Sometimes on the way to your dream,

you get lost and find a better one.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

an upsetting article I read in last Sunday's paper

Ooops! Forgot to rotate them around...never mind, I'll type it out for you.

"Elderly Suffering.

If an elderly person is killed by a drunk driver or attacked and mauled by a vicious dog, the public's response is, "It could have been much worse. What if it had been a child?" I find these comments somewhat disturbing and heartless, although probably not intentional. After all, a life is a life regardless of age, isn't it?
All hell would break loose if our child daycare centres left babies in soiled nappies for 10 or more hours a day, resulting in severe nappy rash and infections; failed to administer the correct or essential medications; did not supply adequate food; left babies or toddlers unattended in showers or baths; failed to give appropriate medical care for falls and injuries; physically abused a screaming baby or an uncooperative toddler.

Sadly, it's our elderly who are suffering these unacceptable conditions, in inadequately funded and understaffed aged care nursing homes. They are our grandparents, our mums and dads who have worked, paid their taxes, brought up their kids without baby  bonuses, maternity leave and other government hand-outs, and through no fault of their own, may be suffering dementia or other age-related illnesses and are just as vulnerable, yet apparently not as deserving, as our young. 
This shouldn't be a "young" versus "old" issue, because everyone deserves dignity and respect, regardless of age. 
Yet our government ultimately decides who will receive appropriate care and who will not!"

Fran Meaker Elizabeth North. (the author)

I think she makes some excellent points. 

Time and time again, for years, I have seen aged care facilities exposed on TV current affairs programs, places where our elderly people are tied to the bed railings so they can't wander and get lost, or tied into their wheelchairs and medicated until they are drooling zombies in front of television sets. Facilities where food is woefully inadequate, either poor quality or not properly prepared, even plates just put down in front of people clearly unable to feed themselves and then removed, untouched at the end of meal times, because these places are so badly understaffed there is no one available to help these people eat that food.Facilities where not enough staff is available to wash and change the patients themselves or their bedding.

Every time, there is an outcry from outraged people, big headlines in newspapers, there are unannounced inspections carried out, there are orders to raise the standards etc etc, but still the unacceptable conditions persist. 

There are good aged care facilities out there, but they are "private" facilities, very expensive and the high cost of the patients care is paid for by the families that can afford it.
And yes, there are facilities that don't have as much funding, yet still manage to treat the patients well.

But most aged care facilities are just barely adequate and poorly funded, some by governments, some by churches, and they cannot afford the numbers of staff to ensure patients are fed, washed, changed, perhaps even entertained by being read to or talked to or taken for a walk in the grounds. Not all patients have dementia and can carry on conversations quite well, I'd imagine. 
Many of our hospitals have geriatric wards filled with people requiring care who can't afford a nursing home, and simply can't be sent home to cope on their own.

This is not the only thing that upsets me. It is bad, yes, but think about this...charities and agencies all over the world have fund raising and donations etc "for the children".
Children are our future is the cry, we must assure they have a future.
And they are right.
But what of the adults, and the elderly?
Where is the fund raising and donations?
When was the last time a charity contacted anyone asking for donations for an extra nurse or two, a kitchen hand for an aged care facility?

You could argue that the families of these elderly should be visiting and caring for them, but not everyone has time or even knows that granny isn't being properly cared for. Sometimes granny has no living family close by, or at all.

Even the homeless have yearly calls for blankets and food, which many people happily donate to, feeling good within themselves that they have helped someone less fortunate.

Meanwhile, someone's grandma is unable to eat her dinner because her hands cannot hold a spoon or she cannot even sit up to reach the plate.  Someone's grandpa is sitting or lying in soiled pyjamas and sheets, because the nurses don't have time (there are a few who simply don't care, and get fired as they should) to get to everyone on their shift.


  1. How very, very true.
    And we pay the carers (and nursing staff generally) wages that are much, much less than we pay to people who do what I consider much less important jobs. I think our priorities are out of wack. Badly.

  2. And of course, River, this inevitably leads to the question of voluntary euthanasia. I’m old and fit and healthy and of sound mind (despite the fact that I think most of society isn’t), but at some stage I’ll be ready for the kind of ‘care’ you’re talking about. I’d rather be dead than cop that (maybe dementia is a blessing compared to knowing how sad one’s turned out to be), but as things currently stand I can’t go out with any degree of class.

