[ExI] nursing homes, was RE: NYT: Happiness May Come With Age, Study Says

spike spike66 at att.net
Thu Jun 3 03:23:10 UTC 2010

> From: extropy-chat-bounces at lists.extropy.org 
> ...> 
> One of the big problems of the very sick elderly was in 
> elimination of solid waste.  In many cases, bowel control had 
> failed, leading to honest to god genuine misery for the 
> elderly sufferer, the kind of misery which leads one to cry 
> out for merciful death.
> Do let us draw the curtain of mercy on the incident that is 
> burned into my memory like a cattle brand on tender flesh... spike

OK, well I had a change of heart on this topic.  I decided to post this
story about something that happened over 30 yrs ago, but I remember as if it
happened yesterday.

It was close to the end of the school year, employees at the local low-end
elder care facility (with mostly Medicare patients) were fleeing the worst
job they would ever have.  The desperately short-handed facility was
reaching out for anyone who would work for minimum wage and would not steal
the patients' pain medications.  But these two characteristics were my
*only* *qualifications* for that job.  I had exactly zero medical training
and the place offered no real on-the-job training for temps.

So.  This place was set up in something like a letter H with four wings.
One of the wings was the Alzheimer's patients.  The lowest ranking employees
worked that wing because the patients there were unlikely to complain or
report to anyone.  They preferred to staff it with men if possible, since
some of the male Alzheimer's patients can be dangerous, and men are more
likely to absorb a blow without serious damage.  So there I was.  Night
shift, with another temp who had been there about three weeks longer than I,
with similar qualifications.

One of our patients on the Alzheimer's wing was a really far-gone elderly
lady, a forgotten gray raisin of a human being, hadn't spoken a word in over
a year, almost couldn't move at all, no visitors, blind and apparently deaf,
a breathing corpse.  She needed to be spoon fed, she was unable to sit on a
toilet, so she had a diaper, which needed changing often.  The bowel had
failed, so she was on a low fiber diet, but every few days some unfortunate
staffer had to put on a latex glove, grease up and go in for a clean-out.
Night shift, it fell to us.  I was no expert, but I was pretty sure what we
were doing was very wrong there, unethical at least, if not illegal.  No
doctor in house, the nurses were elsewhere, we had no formal training.  Two
temps were doing something we were grossly unqualified to do, under direct
written orders from a supervisor who was a registered nurse.

My colleague had smaller hands, so she got the honors.  Upon commencement of
the procedure, this Alheimers patient who hadn't spoken in a year, moaned as
plain as your own voice, "...ooooohhh god that hurts..."  I said "OK stop
this right now, dammit."  I went and found a nurse, who gave her some
additional pain meds.  We finished that distasteful task with the patient in
a drug induced stupor.  She perished a couple weeks later.  That nursing
home went out of business in 1997.  This incident is chapter 1 of 2.

I do not know why I felt it necessary to write that experience, but there it



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