Right, Wrong, and Our Families

My mother spent her final days in this world at the Ottawa Hospital, suffering from dementia and landing in the hospital after a series of mini-strokes. It was of course a terrible time – for her and for the family who loved this sweet and loving mom with all of our hearts.

On a visit one day, I entered her room to hear a male orderly yelling at her in the washroom, berating her for something she had no control over but was causing him more work.

My mom was a tiny woman physically, but in her glory days exuded incredible strength. That day, as she was being constantly berated by a man twice her size, I could hear her tiny voice and there was fear. “Do you see what you did?” he asked over and over again. Over and over and over again. Quietly, she said yes.

I was horrified and terrified at the same time. And shamefully, my fear of this man won out over calling him out. I was so afraid if I lashed out at him or reported him, my mother could well become the victim of further abuse.

I live with that shame of allowing fear for my mother’s safety to result in silence. I know if it happened today I’d have the strength and conviction of my efficacy to do better by my mom.

I have thought often of that day recently as I read and watch some of what has been happening at the city-run nursing homes. As painful as it is for me to recall my mother’s story, it’s near impossible to watch the videos of the senseless violence against good people.

What possesses people to behave like monsters? Mean, horrible monsters that use the power they have to inflict pain and suffering on the people they should be protecting. Words just don’t suffice.

And given the horror of what has been taking place at the city-run nursing homes, it’s incredibly distasteful to witness the city’s attempts to put a positive spin on the story.

I know for a fact, most of these councillors are parents themselves, all of course with parents of their own. Do they not see what has happened to other children’s parents? Yet they met this week and put on an happy face

“I know this has been a difficult few months for you,” Coun. Diane Deans told the senior staffers at a committee meeting. “I think what you have done today is give this committee great confidence that you have taken this with the seriousness we expect (and) that you are making monumental efforts to improve care for our most vulnerable residents.”

Hard on city staff? Please.

It’s been unbelievably brutal for the seniors and for their families fearing for their lives. That should be the city’s focus.

This isn’t a situation to be managed by the city’s high-paid communications department. And frankly, to turn this into a call for more money from the province? Incredibly distasteful.

How will increased funding prevent a mad man from beating on a senior? Isn’t that really the issue? And does a happy face help us deal with the truth?

1 Comment

  1. Regarding Councillor Egli’s views re snow clearing — here are mine. The mayor and councillors talk a good line about senior isolation and the need to do something about it. Yet they contribute to senior isolation during the winter months . Snow clearance on sidewalks is disgraceful — frequently sidewalks are left coated with ice or the snow is left to melt and then freeze up again so that already uneven sidewalks become even more uneven and dangerous for the senior pedestrian. Last winter, sidewalk clearance in my neighbourhood (New Edinburgh — where property taxes are very high) made walking a torture. I should know — at 80 years of age I usually take my Cairn terrier out for a walk three or four times a day — regardless of the weather. But I find, given the city’s propensity to put the pedestrian at the bottom of the heap, on some days it’s impossible ! While I’m at it, perhaps the city should instruct the police to start a campaign to keep bicyclists off the sidewalks and on those ancy bike lanes which seem to be cropping up everywhere.

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