My aunt’s dignity

March 13, 2008 by  
Filed under Archives, News

When I first got up to my aunt’s house, she was unable to get into her bed without help getting her legs up and then scooting and rolling her over on her side. She appreciated the help but you could see in her eyes that she felt helpless and frustrated. She always apologized for the effort it took to get her to bed. We had to put a platform so she could sit on the bed to help because she weighed over 180. She was the rock for the family and she could not even lay on the couch without help at times. At that point, she believed she was going to get better so I felt her self worth was as intact as possible. But as the months went by, her body language, silence, and unsmiling eyes said it all. I remember clearly when we went to the Social Security office to find out why she was not receiving her husband’s survivor benefits. She was in the wheelchair with me pushing, she did not have any hair, and she looked pretty bad. The woman looked down at her from the counter and called her mister even though the woman had her Social Security card in her hand. I corrected her. From there we had to go to the military base to an office to discuss the same situation. The man without any thought told her that they had her as dead. I wanted to punch him. That was the last time we ever worked on that problem. I mean what must it have felt like to know you are probably dying, you look like your dying, and this gentleman bluntly said “our records have you as dead.” She responded, ” Obviously I not dead yet.” These are just a few examples of not being cognizant of how we must be the ones to help maintain the dignity of our family members we care for. There is a great article in the BMJ 2007, July on “Dignity conserving care.” Let me know what you think.

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