  3. The thing folks need to remember is We ARE ALL GOING TO BE THERE let's get it working right before we do.

  4. The only way you know that granny and grandpop are being cared for is to do it yourself but as you say not everyone has children to look after them or they are too hard to manage.
    Nursing homes are run as a business but I think they should come into the medicare or national health systems and yes I do believe in euthanasia, after all we don't let our pets suffer.

  5. "Farming pensioners." Sometimes relatives are to blame, dumping the old folks there -anywhere - to get rid of them. Meanwhile the bitterness over inheritance is extraordinary, gigantic brawls!
    These places should all be run and financed by government, not run as a business. I never believed in euthanasia, nowadays I definitely do.

  6. Having worked in the aged care industry, I can say that while many have their hearts in the right place, they can only do so much.
    It is big business with big budget constraints and associated cost cutting.
    Having been on the inside, I dread the thought of ending up there.
    And that was one of the better facilities.

    So many of the elderly are shunted off to homes because families can't/won't take on the responsibility.

    I can only hope I go the way my mother did - sudden death at home whilst vacuuming.

    I support euthanasia. I believe we should have the right to choose.
    But, that is a very touchy societal subject and opens up a whole huge can of worms.

    It's sad that our society is SO youth focussed.
    Other cultures respect their elders and honour the knowledge and wisdom they have gained from many years experience.

  7. How sad--& unfortunately, how true!!

  8. I took my grandkids to work in a soup kitchen before school started up again. Maybe next year we'll find a nursing home to volunteer.

  9. Unfortunately, the conditions you cited in nursing homes are pretty much worldwide, and that is in FIRST world nations. It's criminal, really.

  10. We oldies worked hard and built this country, our taxes paved roads, built hospitals and schools and what thanks do we get? They just want us to hurry up and die so they can have our stuff...

  11. I do take issue with the first point. I disagree with statement that people think it worse when a dog mauls a child than a older person.

    The elderly who can speak up for themselves I am sure do so. It is the ones who cannot who are of the most concern. As we approach the age where such things suddenly become important to us, it is disturbing to know how we may end up when we are the second most vulnerable period in our life.

  12. Slight correction, the most vulnerable time of our life. There is always someone to care for a baby.

  13. Elephant's Child; low wages are one of the reasons for the understaffing, no one wants to work at it for such little return. and with the nursing homes themselves being underfunded, they can't afford to offer higher wages.

    FigMince; I'm in favour of voluntary euthanasia, but for oldies with dementia, who decides? And those on life support with no hope, who decides? Again, dementia may be a blessing because the people don't realise they're being mistreated, but the pain of hunger and bedsores etc is still felt by them.

    Delores; that's one thing I don't understand. We WILL all be there someday, but young people just don't think of that. and our governments certainly don't.

    Merlesworld; having nursing homes come under the Medicare blanket would be a step in the right direction. it would raise our Medicare levy for sure, but wouldn't our aged people be better off? I support euthanasia too, but there needs to be limits. We can't be allowed to put granny down just because we're unable or unwilling to care for her. Too many pets are put down for just these reasons.

    R.H. I'm not getting into the "inheritance" issue here. I am concerned with people placing the old folk because they're unable to manage if the oldies have become difficult due to alzheimers or some other problem which means they need 24 hour care or watching. Sometimes a supervised home is the best place. But many of these homes are poorly funded, leading to elderly people being drugged to keep them quiet and still, or tied to their wheelchairs.

    Vicki; having been in the system, you'd certainly have your eyes opened. I haven't had any personal experience, I know only what I see on TV and read in the papers. It is a very touchy subject and I can only wish that we did as other cultures do and care for the old folk at home until death. But so many of us have both parents in a home working long hours just to meet expenses, so there is no one at home to do the caring.
    Vacuuming is a sucky way to go, (sorry about your mum),I'd rather die in my sleep.

    fishducky; very sad and too, too, true.

    Joanne; I love how you are raising your grandchildren, instilling all the right values. Volunteering seems like a great idea, but volunteers can only do so much, like perhaps talking or reading to the old people. My main issue is with the lack of true care, people not getting fed, not being bathed etc. In this country, to the best of my knowledge unqualified/untrained volunteers are not allowed to help in these areas of care.

