… a kind of Legal Column

You judge Society by the way we treat our Old People.

with 8 comments

I walked into her room yesterday and she looked very low, depressed. Tired of this world and the troubles brought on by old age. Her husband had died 11 years ago and while at first she got on with the routine of life, life itself became more of a struggle as time moved on. First, the thought of preparing Sunday Lunch for the family became such a chore that she just, well couldn’t cope. Panic attacks were starting to reappear and then she decided that she couldn’t cope with these anymore. So Sunday lunch for the family was no more. Then baking the brown bread that everyone loved was the next item which distressed her. That too went by the wayside. While still driving her beloved Volkswagen Golf to Mass each morning, her journeys were becoming less and less frequent. Dropping in to see friends and family were becoming a rare occurrence, as time moved on. Then sometime later several chest infections took their toll. She was losing her independence.

Eventually her short-term memory started to deteriorate. This caused her distress as she could not remember if she’s done something or not. Frustration with her circumstances eventually led to her entering a Nursing Home. Her own mother had been one of the first people into the home some forty years earlier. She had always said she’d love to end her days there but her failing memory was not making this the experience she’d contemplated all those years ago.

Two weeks ago she was taken to Beaumont Hospital with a suspected heart attack. Her breathing had been bad since last winter so the need for oxygen was crucial. She also needed medication for pain and these needs, coupled with her chest pains made her stay in Casualty all the more traumatic. It seems she was admitted to the Hospital shortly after arriving into Casualty so her time there was determined by how long it would take to acquire a bed and be moved into a Ward. The staff in the Hospital were, as usual, fantastic but her surviving on a trolley for over two days was cruel. During this time she became confused and it didn’t help that some of her personal possessions were lost. Maybe the Hospital prefer the word misplaced. Either way, her treasured Black Convent Beads which she clasped onto each day for the last, God knows how many years, are now denied her. This could be one of the reasons why today she feels so low. She doesn’t understand where they’ve gone. Her short-term memory problem makes her anxiety all the worse.

If it was not for the fantastic job that the Nuns, nurses and care staff do in helping her ‘cope’ with the hand that has been dealt her by life, she would most certainly try to take her own life. She says on many occasions that she just wants to die. She missed her husband. She is tired of the strains and battles that life has thrown up. She’s tired of life. She feels an imposition on her family. ‘They would be better off if I was gone’, she’ll repeat to those who’ll listen.

Today she was more upbeat than yesterday. While still having to have her meals in her room she is less anxious than yesterday. We have a chat about life and the hand it deals us. While clearly anxious, today she can talk about the good times and bad and asks about each of the family in a caring manner. She realises that her days are numbered but now wishes to help her family cope with their problems, big and small. This is the ‘Granny’ we all love and cherish and will be poorer when she has passed on. I tried to impress upon her the important part she plays in all our lives and how we will miss her when her time comes. Life will certainly be the poorer without her, whatever she may think from time to time.

How we treat our Old People is a reflection of the Society we live in. Today in Ireland, we must live in a very uncaring society and need to re access our values.

Hilda, my Mum will be 85 on September 16th,  if God spares her.

LegalEagleStar , Thursday , 25th. August , 2011

Written by LegalEagleStar

August 25, 2011 at 9:01 pm

8 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Hi Tom, loved this blog. it reminded me of my mother who died in 2000, but more especially, it reminded me of a maiden aunt who died 8 years ago. She was the last of her siblings and since her sister had died 4 years previously she had lost the will to live. Unfortunately she would not go into a nursing home, and myself and 2 nephews took yurns looking after her. it is sad to see someone give up on life, but i think she was only counting down the days despite our best efforts. When I was a young one, neearly everyone had a grandparent living with them, we had our gran, and old people seemed to have more standing than they have nowadays. Best wishes xx


    August 25, 2011 at 9:26 pm

  2. Oh Tom ,my heart goes out to your Mum, you and your family.
    This is such a tough situation for all of you.
    My thoughts and prayers are with you.
    God bless you and yours,
    Warm gentle hugs.


    August 25, 2011 at 9:30 pm

  3. Tom, this story brought tears to my eyes, it’s the same story I had five years ago with my Dad, whom I still miss dearly. You are a lovely thoughtful son to write such a lovely piece about your Mum. Hilda sounds like a great lady.

    Bibi @bmacgo


    August 25, 2011 at 9:43 pm

  4. Hi Tom I read your blog. Very sad. It’s a very hard time for you and your family, and I will say a prayer for you all. We think our parents will be around forever, and when the time for them to go comes along it’s such a shock. I lost both my parents my father was only 65 and my mother 67 she couldn’t cope without him. God Bless you all.


    August 25, 2011 at 9:48 pm

  5. Please God Hilda still has a good few birthdays to come – Her partner in crime 😉 Annie, lived to 93!!! True all that u say here Tommy but sadly I feel this situation is now a worldwide epidemic and unfortunately most likely will get a lot worse by the time us lot get to our 70’s 80’s & 90’s – ugh!!! :-(……………………..Hope to C U again next in SA 😉 Trish


    August 25, 2011 at 11:56 pm

  6. This is beautiful, Tom. So very poignant. I think we can all relate to this situation, and dread it for our parents and ourselves. Your Mum will cherish that conversation you had with her and it will be a great comfort to her, even if she wasn’t able to express that.

    Isn’t it sad that people’s experience of the healthcare system is one of upset, anxiety, discomfort and lack of trust. Another measure of the society we have become! My warmest wishes to you and Hilda, and I hope she has a very Happy Birthday on the 16th.



    August 26, 2011 at 7:54 am

  7. Tom, you know that, even though I work in the IT industry, I am an absolute disaster when it comes to social networking etc. In fact, I am nearly certain that this is the first blog I have ever written!

    Your beautiful, though-provoking piece stopped me completely in my tracks – I had to reply.

    There is so much in there and in the situation, in general. You and your family are a credit to your mother and, from my own experience, it’s not many sons or daughters that would pause and say “Ma, we’re with you now as we ever were and will always be . . . “ and to remind her of how she means to you all .. . .

    In contrast, I met a lady only last week, in the course of my work, who spent a solid 20-30 minutes telling me how inconvenient it was for her and her family that her father had become frail in his old age. I actually felt sorry for her . . .

    From the minute we finish college we are thrown into the rat race and, before we know it, life has been spent without much relection or consideration of what it is all about . . . . .

    This is one I will “Cut and Keep” – there is a lot to reflect and mediate on therein in the years to come . . .

    Thanks for sharing your heart with us, Tom. I will remember you all in my prayers . . . ..

    John O'Shea

    August 26, 2011 at 11:39 am

  8. Insightful, thought-provoking post. Thanks for sharing this story with us.


    September 1, 2011 at 3:54 pm

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

%d bloggers like this: