Life When You Can’t Speak For Yourself
When You Can’t Speak For Yourself
Many people go into hospitals and have no family members to advocate for them and no one to protect their rights.
With a Little Help
Many feel so alone and need the support of others to get through the ordeals they will encounter just being in the hospital.
But, imagine someone that cannot communicate with others or someone that has limited speech with no one to protect them, make sure they are fed and taken care of in a hospital, isolated and all alone.
This person feels afraid, scared, and does not know whether those coming in to care for him/her have their best intentions at heart.
All too often, you hear about nursing homes and other facilities that abuse their patients, or you witness it first-hand. My mom has Alzheimer’s, and up until this week, she was at home with home health aides.
She is in the last stages of the illness and is in the hospital where I spent most, if not all, of my day.
My mother is now on a ventilator, feeding tube, and although she cannot communicate verbally, she can respond to questions with her eyes and even at times mouthing words. The nurses in the hospital treat her really well. I am there most of the day, but I know from the way she appears when I come to see her each day that the care is excellent.
Nothing is ever perfect, and people cannot devote their entire shift to one patient, but when she went into cardiac arrest, the team on her floor moved faster than a fire truck going to a burning blaze.
My mom has so much courage, and she is so brave to have withstood all of the things she has been through these last seven years. Alzheimer’s destroys your mind and brain and takes no prisoners. It is a disease that anyone can get, and it destroys your dignity, your self-worth, and self-esteem. Cures are not on the horizon, and all the research in the world has not helped to find one pill or many that can halt the disease or even prevent it.
My mom has had more than her share of illnesses and stays in the hospital. Nurses and doctors become jaded after a while, and the prognosis they give you is often grim. You need to be on top of everything, call when you are not there for updates, insist that calls are returned, and make sure that if there are any changes that you are notified—a tall order but nevertheless necessary.
The staff of many hospitals is shorthanded, making it challenging to address many issues that require more care. One to one care is out of the question, and families need to become vigilant and make sure that you are there to ask the basic questions about your family member’s care. When meds are administered, you need to know what they are and what they are for, as does the patient. You need to know how many times a day, they are given their meds, and if the patient needs help eating that there is someone to feed them as in the case of my mom.
All too often, patients that are alone with no family feel depressed and give up. And that is entirely unacceptable. Not that it is the fault of the staff of the hospital, but when they know you are there and are calling to find out about your loved one or family member, the care usually improves, and they know you are aware of what is happening.
I have been to many nursing homes and facilities and the care that I saw substandard. The staff was cold and unfeeling at all of them, and the patients were lined up in the hall sitting in wheelchairs over-medicated and not saying a word. One aide sat facing them like a prison warden daring them to move or say anything. Looking afraid, you could see the fear in their eyes as the person in front of them had this angry look on her face, and not one patient moved or smiled. How horrific. In one facility the patients came for day activities and no one spoke while doing arts and crafts or even sang when music played.
Caring for Others
How sad is that! Why do people take these jobs if they really hate what they are doing or do not like the patients they are caring for? People that are attendants, aides, and nurses have a unique job that requires caring for people that are not family members, and those who you care for value and appreciate your kindness. Volunteers are special people who need to understand how these people feel when you smile and walk into their room and just make them feel wanted and special.
My mom is so brave and so amazing. I just hope that she pulls through this newest stay in the hospital. But, one thing is for sure the care she gets will be the best, and I will be there every day hoping and praying for a miracle.
Everyone needs to be more vigilant. When checking out facilities, make sure that you look into the complaints that may have been filed. Eldercare abuse is wrong, and many homes are guilty of that and get away with it. Make sure you visit daily and not at the same time. Make sure that you check your loved one for bruises and take pictures of your family members every day. Make sure that you record their appearance so that any changes can be noted.
Most of all: Be there for them. No one should be alone. Especially if they can’t speak for themselves.
Being alone is the hardest thing to deal with. It destroys our joy. It destroys our egos. There is no
cure. My mom died over ten years ago. She left a hole in my heart and I’ve been alone ever
since waiting…just waiting.
My mom died over 20 years ago, and she left a hole in my heart as well. After her death, I sculpted her in clay, wrote poetry for her, and wrote articles about aging. She never lived long enough to see me happy. I suffered from depression most of my life and didn’t pay much attention to her needs. I’ve never got over the guilt of not appreciating her more. We were estranged most of the time. She, too, was an orphan and never learned to give love or receive love. I can’t ever remember her touching me. No hugs. When she was dying, I took her into my home. I was her nurse, not her daughter. She always complained she was lonely. I was busy washing sheets, doing chores to keep her safe and clean. Mom was my only friend. Never got another.