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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Losing Your Rights in Senior Years

I just finished reading Mickey Rooney's speech to Congress about how he was abused by family and how he lost his human rights in his later years.

It's a moving speech.

He was an actor.

As a senior citizen here in these United States, let me just say that as of today, I maintain all of my rights. I can eat what I want. I can sleep where and when I want. I can live where and how I want. I have a reasonably sound mind and the ability to meet my own needs. This may not always be true. When it is no longer the case, I hope someone loves me enough to intervene and make decisions "with" me to assure my safety and reasonable health as well as my happiness. In the Golden Years it really should be about happiness. I may not always see where my happiness lies and I pray that my kids or my grandkids will see it and help me focus there.

I'm not denying that elder abuse happens. I'm saying that sometimes what feels like manipulation is really caring and helping. As we age we do lose the ability to be flexible and some of us lose the ability to accept this aging thing with all it's limitations. Often the manipulator is actually trying to secure a better and safer lifestyle. Let's allow for those cases to be seen from the caregivers viewpoint.  Do you just leave your loved senior in an unsafe and unhealthy environment because they want to stay there? They say it's home and they're happy. They are actually depressed and frightened being alone. They don't see that. What then? Butt out? Go on about your own business? Or do you talk and plan and try to convince them that there is a better way? Ultimately, you hope they feel it's their choice, but in fact, it has to happen either way. Emotional blackmail? Mr. Rooney says it is. I say it's loving and protecting and avoiding life in a communal care facility that will not be home, ever.

I pray constantly that I will have the wisdom required to help my mom through her Golden Years. I pray that the love we share will not be tattered and blemished because I insist on her safety. As we are preparing to move south where she will live with us, I pray her happiness will return and my sanity will also. I pray that this move can happen soon for I hear her telling people she has to move. I was so hoping by now she would be be saying she is going to move, rather than has to move.  I know that she feels I am making decisions for her without her input. I am making decisions for her because she has told me that she fears being alone sometimes and yet wants to stay in her own home. She has told me that it's nearing the time that she must move in with us. Yet, left entirely to her, she would remain where she is. She'd love for me to move in with her. I can't. We have dogs and her apartment complex doesn't allow dogs. I have a husband with whom I've planned to move south for many years. I have made every decision along this path considering her needs and her passions. We will be certain to have a walk-in shower for her. We will have a screened in porch. We will have a place that is just hers for her privacy. We will figure a fair financial arrangement so she isn't feeling like a freeloader, but will have a better life. That can be her decision alone, the money thing will matter to her, doesn't matter to us. All of her furniture will be in our new home because it matters to her and I want it to feel like her home. I feel we have made some decisions together, but she feels like I have made them all. Perspective. I get it. Giving up independence. I get that, too. But having a better quality of whatever time we have left together trumps all for me.

Hope she gets that.



  1. I actually have read Mickey Rooney's speech and I immediately thought that his loved ones were simply looking out for his well being. I suspect anyone who sees that speech has either, a.) not been a caregiver to a loved one, or b.) witnessed the abuse of an elderly person and thinks that's the way it always is - as you and I both know, it is not. - I really feel for you Jo. I watched my lit'l sis turn herself and her life inside out and upside down to care for our mom until dementia had just taken our mom too far down the road and she had to be placed in a care facility. - Not an easy decision for anyone to make. - I pray that your house sells and you can make your move sooner than later and that you and Roomy and mama will all be living happily-ever-after down in that blasted sun you love so much. ;) - Hugs to you..

    1. From your mouth to God's ears! She also is a sun and warm weather lover. She loves having the ability to step outside in her bare feet for a few breaths of fresh air. I know she will love Florida. We chose the area where the sweltering heat is less in duration and the ocean is near, but not at our door. It will be so good for all of us.

  2. I rarely have much of a comment to make but I love to read your Bloggs. Nice one and very caring Jo.

    1. I wondered if you were still reading! Nice to hear from you and thank you, Jeanne.

  3. well said, jo. sometimes its hard, doing what you know is right, complimenting that with what the person wants, by adjusting to their needs but also maintaining a moral ground.

    1. It's a tightrope, Daphne. One that I'm learning to navigate. Since her move to our home, it's feeling much less treacherous and we are all far more relaxed.
      Her needs will always win out over her wants, but her wants will be honored whenever possible.


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