My father-in-law, a beautiful man who has been my only dad since I was 15, spent a week in a rehab center in March. He was then sent back to the hospital showing evidence of less-than-optimal care while in the facility. We had no way of knowing the care he was (or was not) receiving because the facility was on lockdown with no visitors allowed due to COVID19. We lost him a few days later, and the world lost an amazing man who blessed the lives of many.
We got to spend his final day with him in Hospice Care–a gift from their staff that will never be forgotten. We stayed in for the next several days and some of us have only left home for his burial. Saying goodbye was never going to be easy, but it was made much more difficult because of the questions that will always plague our family regarding the likelihood of his life being shortened by a lack of quality rehabilitative care.
I’ll be honest–the thought of that sweet man being neglected is one I have a really hard time processing.
Since his death, we have heard numerous stories of advanced-age loved ones being neglected in rehab care facilities. That hurts my heart. Know what else hurts? Being told by doctors that most facilities caring for the elderly have sub-standard care, that by and large the attendants in such places don’t value their calling, and that it makes medical professionals hesitant to even release a patient to that type of facility because the prognosis automatically takes a nose-dive. I’m not sure why that came as a shock to me, but it did.
To clarify, not for a minute do I think all people who work in that type of facility provide less than optimal care. I personally know some wonderful caregivers, and I thank God for them and the vitally important job they do.
So here’s my message to those who work in such a place:
First, you are appreciated. You are seen. The work you do is valuable. If you haven’t heard that in a while (or ever), I am saying it now.
Second, please, if you cannot care for the elderly lovingly and gently and diligently, please find a new career. These people are precious to their families, and they are a treasure to our society. They are often under-appreciated, but these lovely seniors have seen so much we’ve never seen, experienced things we haven’t and could teach us so much if we care enough to listen.
We can’t look forward to more of their stories and being blessed by their presence if you fail to see them as worthy of your time and attention. Take the time to look beyond their condition, their needs, their complaints, their pain, and see them as we do. Please. At the very least, don’t be mean.
This plea applies to all the time, but particularly right now during this challenging time of quarantine when our beloved elderly are at your mercy and we have no window into the quality of their care. I beg you, if you can’t go above and beyond and love on our loved ones, at least do your job and care for them on a basic level. We count on you to keep our loved ones thriving, so I’m asking you to carefully consider the way you approach the job you do.
Please take care of our elderly family members. They are worth your time and energy. They are our very heart.