Elderly Care – A Stroll in the Park

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Elderly Care – A Stroll in the Park
by Faramarz
30-May-2011
 

Why do bad things happen to good people?

Almost a year ago, my friends and I learned that Sia had come down with Parkinson’s. We were all gathered at our favorite Irish Pub to watch an important match on TV when one of the guys stopped his car in the front, helped Sia out of the car and brought him inside. Sia’s hands were shaking, but he smiled confidently and said hi to everyone. But you could tell that he was not the same person that we had seen a few months earlier. We all offered to buy him a Guinness, his favorite beer, to show our love for him! He smiled and said that he could only have a sip or two. His medication didn’t go well with the beer.

I met Sia many years ago when I first moved to the big city. After I got settled, one day I grabbed my shoes and went to the park looking for a pickup game. There I saw a bunch of Latin guys playing. I politely asked them if I could join them. They said that they already had too many players and couldn’t take anymore. Then I heard the voice of an Iranian guy, “Are you Iranian? What is your name? You better be good!” It was Sia addressing me! I smiled and introduced myself. I assured him that I would not disappoint him! He told the Latins, “This guy is my cousin and he will play with me!”  They listened to him like he was their commander and let me join the game. Sia took me under his wings!

Sia was much older than the rest of the players, but he was as good as the best of them. Everyone respected his skills and loved his sense of humor. He always had a big smile on his face and was quite a jokester! Sometimes he would play goalkeeper for fun and on the corner kicks, he would pull somebody’s pants down and then would jump up and grab the ball! There would have been a fight if it was anybody else. But with Sia it was all harmless fun! He was an enigma and fun to be around! Nobody had figured him out, but everyone looked up to him.

Later on I learned that when he was in his late 20’s he fell in love with an Irish bartender; a beautiful red hair with green eyes. She was an IRA sympathizer and an illegal alien. She moved in with Sia and later on they got married so that she could get her green card. The relationship fell apart but they still remained roommates. Then one day when Sia came home and saw that she was with another guy in his place, he asked her to leave. But he kept his promise and stayed married with her until she got her green card.

Last year before Christmas, I got an email from the guys that Sia’s situation had got worse and he was moved to a senior citizen home. He had become weaker and frailer over the months and had a very difficult time dealing with the daily chores. One morning when the visiting nurse came to his place, she found him on the floor in bathroom. She called the ambulance and they took him to the hospital. After they patched him up, the doctors said that he could no longer live alone and needed 24-hour care. Sia’s only relative was his sister that lived somewhere in the south. She had come and visited him a few times. But he didn’t like her husband so he stayed away from them. They ultimately decided to put him in the senior citizen home so that he could get proper care.

I went to see him a few days before Christmas. It was a cold and rainy night. The first thing that I felt as I walked into the senior home was the smell of the place! They had closed all the windows to keep the place warm and you could smell humans in the air, the old humans. There were people on wheelchairs, motionless in front of TV’s, people on the sofas, old people walking slowly with their canes in the hallways; a very sad and depressing scene! The staff and the nurses were busy decorating the place with holiday stuff to give the place the Christmas look and cheer the residents up.

I found his room, knocked on the door and went in. He was happy to see me. His mind was sharp, his grip was firm, but his body was trembling. We talked for quite a while about everything. He said that the worst part was the isolation from the outside world and the long days and the sleepless nights. I asked him if there was anything that I could bring to him. He said that he could not use a computer because of his shaking hands and no WiFi in the building and then he said, “You don’t know how much I miss sipping a beer with the guys at the Pub and watching the matches on TV.”

I promised that I would be back in the next few days, as soon as the weather was nicer and take him for a stroll around the neighborhood on his wheelchair. I walked out of there all choked up and took a long walk around the neighborhood. I looked at all those Christmas decoration with blinking lights inside people’s homes and thought about how unfair life is!

