First of all, thank you for all of you who asked about Mom. Two weeks ago, we had to send her into the ER with pneumonia and a bladder infection. Your kindness via calls, emails, letters and wine and cake delivery (for me!) were very appreciated. She was lucky, in a way, to have her birthday, Easter and her hospital stay be in the last two weeks and she received such lovely cards. We read them together and she is very lucky to have such sweet people in her life. Simply thank you seems not enough, but you know how I feel.
As you can imagine, the hospital stay was not ideal for her. It is a strange place, strange people, she doesn’t know why she is there and they are doing things to her that they should not be doing. I think twice she told me, “Why are you allowing them to kill me!”. This is the reason why I do not like to send a confused patient into the ER, if I can at all help it. Sometimes they are alone, family can’t be with them for whatever reason and it just doesn’t go well. I was glad that I could be there and try to help the staff. I hope we don’t have to do that again soon.
The Thursday that we were there, made me think of something that I have been meaning to write about for so long. Its been in the back of my head, waiting for a time to put it down and for me to articulate it in the best way. It is the way we treat our elderly. Simply, we need to do better. Not all of us, mind you. Just some of us who feel the need to take advantage, steal or mistreat them.
What happened to mom is not as bad as what I have stated but it bears to be said. I was there most of the day Thursday and a lunch tray did not arrive for her. I asked the nurse and she stated that we needed to order it. My first thought was, how in the world could my mom order her tray being so ill. I ordered it for her and she only took one bite. I spent the rest of the day trying to get her to eat, with no luck and I left to go home for awhile. I had debated going back since I didn’t get home until 2 AM but Emme wanted to go back to the hospital and I thought Emme could get her to eat.
We arrived at 7:30 PM and mom was in a fetal position in her bed, a tray sitting on a table by her door. The dinner was not opened and it was ice cold. I went to go sit her up and her IV had infiltrated and her hand was 3x the size it should be. As you can imagine, I was less than happy with this issue. I got a nurse, who was the charge nurse and she first stated this was not her patient. I told her about what I found and someone needed to take care of her ASAP. Immediately, we have four nurses in her room and they want to cut off her wedding band, which is sixty eight years old. I don’t want them to do this and I tell them that I will massage her hand to see if some of the fluid will go down. I am less than pleased, especially about not being fed and knowing that no one had checked on her for some time.
I called the social worker in the morning and asked that she be moved back to her memory care unit and hoping she would do better in a place that she was more familiar with. I did tell her about Thursday and that I was unhappy with her care. She understood and would let someone know. For a week, the “complaint manager” and I played phone tag and finally I got to speak to her and tell her my concerns. Imagine that you came to the hospital to see your mother and finding her hand totally swollen and that no one fed her. I gave her some examples of how to change it for an elderly, confused patient knowing they can NOT order food on their own. Her response was to use my mom as a “case study”. Do you really need a case study of how to take better care of someone? Can you imagine if I would not have gone up there to see her? I did not tell her I was a nurse until the end of the conversation.
I write about this because I have a strong burning anger of how we treat our elderly. I think this was mild compared to what I have seen in the last six months as a nurse and it sets me on fire.
Taking advantage of the elderly must stop. I have been working on a case with a detective to catch a private caregiver that took financial advantage of a woman. I asked her how we can stop this and she stated that she sees forty case a week of elder abuse. 40 cases. That is forty cases a week she actively works on. How can this be? She and I agree that people find an “in” and they take advantage.
I have witnessed theft, getting a vulnerable adult to sign a check, phone call scams and verbal abuse. I am a mandated reporter and I make the reports and they come back that they will not proceed. You almost need to impair/injure someone for it to be looked at. A police officer I also spoke to months ago, stated it is not worth it to prosecute because it is not considered a felony. I don’t get it. How do you measure worth?
I have thought about this a lot. You know how we can stop this?
Be nosey and involved: Sure scams can happen to anyone but ask and listen when your elderly loved one speaks. I remember after my dad died, a long term care company stopped by my mom’s house. Her confusion was just starting and she told me some strange man stopped by to visit with her. She stated she signed something but she had his number. I called the company, which I won’t name and had a nice conversation with the manger about the fact that you can’t go door to door and sell that time of insurance. I remember being so angry with them. They cancelled the policy and I wrote a letter to the president.
Red flags: The big thing that is happening with seniors is scams. Guess what! You won a car but you will need to pay for the taxes on the car, which amounts to $5,000. Guess what! You have won $100,000 but we will need $2,000 as a down payment. I’m glad for some of my relationships with my clients. One client I’ve had for ten years, was scammed on selling her timeshare. If your loved one comes to you with these stories, know that they are not true. I hate hearing these stories because they truly believe that they have won the money. I have a close family friend who was my mentor in nursing school get milked out of an amount that would surprise you. He truly believed he would get his money back and the people that call are so sneaky. They say they will arrive with the car or money and never arrive and give you a story that seems plausible. It never is.
I could go on for a long time but I will stop, I think you have gotten my point. Imagine your mother, father, favorite uncle or aunt. Your older neighbor or your family friend. We must do better to look after them and simply care.