I recently sat down with a family to discuss placement of a loved one into my assisted living facility. The gentleman was in his late 80’s and suffered from Stage Six Alzheimer’s. He was not aware of his surroundings, did not recognize his family and had lost most of ability to speak coherently. The gentleman’s daughter seemed very detached emotionally from the whole placement conversation.
She was not interested in any points other than cost. I tried to explain the disease process, offer guidance as to what to expect in the upcoming months, and be supportive of this difficult decision. She stayed focused on one point only.
“How much will it cost for you to take him? That is all I want to know.” She asked.
I went through the cost analysis for her, breaking it down as much as I could.
She was very cut and dry with her decision. She then asked where to sign the contract, and asked when I could come get her father from her house where he had been living for the past six months.
Feeling as though something was not quite right with this whole situation, I inquired if her father was becoming too much to care for in the home setting. If so, I had legal ways I could skip the proper channels of placement and use emergency placement channels which meant I could admit him as early as that very moment.
I was not expecting her reaction. She exploded. She went into great detail about the abuse she suffered as a child under her father’s iron fist, how he abused her mother physically and mentally and how he was an awful human being. She went on to explain how she was the only child and this was an obligation to her, and for no other reason was she “helping him”.
As I sat listening to her, I could see her pain from what probably happened over 40 years ago, and see how that pain was never forgiven or forgotten.
When she was leaving, she turned to me and said ,” You will never know how hard it is to care for an uncaring man like him. I am glad he will never know that I actually treated him like a human, unlike how he treated me.”‘
Wow, what powerful words.
I am sure it is difficult to care for the family member who has never been a nice person. We as caregivers in the industry don’t really know the individual that is entrusted to our care, but rather we know who the disease process has made them to be. We take care of sweet, kind, everybody’s grandma type of residents and never know how they treated others in their lifetime, and for us, its a moot point.
As the baby boomer generation ages, I think we will see more of these types of residents; those with not so nice histories, and with non-involved families. Adult children of the boomers and of Generation X will either obey the Golden Rule,, or they will walk away and leave the person in their own care. Either way, it is very sad. Sad that the adult children have suffered silently for all these years.
I did admit her father. The daughter? Haven’t seen her since the day she signed the contract.
The moral I learned from this event: Be kind to everyone. One day you will need that kindness returned to you.