A few days later when the sky cleared, I went back to the senior home and took him out for a stroll. We wrapped him in a blanket and then I pushed him down the ramp and onto the sidewalk. We strolled for a few blocks until we got to a corner grocery store. I left him outside and went in and bought a cold can of Guinness! I asked the Arab shop owner for a straw! He gave me a look as he put the can and the straw in a brown bag! We went for a few more blocks until we got to a park. A bunch of kids were playing. He asked me to stop there and watch the kids. I opened the can of beer, put the straw in it and asked him if he wanted a sip. I held the straw in front of his mouth. He took a small sip and then closed his eyes. It was as if he was re-living all the great moments of his life! He had another sip and then said that it was enough. “Let’s watch the game here. Don’t you think that number 9 is a good player?” He asked me. I stood behind him hanging on to the wheelchair handles hiding my tearful eyes. “Yeah, he is good! I hope that he gets good coaching as he grows up!” We went back to the senior home after a while.

A few weeks later I learned that his sister had come and had moved him to the south, to a senior citizen home near her house. That way she could see him more often and take better care of him.

He was gone before we could see him again and say goodbye. And now all that’s left is all those wonderful memories of him.

I hope that one of these days they find a cure for these diseases. We can’t afford losing so many good people.

Here is Pagliacci!

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more from Faramarz
 
Mash Ghasem

...

by Mash Ghasem on

CC, you're simply mashang. Worst part is how careless and insulting your comments are. Then again being a rootless cosmo, has its 'limitations.'

Apologies to Prof. Ferry for tis untidy exchange.


Esfand Aashena

Faramarz jaan plan on being very rich! Swedish Rx is expensive!

by Esfand Aashena on

Swedish nurses don't come cheap!  Unless you're Tiger Woods rich or have a big 401K that can withstand the Palinomics your retirement funds will ran out quickly and they're already telling us Social Security will ran out for us and we'll be left high and dry!  The nursing homes will be so over-crowded that they'll clean us Iranians last!

Everything is sacred


hirre

Sorry :)

by hirre on

Sweden's elderly care has really dropped in quality... You will probably end up pissing in your pants, lying alone on the bed. After 2 days a 17 year old nurse (boy) will sound an alarm. There will be an investigation, and the same case will repeat itself in the future...


ComraidsConcubine

MG

by ComraidsConcubine on

 Who is Jamal and why is he mine?

 


Faramarz

Swedish Nurse is the Way to Go!

by Faramarz on

I have already made my plans. What better way to go than being in the caring arms of a Swedish nurse, someone who looks like Tiger Wood's ex!

Golden Years!


Mash Ghasem

...

by Mash Ghasem on

Zeki beh jamalet.

Euthanasia in your case could be very apt, as a remedy for rude, uncaring, careless  statement on people's loved ones.

You and your type ( rootless cosmos) might need a movie to see how it deals with this matters, we lived it for 15 years.


Esfand Aashena

I'd like 2b able 2 check myself in2 a nursing home @ right time!

by Esfand Aashena on

Faramarz and Anahid jaans I agree that nursing homes aren't necessarily bad and they've just had a bad wrap and with so much bad press and hidden cameras showing abuse, their image just becomes worse.  It's a noble cause and thousands do their jobs taking care of elderly properly and honestly and they deserve our gratitude.

I think you can do your research and find the right home or an assisted-living home where you have your own apartment and get the care you need that way.  You can do the same thing in Iran.

In my case I think rather be able to check myself into a nursing home when the time comes and not bother anyone or count on anyone to take care of me!  Here in America we're going to be alone in old age.  Certainly less people and friends and family around than Iran! You just don't know what condition you'll be in but you'd like to be able to make your own choices and decisions on how to spend your final years. 

Everything is sacred


ComraidsConcubine

MG, zeki!

by ComraidsConcubine on

 With so many homicide attempts why should I bother? 

P.S. I gather from your post that you haven't seen the film, which deals with the subject matter of the blog beautifully.  

 



Faramarz

برنامه آینده!!

Faramarz


Thank you Esfand for introducing the topic and thanks everyone for reading and commenting,

If you had asked me 5 years ago if I ever put a loved-one in a senior home, I would have replied (without much knowledge), “Hell no!” But now I see it completely differently. If you cannot afford round-the-clock help, then a senior home is the right alternative.

