Strolling the halls of a nursing home always seems to rattle my soul a little. You see the body, the machine of what was once a vivacious individual, sitting in a wheelchair parked in the shadows of society.
The Sunday visitors come and go with the children tugging at their mother skirt, “can we go eat now?”
How awful that must feel to the person relegated to such a place.
In many of my novels, I bring up the simple act of hugging someone. When we embrace another individual do we do it to be polite or because it is expected? There is, of course, the polite hug and the real hug.
When we visit a relative in the “home,” do we do it because it is expected or because we care about that person? Why are you going there?
Have you written anything down about your end of life expectations?
Do you envision living out your days in your home?
When we come into the world, we come in with nothing. We pee and poop ourselves and depend upon the benevolence of others to care for us until we can do for ourselves. We depend upon them for food, protection from the elements and some semblance of life.
During our years as adults, we pay it forward. We do for others and hope that those that witness our efforts understand that is what we expect. Do they? Is that why we do it?
Visiting a friend not terribly long ago she pointed out a man who was visibly upset. She told me the story of how his family invited him out to lunch, drove him to this place and put him there against his will. His house, cars, and finances were now in the care of his kids.
I visited with him to try and calm him. He told me of the deceit, the obfuscation of facts disclosed to the administrators of this place. Perfectly lucid and aware of his surroundings and the predicament was upsetting to him. It was distressing to me as well.
The last few years I have been involved with the care of an aging friend. In and out of hospitals and rehab facilities I had plenty of opportunities to see what we do with misfits. I don’t use that word in a pejorative manner I am trying to make a point.
When do we lose control of our rights and become a misfit?
There is this horrible story which is true where the state assigns a guardian to older folks. Usually, this is a friend of the judge or court who becomes tasks with taking care of older people.
It works something like this. Somehow, some way you are discovered and show up on someone’s radar.
I feel like these places that are sold to “mature adults” with activities and such are probably good hunting grounds for these predators.
Some judge signs some paperwork, and there is a knock at your door.
The Guardian appears, introduces themselves and then shows you the paperwork. He or she then gives you thirty minutes to pack some clothes and so forth where they then whisk you away to one of these facilities where you are locked up. They will call it a new residence, but it is a cell without bars.
The Guardian then returns to forage through your home looking for paperwork to take over your life. He or she then turns all of your stuff into liquid assets through estate sales and so on. Once your entire life’s collection or residual is in the bank, this guardian then writes themselves checks against your trust every time that they do anything on your behalf. That could be arguing with your relatives or talking with your caregivers at the facility. The Guardian acquires a few of these cases and might visit ten or fifteen of them in one day writing him or herself a check for $500 for each person visited all in the same facility.
The families are hamstrung as undoing this appointment of a guardian is a long and protracted legal mess which will cost the family tons of money. The Guardian pays for his or her legal expenses out of your parents or whoever’s estate.
In some cases, it is the very children who do it to their parents. As it was with this man I spoke with. How awful that must have been for him.
It is one thing to be kidnapped by the judicial system but quite another to be hoodwinked by your own kids.
Some of those that you see in the halls are apparently not there. The brain is gone. The hollow eyes and vapid stares are only a ghost of what once was.
Dementia is a cruel thing as it can remove the filters that we once had which made us the person who the world knew. Suddenly we can become nasty using our words to hurt those that are trying to make our final days tolerable.
Walking the halls week after week the names on the doors change, as another ghost now occupies the rooms of the “home.”
You see them, laying there with the TV blaring either some talk show, game show or Joy Behar spewing out her hateful Anti-Trump venom. What must go through their minds as the poison from the idiot box continues to insult their intelligence!
I watched one man curse the TV as George Stephanopoulos tried to tell a story out of context to sway the emotions of his audience. The old guy knew he was not telling the whole story as he seldom does and called him on it.
Why was that man in there I thought?
Clearly, his intelligence and awareness were there. Have you ever gone in and sat and talked with them?
I have. The invectives against those that put them there are on the surface with many of them.
Apparently, they know that this is their last stop. They know the next time their body leaves that place will be a one-way ride to the funeral home or the crematorium. Is that all we are?
When would you invite the sting of death into your life?
What would it take to just lie down and give up?
Have you ever looked closely into that mirror and seen your ghost?
Are you satisfied with your life? Have you run a good race?
What does your race look like? When will it be done? Is there a finish line?
Do you have a bucket list?
Are you living your life or are you drifting along with the currents without a rudder?
There are times that I feel like Don Quixote. Are there windmills that need tilting at or do we just sit down and shut up?
I feel for this generation growing up today as they have been cheated in their education. I have hired many who were only good on paper and not in practice. I knew it when I hired them, but their work ethic is why I hired them. Not for their pedigree. Anyone who would vote for a socialist clearly did not pay attention in school.
There are lies out there being perpetrated on the youth today, and they are working. White men are all of the sudden feeling guilty for being white and a male. This is an idea pushed by vile racists bigots. It is wrong on so many levels of wrong, but some of our youth are too dense to see it.
The blank stares looking back at you as you walk by them, the spark is there in some of them. I know because I tell them each hello and ask them how they are doing… Some look at you with a blank stare and some are somewhat lugubrious about their predicament, but they are there and able to carry on a conversation. They are in the here and now. Some have accepted it and make the best of it. Some smile and genuinely appreciate not being treated like the walking dead.
I wonder about the people that work in those places. They live their days around those that are affected in some way, and of course, those that are mentally dead but their bodies are still living.
There is an old axiom I will share with you, and it is germane for this blog.
Once a man twice a child.
Man of course in the generic sense. One an adult twice a child might be more salient.
Where are you right now in your life?
Have you set goals and are you reaching them?
Are you preparing for your retirement?
Do you have plans for those “golden years?”
A tip from me to you, live every day like it is the last. Don’t waste a minute of life on things that you cannot change. Laugh often! Keep toxicity out of your life. That includes toxic people.
Spend time with your parents or grandparents. If they have passed, go and spend some time with those in a nursing home. The administrators can point you to those that would appreciate your visit. Pay it forward.
If you are an author like me you never know where your next story idea might come from. This is not my motivation to visit with them but I do listen just the same.
Much love my friends! Thanks for the follows, and comments.