and kept urging her to sell it. 

If you had lived a useful, productive life, owned your own home, tended to your garden, and took care of yourself without any help, but your health deteriorated suddenly, what would you do? 

Soon Jerdine's house had become an insurmountable burden for her. She finally agreed to sell it along with many of her beloved possessions and move. It was hard the day she had to leave the lovely garden she had nourished for many years and live in comfortable, but reduced circumstances at an assisted living facility.  


Moving to a new place hasn't been easy on top of her disability. With her impaired speech, it is difficult to understand what she says unless you are very patient.

Like most adults, she has been used to making her own rules and now she was going to have to follow someone else's. She missed her house, all her neighbors and old friends. She missed working in her garden.  All she had now were small living quarters, so she began to fill her one room apartment with lots of plants.

There were days when the depression could be crushing. It didn't help that there wasn't very much to occupy the residents there. To fill her time she found herself taking walks around the grounds.

Gradually, she began to meet other residents and even make some friends, although speaking will always be a struggle. Luckily, patience is greater among people who have their own afflictions. One day, she happened to notice that there were roses growing around the property. The early summer blooms had come and gone and needed to be removed so the plants could flower again.  If anyone knew how to care for roses, it was Jerdine.  So she set about taking care of them the way she used to care for the ones in the garden she had to leave behind. 

One day a superviser saw her fussing over the plants and warned her not to pick the flowers, missing the point entirely. She tried to explain that she was just removing the old blooms so that there would be new ones, but her speech was garbled and the busy bureaucrat just pretended he knew what she said, rushing passed her and waving hastily in her direction.  


Soon there were buds and she was elated, telling one of the other residents that there should be new flowers by the coming weekend. Unfortunately, bureaucracy and callous disregard for someone's hard work and care have conspired to destroy her efforts. A hired crew came in one day before she got there and cut down all the rose plants almost to the ground.

The bursting buds, now crushed and gone, won't bloom again until next year.  And the gentle spirit that nurtured them has no doubt wilted too.

10 comments:

salemslot9 said...

sad :(

shaz19743 said...

If theres one thing that makes my blood boil its the way people treat the older generations these days .....it kills me that people seem to stop seeing the amazing lifes and loves these people have had and still can have and simply see an annoyance or a burden or a "inmate" of a home instead .....i live across the road from a "retirement home " and i daily see those  faces at the windows ...longing faces full of sadness ....sometimes even later at night i look out my attic window over the road and see the outline of a wee figure sitting by the window still and i want to go over and read to them or talk about thier amazing pasts  or just sit there and listen to em .....but its like fort knox ....only relatives allowed and not many of them seem to bother visiting .....theres so much to learn and these guys n gals have a hell of a lot to teach us x

suzypwr said...

Before I did children't protective services, I spent 11 years doing adult protective services. What often happens in cases like that is the woman stays in her home, but a son or grandson moves in to "take care" of her. He is alcoholic and/or on drugs and abuses her badly to get her check every month. Her basic needs are not met; she loses her health and her home. At least Jerdine moved some place safe. Sad, but safe.

xoxo

paisleyskys said...

I am speachless~
To think of such a situation is hard enough but the very thought of being there scares the hell outta me!
Sad~
Wishing you health, happiness and laughter.
TJ~
http://journals.aol.com/vaultofsecrets/MoonDancer/

dimundntheruf69 said...

this saddens me terribly...christie

artloner said...

Our society doesn't have time for the elderly or the disabled.  :(  Thank you for putting it out there to make people think.  

It will happen to us all, one way or the other.

andi


gaboatman said...

A very thought provoking entry Mrs. L.  As our national demographics change, the way we deal with and interact with the elderly is going to loom large as a national issue.  I would hope that we can bring compassion and insight to the table as our leaders take a look at the way our nation deals with it's elderly.
Sam

judypearllove said...

THIS MAKES ME SICK. I USE TO WORK IN A LIVING ASSISANT HOME AND HELD A MAN IN MY ARMS UNTIL HE TOOK HIS LAST BREATH. WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND AND THE PESON WHO HAD THIS DONE WILL NOT LIKE WHAT COMES AROUND TO THEM. MAY NOT BE TODAY OR TOMORROW BUT AS SURE AS GOD MAKE LITTLE GREEN APPLES THEY WILL GET THEIR JUST DUE.

memes121 said...

But one day, these idiots who have little regard for these wonderful people,will begin to feel their life, their physiacl freedom, their dependency silp away. You reap what you sow. This wonderful lady will one day be rewarded for her love and hard work.

sunnyside46 said...

that story breaks my heart
marti
http://journals.aol.com/sunnyside46/MidlifeMusings