Respect and Dignity for the Elderly – my experiences working with the elderly

I re-blogged that post about elder abuse because I spent many years doing elder care and I have a big heart for the old people. It makes me disgusted to think about people who physically and mentally abuse old people who have no one to defend them or advocate for them.

I have worked doing home health aide work for hospice and other help in the homes of the elderly. I have worked in nursing homes as a Certified Nursing Assistant and I was very god at dementia care and hospice care.

The problem with the nursing home jobs was that they did not care about the workers taking care of the residents. They would short staff the floor to save money and give each of us way way too many people to take care of. This is not a matter of not wanting the extra work. This is a matter of having 13 people that need full care and trying to take care of all of them with no assistance.

You could not get any help from the other aides any more than I could really help them very much. Everyone was overloaded to the  max. Many nights all I could do was toilet each of them before dinner and then sit them in front of the tv while I took them one by one to get them ready for bed.

There were always 1 or 2 showers to do. While I was in the shower with someone I would have extreme anxiety about one of the other people trying to get up and falling. On the other hand if I rushed in the shower I could have an accident in there.

To put  one person to bed I had to toilet them and change their clothes and get them to bed. Some people required a 2-person assist, so you had to wait for another aid to be free to help you. Everyone was busy and all you could do was wait for 10 – 15 minutes for help but you could not leave the person unattended.

In the mean time the other 12 people who were all fall risks, were in the tv room where I could not see them. Once I finally got the second person to help me lift someone into bed, then I would go and get the next person. In the mean time people were sitting in wet and dirty diapers.

Sometimes we had to go assist another aid to get someone in the shower, off the toilet or into bed. The whole time I still had people sitting in wet diapers and getting pressure sores because they had been sitting in the wheel chairs for hours. As fast as I could get someone into bed and get the next, there were still people that had to sit from dinner time until 8 or 9 pm,,,sometimes later.

Sometimes someone would fall and get hurt. Then I had to wait there for the nurse and sometimes it took a while to get help to lift them off the floor. Again everyone is too busy to help you.

If someone else had a resident fall then I had to help them get the person off the floor. But we had to wait for the nurse before we could lift them. So while I was waiting with another aid and their resident, my people were sitting in the tv room and begging to be taken to bed.

Sometimes they would cry, beg and plead to go to bed or to even go to the bathroom. There were people asking for the bathroom while i was trying to get people to bed. The longer I left people out of bed the more likely they would fall. But the longer you leave someone who needs the bathroom , the more likely they will fall because they will try to get up themselves.

No matter what I was doing, someone was being neglected for a long time. I could not leave someone in the bathroom to take someone else to the bathroom. Every time I left the room to take someone to the bathroom  or to bed, there were people being neglected, in unsanitary conditions, and at risk of falling.

So what time was there to care about someone’s feelings who just found out their wife died? What about the person with dementia that is crying because they are scared and do not know where they are? What about the person that has extreme back pain from sitting too long and is crying because no one cares?

I left that job crying every night.

I would stop when someone needed their hand held and when someone was sad. I would stop and take time to put on the right tv channel for someone’s favorite movie that was coming on.

But I would get scolded for taking too much time with the residents. I would get scolded for being too “soft-hearted” and for finishing later than the other people did.

I would stop and comfort the old woman who was in another aide’s assignment, because the person was crying that her family had not come to see her in a year. How could you not?

Well most everyone ignored them. I was scolded every night for “being too slow”/ In fact I was not slow. I did all of my work and I took the extra time to treat people like humans, as best as I could.

The facts…

People still sat in dirty diapers no matter how hard I tried and how fast I went because you cannot take care of 13 fall risk, dementia people in four hours between dinner and 10 pm when the shift ends. You cannot get 13 people to bed safely by 8 or 9pm. Some of them had to stay up until 9:30 or 10 pm, which means they were sitting in the wheelchair since about 4pm or 5 pm.

I cried every night on the way home. There were nights I had to pull the car over.

Nursing homes breed neglect. The owners care more about the money they make than the human people who live there or the people that work there.

I ended up changing jobs to an assisted living place and the care was much better there. I had time to sing with people and dance with some of them. I could tuck them in nicely and kiss them on  the head good night. I could hold their hands when they were sad.

But I was still scolded.

These places attract narcissistic supervisors and bosses. These people hate the old people because they are weak and sick. They rage at you for taking too much time with them.

