I live in a nice, cozy subdivision with about 15 houses. Most everyone in the neighborhood either works for the federal government, serves in the military or works in health care. Everyone except for the newest neighbor. Let me explain. I promise, this ties into dementia……maybe.
This lady moved into 360 thousand dollar home from the “other side of the tracks” because her father has two things. Money and dementia. According to her, he drove himself to Virginia from Florida, but she noticed he was very confused, disoriented and had not been caring for himself properly. So, she made the decision to have him buy a house in Virginia, and move in with “her”. I think that line should read, “she moved in with him”, but it’s really not my story to tell.
We are a working class neighborhood. Every morning , we each wave to the other as we back out of our driveways, heading for our jobs. Some commute to Washington D.C., fighting the two hour traffic jam on Interstate 95. Other report to military bases, hospitals, dental offices,optometry offices, doctor’s offices and long term care facilities. Everybody except for the new neighbor. She doesn’t work. She doesn’t need to. She has her father’s income that supports her up and coming lifestyle. I am not telling secrets here, or gossiping, but rather sharing what she shares with everyone she meets. She will tell anyone in line at the grocery store about how she “saved” her father from having to move into a nursing home or a dementia care facility. She goes into great deal how it is much cheaper for her to “employ” her than it is to have him live in a facility. She even explains how, due to his VA veteran benefits, she is entitled to hire home care aides to come into the home and take care of him, leaving her to “only supervise”. Am I envious of her life? NO. I am bothered by it. Let me go a little bit further with this story before you assume I am just green with envy or passing judgement on the “misfit”.
I have been over to her house numerous times. I have sat in her kitchen, discussed Alzheimer’s, dementia, CVA’s and “bed sores” with her for hours upon hours. I express my concern that no family member living in the home environment should ever have bed sores. Decubitus ulcers can certainly arise from a host of reasons, not just poor care, but come on, REALLY? Most DO come from not properly caring for the patient. Diet plays a factor as well. Turning and repositioning the patient is extremely important to a bed bound patient to prevent skin breakdown. This is not rocket science. I have observed her father, tucked away in a bedroom off of the living room; complete with his own TV, mini fridge, small microwave and extra twin size bed. I asked my neighbor if her dad had a roommate, to which she replied, “no that’s where the care taker sleeps.” Okay then. All I know is, in my facility, “caregivers” don’t have beds…….
My next issue is…the police cars that are constantly blocking my driveway while responding to “domestic” issues at her house. It seems there is always something going on over there….either a party is out of hand or someone has had too much to drink, or all of the grandchildren are fighting over why “grandpa” gave one a car, and not the other. HELLLLOOOOOOOOO…this “grandpa” doesn’t even know his name…forget buying a car for one grandchild and not the others. Did I mention that they have recently installed an OUTDOOR elevator? Did I mention the swimming pool in the backyard? How about the “tricked out” 2014 customized van? Did I forget to mention the Mercedes Benz and the BMW parked in her driveway? Ok, so I am jealous. I drive a 2007 jeep, walk up my steps and no, I don’t have a swimming pool. She has the only pool in the whole neighborhood.
Here’s the thing though. I care for the elderly on a daily basis and the only monetary gain I receive is in the form of a paycheck. There is no glitz, glamour, or outdoor elevators. The staff perform their duties, providing care without rewards of cars, pimped out rides and swimming pools. We are in our profession to care for the aged, hopefully because it’s our calling.
What is my point to this whole neighborhood drama story? Am I saying all family members care for their loved ones to simply benefit from their bank accounts? No. I am merely pointing out that not everything is as it seems. You see, when this new neighbor moved in, she briefly told the neighbors how she would be home “caring for her father who had dementia, if any of needed help getting kids on and off the bus”. She seemed genuine. We all admired her. Some of the neighbors made casseroles, baked goods and covered dig dinners, just to help ease the “burden”. The Director of Nurses at my facility, lives four houses down, She spent countless hours of her own time over at the new neighbor’s house, helping out as she could. She drew his labs, assisted with medical forms from the VA, and even volunteered to sit with the father a few nights of the week, so the “new neighbor” could get out of the house. The whole neighborhood chipped in……until we saw the dirt being moved for the new swimming pool, or the ground being leveled for the elevator……and until we saw the brand new fleet of cars lining the driveway.
Whatever happened to the tradition of family standing by family, no matter what….and not for monetary gain or profit? Who would offer to take care of this “grandpa” if he weren’t a wealthy businessman”, with much to be left to his caretakers? See, to me, it’s all about motive. I admire people who do things out of the kindness of their heart, but have a low tolerance for the wolves in sheep’s clothing. Did I say that right? Sheep in wolves clothing? You know what mean.
What a wonderful world it would all be if we loved one another for who we were/are…as opposed to to what we can offer/give or leave behind. I think Jesus said it best….”blessed are those who did it for the least of these…”…