Monday, May 27, 2013

Dealing with Abuse in the Work Place and in a Senior’s Life

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Misty Hollow Carvingwas launched in October 2008
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Dealing with Abuse in the Work Place and in a Senior’s Life
I thought that if I just listened to one person, maybe by this person’s talking about their problem, the problem would go away.  You know… just not get involved.  Maybe the people involved would smarten up.  Maybe if I didn’t know about it, it would work itself out.
Was I ever wrong! The problem has not gone away and has not cleared up – but gotten worse.
In the recent past…
If you followed the posting I do on this Blog you will know that I just installed some pieces of “art” at a The Gates Gallery in Brighton. You may know also that the “art” is about Seniors. It is Senior’s stories put into pieces that I created.
You will also know that instead of the pieces of “art” staying in the Gallery, I am removing them this week. There has been some problem with the booking of shows – or something. I am not really sure of what it is all about.
Yesterday I wrote about my past problems with Arts Councils and what it makes me feel like. I have had the same feelings all over again… as I pointed out.
Oddly enough this experience from the past, together with the brand new set of events that I am being drawn into is woven together. It is complicated.
I explained in one post the fact that the stories that I placed into the “art” are real.  And I explained that I had to deal with the stories of emotional upset and turmoil in the lives of Seniors that I listened to or families that I had to deal with.  The “art” for that reason is alive and it speaks to people in a huge way.
Sorry – this explaining myself has pulled me away from the account that I must give today…
Today… a new problem… and a new piece of “art”
Yes it is true through this confusion and upset around me I have become blatantly aware of more abuse and yet another Senior’s story.
As I said earlier, I did not want to get involved. I had been extracted from dealing with these issues by way of retirement. I had escaped having to listen to people. My retirement had removed me from the official responsibility that I once had.  I am not paid to listen anymore… and in the past I had to listen as a full time minister. Now the new guy can have all the problems – I am free of them all!
So I thought.
I have come across another story that I must tell… in another piece of art.  But how will I do it?
What I am seeing… and hearing
The young man sat with me in my carving workshop. His whole countenance was heavy. He had poured out his heavy story… then asked me a horrible question, “So what do I do about this?”
My reaction was boiling up inside from the old professional days… “You absolutely have to call for help from the authorities. You may have to call the police and maybe some others to get an assessment done.  There has to be an intervention done and it has to be done soon.” I said with all the authority of the days of being a full time minister.
I wished that I didn’t need to say that kind of thing. I wished at that moment that I did not and would not have been drawn into this mess. I wished I had not answered the Text Message the young man had sent me… asking if he could come over and talk about something serious. I wished…
But now I was involved.  A Senior lady was being abused by some of the family members and the other family members were terribly aware of what had been going on ever since their Dad had died. In fact as they looked back on all that had happened, the abuse had been there long before Dad had died. These people had been abusing Dad and Mom. But Dad and Mom had been helpless to speak out or know what to do to get help. In fact they likely didn’t even know that they needed help after having sunk so low health wise and in the state they were mentally.
Dad and Mom had three kids.  An older daughter, a son next and then younger daughter.  The older daughter is in her 60s, the son still in his late 50s and the youngest is trailing in her later 40s.
Through a change in life’s circumstances the oldest daughter had moved back in with her husband to Dad and Mom’s home. They live in the basement.  The reasoning for doing this was simple. There was no place to live after the other job was gone. And Dad and Mom now needed more care. They moved in to become the care givers.
The son visited his parents often but was not able to care for them as they grew older and had more needs. With his sister making this decision he now could see help coming for them.
The youngest daughter’s husband works in the “health care industry” taking care of old people professionally.
His wife doesn’t want to cause any trouble but what she was seeing when she visited Dad and Mom was not good. She saw that they were not getting the help they needed. Each visit became harder as this elderly couple were showing more evidence of serious problems – and no one was dealing with it.
Should I mention here that the oldest daughter and her husband do not pay any rent for their fixed up basement suite?  Likely the caregiving is considered payment for what they should be doing.
Dad died in the hospital after a short stay.  That was after the youngest daughter called the ambulance to take him to the hospital.  His health conditions had deteriorated so far that he was in a serious state. Nothing that was done at home was working for him.  The state of affairs he was in was being ignored – or simply not seen by his care givers.  And it is likely the case, the lack of care contributed to his earlier demise.
“We all miss Dad” came the choked words of the young man in my workshop, “but now we have a new problem with Mom.  It is horrible.  The whole house smells like urine.  It is dirty and nothing is being done to keep it clean. Worse yet they won’t listen to what we try to tell them is wrong.  My wife is beside herself with what her sister is not doing for Mom. She goes over on Sunday mornings to be with her Mom while her sister and husband are away doing church things. What should we do?  We don’t want to cause problems but this can’t go on!”
God I hate listening to things that I can do nothing about!
I spoke to the son after listening to the son-in-law.  He didn’t really want to talk to me but his level of frustration showed up shortly after we met.  He gave me another example of what he saw in the last few weeks.
“I bake things for Mom. I have the time and I love baking.  I baked some fresh cookies and took them over. The door was locked and no one would answer the door. They couldn’t hear me knocking on the door because my sister was yelling so loud at Mom. She was screaming and I could hear it outside.” Tears came to his eyes as he told me his stories of what he has witnessed.
Then I remembered that the son-in-law had told me that when his wife tried to speak to her sister’s husband – the guy had yelled at her and belittled her for trying to interfere. The word screaming had been used as well.
How do I not get involved?  And what do I do with the story that is in front of me?
“Mom” will die in the near future just from old age. “Mom” may die sooner if the potential infections take her after living in a filthy house and have little or no care!  Should I care? Maybe I can pass it on to someone else – and it will be their problem?
The “art” that is coming to me now… is a piece that will have a pile of adult diapers brought into a pile. I will make them looked soiled and discarded beside a full pile of new ones that are much bigger and more.  The title is simple for this one.  “Susan wouldn’t change Mom’s disposable underwear… she hated that job. And Mom has to sit in it or do it herself…”
Oh God… I hate abuse!
~ Murray Lincoln ~
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