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

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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

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