I once had a resident that had a severe depressive disorder. She sometimes just could not deal with coming out to the dining room for dinner. I used to visit her in her room and she liked the company. She would ask me to order her dinner and have it brought to the room.

These people pay $9,0000.00 dollars a month to live there.

I went to order her dinner. The supervising nurse changed the order I had written to “All Liquid SIck Meal”

This is what we gave people who had the flu or some other tummy sickness. The nurse said “If she will not come out to the dining room then she will get a sick tray”

I explained that she was depressed but she was still hungry and would be better off to eat, rather than going to bed hungry. The nurse said if the lady will not come out then she will go to bed hungry. (of course when I explained this to the college kids in the kitchen, they snuck in real food to the lady)

I have hundreds of stories like that about the narcissistic supervisors punishing residents or retaliating  against me for taking time to care about the mental / emotional health of people.

It was sad. I cried many night on my way home and even on my driving to work.

This is why elder abuse is an important issue to me. I have seen it. It is unfair. These old people have already had so many losses. They have lost their friends and family to death. They have  lost their health and strength. They have lost their spouse. They have lost their home and their job. They have lost the freedom to drive and go places on their own.

They lost the control over their own money and expenses. They  have lost their ability to many of the hobbies and activities they once loved. They have lost their favorite pet because they are not allowed in the nursing home.

The list keeps going….

The least they deserve is a little respect and dignity.

To My Nurses ….a poem about elder care and dementia

** this poem is written from the point of view of a nursing home resident as I have observed that they feel from my many years of working and volunteering  in nursing homes

TO MY NURSES…

Just because I am old

Does not mean I should be discarded…

I was young like you once

Full of life and very big hearted

I raises my babies,  just like you do

I loved my husband and drove a car

I had a beautiful house 

that I took care of with love

I baked Christmas cookies

and knitted my grandchildren gloves.

I bet you don’t know,  but I worked really hard…

I struggled and fought for my family

I felt things very deeply and cared very much

I had family and friends whose lives that I touched…

I once was important and had a real life

Just like you do… and you never think 

That your life will pass away just like mine did

You’ll end up with nothing you worked for, in the end

You’ll lose your driver’s license 

and your favorite car too

You’ll lose your independence

and people’s respect …

You’ll watch your spouse die and miss him forever

You’ll dread the phone ringing

because more and more family dies

But you might keep going, on with your life

Even though there is nothing left that matters…

You will not understand why God makes you stay

and does not take you home 

to heaven 

to be with your loved ones…

The only people you will have to talk to at all

will be the nurses in the nursing home 

and the patients that do not remember your name…

So, please have compassion for me and be patient

Because someday it could be you in my place

All the power you feel now 

and the things that you love

and the ability to make choices about your day

Could be taken away, never to be seen again

and the life that you once thought was yours

will become a sad memory

that no one wants to listen to…

Not even the nurses that will take care of you

To My Nurses …..( from the point of view of a very old person)

** this poem is written from the point of view of a nursing home resident as I have observed that they feel from my many years of working and volunteering  in nursing homes””

TO MY NURSES…

Just because I am old

Does not mean I should be discarded

I was young like you once

Full of life and very big hearted

I raises my babies , just like you are

I loved my husband and drove a car

I had a beautiful house 

that I took care of with love

I baked Christmas cookies

and knitted my grandchildren gloves

I bet you don’t know but I worked really hard

I struggled and fought for my family

I felt things very deeply and cared very much

I had family and friends whose lives that I touched

I once was important and had a real life

Just like you do and you never think 

That your life will pass away just like mine did

You’ll end up with nothing you worked for, in the end

You’ll lose your driver’s license 

and your favorite car too

You’ll lose your independence

and people’s respect 

You’ll watch your spouse die and miss him forever

You’ll dread the phone ringing

because more and more family dies

But you might keep going, on with your life

Even thought there is nothing left that matters

You will not understand why God makes you stay

and does not take you home 

to heaven 

to be with your loved ones

The only people you will have to talk to at all

will be the nurses in the nursing home 

and the patients that do not remember your name

So, please have compassion for me and be patient

Because someday it could be you in my place

All the power you feel now 

and the things that you love

and the ability to make choices about your day

Could be taken away , never to be seen again

and the life that you once thought was yours…

will become a sad memory that no one wants to listen to

Including the nurses that will take care of you

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