Stubborn Dreams or Just Shoot Me

The older we get, the more stubborn we are. Is that good or bad? When it’s about a senior citizen losing his or her ability to take care of themselves, we say that they are belligerent and need to face reality. It’s part of the downside of life’s reality.

My buddy Bill tells me about his father-in-law who had been a quite successful eye surgeon but now was getting up in years. He was smart enough to stop doing surgery but not because he saw his skills eroding. Instead, he refused to pay the eighty three thousand dollars in medical malpractice insurance to continue to do surgery. Instead he opted for just doing regular eye exams and cleaning styes. This brought the insurance down to a more manageable eleven thousand dollars.

But then his ability to stand tall and not fall started to become an issue. His two daughters believed it was time to move to an assisted living place but he balked and refused to obey them especially since the closer one lived forty miles or so away. Bill’s wife would call every day to check up on him to make sure he was okay. Then one day, he didn’t answer the phone. She tried a few times within several hours and there still was no answer. She called the local police in his area and begged them to check out his house to make sure all was okay. Two officers responded to the request. They knocked on both the front and rear doors and there was no answer. Fearing the worst, she asked them to look through a window where they could see inside. They saw her father lying on the floor just out of the reach of the phone on a table. This was in the days before people putting cell phones in their pockets. The police broke down the door, which cost 400 dollars to fix.

That’s the thing about cops. Sometimes they don’t use their heads and overreact. I remember the time the elderly lady neighbor opposite me in our condo building had a similar fall. The fire department rushed to the scene and proceeded to use an ax to destroy the entry door and the lock. Sometimes these geniuses don’t always respond to the correct apartment and end up destroying the wrong door. In this case, to replace the door and lock cost over 1000 dollars. And I can guarantee you that the fire department did not feel a need to pay for the damages.

Bill’s father-in-law had been lying on the floor for close to 20 hours but was okay other than bruises and a twisted ankle. But it was quite clear that he could not be trusted to live alone much longer. After a short recovery period in the hospital and a follow-up stay at Bill’s house, he demanded to go back home.

Not too much later, he fell again but this time within sight of others. Bill’s wife moved him into a very nice assisted living place near them and fibbed to him that she was not using his money to pay for it. The stay didn’t last too long as he became too belligerent for the rules at this facility and was shifted to a nursing home. It was discovered that he had the Big C and never did go home again.

A baby comes into this world and doesn’t make demands. One can only presume that it appreciates being cared for. On the flip side, there is no right or wrong to family discussions on whether an older loved one should leave their home and move into a place where they can be tended to. You know the old saying- a parent can take care of three kids but three children cannot take care of one parent. Time solves these tough decisions.

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