Don’t leave me lonely

By: sonofabeach96

Jul 22 2015

Category: Uncategorized


My career is very rewarding.  I feel as though I can and do make a major difference in people’s lives.  I help repair what is broken, mend what is flawed, and help those who long to return to their homes, homes they may have not seen in weeks or months, and fear they may never be able to return to again, reach that level of function.   I am an occupational therapist and my daily goal is to assist these scared, hurting, and sometimes very sick individuals to re-acquire their ability to lead a normal life, as normal as can be expected based on their conditions, with as much freedom and confidence as possible.

sadly, not every patient is a success story.  Not every patient has the wherewithal to put in the effort necessary to rebound from sometimes serious conditions.  Not every patient has the resources to pay someone to assist them at home if needed.  Not every patient has sufficient insurance policies that cover some of those costs.  And not every patient has the family support that would allow them to return to the place they call home, sometimes for many decades.  Often, the patients I work with are widows/widowers and live alone and/or the home is woefully ill-suited to handle wheelchairs and walkers with numerous steps and narrow door frames.  When people buy houses at a young and healthy age, being able to fit a wheelchair into the bathroom is not the first thing they consider.

Then there are the people who have family that could assist them.  Children that live here, within a few minutes drive from my facility.  Children they raised, nurtured, taught, supported, and took care of until they were ready to fly from the nest.  Some are even at an age where they are retired and not working and could provide some assistance to their aging parent.

Yet they provide nothing to that parent.  Nothing at all.  I understand that there are those children who still work full-time.  Those that still have children of their own at home with the accompanying sports and activities.  People are busy with their own families and it is extremely difficult to just drop everything and care for the aging mom or dad who suddenly needs help with even the simplest of daily tasks.  I’m one of those children.  With both my wife and I working, 3 in middle and elementary school, and living away from all but my mom, who is still 40 minutes away, we’ d have some serious juggling to do if one of our parents suffered a serious injury or illness.  Both of our dads are 70 and my mom is 68 so that is now a real possibility.  And we’ve thought about how we’d handle such a situation.  Believe me.  I see it daily so it’s not exactly an obscure, fleeting thought.  So I understand how placing a parent in a long-term facility (I despise the term nursing home and the negative image that denotes) is really a necessary thing to do in some instances.  I also understand that some of these people were not nice, were not good parents, and their little-old-grandparently-personas belie an abusive and rude demeanor. Some may have alienated their families years ago and are now reaping what they sowed.

However, what I don’t understand is how some of these patients are simply abandoned.  Ones that are good people, were good parents, and showed their children nothing but love.  Yet they’re  still abandoned.  It’s as if they’ve been discarded, simply forgotten and donated as someone else’s to deal with, like a broken toy no longer played with and dropped off at a Goodwill donation site after hours.  Left to spend the rest of their days in the relative isolation of a 12×14 room with a view onto a parking lot.  Forced to watch the comings and goings of people and our precious vehicles, who are still free to come and go, while knowing they never will be again.  And, after being discarded, they rarely, if ever, even receive more than a visit around the holidays.  It’s as if they’ve been erased from memory, like they’re already dead and buried.

i have several people in my facility that came to us, some years ago, for rehab.  Circumstances dictated that recovery was not possible, be it due to the severity of the illness, lack of functional progress, or both, and this resulted in them being here long-term.  Most have frequent visitors, family come at least weekly to pick up laundry, bring a favorite snack, or just to stay close to mom or dad.  However, there are several that do not get that gift.

I have worked here for 10 years.  And there are numerous residents who I know for a fact have no visitors, no simple yet uplifting gifts brought to them, and not even a call on their birthdays or holidays.  It is the saddest thing I may have ever seen.  Sure, some are demented beyond even recognizing their own children, ravaged by Alzheimer’s.  Still, no visit, no calls to check on them, no attempt to ease that parents confused mind and certain fear?  And the people who still are lucid, even sharp as a tack sometimes, that see nobody.  Nothing.  Radio silence.  It’sheart-wrenching.

We are their family now, these caring and dedicated nurses, CNA’s, and therapists.  We joke with them, laugh with them, and sometimes cry with them. But it’s a hollow consolation when what they’d love to have is their family here, easing their fears and loneliness.  Not us.

Being a dad myself, I wonder how my boys will respond when I’m the one who needs the help. When I, or my wife, can’t function at home anymore, broken and ill.  I hope we have instilled a sense of caring and compassion in them.  That we’ve taught them that family is everything and there’s nothing more important. And they’ll instill that same value into their own children when my wife and I are old and gray, if we live that long.  Most of all, I hope they don’t leave us lonely.

2 comments on “Don’t leave me lonely”

  1. Social work does give a great sense of satisfaction, doesn’t it ?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Forgot to mention the social workers. That’s a bit of a thankless job. They an awful lot for very little recognition. I’m actually an OT but the social workers are very special, for sure


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: