Seniors afraid in lockdown without being consulted

NO ONE HAS ASKED FOR MY OPINION

Decisions are being made left and right about the people who are living in senior communities.

From Independent Living, to Assisted Living, to Memory Support units, to Skilled Nursing facilities, managers and administrative personnel, government officials and medical personnel are taking decisions without consulting those of us who live in these places.

Those who can’t make their own decisions

There are a certain percentage of us who will not be making decisions for themselves because their minds are failing, and they don’t understand what’s going on – or what the options for doing something about it might be.

Families and facilities will be making those decisions, and many in this group have been badly served in homes and in those facilities which were supposed to keep them safe. Many have died without a clue as to what was going on, and without having their loved ones with them.

And yes, they are living and dying afraid.

But some of us are perfectly coherent – and we are being ignored

There are many of us who need some physical caretaking, and others who have joined a facility like our Continuing Care Retirement Community are perfectly functional and coherent but getting older.

Management routinely ignores our expertise and refuses to take advantage of the fabulous array of powerful minds here.

It is a lack of respect.

It is being managed by people who have far less knowledge and experience, compared to the accumulation in our particular facility, than we do, and who act as if we were children looking for something entertaining to do with our time.

I admit we will all fail with time – and some will accept that more graciously than others – but it galls.

Even though I’m one of the people whose expertise doesn’t go to the public good, I recognize the people among us who have been and still are powerhouses – and it galls.

It is a form of gaslighting

If you treat people for long enough as not having competence, they will give up – and that’s not good for us.

The result is an unnecessarily exaggerated lockdown, partly due to those among us who are not capable any more of understanding the limitations, but applied to those of us who are, and it doesn’t make for happy compliance when those with opinions keep getting shot down.

It’s not a good time to leave.

We made our decision, highly based on the people who live here, and will probably stick it out unless one of our kids has extraordinary requirements, and possibly even then, because I am so physically limited I’m practically useless.

It could be, SHOULD BE different

But it could feel SO much more like a collaboration between those of us PAYING for services and those providing them.

Which would serve to allay the fear, and find safe ways around the restrictions such as people who moved here so a spouse could be in the Memory Support unit most of the time, but have some meals with spouse and other family members in the various dining facilities, could see that spouse.

I greatly fear that we have lost what makes this place special, and are too easily giving up what makes this place good for couples where one person deteriorates first.

I fear for the mental health of those completely isolated ‘for their own good,’ who can’t understand or remember the explanations – and have no family or friend able to supervise their care. It is well known that the one thing that keeps a facility on its toes is supervision – for the little things which don’t appear on the checklists.

And for those who need the facilities here to exist even slightly well, I think we are being so restrictive that they/I am in pain far more than necessary, and some may be losing the will to fight on.


Management shouldn’t be as overwhelmed as they are – the business efficiencies, unquestioned, add up to hardship.

The lack of transparency really hurts.

And the attitude is confrontational.


 

19 thoughts on “Seniors afraid in lockdown without being consulted

  1. Sharon

    Powerful post that has given me some insight into what I think is being allowed to happen here in Australia to. We currently have an outbreak in a well know facility and family are being stopped from seeing each other, people seem to be being left to die alone. The comment above sounds like a good idea. Good luck Alicia, I wish all the best in this trying time.🌻

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Stating the problem is but the first step.

      And I bet management and the state would tell us not to worry – they have it under control.

      And people are dying alone. How easy it is to throw us and our concerns under the bus.

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  2. acflory

    I’m so sorry, Alicia. Is there some way you could speak to all the residents like yourself and organize some kind of ‘collective bargaining’? There has to be a way to safeguard everyone’s physical health while also maintaining mental health. Perhaps this will give some of your neighbours/friends a sense of purpose. You are in a community, and you are paying for this privilege. 😦

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      We’ll get to it – as soon as the panic is over.

      But it should worry ALL of us, seniors and younger, that the first reaction is to make decisions FOR us, but not WITH us.

      We have an association, CALCRA, in California, for Residents of CCRCs, and this is going to be one of my talking points from now on. Even with the best of intentions, management and the state leave us out of critical decisions – which is why we have our own.

      Liked by 3 people

      Reply
      1. acflory

        Yeah, there’s a mindset that after a certain birthday, we regress to childhood and don’t know what’s good for us. Hasn’t happened to me yet, but I know it will, one day. Putting that day off as long as humanly possible. :/

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        1. acflory

          I know there’s a difference between retirement villages [that’s what we call them here] and nursing homes, but having visited a nursing home in my early 20’s, I’ve been terrified of both ever since.

          I lost some of that fear last year when I spent almost 4 months teaching computer skills to a group of very smart, ‘with it’ 80+ students in a retirement village. But…I’m still not sure I’d want to live in one. How I’ll feel once I can no longer look after the block, or myself, I don’t know.

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        2. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          A CCRC – a Continuing Care Retirement Community – means you stay in your community, with your friends made when you were younger and well, for the rest of your life.

          And you never do housework or yard work unless you want to. Other retirement arrangements may be different, and there are permanent and impermanent, coop and not.

          I did a lot of thinking, and we both did a lot of questioning, and we’re not unhappy with this, but it IS hard right now when the benefits are so reduced.

          I hope we’ll come back soon. I hope we won’t lose too many people simply to them being tired of having to fight so long, and I really hope the virus doesn’t get a toehold here.

          Liked by 1 person

        3. acflory

          I must say I like the idea of not having to do housework, but not under the present circumstances, no. As writers, we’re pretty self-sufficient, plus we both have someone to talk to at home. I really feel sorry for those who don’t. And you’re right, loneliness could make them give up. I hope they don’t. :/

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      2. Widdershins

        Sounds like a plan … one that you ‘shouldn’t’ve had to make though … but if nothing else this pandemic has shown that ANY institution will always have its own self-interests as its bottom line.

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        1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          Which is exactly why you don’t trust others to have your interests FIRST, even when they’re supposed to.

          Trust – but verify.

          Trust – but plan.

          Trust – but think of everything that might go wrong, and be prepared for it.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. marianallen

    It’s outrageous that people are being treated this way. One can only hope that it will change for the better, once some of the dust settles. Is there anything we on the outside can do to help?

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Basically, they are treating ALL of us like children, when only some of us have moved on to that category – and the rest of us are still perfectly in control of ourselves.

      Awareness is my purpose in writing these posts; I hope it will lead somewhere. Instead of to more patting on the head – while we are dying in disproportionate numbers – and more gaslighting (we’re doing the best/most that we can to take care of you ungrateful people).

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      1. marianallen

        I know your energy and focus are limited, but have you used your considerable organizational skill to write a proposal on how the lockdown could be sensibly eased? I particularly liked your plan for contact between spouses in different levels of care!

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        1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          There are far more competent people here, and people who are limited only by age, not by illness – most of whom are not undertaking long novels.

          I’ll plant a few ideas when possible.

          Fixing things, with a low expectation of success (they’ve been doing this for 20 years), is an energy and time maelstrom.

          Liked by 1 person

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