    Happy Elf Mom; it's a sad state of affairs when such affluent countries have this shame on their doorsteps.

    Kymbo; my younger daughter and I have actually joked about such a happening. I've said "when I get old and demented don't let me suffer, just shoot me. Then you can have my stuff". She replied "I like your dvd collection can I just shoot you now?"
    But joking aside, I don't want to be placed in a home just because they want my stuff. It would be a different matter if I became belligerent and violent and they couldn't cope with me.

  14. ..."Vacuuming is a sucky way to go,I'd rather die in my sleep."

    I agree, not the best way to go. However, it was pretty instant and from her perspective, she died where she wanted - at home, not IN a (strange) home.
    At least she was active up to the last moment.

    Going in one's sleep is the ideal, but not many of us can/will have such luck.

  15. I read what you had to say and unfortunately all of it is so true. I know one thing Phil fears the most is if something should happen to me that he may be shunted into an establishment not of his choice. I had a dear friend who at age 97 just went to sleep while sitting waiting for her daily tablet to be brought to her. She'd been self sufficient till she was 92 and then moved into a nice nursing home. Not everyone is that fortunate and almost without illness all their life.

  16. Andrew; exactly. The ones who cannot speak up are of much higher concern.

    Vicki; I agree, instant is far better than suffering a slow death. And being active right to the end is good too. As is dying in the comfort of your own home with family around.

    Mimsie; Nice nursing homes are few and far between. Even those that seem nice on the surface can have hidden secrets. Both of my parents stayed in their own homes until they couldn't cope then went to hospitals, they both had cancer and were there under palliative care. Each died soon after going to the hospital, a relief for us kids as there was no nursing home hassles of any kind.

  17. Care for the elderly is a huge problem in western society. In eastern communities the elderly are respected and treated with dignity. Private retirement homes cost the earth and local councils do their damnedest to wriggle out of their legal resposibility to contribute to the costs. My husband had a real tussle to get partial funding for his mother.

  18. jabblog; like Merlesworld said, I believe nursing homes should come under the Medicare banner. Another option is to provide financial support, much like the family allowances given for children, to allow people to stay at home and care for their elderly. That way only those who become difficult to handle because of mental instability would have to go to a nursing home. With the financial support then transferring to the home to pay for the care there.
    It's very sad the way modern western society doesn't care about the aged, although many people do. I remember how many elderly men and women, unsteady with their walking frames, would search for whichever checkout I was working at, because I was known to be careful and patient with them.

  19. In modern life the elderly have become a nuisance. You'd trip them up to break their necks. But old ma and pa have got property, they're worth something so you have to kid them along. (Christ!- when will the bastards die!)
    Hey, don't tell me, death causes a riot among beneficaries. When I was in the market game I saw the fallout in auction rooms; bric-a brac dumped into cardboard boxes. Contents: broken biros, wedding photos, old bills, diaries, dead batteries, keepsakes, knives and forks, personal letters and so on. Nothing of value.
    Mind you, the furniture sold well.

  20. R.H. I shall now leave instructions for my kids to trash all rubbishy bric-a-brac. There's nothing worth keeping or fighting over except the photos.

  21. Well drawers get emptied into cardboard boxes you know and some of the contents (cutlery and so on) has some sale value, and other stuff goes in as well including ornaments and things swept from shelves. It's all a jumble. I've read through personal letters, diaries and so on which were immediate to the deceased person's life of course and I still have at least two framed wedding photos of people I've never met, and may I say I consider it extraordinary that the relatives and children maybe were uninterested in them.

  22. Absolutely true. The other thing I have come to notice, through experiences with my own grandparents and now parents, is that even the most well-meaning, caring doctors are a bit dismissive of illness and especially pain, in the elderly.
    My father has a terminal illness and struggles to get adequate pain treatment, even though he is seeing two of the best specialists in the country, who are indeed very good and caring doctors. But he has had experiences again and again where his reports of pain have been dismissed as something inevitable, in a way I don't think they would be in a younger person.
    I am slowly starting to realise that many older people must live in a world that is quite horrible and full of loneliness, pain and despair. It's horrifying.