Now here is a short story with a few exclamation points!

A few years ago one of my friends took his mother who was suffering from advanced Alzheimer's disease to a nursing home. During their visits, sometimes his mother would not recognize his father and would ask him who the old gentleman was! On one occasion she turned to my friend and said, “I don’t like that old guy with glasses and beady eyes! Please tell him to leave the room and not to come here again!” Talk about honesty and straight talk!


Anahid Hojjati

Thanks Esfand jaan, yes by care, I meant someone who actually

by Anahid Hojjati on

does extended hours of care like my mom does for my dad. It is also worth mentioning that it is just not elderly who need care. Many times, people might get sick when they are young, and they would still need care.


Anahid Hojjati

Dear Esfand, don't be hard on Faramarz, his blog was fine

by Anahid Hojjati on

As far as senior home, we were lucky. When my dad got sick last summer and had to go to hospital and then to rehab, the rehab where they were mostly seniors, the place was actually fine. It helped that the lady who was in charge was a very nice Iranian lady and another case of small world, she had been a good friend of one of my cousins as a little girl. Any way, I saw much love in that place when I visited and would see people visiting their family and friends. Some people were so dedicated that they would visit so many hours. Sometimes, I did get to talk to other patients and/or their visitors and they had interesting stories to say. What helped with the place was its atmosphere and setting and people in charge. As far as death, the irony is that seemingly healthy people can die before the sick people, and they do every day.


Esfand Aashena

Anahid jaan about 'care'

by Esfand Aashena on

You're right my original intention on this Elderly Care series was to ask fellow contributors to write about the care they've given their loved ones and their experiences.  I thought sharing these experiences may help those of us with elderly loved ones with other options and basically how others deal with it and that we're not alone.

But overall care means care, like whether you care or don't care.  In many cases people turn a blind eye as if the elderly don't exist and their problems are jokes that are to be made fun of.  They rather ignore than to pay any attention and they'll probably pay attention when they're elderly themselves and by then it's too late and ...

So as long as you care (like visits as you say) your care is appreciated by your loved ones.  Many have nurses or care takers but the company of loved ones is something else and most needed.

If you or anyone reading this have a story to tell please write about it, the series is not 'only' about taking care of elderly. 

Everything is sacred


Esfand Aashena

فرامرز جان تشکر برای قبول دعوت، آخه یک linky چیزی!

Esfand Aashena


I think once you go to a senior home or meet or get to be with a senior citizen and see their needs they stay with you in your thought process.  For me I often think that I'm going to be like this as well and my time will come, that's if I'm "lucky" to live that much!

Sometimes some people pass away quickly with a stroke and never go through the pains of old age and they're the lucky ones.  You mention the nurse finding Sia the next day having collapsed in the bathroom.  This is also a common story that despite the pain and difficulty of getting up and going to the bathroom in the middle of the night, to keep their dignity and not soiling their bed, sometimes they 'risk' falling down and breaking their old bones and get up and go to the bathroom and more often than not they fall in the process and sometimes like you mention they have to wait for the next day for someone to get to 'work' and help them get up and god knows how many hours they've been in that position.

Lastly you are my friend so please don't take this personally and nit picking but in this blog a few less exclamation points would've been better!  I know you're fond of exclamation points but sometimes you have to quit the urge! ;-) 

Everything is sacred


Mash Ghasem

...

by Mash Ghasem on

CC have you ever thought of giving your blog and commentaries in here, euthanasia. Your disposition has been terminal for a while now.


