One Frail, Elderly, 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, later, to exist.

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

He, was the pizza delivery man.  He delivered pizza to her on a regular basis.  He delivered pizza to her, a lot.

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 check.

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.

52 thoughts on “One Frail, Elderly, Lady

  1. This is such a heartbreaking and sad account of a lost and lonely soul. There are thousands of cases like this. We should all try to be caregivers to the best of our ability. Some people simply are not caregivers. It is an absolute must to know the limitations of your abilities, patience and resources. Unfortunately when some caregivers exceed their physical, mental, spiritual and patience limitations care giving can quickly turn into abusive or neglectful – even if only for a moment or a one time incident. Know your abilities and limitations. What can you do to contribute or help? Roll up your sleeves and open your heart – even if you are simply a stranger in passing. Slow down and think what “they” are struggling through. Make a positive impact. It will be time and thought well spent!

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    • This is so true Angie. Some incidents we dealt with came from care-giver burn out. Some from people having no idea what care-giving would entail and becoming completely overwhelmed. Some incidents were people neglecting out of not truly seeing how bad things were.

      Some, some cases, were people neglecting and/or abusing (neglect it’s self is an abuse) out of many reasons that came down to lack of care, or an intent to harm.

      Thank you for your thoughtful response.

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  2. Oh Colleen, I’m in tears, I don’t understand, how that family could be so……. I’ve no words, only heartache, because behind every frail and sick person there’s a soul, a heart and usually a wonderful “Everlasting Smile”

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  3. What a post to wake up to… Heartbreaking. And it’s possible this could be happening right next to us. And that it could happen to ourselves some day. It’s so easy to fall through the cracks. I have great respect for the people who help out in such cases.

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    • That’s true M.L. It is easy to fall through the cracks. As we age and we lose our friends, our social circle, our ability to be as independent….people may not see or know. Which is a sad reflection of “progress” in our modern world.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. also my great respect to people who care and to you Colleen who wrote this. It vera easily can happen to us…I´m sure, I wonder if we care then, or if we just decided to go this way…

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  5. God’s work …. in our village, we have befriended a 75-ish man who came back home several years ago to live with and care for his aging mother. She is now 105, and slipping mentally, he said. She doesn’t recognize him, but she still recognizes their little dog, whom he takes for long walks several times a day. I think it’s his only social activity. There is no other family, and he doesn’t use outside help, as far as we know. He had a high-paying job in DC before retiring, and he willingly takes care of his mother. It’s truly inspirational to see, and it must be hard, hard work. God’s work.

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    • It is God’s work Jim. I love that you live in a ‘village’. I believe our ‘progress’ has not been kind to the family system or to the elderly. For all of the good things that we can enjoy, we are losing the ability to care for one another the way we are meant to. Thank you for sharing your story. I hope he and his mother are doing well. Oh, and the dog. 🙂

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  6. What a hero! If she had a dog in the same state as her, media would have been all over it. I’m glad she was cared for and protected in the end. We need to open our eyes and see the people around us. Families need to do a little self inventory, a little soul searching. So sad.

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  7. Let us be thankful for all those who notice, all those who care, all those that remain aware, and all those who DO something when they see something wrong, rather than just wondering for a brief moment! Let us also be thankful for those who remind us, so Thank You Colleen.

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  8. So very sad. I have a feeling there are many out there just like her but they don’t order pizza and have no one to alert agencies like you. We all need to have our eyes wide open to situations like this. Yes, someday, it could be us.

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  9. Thank you for the poignant reminder of what a single action by a lone person can set into motion to profoundly change the world for others. The ripples of kindnesses continue expanding: One phone call by a concerned person triggered actions by many, and inspired this post, which may inspire others to further kind actions.

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    • Russ that’s exactly how it happened. And in protective services that is usually the way it starts, or someone comes in, or sends a letter… but one person pays attention and asks for help. And when one person offers kindness and help, others see and offer as well.

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  10. My heart aches to think of anyone so alone that their decline is this tragic. Thank God for help! Social services are stretched beyond belief, I know, but as awful as the case is, it must feel good to know that in this case the agency really saved a life. I would hope if family neglected this dear woman there could be some action taken to document elder abuse. And if she was entirely alone, the tragedy just compounds. What a sad account, Colleen. Breaks my heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thank God for the pizza man and others in this world who go farther than others, who Do Something!
    I hope this blesses the pizza man’s life and it made this woman feel valuable. Sadly, as you mentioned, there are many, many more worse neglected children, teens, adults. . .

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