Posts Tagged ‘elderly’

Pawning off our elderly and mentally ill…

Not that long ago, as a society we locked away our family members that were deemed mentally ill, developmentally challenged, sickly or elderly. We locked them far away from the rest of us and our civilized society. We put them in dark, cold asylums. In the 1500’s prior to having actual asylums to commit them to these people were put on asylum ships. They were known as the ships of fools. These ships roamed the seas and stopped from port to port only to pick up supplies and more fools.

Ship of Fools

Can you imagine the people that they hired to work on those ships? I am quite sure they were plucked from the crop of the least employable. Some of the workers were lifelong criminals. They were given the chance to be sentenced to the prison ship or to work on the ship of fools. Why not get rid of two of society’s ills on one ship.

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The Forgotten Women…


Forgotten Women

I am thinking today of some forgotten women. My ‘day’ job is the reason I am thinking of them. These women were at one time loved and cherished wives, daughters, sisters and friends to someone. Many of them were responsible for blazing the path for all of us by becoming the first female doctors, lawyers and business owners. I am thinking today of the forgotten women that once lived glorious happy hour, dinner party lives and were the leaders of the wood- paneled station wagon brigade and served as the heart and soul of their families.

station wagon wood panel

I think of a woman that lives in a ‘too do’ retirement community. For 30 years she was the mistress of a ‘big time’ political figure. She was also a successful doctor. Today she huddles in fear of the outside world and lives with the mission of accumulating enough food for Armageddon. Her condo walls are lined from floor to ceiling with cases of canned sardines, peas and store brand sodas.

I think of a woman, who for years took care of her terminally ill sister and then her aging parents, never once complaining. She never had a social life or any kind of life that was her own. She now lives in fear, alone in a big house with dementia and a senile old dog. She is scared of death, strokes, fires and burglars.

I am thinking of a one-hundred and one year-old socialite who believes and will debate you to exhaustion on the subject that America went to hell in a hand basket the minute we sent girls to college.

I think of a ninety-seven year old, southern belle who was the proud ‘woman’ that stood by her famous man, raised two very successful and well grounded children and she still lives on her own within a retirement community. She kicks my butt power walking every time.

I think of a woman who worked through the war and then supported her husband through business school. That man went on to become a successful retailer. He worked so hard to give his wife and children the world that he ended up in an early grave. This woman now lives in one of the worst ‘facilities’ I have ever seen. Not the least expensive by far just the worst.

I think of another woman with a drop-dead gorgeous home, glorious gardens and a closet full of designer clothing. For her career she chose to be a professional volunteer. Whatever the latest cause, she could be counted on. Now she cannot remember her name. Her husband, with his own issues, screams at her and pushes her because she cannot remember how to run the washing machine or to shut the refrigerator door. She cowers in fear. I suspect he has always been abusive.


I think of a mother with dementia living in a nursing home. She whines for months to her daughter. “I just don’t understand why they always hit me.” The daughter questions the staff and she is told it is the dementia. The daughter finally purchases a nanny cam and is completely wracked with guilt when the images clearly show the aides had been hitting, actually torturing her mother because her nightmares disturb their smoking breaks.

In facilities all over America, there are amazing mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers. They have been placed in these facilities by well meaning and loving family members. In the beginning, the family visits often. Then life gets in the way. The new normal sets in and the visits become more and more infrequent. When they visit again and find their Mom rocking in the corner and peeing in her shoes, they call me, or someone like me to ‘spend time’ with their loved one.


This ‘day’ job breaks my heart every day. It is also such a blessing. Whatever or wherever these women came from one thing is for certain, they all have their own stories to tell. Stories of scarlet fever outbreaks, slavery, world fairs, their first ride in an automobile, the first time they used a telephone or watched television. They speak with wonder of the installation of plumbing and electric in their homes. They talk of the endless summer hours they spent as little girls wandering around fields or lying in the grass daydreaming of handsome husbands, adorable children and fancy parties in their futures.

My ‘girlfriends’ may not remember my name or their own name for that matter but they do remember where they came from and they miss their families. They live to tell stories of their grandchildren’s talents and accomplishments. My heart hurts for them because their grown grandchildren never visit.

I will never forget these special women, with whom I have shared my deepest secrets and in return, they have shared their rich histories with me. A special place has been born in my heart for these forgotten ladies of yesterday who have taught me so very much about myself, life, compassion and redemption.

Have you forgotten anyone?



Caregiving and Stress-The A-to-Z’s of Mental Health



For the month of April I am participating in the annual A-Z Blogging Challenge. The Challenge was started by author/blogger, Arlee Byrd.

Each day of the month (except Sundays) we will post something based on that days correlating letter. Some of us chose a theme and others are winging it. My theme is the A-to-Z’s of Mental Health, Raising Awareness. It is a topic that is very close to my heart. I hope you find the posts interesting and you will comment and share the posts everywhere. To see a list of all of the participants or for more information-click on the badge over there to the right>

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