Dying with Dignity
(Dignity in Death in Long Term Care Homes)
Dedicated to the recent passing of my dear daddy and to my dear mother may they rest in peace.
In memory of all the dear elderly to whom have completed this journey and to those who are on this journey.
The halls that stretch from end to end echo the weary steps of the elderly
imprints of their tired lives embrace the cold hard floors.
Each shuffling step engraved within the tiles reflect their life stories, chapters of their journeys, paragraphs of remember whens, life events that got lost in the traffic of daily life in the halls.
For so many dear seniors their last few paragraphs of their life, silent stories are etched in long term care homes, where their hurt, pain, suffering, searching for their lost memories, struggles of missing sentences to their lives. Who will listen, who will write and publish their stories, so they can be read, heard and cherished?
Spending such a great amount of time in these homes with the seniors, especially with my parents, I watch in sadness as some go day after day, month after month with no visitors, no family, their lives have become a daily routine of their own lost thoughts and unspoken words, eyes that are dry with so many tears. No matter what or how these daily routines are mapped out these dear souls are wending their way, the destination “end of life”.
At end of life there is a story that demands respect, dignity, compassion, and privacy in goodbyes, grief, and in lasting impressions of a loved ones passing; In able to write this merited account there needs to be a place, a space to create atmosphere that enables ALL the attributes of respect and dignity of ones souls crossing over from their weary life to the other realm.
My father spent his remaining days at a Long Term Care home in Grey county, his days were filled with his daughter(s) visits, writing poems and drawing cartoons. There were dedicated friends from his church family who visited him on a weekly basis, all these things contributed to his happiness and quality of life. There were amazing nurses and staff at his home that he learned to rely on and aided in his well being. As dads health started failing and went from failing to rapid decline after he fell out of his bed, it was time to sign the papers for palliative care and end of life care. I could go into great detail but as it is, I want to maintain some privacy…my dad was dying, the family wanted him moved to “the suite”, a private room (where my late mother rest her soul spent her remaining hours of her life in palliative end of life care) …where an elderly soul could die in peace, privacy, and dignity, surrounded by his daughters to say final good byes, to spend precious private family time, for dad to have respect in his concluding hours. Sadly we learned that the so called suite was used not just to accommodate palliative care but for other reasons and other care as we were not told this up front. If we had know ALL the details and the communication had been there we would have made other plans! It shocked me that in a long term care home of 100 residents there was not one specific room solely for the purpose of offering respect, dignity, and privacy for an elderly soul whom was on palliative end of life care. I will mention there were a couple offers that were given approximately 3 hours before my dad took his final breath, offers that were given after desperate emails and phone calls and text messages, offers that added to our pain and grief because these offers could not have happened due to the frail condition of my dear dad and that his end of life was close at hand, as I was by his side it was extremely evident the angels were hovering.
To say the least out of respect for my dad I want and plead for change! I do not desire any other soul to have to die with his or her death on display, I do not want the family to feel the shocking appalling sinking feeling that their last hours with their dying family member will be scarred with memories of fighting for this deserved respect.
Please lets take this serious, in honour of our seniors, the elderly! Lets fight for change they deserve that at least! in my closing I would like to admonish all families to allow their family member(s) to have an advocate, I cannot begin to imagine what all would have been swept under the carpet if I had not been my dad’s advocate and went to bat for him! We would not be here today if it were not for our seniors, lets give them the safe quality of life they deserve. God bless them all.
Hold my hand and feel my life
the path though worn is there
Threads of memory still exist
tattered frayed and threadbare
Feel my heart ’tis broken and torn
do you have compassion?
Mend my soul with threads of gold
spun from interaction
Stay awhile to get a sense
why oft times I feel so lost
Now and then you’d never know
the heaviness of my cross
Bring a ray of sunshine with you
melt away the icy fears
Bestow me with the warmth of friendship
exchanging smiles instead of tears