ComraidsConcubine

"All is well"

by ComraidsConcubine on

 There is a choice: euthanasia or some serious soul-sucking

 P.S. Not for the faint-hearted: Of course this so reminds me of your blogs to come

;) 


Anahid Hojjati

Thanks All-Iranians for the link and thanks MG for sharing

by Anahid Hojjati on

What was of importance for me in the link was the issue of Biological Markers for PD and the fact that as of now, they don't have any. If I remember correctly, a facebook friend posted few days ago something about possible relationship between Hpilori (spelling may be wrong) which causes stomach problems and PD. Not to frighten Iranian friends, but this bacteria is common among Iranians which might mean that we Iranians might be facing increased risk for PD. I am not in medical field so I don't want to be going on too much about this but here is the article that it slink was given along with the facebook posting:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/persian/world/2011/05/110523_l24_bacteria_parkinson.shtml

Thanks MG for sharing story of your friend. That is great that his extended network of friends took care of him. Touching story.

 


Mash Ghasem

Elders with Parkinson: anything but a stroll in the park.

by Mash Ghasem on

Faramrz jan your story brings back a lot of memories, of a very dear artist friend of the family, who struggled with  Parkinson for a  long while, and the extended network of friends who took care of him, since all his family members were in Iran.

Though he passed away a few years ago (RIP), I still need a few more years to write about the whole experience. Suffice to say,  it was one of the most demanding tasks in my life. Parkinson basically turned an incredibly talented, lively, mobile man into a shadow of himself, unable to do even the most basic things. Not a pretty  picture.

It reinforced the perception that there's no justice in this world. Sometimes it just makes you want to shout out of your lungs: fock this world. Then again, to his credit,  he was never bitter. Always maintained his compusure, did his artwork to the last minute, and thaught all of us an incredible lesson on how to fight untill the very last moment (RIP).


All-Iranians

A call for people who care

by All-Iranians on

It's a very well written memoir, and thanks for sharing.
This is also a call for people who care. Here is the Website of Michael J Fox for those who like to help:
http://www.michaeljfox.org/


Anahid Hojjati

Thanks Faramarz for writing about your friend

by Anahid Hojjati on

Even though my dad has Parkinson disease, I don't feel like I can write a blog like Esfand has invited us, since I have not been doing any care just visits. However, I do have some observations that I list here:

One of the hardest issues when parents get sick is when they have been very active and helpful parents. Not every parent is like that. For instance, some Iranian men in my dad's generation did not do much at home. They would sit and order their wives to bring this and that. However, my dad was also helpful at home so when he got affected by Parkinson, it was more noticeable. For instance when he was about 75 years old and was living with me, he used to take language and computer classes in adult school near my home. He also took long walks until couple years ago and then it seemed all of a sudden , the walks became slow motion and obviously could not be long.

 Another problem is when they start hallucinating, which some people attribute to the medication that Parkinson's patients take. For instance, from time to time, my dad would talk about his hallucination which to him were something that had happened but we knew it had not and it was just an story. One time when he started saying these stories, my mom turned to me and said:"where did all those chemistry formulas go?" I know it is hard for her now that from a "shareek zendegi", my dad has become someone that she needs to take care of. I am only glad that my dad's condition became worse in his 80s,there are people who are much younger and get Parkinson or other diseases that robs them of quality of life when they are in their 60s or 70. For that matter, I have lost friens to ALS who were much younger when they died from ALS.

Again, thanks Faramarz for writing about your friend and thanks Esfand again for this series on elderly care.

 Last year, when my dad's condition became much worse in a matter of weeks, I wrote this poem which I shared before but since it is about this subject, I note it here again:

بابا آب داد


گذشته چهل سالی
از روزی
که بابا به ما آب می داد
سی سالی
از آن وقتی
که پرسشها جواب می داد
قدیمی گشته اکنون
یادِ سئوالش 
از کارنامهُ ما

امروز
ما هستیم
آب دادن به بابا
سئوالاتی
جواب دادن به بابا
ما هستیم
فکرِ کارنامه او

امّا چه فرقی دارد
نگاه ما بر کارنامه اش
با نگاهش بر کارنامه ما

اگر بابا
همیشه بیست می خواست
همیشه در چشمان ما
بیست بوده بابا

May 2010 

 


MM

very touching Faramarz

by MM on

Old memories and loved ones are all that our wheelchaired seniors have, and sometimes Alzheimers Disease takes that away too.