Thursday, April 21, 2011

Getting Old may be Hazardous to your Health

April 21, 2011

"Well, she's old."

When you take your mother to the doctor, that's what you hear.

“Mom's been gaining a LOT of weight lately.”

“Well, she's old. As we reach middle age, our bodies are programmed by evolution to retain weight as a defense against lost teeth, lowered ability to gather food and decreased resistance to hard times.”

“Yes, Doctor, I realize that (having studied my fair share of evolution), but 12 pounds in 6 months seems excessive.”

“Well—she’s old.”

True Story: A woman told a doctor that, due to several incidents, she was concerned that her mother might have Congestive Heart Failure. The doctor said, “Look, your mom's 82 and she's not complaining.” He explained that to have Congestive Heart Failure, her mom would have to have severe edema. Then he lifted the mother's pants leg and, surprise! surprise! found out that she had a severe edema (water retention).

But what do we know? We're not only lay people (doctors don't think much of us), but we're Children of an Old Person, who don't have sense enough (I assume) to sit back and let nature take its course.

And if you're wondering why nobody at the nursing home seemed to notice the water weight, despite relatives' repeated concerns about the mother's weight gain, all I can tell you is what they tell the family: “We’re not an individual care facility.”

OK—so why, on your building and your letterhead, do you say, “Nursing Home”? and “Residential Care”? Why don't you just say, “Warehouse for old people. We stick ’em in the rooms and drug ’em for you.”

The scary part about this is that this family DOES interact with the nursing home. What on earth happens to people who never have visitors, or anyone to stick up for them, or whose relatives believe what the doctors and caregivers are telling them? “Well, she’s old. It’s only to be expected.”

And frankly, this nursing home is better than the last one, which prescribed drugs that altered the patient’s mental state so much that they claimed she had Alzheimer’s. Because she’s old, and Alzheimer’s is to be expected.

I’m sure that there are super-duper nursing homes where this wouldn’t happen. And I’m sure that you have to be a millionaire to afford them.

So, my advice to you is to never get old, unless you have millions socked away for a good nursing home. (Forget college, kid. I’m saving up for my elder care. Get a scholarship, I’m in a time crunch here.)

Don’t get old unless you have somebody you trust who will come and check on you. Somebody the health care “professionals” will listen to. (Preferably someone with both a medical and a law degree.)

Ah, heck. Just don’t get old.

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