So my love is old – 86 in April. I remember how we imagined we would cuddle together by the fire, both of us understanding the dreadful gates that age imposes, but neither of us imagining it would come to this.
He always insisted that when it was time he would go to a care home so I could be free. I do not know if he meant it, because this disease is a shape-changer and what is – or was – moves, as so our life situation.
But I see and hear and interpret from the limited monitoring i can do, by Skype 2 times a week and calling the care home LPNs every day, that he is slowly going away.
Just a couple of months ago, on good days, he was talking like crazy and cracking jokes that only he can understand.
Now for 3 days straight they have used a lift to get him out of bed.
I don’t think or hear any evidence that he smiles and jokes anymore. I fear he is losing spirit and hope.
I get no reports anymore from the care aides who love him, because the most efficient part of Island Health’s swanky administration has been to plug the possibilty of real info – did he smile or joke today? Those jokes that no one else understood but cracked him up…
I am afraid this lockdown has cost him the will to live. Not sure about me either to be blunt.
When you have had dementia for 15 years, we all know it is inevitable. No one gets out of a long term care home alive.
But despite his chivalrous instructions, I always planned, and arranged my life and work, to be by his side every step of the way. To hold his hand, to reassure him with love.
He is still eating mightily, so my fear is hopefully premature, but i think he will be leaving soon.
I will never know if he lost his fabulous joie de vivre because it was the natural path to death, or because the lockdown cut him off from nurturing. Everyone in masks, no hugging or touching.
That applies to me too.
In the meantime i think i will entertain myself by finding out about death rates in long term care. Some deaths, of the … 2 dozen or more i have seen over the years in a 17 bed ward, are clearly understandable.
But so many more are unexpected. And uninvestigated. Especially during outbreaks and lockdowns. I have been uneasy about this for a few years.
One wonders if anyone ever looks at death rates in these quasi-prisons, or does the entire system shrug? After all, they come here to die.
But if you care enough to forbid visitors for months on end, you ought to care enough to look at the death rates.
Does the coroner ever look? Do the cops? Does the Public Health Officer even glance at the reports and look at the time periods or like everyone else shrug, because who cares, they are old and dying anyway? Is this entire warehouse system killing people, at best, by cold kindness?
5 responses to “Old and failing”
Dear Delores, My heart breaks for you, with you. This system is indeed cold and unforgiving. Sending warm hugs and love is the best I can do. I hope it helps in even a small way.
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I think Wendy articulated what I was about to respond. We all know what an extremely terrible drain this has been on you, Delores. I am grateful you are sharing it and doing your best to affirm life by the small acts, like meeting a friend for a safe distancing dinner together.
Dear Delores – What a trial this is! At least now it seems the country’s eyes are turned on our care-home situation en masse. My love and hugs are yours as things go as they will. Stay sane, and know that love crosses all boundaries – glass windows, levels of consciousness, and all…
Thank you Ruth – I thinkit does
I had dinner with Mary Dewar this evening, Delores. We watched you on the t.v. news; so brave you appeared and yet I know your heart is breaking. I would not call total deprivation of human contact any kind of care, cold or otherwise. It is simply brutal to not allow a beloved to visit their loved one when we know proper precautions would make it perfectly safe. People die of loneliness all the time, but most especially when they cannot see an end to their isolation. Hardly a day or night goes by when I do not think of you and Don. I was describing to Mary Don’s former feistiness and ability to take on any cause worthy of his intelligence and compassion until dementia cut into his best intentions. Love, Susan