Abandoned elderly: pest control or loving placement?

It saddens me that so many people are shuffled off to nursing homes and abandoned by their families. It is almost as if the adult children or grandchildren see their elderly as nothing but a pest to be disposed of.


Gunnar and I visit a couple of local nursing homes to see a few patients on the hospice care census..and they are always so very pleased to see a face with a smile..a little dog that wags like mad when greeting them.

There are so very many elderly that have no one visit them…no letters or phone calls from family. It is heartbreaking.

Gunnar’s friend Maggie visits patients

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One facility that Gunnar and I visit has a little lady that sits in a wheelchair near the front doors.  She is there every time we visit. One of the aides said, “Mrs. M. sits there every day waiting for her son”. I asked, “does he visit?”  The aide replied, “I’ve never seen him and I’ve watched her every day for six years”.

I had never seen Mrs. M. smile and thought there was no reason for her to do so. She had seemingly been abandoned.

The last time we visited, Gunnar tugged away from me away and ran straight to Mrs. M., wagged like crazy and ‘talked’ to her. Gunnar makes a grumbly, growly sound when he is “just talking”.  Mrs. M. smiled..the first one I had ever seen on her face. She leaned over to pet him and a tear rolled down her cheek.

I went over thinking she was becoming upset that Gunnar was there, and leaned over to pick up my little dog.  She looked up at me and said “thank you. I miss my dogs, they won’t let me have one here. I had a teacup poodle, you know.  She was apricot and I named her Rose. My son took her to the pound when he brought me here. She’s probably dead now.”

I had to turn away lest she notice I was crying. I figured she didn’t need any more grief in her life.

She reached out to touch me and said “it’s okay honey. I’m used to it now. Thank you for letting me see your little dog”.

I know that people love their parents..their grand parents. I know that people have to work and care for their children…but a visit once a week wouldn’t kill them. A simple phone call to let their loved ones know they are thought of and cared for doesn’t take more than a minute or two.

The best nursing care in the world doesn’t take the place of a child’s smile…even if the “child” is an adult with children of their own.

4 thoughts on “Abandoned elderly: pest control or loving placement?

  1. Oh Suze, you grabbed my heart with this post. Very well presented and sadly, it’s so true. I worked in a “rehab” center for 6 years and saw so many “residents” who fit your lady in the wheelchair. Science has given us pharmaceuticals which keep us alive forever, but nobody has given us reasons to want to stay alive forever living in “rehab” centers. Exactly what are they supposed to rehabilitate?

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  2. Okay, I was in a perfectly fine mood this morning and looking forward to your irascible humor and read this! Couldn’t help but cry, knowing this is true. Even with new medicines and more older people staying healthier, there are many suffering like this. Guess when it’s my time, I’ll have to send you the address so you can visit me!

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    1. Gunnar and I will be more than happy to come visit. You could just have the family send you to me ya know.

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  3. Awwww, that’s brought a tear to me eye on this Saturday evening! But it’s all too true, let’s hope we don’t end up abandoned like this…..

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