Saturday, January 1, 2011

* Hell for the Elderly: A Beatitudinal Change; Love Speaks to the Heart in the Failing Head

Wemmick's "castle" in Great Expectations, where "the Aged Parent" set off a cannon three times a day.

I am filled with shame (and reminded of my own fear of the worse-than-death-end-for-the-aged in our society) by an article in today's New York Times (see link above)

Have  we  reached such a state of  national confusion  that kindness to the senile has become headline news in the

Kindness, dear reader, kindness to those in nursing homes who have become senile, is now NEWS!!!

Oh, use whatever fancy name you want: Alzheimer's; Senile Dementia; the point is that their minds are failing. And our health care facilities have become so fearful of   the NATIONAL OBSESSION with standards and accountability, that they have forced those elderly whose minds are failing  into INFLEXIBLE REGIMENTATION:
  • unneeded diapers to make the worker's lives easier
  • meals at specfied times and at no other times
  • tasteless food and denial of tasty food: bacon, chocolate
  • bed railings (imprisonment in bed)
  • unneeded wheelchair confinement
  • unneeded sedation
And so, today's article becomes news: 

LOVE, KINDNESS, SMILING, TENDERNESS, FLEXIBILITY, INDIVIDUAL ATTENTION, all speak directly to the emotional core of the decaying mind and revive joy and cooperation and happiness in the senile patients. Love speaks to the heart in the head.

Giving a 97 year old woman a doll to pretend is the child she is raising makes her smile and sparks attempts at communication and cooperation.

Has anyone ever read the NEW TESTAMENT?


Thank whatever Deity you care to thank, that a nursing home for Alzheimer's patients has had the courage  defy State and Federal Standards, and to institute LOVE as its operative dynamic, and not TOUGH LOVE either----TENDER love.

And the name of this nursing facility?

 The Beatitudes.


"Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they who mourn,
for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,
for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful,
for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure of heart,
for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called children of God.

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

 Matthew 5:3-10

In honor of the centennial year of my mother
 Barbara Ward Keane 

who spent 118 days in an ICU  fully conscious on life-support machinery stranded 3000 miles from home, at the age of 73,  unable to speak because the oxygen tubes filled her throat; unable to hear because the medication made her hands tremble so intensely that she could not adjust her hearing aid; unable to see clearly because the hospital lost her glasses and the prescription was 3000 miles away and slow to be filled. She died on the 119th day, one month from her 74th birthday,  the patient with the longest residency ever in that hospital's ICU, a dubious distinction.

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