Maryanne, one of my long-time US followers, wouldn’t use swear words like the one I alluded to in the headline — she’s a quiet, religious, God-fearing woman. So I’m swearing on her behalf because her story warrants expletives.
Maryanne (not her real name), is the primary care partner for her husband — let’s call him “John” — who lives with dementia, and who was relocated to a dementia prison (aka nursing home) several years ago.
In 2017, Maryanne was banned from seeing John for more than six months because she “complained” about the neglect and abuse she witnessed on a daily basis in the facility. She fought hard to regain access, and is now able to visit John again. At least for the moment.
But Maryanne’s visits are a mixed blessing. She’s thankful she’s able to see John, and to care for his needs when she’s there. However, she is also forced to silently witness the ongoing neglect and abuse he and his fellow residents suffer. She doesn’t dare say anything for fear of once again being denied access to John, whose ill health worsens each day.
Sometimes Maryanne’s frustration, despair and anger spill out onto her Facebook page. Here is an April 2018 update she asked me to share:
“It’s wrong to allow someone in a nursing home to go hungry because they are too drugged and tired to eat or unable to eat on their own or need prompts to help in eating and you don’t provide those prompts. It’s wrong and it’s criminal.
When a lady sits with a filet of fish on her chest all through her lunch and no one helps her that is a travesty. When a man who eats with his hands is given peas and carrots or kernel corn to attempt to eat but can’t, that is neglect and abuse. It’s wrong. I’ve seen it more than once. Stop it and do what is right instead of continuing to do what is wrong.
You may get away with it now, but in the end you will not. You are continuing a horrible practice on human beings that are created in God’s image and likeness. You do not have the right to play God and end their life by starvation or dehydration. Stop it now and feed your residents. Help them eat. Assist them. Let them take the time they need. Give them the care and nourishment they deserve and that is their right. Feed them for God’s sake!”
It’s hard to imagine that older adults living with dementia in long-term “care” facilities are being starved in the United States right now as I write this. But that’s John’s reality. It’s the reality of John’s fellow residents too. It’s also hard to believe that care workers would toss older adults around like rag dolls while “caring” for them. But people have been caught on video doing it.
Elder neglect and abuse happen more often than you might think. And that’s the godawful truth.
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