I’m responsible for my 89-year-old cousin Marilyn. She’s in a nice assisted living facility in Queens and I tell myself that all is well and I don’t need to check in on her regularly. Every week there are at least ten things that I’d rather do. I try to excuse myself from making the 30-minute drive, which seems like such a drain on my limited time. My silent complaints to myself go on and on. In the end, I always consider how I’d feel if something happened to her and I didn’t make the trip. So I go.
On my most recent visit, she was sitting with the other ladies, in a common area, just staring out into space when I walked in. She beamed a bright smile when she spotted me and seemed to bounce in her chair. That was a sweet reward.
I pulled up a chair and showed her and the ladies recent photos of my husband and me. “He’s so handsome,” one of the ladies said. Cousin Marilyn said, “He’s a doll.” We chatted for awhile, and I said. “Well ladies, that’s all I have today.” One of them replied, “That’s enough.” Marilyn said, “It’s all good. Who could want more.”
But I wasn’t quite finished yet. I always make sure that my visit coincides with the doctor’s schedule. Marilyn suffers form Multiple Myeloma, a cancer of the blood. And it’s important for her to get medical care when she needs it. The facility is very responsive, but I think it’s a good idea that everyone knows Marilyn has someone looking out for her. So I stop in the nurses office and ask, “How is going? Is everything okay?” And I make it a point to talk with the doctor to find out if there is anything I should know.
I talk to the director of the facility and I talk to the staffers. I want everyone to know that Marilyn has someone who cares about her and looks after her. Maybe, this is unnecessary. But I don’t think so. Before my mom died in August of 2012, I did the same thing for her.
Older people need personal advocates and while it can be a strain on family members, we need to pay attention.
I didn’t spend more than an hour at the facility, but when I left I felt lighter than when I went in. I did my job and all of my reluctance and complaints seem to melt away.
The Number One Reason to Check on Mom, Dad and Elderly Relatives
- 84 percent of elder abuse cases go unreported in the United States according to the Federal Trade Commission.