One Old Lady

One old lady.

One old house.

She existed.  In a home.  In a neighborhood.  With people who knew her.  No one checked on her.  No one helped her.  No one was curious or concerned.  Not the people next door.  Not the people across the street.  Not the people who had known her for years.  Not the family who were found to exist.

One person did show concern.  And took action.  He tried to find family and was told there was family and that they checked on her.

The pizza delivery man.

He called and asked protective services to check on her because he knew from what he saw….that no one was checking on her.

We did.

And when we checked on her we found….

One frail, elderly, lady.

One confused, damned by dementia, soul.

One smelly, dirtier than a human should live in,  house.

One urine soaked, wet and dried over and over again, see-through night dress upon her crooked and limping self.   It was her “good one” she told us.

One little white haired lady with white hair matted with unknown matter to her head.

One set of yellow-nailed toes with human feces caked underneath the nails.

The family did not see a problem, either because they did not check, or they did not care.

We checked. We reacted. We got her help.  “We” being the agency who investigates and hopes like hell to help.

She was taken to the hospital where they were so appalled at her condition they took pictures.  They thought they would have to shave her head for fear of what was in her hair.   And for fear of hurting her while trying to clean her.

We worked with hospital staff, a local attorney, and an extended care facility to get her help.

She did not understand why anyone made a fuss over her.  She smiled at the kindness shown her.  But didn’t know why anyone thought she needed help.

We understood.  She deserved the fuss.  And she needed the help.

This is one ‘case’.   Sadly, it was not the worst, and it was definitely far from the best.

She needed us.  She needed someone.   Anyone.  In this case she needed the pizza man.

And he responded.

Because there are people who care.

At what age do we say we don’t matter any more. At what age do we cut all funding, or never fund at all, the services to protect the fragile.  At what age do we stop being of value to our society?

We need to let our people know when we are of no more value to us.  Give a cut off age.  We  must determine this.   Then we must be ready to be of no value as well.

I am pretty certain that this population has already paid their dues, they have contributed, given and served. They continue to do so.

The very least we can do, is the very least that has been done so far.

It’s time to do more than the least.   Step it up a notch.

Protect them to the best of our ability .

What we can do as individuals may not always be much.   But if we add up that little bit each of us can do, it will add up to more than what some folks are getting now.

It’s all one little old lady might have.

It’d be more than what this one old lady had.

And one day….we might be her.

60 thoughts on “One Old Lady

  1. That is so very sad. I agree with bikebrown, thank goodness for the pizza guy and thank goodness for agencies such as yours. I am sure much more of this is going on but they have not been found or reported yet.


    • I understand Russ.

      Thank you for the kind words. But it’s not just me. In this incident and nearly all incidents we deal with there is a small army of people who work together to make a difference. Unsung and unexpecting of kudos. They, like you and I, want change as well.


  2. this is so sad, and like you say, it happens all around us. it is up to all of us to step up, like the pizza guy, and help others who need it. it is our duty as human beings.


  3. Thank you for writing this Colleen. It is so sad to live in a society where there is no safety net for the infirm, old and sick who don’t have the resources to get the help they need. My European roots are showing …. We all have an obligation to provide for the common good and the well being of the whole of society – not just “me and mine”.
    You do such good work! Thank you. xo


    • Thank you Val. Where I live there is a strong network of people committed to helping the elderly. They do more than what anyone would think with the funds available. Considering the huge lack, in general, to support this aging population. You are absolutely right, we all have an obligation. It seems obligations are not what they used to be….

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s very sad. I saw this kind of thing often when I worked as a care aid. One thing I learned is I don’t know both sides of the story. As as it is, sometimes the people left alone like that are left because they abused their kids. Not always but sometimes. There’s just two sides. Non the less sad no matter which way one looks at it.


  5. I am so glad you wrote this because I’m sure there are many other situations like this hidden in neighbourhoods. So horrible and so sad and thank goodness for you!


  6. How do you keep a stiff upper lip during like this?
    I cannot believe family can be so despicable. It’s heartbreaking.
    I had a 90-year-old lady across the street who, after her husband died fell and couldn’t get to the phone. Her next-door neighbor not seeing any activity for a couple days, decided to check on her. She’d been on the floor for two days. Breaks your heart.


  7. Thank for telling the story of a simple pizza guy who did right, and an agency that deserves our tax dollars, and a little old lady that didn’t realize that the world does love her after all, MBC. You are a catalyst for right and good. ❤


    • What a compliment MBM. I would like to think I am, as are most people I ‘know’. Not necessarily everyone I ‘meet’. But the people I get to know ….. like yourself.

      THis guy get go to sleep at night knowing he did a very good, very kind, and very life changing thing. He saved someone from misery and suffering.


  8. Wow. Elder abuse by family, neglect by the rest of society. I’m so glad the pizza man stepped up. You are right — some day, we’ll all be in that poor woman’s state, or some version thereof, and we can only hope we have family and friends to look out for us. Stories like this should be shared with every elected representative who has cut, or wants to cut deeper, the funding for social services. Thank you, Colleen.


    • You’re welcome Jim. Yes, the pizza guy did the right thing when at least a couple of others did not. And that’s what I don’t understand Jim, we all KNOW we are aging. And could very likely be in the same situation-in need of help. Unable to provide for ourselves. I think there is a ‘disconnect’ button in our heads that many people flip. They have no feeling for now, and no feeling or thoughts regarding their own future. Some people do not connect the dots. And of course, some just don’t care.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I remember a post not long ago where you wondered about “purpose” and that implied whether or not you were making a difference. With this post alone I think you answered that question, Colleen. My heart breaks to think of anyone left that alone and uncared for, in particular if she had family that neglected her, but thank God for the pizza delivery person and you and your agency. And God bless this poor dear woman.


    • Thank you Debra. I do think, that part of my purpose in this job is to not seek what is right for me. But to go above and far beyond ‘me’. It makes me question many things, it makes me take actions I may never have had to take…. it does have great purpose.

      Thank you Debra.


  10. Oh my gosh. That’s so sad. Appalling that her family abandoned her. Seems she was a nice woman, so what’s their excuse? I’m impressed that she had the wherewithal to call a pizza man. And so grateful that he at least did something. Wow.


  11. I have visited preschool students homes that were pretty messy and dirty diapers with flies on them. Nothing like this little, elderly confused lady. Maybe when younger or if you had time to see photos, Colleen, she may been careful about her appearance and pretty, too. Poor thing. As we think about this we are thankful a pizza guy knew about protective services. . . And took the time to call 🙂


    • When I go to people’s homes one of my favorite things is seeing pictures of the ‘older’ clients from their younger days, and the pictures of their family before them. It’s wonderful. And I’m extra lucky when they tell me their stories and I envision them in that time of their life.

      And kudos to the pizza man.


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