The Emotional Impact of Alzheimer's Disease
At Cullan & Cullan, we understand the medical and legal aspects of Alzheimer's disease and nursing home abuse. We also understand the emotional aspects of these tragic conditions. Sometimes we feel it is important to take time away from describing the medical and legal aspects of nursing home abuse to share a story about an Alzheimer's victim that we found very touching (unfortunately, we do not know who the author of the story is):
It was a busy morning, about 8:30 when an elderly gentleman in his 80's arrived to have stitches removed from his thumb.
He said he was in a hurry as he had an appointment at 9:00 am.
I took his vital signs and had him take a seat, knowing it would be over an hour before someone would to able to see him. I saw him looking at his watch and decided since I was not busy with another patient, I would evaluate his wound.
On exam, it was well healed, so I talked to one of the doctors and got the needed supplies to remove his sutures and redress his wound.
While taking care of his wound, I asked him if he had another doctor's appointment this morning, as he was in such a hurry.
The gentleman told me no, that he needed to go to the nursing home to eat breakfast with his wife.
I inquired as to her health.
He told me that she had been there for a while and that she was a victim of Alzheimer's disease.
As we talked, I asked if she would be upset if he was a bit late.
He replied that she no longer knew who he was, that she had not recognized him in five years now.
I was surprised, and asked him, 'And you still go every morning, even though she doesn't know who you are?'
He smiled as he patted my hand and said, 'She doesn't know me, but I still know who she is.'
I had to hold back tears as he left, I had goosebumps on my arm, and thought, 'That is the kind of love I want in my life.'
True love is neither physical nor romantic. True love is an acceptance of all that is, has been, will be, and will not be.
The happiest people don't necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have.
We are all getting older.
Tomorrow may be our turn.
What This Means for Nursing Home Abuse
This story demonstrates an important consideration in addressing a nursing home abuse case. It's important to remember that although the elderly and disabled have diminished capacity in many areas, one thing that is not diminished is their ability to love and their need to be loved. A nursing home should cater not just to the physical needs of your loved one, but should also be sure that the emotional needs of your loved one are allowed for with adequate visiting hours, reasonable freedoms, and avoiding overmedication that can dull your loved one's ability to engage with you and others.
The emotional hardship of dealing with a loved one's Alzheimer's disease should not be increased by the hardship of dealing with nursing home abuse. For help in dealing with this type of tragedy, please contact Cullan & Cullan for a consultation.