Advocacy, Death & Dying, Love, Memories, Real life

a year ago yesterday

Bruised and battered, July 28, 2016.

July 27, 2017: One year ago yesterday, when I went to visit Mom as I did every day, I found her in bed rambling incoherently and highly agitated. She was on oxygen. The charge nurse told me Mom had had a seizure and fell in the morning. I don’t believe that’s true.

I believe she fell because she was left unattended in the bathroom. I think she tried to get up from the toilet by herself, but because she was no longer able to stand on her own, she fell and then she had a seizure as a result of a fall that could have been and should have been averted. But no one will ever know exactly what happened. That’s why, like UK campaigner Jayne Connery, I’m all for CCTV cameras in long-term care facilities.

The next day, Wednesday, it seemed like she had recovered somewhat, though her right arm was completely black and blue and she had lots of bruising on her face. I reported this on my personal Facebook page:

Care partner update: Thanks to everyone for sending good thoughts and prayers for me and my care partner who had a seizure and fell yesterday. Today was a much better day. She is bruised, black and blue in many places, but says she’s not in pain when asked. Remains on oxygen, but when the nurse went to put it in her nostrils, she said: “I don’t like that! It’s too hard!” Still feisty, despite everything. Eyes were clear, able to sing and know most of the words to the songs. Counted to 20 without any help. I put cream on her hands, and read her a story; we sang a few songs together. Thank you for your prayers and good thoughts from around the world XOX. I told her everyone is sending hugs and kisses.

Mom’s arm, July 28, 2016.

On Thursday afternoon, she was asleep and unresponsive; her arm and face both looked worse. Late that evening, July 28, two and half days after she fell, Mom was sent to the hospital to have her arm checked. It was broken; they also found she had a UTI. She was returned to the nursing home around 3:00 p.m. on July 29. Nineteen days later she died, I think probably from pneumonia.

When I arrived to visit on August 17, 2016, I was told Mom had a fever and was on antibiotics, and that I needed to wear a gown and gloves because she was “in isolation.” She was indeed alone in the room she shared with someone else, and it was immediately clear to me that she was dying. She was gone within an hour.

I’ve never been told the medical cause of Mom’s death, but whatever it was “technically,” the preventable fall was the de facto beginning of the end. I believe she died from the results of the fall, the fall in turn being the result of a cluster of circumstances including, in my opinion, neglect, abuse and being left alone in the bathroom one year ago yesterday.

I never expected anyone to care for my mom the way I had, the way I did, the way I would have. But I didn’t expect her to get what she got, which was far less than what she deserved. It wasn’t the disease that killed her in the final analysis.

I imagine the next month will be difficult as I mark the first anniversary of Mom’s death. Nevertheless, I am more determined than ever to turn what happened to her into a force for good for others, and thus give meaning to the injustices she suffered.

Subscribe to my stories and blog posts here.

6 thoughts on “a year ago yesterday”

  1. Oh, Susan! Sending you hugs and love. Thank you for sharing your mom’s story. God only knows how many people the two of you will help by sharing your experience.


  2. I am so sorry-there are no words. Elder abuse happens even in the best of facilities, I’m afraid. Opening the doors to the truth here should help others watch for signs and maybe avoid similar happenings. xo Diana


    1. “Elder abuse happens even in the best of facilities”

      Yes, Diana I agree with you, and the worst part is that it’s hidden and so few people are unaware of it and that’s how it continues unabated…


  3. My heart goes out to you on this anniversary. Your mother, like mine, didn’t have to die from their falls. But my mother bled through 7 layers of her brain on the scan the dr. showed us. Your mother’s bruising was ghastly for her and I’m sure for you! The last picture I took of my mother was the one in my article posted too… laying in the ER with blood drying on her face and on oxygen. My sister had my mother living with her and her husband for almost 7 yrs before she had to go to an ALF for her own “safety”. We thought they would be there when we couldn’t be there at night. We visited every day. The home lied about my mother’s fall also, and I have an audio tape of my mother trying to tell me that she was hurt. It went to my phone message machine. We will never know how she knew to call me since she had not even remembered what the phone was for, but we kept our phone numbers next to her phone and God, I believe, helped her dial my number. The ALF tried to tell us she was wandering in the hall when she fell, but it was proven to be a lie because I could hear the nurses aid come in her room on the phone message and after thinking no one was there, she hung up the phone. I think that video should be set up in all ALFs for the protection of the patients. If the family could be there all the time, we wouldn’t need them. My mother passed in January 2011, but every yr. it is like it happens again. She went into a coma about 10 days after her fall. It wasn’t Alzheimer’s that killed my mother, it was over medication causing her to fall. I will think of you as you grieve this loss and hope that there won’t be more daughters like us that must endure the loss that didn’t have to be.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s