The Darker Side of Alzheimer’s Care

So much positive reaction about Alzheimer’s and dignity, as I blogged about a few days ago…

But something depressing and sinister crossed my desk just this morning … a link sent by my dad from the Sarasota (Florida) Tribune regarding the sad reality that most Alzheimer’s patients and caregivers must suffer, and as so much of this work does, it breaks my heart.

It tells the story of Arnold Krinsk, an Alzheimer’s patient, who suffered extreme INdignity — violence, blacklisting, moving from one facility to another, and all because the people who were tasked with caring for him just don’t give a d*mn.

Dogs in kennels get better treatment.

Over the span of a year, Arnold was shuffled through five nursing facilities, plus two mental health centers, because he was deemed “difficult.” Because he would get upset and lash out, which so very many Alzheimer’s patients do, Arnold would be expelled — and it would be up to his wife of 60 years, Sara, to figure out where he should go next. The last place she found for him, before he died, was one of compassion, one that could tend his needs and offer him the dignity he so deserved. He died not long after that.

Too often, as Every Patient’s Advocate, I hear horror stories about nursing homes and the way residents are treated like animals. Trying to fix the nursing home, long-term care facility debacle is an advocacy all its own. But because both my mother and my mother-in-law reside in long term care facilities, I take so many of these reports so personally. And I thank God every day that they are both living in fine places, both treated with compassion and caring.

SHAME on those people who work in facilities that treat their residents as sub-humans. SHAME on them for not respecting those in their care. SHAME on them everytime they do something — anything — they would not want done to themselves or someone they love. SHAME on them for sucking all the quality from the life of another human being.

And SHAME on a system that allows that to happen. That system is comprised of people who must look at themselves in the mirror every day. I don’t know how they face themselves.

And don’t tell me the system works like that because there’s not enough money, or not enough staff or not enough of whatever it is. Some facilities have figured out how to make it work — and all facilities should follow suit.

Sorry — everytime I think about how we treat too many of the elders in this country – a la this article — it gets my blood boiling.

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Trisha Torrey
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